Being a professional photographer is a lot of fun – you get to make a living doing something you love and spend your days capturing meaningful moments for your clients.
But trying to book photography clients in the first place can be tough. And getting enough clients to actually support yourself and your business can be even harder.
In fact, it’s one of the most difficult and stress-inducing parts about running a photography business.
You spend a whole bunch of time putting yourself out there and marketing to find new clients (when let’s face it you’d much rather be shooting a portrait session or wedding), only to hear crickets.
Or, worse still, you get enquiries but they “decided to go with someone else” (or they simply never get back to you).
You start to think maybe I need to lower my prices?
If you succumb to the temptation and reduce your rates, you soon find that even if it does help you to get a few more bookings, you’re still not making enough money.
You’re having to do more sessions to make the income you need to support yourself, and now you’re so busy you don’t have time to keep up with your marketing, so the bookings soon dry up.
Before you know it, you’re back exactly where you started (apart from the fact you’re now burnt out and miserable from dealing with all those low-budget clients).
Yes, I’m speaking from bitter experience here.
So in this post I’m diving deep into ways you can increase bookings for your photography business, without having to reduce your prices.
These strategies will – hands down – help you book more photography clients from your existing marketing efforts. So you can get back behind the camera, and do more of what you love!
1. GET FOCUSED
1. Focus on one specific type of photography
The majority of photographers try to be general, jack-of-all-trades photographers.
This usually stems from either a fear of not wanting to turn away any business that might come their way, or simply because they love to do different types of photography and don’t want to stick to just one thing.
The problem is that if you try to be one of those photographers who “specializes” in weddings, babies, families, boudoir and pets, you will never be really successful.
The bottom line is that you’ll be able to market yourself more effectively, charge more for your services and grow your photography business faster if you specialize in just one type or niche of photography.
For example, when I made the decision to specialize in wedding photography, I was able to position myself as THE wedding photographer in my area.
When brides visited my website they could clearly see that I was a specialist, because my website only showed wedding photography.
If they landed on my site after browsing the site of a jack-of-all-trades photographer who did babies, kids, families, pets, oh, and the occasional wedding too, which of us do you think they’d feel would do a better job of their wedding photography?
The wonderful side effect of specializing in just wedding photography for the first few years of my business meant that I quickly became an expert in it. I knew weddings inside out, and my photography skills in this area grew exponentially.
I was also able to focus all my marketing efforts on cultivating relationships with other professionals and businesses in the wedding industry, which meant I was able to grow my reach much more quickly than I would have otherwise.
There really is no downside to specializing in a certain type of photography.
You may be sat there thinking…can I specialize in two types of photography? Because maybe you really can’t decide between, say, weddings and family portraits, or you feel you might get bored shooting the same kind of session all the time.
The answer is simple. You can’t truly be a specialist in more than one niche at a time.
My advice in this situation would be to pick one to start with. Give that niche your full focus for the next couple of years, and dominate it.
It’s much easier to branch out into other fields of photography once you’re seen as an expert, and go-to photographer in the first niche.
It’s also easier to dedicate your time to marketing and excelling in just one, rather than trying to double up your efforts all the time.
2. Focus on attracting your dream client
Identifying and attracting your dream client is the difference between a photography business that thrives and one that fails. It’s the difference between those who have a steady stream of bookings, and those who struggle to find them.
And here’s the good news…identifying your dream client gets a whole lot easier once you decide to specialize in one type of photography.
It’s hard to book dream photography clients when you’re marketing yourself to the entire world. But once you know what you do and who you want to be working with you can tailor your marketing efforts to attract just those dream clients.
What do I mean by dream clients? These are the clients you most want to work with based on their values, qualities and characteristics.
It’s important to remember that photography is an emotional purchase. It’s not something your client needs, it’s something they want. Therefore in order to understand what motivates your dream client to purchase, you need to understand a little bit more about them.
People buy photography for lots of different reasons. Finding out what your photography means to your dream client is one of the first steps. And you can’t do that unless you know exactly who that is.
I’m talking about getting really specific here, as if you’re producing your photography for just that one person.
Photographers who understand who their dream clients are have more leverage with their marketing, and book more photography clients.
By laser targeting your marketing efforts to just one person you will be much more successful selling your photography than trying to sell to everyone.
When you try selling your photography to everyone, you’re essentially selling to no-one.
Your marketing efforts will just be like white noise. Just like if you were shouting about your photography into a crowded room.
Being super focused in who you target also builds trust. When your dream clients see that you specialize in them, then they’re more likely to trust that you know what you’re doing and will understand their particular needs.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have customers who aren’t your dream client, however, when you’re laser focused on just one dream client you’ll attract a lot more like them.
