One of the biggest contributors to my business success has been my ability to get hundreds of wedding photography reviews from previous clients on WeddingWire, Yelp, and Google.
In my opinion, the best way to sell yourself is through the honest words of others. Having positive feedback and reviews from past clients is just as important as an impressive portfolio if you want to secure the bookings of future clients.
In this podcast episode, I wanted to chat about how I’ve managed to get these wedding photography reviews over the 10 years I’ve been in business and why it’s the quality of reviews (not just the quantity) that matters.
Recent reviews that offer specific details about your customer service or the client experience are a powerful means of giving prospective couples peace of mind and may directly address some of the concerns they have.
Prospective clients will probably be drawn to you by the images they see online. But to take the next step and have them hire you, they want to know that your customer service is second-to-none and that they can have full trust in you.
I think I can say with high certainty that there is not one single couple that hired me that did not read my reviews. That’s how important they are to my business. If you add up all the reviews I have from WeddingWire, Yelp, and Google, maybe there’s another dozen on The Knot, there's a total of 400+.
I know this for a fact because many of my prospective and actual couples have told me they not only found me through those wedding resource websites but read my testimonials. And that’s why it’s so important, not why I want to share how to get reviews with you.
I can’t say that reviews are the only way to build your reputation, especially online, but I know that they are one of the best ways. Reviews are the gift that keeps on giving. If there’s one thing that you can do for yourself and the future of your business, it’s getting amazing reviews.
The more reviews you have, the higher you’re probably going to turn up in search rankings. For example, if you type in “Los Angeles wedding photographer” on Google, you’ll see that my website, Aevitas Weddings, appears at the very top in what’s called the map pack.
It’s the same with wedding resource websites like WeddingWire, and even Yelp. Because when you show up and higher more often, you’re naturally going to get more visits to your website. So you can see it’s very much the gift that keeps on giving and it’s basically free. You’re not paying anybody to write reviews for you. Just providing amazing service and images and your couples will be more than happy to help you out.
If a prospective couple is considering you, along with 4 or 5 other wedding photographers and you all charge a similar amount or maybe the quality of the photos are comparable. But when it comes to the reviews, they’re going to Google your company name and see what shows up in the search results. That’s probably going to influence their decision.
Anyone that has collected reviews over the years can attest to the success that they have received as a result. For me, it’s also enabled me to book clients without having any meetings. Not just an in-person one but even over the phone or virtual meetings. Just through emails. One of the main reasons is because of my online reputation.
Couples have the confidence to hire me, sign the contract and, pay the 25% deposit because of the words of my past clients. They’re using all these reviews you’ve collected over the years to determine whether to contact you, to inquire and ultimately, to book you.
One of the main reasons I hear from my colleagues/students as to why they don’t have that many reviews is simply because they haven’t shot that many weddings yet. How on earth can you get reviews and build up the number of them if you haven’t shot that many weddings?
We all start with 0 reviews. I did 10 years ago. But if you’ve shot even just 4 or 5 weddings, you should have reviews from those clients and make sure you keep track of all that. If you already have reviews from those past couples, see if they’re willing to write the same one on another site.
Alternatively, if you’ve shot family portrait sessions, maternity shoots or a corporate event, see if those clients are willing to write a review for you. Hopefully, through that, you’ll build up your numbers and eventually get a few more inquiries and wedding bookings that will allow you to keep the review focus on weddings.
Then the next step is doing an incredible job at these weddings...the service and quality of photography. Ensuring that your couples absolutely want to write that review for you. That’s the mentality that I encourage all of us to have.
The most frequent problem I hear when it comes to photographers that are not able to collect reviews is that they ask their couples but they never respond back. Maybe you ask them, they said they’ll do it but a few weeks/months pass.
So what could be the problem? Perhaps they weren’t happy with the quality or even the quantity of photos that you captured. Maybe the service that you provided leading up to and during the wedding day wasn’t up to scratch. Maybe you took forever to get them the online gallery or the album but you’re bugging them for a review a week after their wedding.
