This is a guest post by Anna Roussos, a brilliant wedding and editorial photographer based in Greece. Anna’s work is remarkable through its evocative, elegant style, and luxurious, fashion-magazine allure.
Apart from charming her clients and business partners with incredible imagery, Anna is also big on education and helping other wedding vendors grow their business. Hence, if you’ve been struggling in the past year, if you’re feeling lost or at a crossroads with your business – read this article! Anna is sharing 7 common mistakes wedding photographers make in their business, which drives away potential clients. Of course, she also included practical solutions for each!
Grab a pen and make a plan – it’s time to push your business forward!
“We wedding photographers are visual artists. We work with light and emotions and express our inner world through photography. It all sounds very romantic, doesn’t it? But let’s take a pause here… Is it really all about art?
If you took the decision to monetize your talent by becoming a full-time wedding photographer and make a living out of it, then you must start thinking like a business owner.
A business mindset is the first step toward an overall strategy designed to achieve long-term financial and professional benefits. For many photographers, it’s like sailing into uncharted waters. Most of us did not study in a business school and have little knowledge about how to build a business model that will work effectively and bring in bigger profits. If you are an ambitious wedding photographer and a budding entrepreneur who wants to see his company grow, it’s crucial to start thinking like a business owner to avoid wasting your time and energy on tasks that will not benefit your company.
In this article, I want to highlight 7 of the most common mistakes wedding photographers make that drive away potential clients and the solutions to fix them.
Mistake #1: You don’t have a niche
Have you heard about niching before? I bet you did! Niching is the number one strategy for businesses trying to make their way in a saturated market.
When many competitors sell similar products or offer the same services with not enough demand from clients, market saturation is inevitable.
The wedding industry is diverse and very lucrative which led to a growing influx of new businesses: photographers, wedding planners, florists, you name it! How to stand out and survive in this saturated market? The simple answer is niching.
Niching is about going a meter deep and an inch wide. Find a niche market that will allow you to focus on specific services, target certain types of clients, and perfect your skills accordingly. When you choose a niche, analyze and study your ideal client. Hence you will be focused on mastering your niche and becoming a specialist.
Niching will improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts: instead of marketing to everyone out there, you will be creating marketing messages to attract a specific clientele that belongs to your niche.
In simpler words, don’t try to be “everything”! You are not an ideal photographer for every bride out there and that’s okay! When you’re trying to customize your services to accommodate everyone’s tastes, you’re going down the wrong path which will ultimately cause potential clients to walk away. If you chase ten rabbits at the same time, you will end up losing all of them.
Mistake #2: You are not being consistent
Inconsistency in your portfolio is what will certainly make your client say: “Thank you, next!”.Imagine yourself in your clients’ shoes. You are visiting the website of a photographer you are considering hiring for your wedding day. Let’s say you like what you see on the homepage: soft colors, beautiful tones, and a nice airy feel to the images. All of it seems very close to what you are looking for. However, when you dig deeper into the site, this is when it all starts to look a little confusing. You discover a couple of galleries that are retouched differently and you are not sure anymore about the overall photography quality. What kind of photos will you expect on your wedding day? The lighter pictures on the homepage or the moodier ones from these galleries? At this point, you will probably close the tab and continue your search elsewhere.
The same goes for photos’ inconsistency on Instagram or any other social media platform you use to showcase your work. All of your portfolio needs to be consistent and aim for the same goal: attracting your ideal clients and making them book your services.
The bottom line: publish the work that is as close as possible to the type of weddings and clients you want to book. Less is more and there is no need to post a photo from every single wedding you photographed. Make a careful selection based on specific criteria, so that every image you show to the world will bring you one step closer to your goal.
Mistake #3: You don’t focus on the first impression.
You never get a second chance to make the right first impression.
For us wedding photographers, the first impression is usually made when a potential client visits our website. Here they should be thinking “Wow, I love it” or “This is what I am looking for”! Your potential clients have to be able to relate to the couples, weddings, and emotions they see in your galleries.
Another important factor that affects the first impression is the design and functionality of your site: it should be easy to navigate through, with clean and minimal aesthetics and consistent content. Our website is our storefront: it’s when scrolling through our website that potential clients decide whether to hit the contact button or close the tab.
