How to build you wedding photography business?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jelite, Oct 12, 2006.

  1. I started a small wedding photography business two years ago. I have placed
    business cards in local bridal shops, I sent out information about my services
    to local churches and follow up with phone calls with no luck, most church?s
    tell me they have a wedding photographer. I can't seem to generate any
    customers. No one is calling; I can't afford the $1,000 -$1600 to enter bridal
    shows and was told that?s not a grantee for clients. I know word of mouth is
    the best way but when you don't have a customer base what do you do? Please
    help

    Additional Details:
    My first year in business around January I put out brochures in one bridal
    store and from Jan. to March I received about 15 calls but the brides said my
    prices were too high. They wanted to only spend $400.00 and below. One bride
    wanted me to shoot her wedding for only $200.00.Needless to say I didn't take
    those weddings. I later found out that this shop catered to brides on a tight
    budget. (These are not my target customers)
    I have shot 9 weddings in the past two years I will have a web site up at the
    end of the month.
    1.How do I let brides know I exists?
    2.What are the most cost effective and successful ways to advertise?
    3.I have spoke to some local wedding photographer's who say they don't
    advertise at all and are doing well. I just don't see how that is possible?

    Thank you in advance for any feedback
     
  2. Having a website up and available is definitely going to help you out! Brides will be able to see your work (and your packages/prices?) and make an educated decision about you without inconveniencing herself.

    Aside from having an excellent web presence, how about taking on a few clients at a discounted price? Letting people actually experience your work and expertise. Hopefully you'll build up a few reputable customers who will pass on their happiest day in your benefit.
     
  3. 1. "How do I let brides know I exist?" Website, website, website. Couples who are looking
    for a more high-end photographer will likely not even consider you if you don't have a
    website. Get that thing up and running ASAP! Then post ads on every free listing you can
    find - Craigslist, PhotoGraphic, WeDJ, etc.

    Since you've only photographed 9 weddings in the past two years, it's likely that your
    portfolio needs a boost. You may want to pursue some of the lower-end weddings just to
    get more experience and build a stronger body of work.

    2. "What are the most cost-effective and successful ways to advertise?" Word of mouth is
    BY FAR the most effective form of advertisement. However, you have to shoot more than 4
    or 5 weddings a year to build a successful word-of-mouth network. The websites
    mentioned above are truly "cost effective". Also, our WPJA membership has been a HUGE
    source of referrals for us.

    3. "...don't advertise at all... How is that possible?" It all comes back to word of mouth.
    We don't advertise either - at least not PAID ads. But we have gotten busier and busier
    every year.

    And finally, since I can't see your work, there's no way to tell if you have the talent to really
    make it. It's a cut-throat industry with a LOT of competition. What sets you apart? What
    makes you worth more than $200 or $400? Why would a previous client refer you to all of
    her friends? You REALLY have to have a strong grasp on WHO YOU ARE as a company and
    as an artist. Otherwise, you'll just fade into the huge mass of photographers who exist in
    every city, all doing the same things.
     
  4. Definitely need a website!

    I was lucky, was able to design my own. I did 4 weddings my first year (3 of which were unpaid). Just did it to build my portfolio and get the practice.

    I found two websites that advertise for free by state... www.onewed.com and www.wedalert.com. No cost! 4 more brides found me there and one was on the knot.

    Needless to say, she loved me and shared the news. I went from 4 weddings my first year to 17 weddings my second year. Word of mouth and free advertising the best.

    The most important thing they loved....I had a website which viewed my galleries and listed my prices.
     
  5. 1) Ask your past brides for referrals.
    2) Provide outstanding products and services to your customers so you get referrals without asking for them.
    3) Set up a great web site.
    4) Start blogging.
    5) Be active in your community.
    6) Make sure everyone you come into contact with knows that you are a wedding photographer.
    7) Know who your target market and hang out where they hang out.
    8) Know who your competition is and advertise where they advertise.
    9) Spend at least 30 minutes a day learning (reading)something about marketing and managing your small business.
     
  6. We have been in business for over 8 years, we do not have a website nor do we advertize anywhere and we do 35 to 45 weddings a year all by word of mouth. All it takes is a few very pleased clients and boom we were a hit. We even do twice the volume of the ones that do advertize.
     
  7. WEBSITE! I put up my website and booked 6 weddings in the first week and a half!

    My only advertising has been word-of-mouth and Craigslist (budget brides, but good for
    someone just starting out!) Go to www.craigslist.org and find the nearest big city - post a
    free ad and hope to find someone who'll pay. Most of the Craigslist couples I've booked
    have picked a package that costs around $750 for all day coverage and a set of 4x6 proofs
    (nothing else). I had a cheaper package when I first started but only one person ever
    picked it (it was $500).

    Good luck! Post your website address when it's up so we can let you know what we think!
     
  8. I would like to thank everyone who posted answers it was a great help. Looks like I need to finish my web site ASAP. I will post my site for advice and any suggestion for improvement once it's completed.
    Again Thanks,
     
  9. Make sure you announce your website to the past brides you've shot for as well, since it's
    likely their pictures that are going on your website. Draw excitement about it by asking your
    previous brides what they'd like to see online.
     
  10. You have to learn to sell hamburgers, before you can sell "filet mignon". Hang tough, learn and gain experience.
     
  11. so where do you guys get a website if you don't know how to design one?
     
  12. I pay $99 a year for a site on smugmug, and have my domain name, www.jenseay.com, redirected to that site (until I get up the nerve to build a 'real' website, anyway). Currently, I have over 22,000 pictures on my site, including all the proofs from every wedding and portrait I've ever done. People I know who visit my site are immediately addicted, and know to check back often for updates.

    It's been successful...I photographed 12 weddings in 2005, have 31 weddings this year, and have already booked a dozen for '07 - and I have way TOO MUCH business for my time - I'm a full time teacher, too!

    Jen
     
  13. I've been building and maintaining websites for years and my first recommendation for anyone serious about their business to register their domain(s). Try your best to get the .com of your doamin name. And possibly go ahead and get the .net and .org varieties of your domain name if it's the name of your business. Have those extra domains redirect to your main site if you have just one website.
     
  14. Sorry it's late. I do know how to spell domain. :)
     
  15. I agree with most people on here... website is key! I use www.foliosnap.com for $19/mo and no set up fee. No it is not fancy, but I am ok with that. Besides I really dislike flash websites. I am too impatient!
    I am a newbie as well and have tried the same approach to other vendors. I make up pamplets and give them out.... never got a call once from anyone! My best source of advertising is www.wedj.com. I booked 3 wedding within in the first 2 months with a FREE listing. Then nothing for 4 months. Turns out my free ad had been taken off with out them notifing me. So I shelled out the cheapest ad I could ($13 for 3 months!) and I have booked 3 weddings in the past 3 weeks from it!!!! I have used wedplan in the past but decided to stop paying for leads because, again, never got a call from anyone. There was $40 bucks down the drain!
     

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