Isn’t that what we all want? To do the job that we love- and to do it for clients who appreciate our expertise and view us as a friend- not just a business transaction?
It really is the dream, and when you’re starting out, getting those consistent dream clients feels like stepping into a black void. I remember stepping out into the wedding photography world with VERY little knowledge on professional photography, let alone business strategy. At that time in my career I was mostly focused on perfecting my craft, and never paid any mind to my approach to getting consistent clients. There was no way that I could build up momentum for my amateur photography business with zero background in business. The only thing I had going for me was the excitement to continue learning.
Tell me the secret, girl
So if you’re just starting out and you’re in a similar position- pouring your energy into mastering your craft, producing consistent edits, shooting in manual, building your gear, paying taxes, ALLL of the things– and now you just wish you had the clients… this one’s for you! And don’t worry- these tips are COMPLETELY free.
One thing that service-based businesses have in common is that we are selling ourselves as well as our service. People are more likely to hire you over the guy down the street if they know and love you, even if your business is newer, or your service isn’t as high-end. High-end isn’t always what people want. Nowadays, people are craving real, genuine connection. They don’t want to feel like you’re only there to sell them something. If you come off as salesy, all business and no personality, you might be doing yourself a disservice. Sure, these techniques may have worked 30 years ago before cell phones and social media, but now that everything is right at our fingertips, our best tool in the bag is ourselves. Our personality, our compassion for others, our willingness to assist, support, and encourage along the way. Your craft & the service you provide is just the icing on top, and, newsflash- doesn’t necessarily have to be top notch when your ability to serve your clients is bomb.
So what does that mean, Jamie??
It means that you have to freaking SERVE your clients. Serve them before they even become your clients. And when they are your clients, serve them EVEN better. For a wedding photographer, this could mean offering free guides to potential clients on instagram, like “Wedding timeline do’s & don’ts”. Offer something applicable to your client base, so that before they even reach out to you, you’ve already made an impression. They didn’t even have to go to your website to feel pampered by you!
They’ve inquired- now what?
Once they inquire, now you can insert your personality. They already know you are probably going to serve them with some bomb tips and helpful suggestions if they book you, now’s the time to shine! Be YOU. Let’s shy away from the “Thank you for inquiring”’s And the “To whom it may concern”’s… maybe try “OMG, I am SO freaking stoked you reached out to me, friend!!!” or “I’d totally love to be your bonus bridesmaid, girl!!” Kick traditional professionalism & email etiquette out the door, here!! Be yourself- pretend you’re talking to a friend. What would you say to them?
Now you’ve got them on your books, but that’s just step one. Serve, serve, serve!! I like to send a small welcome gift to all of my couples with a handwritten card to let them know how thankful I am for them. I also send an extensive guide to help them plan their wedding & engagement session. Not all photographers do that, and it will set you apart.
At The Wedding
Now not only will they tell their friends about how great you are, but everyone at their wedding will be watching you work and communicate with them. So, offer to help when you have time. Help a bridesmaid with her dress. Be a source of humor when mom is stressing everyone out. Take a step back for private quiet moments, but when you get opportunities to help, take them! People are watching (including her bridesmaids)! As wedding photographers, people are looking to us to make pretty big decisions to help the day flow smoothly. Be that guide for them, take control, be direct, and listen to them. This is not just for your portfolio (although when you serve your clients, the images DO turn out better), this is every single memory captured from the most important day of their lives.
I hope that this makes you excited to serve the crap out of your clients!! They deserve to be pampered in this season, and being that person for them is worth so much more than Joe’s Big Name Photography business with the professional branding. Joe doesn’t care about them, but you do- so prove it to them! You got this, friend!
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