The goal is to make their decision-making process easier by offering all the necessary information, knowledge, and visuals wrapped in a fast-loading, beautifully designed, and user-friendly platform.
Mistake #4: You don’t understand your buyer persona
Without a buyer persona, you are like a fashion designer who doesn’t know for whom he is designing his clothes. Are they meant for young, modern, and confident women living a busy city life? Or for ladies in their forties looking for comfortable yet chic everyday clothing?
Determining and analyzing your buyer persona is a must. Without this knowledge, you will not be able to have a foundation on which your business strategy will be built on. This will inevitably lead to driving clients away or worse, not even finding your business in the first place.
A buyer persona is a portrait of a fictional person who represents your ideal client. Here you have to create a list of characteristics that embodies your prospect such as age, gender, country, city of residence, family status, job, education, interests, behaviors, etc. The more details you can add to this portrait, the more tailored and effective your business strategy will become.
You can have more than one buyer persona. Use them as guidance for your marketing messaging which will help you resonate with the right audience and convert it to real clients.
Mistake #5: You don’t speak about yourself
Emotional connection is important and you don’t want to leave it to chance. Our clients book our photography services because they admire our portfolio, trust our skills, and feel confident that we will deliver on the wedding day.
It’s already difficult for a potential client to build rapport without actually meeting you in person and just by exploring your website and social media. As most wedding photographers (especially destination wedding photographers) don’t have a chance to meet their clients face to face, it’s critical not to “hide” your personality when creating content for social media and to be virtually “present” throughout your website.
Don’t be shy to talk about yourself, tell your story, share your knowledge and offer your perspective. When a bride-to-be clicks on the “About” tab on your website, it’s because she wants to learn more about YOU and not your business.
The lack of personal information can be an unconscious turnoff for many clients. Hence, make sure you give a peek behind the curtains and forge a connection. Your “About” section is typically one of the most visited pages of your site, it helps a potential client make the decision to further their relationship with you and convert. Don’t underestimate it!
Mistake #6: You don’t personalise your communication
Cold messages that feel like a copy-paste from a template can be a major fail.
Do not engage with your clients in a robotic fashion. Personalized emails can be a great opportunity to differentiate your brand and make your clients “click”.
If you already reached this far: having a potential client sending you a request, then now it is truly in your hands to convince and convert!
Be prompt with your replies. Always show great interest and give any additional information your client might need before they even ask for it! Spend a great amount of time working on a basic set of templates which will have the primary objective to convert. Furthermore, use a personal writing tone that will be honey to the ears of your “buyer persona” (remember this one?).
Mistake #7: You are doing it all alone
One of the biggest lessons I learnt after running a wedding photography business for more than a decade is that I have to stop doing it all by myself and start delegating to professionals.
You cannot be a talented photographer, a creative marketer, an innovative graphic designer, and a skillful copywriter all in one. If you can manage to master all these skills simultaneously then you are probably a genius!
It’s time to put an end to your entrepreneurial superpowers and hire out to improve your business through outsourcing. Don’t be a solopreneur, it can be very thrilling at first but it will eventually lead to burnout. Don’t you want your brand to be picture-perfect and of the highest standard with potential clients standing in line to book you?
Identify your strengths and focus your efforts on them first. Then efficiently offload the rest to experts who can do it faster, better, and for less than the value of your time. It will greatly increase the income and growth of your business.
Going back to the million-dollar question “Is it really all about art?” The answer is a big NO! Becoming a successful wedding photographer is much more about being laser-focused on a specific set of goals, having a solid business strategy based on detailed buyer personas, and following the path of consistency and commitment.
We all make business mistakes along the way but remember this: mistakes are not personal failures. They are a fundamental part of the learning process. Coping with failure should serve as a lesson to keep going and to work at being even better than before.
Last but not least, if you manage to combine creativity and artistry with a firm business mindset, the sky’s the limit!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this insightful article by Anna Roussos. You can connect to Anna via her website or Instagram account. And if you’re looking for more educational content, interviews, and tips on how to improve your business workflows, your marketing, client communication, and life in general – check out this page and create a better 2021 for yourself and your brand!