So for those reasons, maybe they don’t want to cause any friction or conflict. It’s going to be a bit awkward for them so they prefer not to write the review. Or maybe they’re just busy: off on their honeymoon, settling into married life, and trying to start a family. Life happens and writing reviews is not at the top of their list.
Firstly, I also don’t ask my couples for a review until I deliver at least the online gallery. If they have a wedding album, then maybe I try to wait until they have their album or their prints. But I’m not going to ask them for a review a week or two after their wedding or as soon as I post a few sneak peaks. I just want to give them a bit more time and I don’t want to bug them on their honeymoon.
Most importantly, you have to deliver the service and product that makes them want to write the review. I promise you that if they really want to write the review for you, nothing is going to prevent that from happening. I’ve had the busiest past clients in their professions, moving across the country, starting a family...and they’re still writing the reviews.
Another potential reason is that maybe you’re worried they might write a bad review and that’s why you don’t want to ask them. But this should never be the case.
Your main intention should be what can you do to provide the best service and quality of photos that you can.
But if your concern is that you’re worried they’re going to write a bad review for you, then you have much bigger things to figure out than how to get these testimonials.
Not having time for reviews should never be an excuse. Honestly, how much time does it take? If that’s the case, then clearly it’s not that important to you or you don’t think it’s necessary. Maybe you’re getting your inquiries bookings through other means and you don’t need to get reviews.
Some photographers might feel like they’re never going to catch up to other photographers. Okay, I have 10 but why bother trying to get to 20 when this other photographer has 100! By the time I get there, they’re going to have even more reviews!
You definitely need to get over that mentality. There will always be other photographers, whether they’re in your area or not, that will have more reviews than you and, for that matter, there will always be photographers that will have fewer reviews than you.
Just because you don’t have the most reviews, it does not mean that prospective clients are not going to consider you. Absolutely not.
First and foremost, I don’t ask right after the wedding. Most of the time, it’s around 2 to 3 months after. Also, I don’t ever ask before showing them anything.
Hopefully, they had a great experience working with me but if they haven’t seen any photos, any blog posts, slideshows or albums, how can they really review me? They need to see the photos before they can write the review.
Then as far as asking, it’s very straightforward. It’s just an email template that I modify, tailoring it towards them and their special day. Maybe they went to a certain place for their honeymoon and I’ll ask them about that or they’re moving to another state. Sometimes I’ll mention specific things about their wedding day that was special to me or I really enjoyed.
It’s not just a quick “Hello” and links to 3 review sites. Try to spend a little bit more time and let them know the importance of the review to you - being a small business owner and really relying on the words of your past couples. Their words and honest feedback are invaluable. Let them know the value of what they’re doing and their time commitment.
Perhaps I ask them once, and they say they will write the review soon or in the coming weeks and it doesn’t happen. I’ll follow up in a month or so and hopefully hear back. If not, I might contact them again offering a few prints as a small complimentary gift. Not a bribe but just a few 8x10s to encourage them. But I definitely won’t ask more than three times.
In the email, I put the direct link to the 3 wedding resource websites: Yelp, WeddingWire, and Google search engine. There are ways to have a direct link, so all the couple has to do is click on that link (and if they haven’t already logged in or created an account) and write the review.
Have I ever asked them to write a unique one? No, I have never done that. But I have been told from various sources that, if possible, change a few words here and there on each review site. But I’m just not going to bug my couples to that level.
My aim is to be in as many places as possible, even if it means having the same review on all three. It’s been working for me, so don’t fix what’s not broken. And I’ve picked the three that I feel are the most important ones but you have to decide that yourself based on your market.
Remember that with reviews it’s all about quantity, quality, and recency, so keep that in mind when building your reviews and make sure you track them. I just use a spreadsheet and note when a couple writes a review and where.
Also, keep in mind that you’re never going to get 100% of your couples to write reviews, so don’t push it if they’re not responding to you after a few emails.
Having the number and quality of reviews I have was instrumental when I rebranded my wedding photography business to Aevitas Weddings. Without them, I don’t know if I would have ever been able to recover.
So I owe so much to my past couples for taking the time to share their testimonials, and I truly believe that reviews are going to be even more important going forward.
Watch my FREE video explaining how I made $150k+ in the second year of my wedding photography business.