2. STOP TRYING TO SELL PHOTOGRAPHY
Believe it or not, no-one actually buys photography. Instead people buy two things:
1. People buy a solution to a problem
People buy photography because they believe it will solve a certain pressing problem they have in their life, and give them certain results they want.
Your photography is simply the ‘how’ of how you do it – the method you use to solve their problem and deliver results. When someone comes looking for a photographer, the are not looking for the ‘how’, they’re looking to solve their problem or achieve a result.
And yet, most photographers focus on selling the ‘how’. How their photography works and and what it is, and do little to show potential clients what problems they solve for them and what results they will deliver.
If potential clients aren’t convinced that you understand their problem or desire and can provide a solution or result, it’s highly unlikely that they will book you.
However, if you focus on showing them that you understand their problem and can get them the results they’re after, your chances of booking them as a client will dramatically increase.
To have the biggest chance of success and book more photography clients you must show the benefits your clients will receive from working with you.
Benefits are what your clients experience because of the results that you deliver. Benefits can be financial, emotional, physical or spiritual.
For example as a newborn photographer your result may be: beautifully styled images of your new bundle of joy, taken in your own home.
While the benefits might be: less stress as they don’t worry about leaving the house and getting to a studio, peace of mind that they’ll have these precious first moments captured by someone with experience and used to dealing with tiny babies, pride that they’ll have beautiful pictures to show off in their home and share with their family and friends.
2. People buy YOU
Once someone has decided they have a problem they want solved, or a desire they want met, they then need to make a decision as to who will solve or meet it for them.
If you’ve done a good job of focusing on showing how you understand their problems and needs, your potential clients will already be favorable towards you. They’ll feel that you have their best interests at heart and will start to trust you.
Whereas, with photographers who focus on talking about the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of their service, potential clients will get the feeling that the photographer is more interested in themselves and trying to sell them their services.
One way to make sure you stand out from the competition in an authentic and memorable way is to develop a unique core message.
This is a message based around why you do what you do for the people you serve (your dream clients), and what you hope to achieve for them (the results and benefits).
A great core message demonstrates why you do what you do better than anyone else, and makes it clear to potential clients that you’re the one they should be booking.
3. BUILD CREDIBILITY AND TRUST
Potential photography clients move through a process when they’re deciding whether or not to book you, and a key factor in their buying decision is based on the amount of trust they have in you.
It’s important to be aware that not everyone develops trust at the same pace.
Some things can speed up the trust process. For example, referrals transfer trust from the referrer to the referee. Making people who are referred much more likely to book with you than someone who has only just discovered you via your website or brochure.
And I’ve talked already about how becoming a specialist in one type of photography can help establish you as an expert in your field, therefore establishing trust and credibility.
Some other ways to build credibility include:
- Having a professional looking website
- Having a professional email address based on your website URL (rather than a hotmail or gmail one)
- Quality business cards and marketing materials
- A decent photograph of yourself on your website (as a photographer, there really is no excuse for not having one)
- Testimonials from past clients
- Testimonials or references from other industry professionals or related businesses you’ve worked with
- Having a blog where you consistently publish relevant and valuable content
4. MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP (EVEN IF THAT’S NOT BOOKING YOU)
If you’re pricing your photography the right way (for profitability) then it’s likely that your service is a high-ticket purchase for most potential clients.
This means that most people will take longer to move along the buying decision process, than perhaps they would with a lower priced purchase, and many potential clients simply won’t be ready to make the commitment of getting in touch with you, via phone or email, on their first exposure to your website or brochure.
If you don’t have another way to stay in touch with them, then chances are they’ll forget all about you. Or perhaps they simply won’t be able to find you again when they’re ready to move forward and make their buying decision.
Research estimates that 95% of website visitors leave and never return. So it’s likely that not having a strategy to keep in touch with potential clients is causing you to miss out on many bookings.
Some ways you can keep in touch with potential clients include:
- email newsletters
- social media
- phone calls
- printed and mailed newsletters
- events (either online or in person)
Whatever method you choose, the key is to keep in touch regularly and consistently and to deliver as much value as possible.
The more value you deliver the more your potential clients will trust you.
So that when you remind them about how you can help solve their problems or achieve their desires, they’ll be more likely to take action and book you.
It’s no secret that the photography market place is flooded, and to the photography-purchasing public it seems that everyone is offering the same thing.
In situations like this – where there are lots of options to choose from and everything looks the same – most potential clients will base their decision on the only difference they can see and understand – the price.
That’s why it’s so critical to set yourself apart from everyone else, so you’re not left competing on price.
Hopefully you now feel confident that you can set yourself apart from everyone else, so you don’t need to compete on price, and skyrocket your photography bookings.
Leave a comment and let me know: which step are you going to take action on first?