As wedding photographers, we have a huge arsenal of evidence at our disposal when it comes to showing clients our style, experience in the industry and what they can expect when hiring us.
So rather than sending lengthy correspondence emails telling them how great we are, why not just show them? In this episode, we’ll chat about the secret to booking wedding photography clients by showcasing your work and it all starts with your website.
From a solid portfolio and online galleries to blog posts, slideshows, and album designs, I’ll chat about what I do to “show” prospective clients my experience and what they can expect before any emails are sent or meetings scheduled.
It’s a great way of building trust and confidence in prospective clients that you can capture their special day the way they envision. At the same time, it will free up the time you might otherwise spend in meetings to build your business in other, more constructive ways.
As they say, pictures speak a thousand words and as photographers, we have the images! So rather than just telling our prospective brides and grooms how amazing and awesome we are, why don’t we actually show them? What do I mean by this and how am I doing this?
This is something I’ve been thinking about the last couple of months as my wife and I are in the middle of finishing purchasing our home. One of the processes, when you buy a new construction home, is that you go in and have a design meeting where you pick your upgrades and options; like what cabinets you want, what hardwood floor types and colors, etc.
We picked out our options and decided what we wanted. But then a few weeks later, we were presented with a few different proposals and I wanted to know what would that look like. What would our new home look like if we decided to go with something else? We wanted to have a visual of what the kitchen would look like...what the living room would like, etc.
Okay, it’s going to be this color, it’s going to be this size...I can try to visualize it but wouldn’t it be much better if this design company actually showed me what our future home would look like, based on the options we picked?
That got me thinking as a wedding photographer, seeing as we have the images, how we can show prospective clients not only our work but the experience of working with us? Being able to sell ourselves and our services.
So how do I go about doing that, especially since these days I don’t really meet my clients in person anymore? The last time I had an in-person client meeting was over three months ago.
That was the last time I actually had anyone come over to my home for a meeting and since then, I’ve booked around 10 weddings and they were all over the web. So that’s the power of being able to show them things like your website and your reviews.
Another reason why I wanted to talk about this topic was that of the whole rebranding from WPP to SIWP. I wanted to have a new logo, color scheme, and website. I’d been connecting with some web and logo designers but I wasn’t able to really see their work.
I’d go to their website and see 5 or 10 recent bodies of work and I’d ask them, "Have you designed a website for a coach or a mentor of an educational site? Have you done something like this? Have you designed a logo or branding for that?"
Most of them would say, "Yes, we’ve done that, we have experience putting together an online educational website or for a business coach." It’s great that they’re telling me that but why don’t they show me a handful of websites that represent that?
Send me some links to their past clients, send me a PDF of their branding board. Whatever it might be to really showcase their ability and their skills. That’s much more powerful than just telling me in an email.
So that’s where the power of showing prospective clients is very impactful. You’re cutting down on the emails going back and forth and it can save some time for my prospective couples - they don’t have to drive out and meet with me or even talk over the phone.
They can see exactly what they’re going to get working with me all through the website, through the links I send to them.
It’s going to gain their trust right away. That’s why I think this idea of "don’t just tell them but show them” is so important. It ties into episode 107 I did a few weeks back that today...a good amount of my bookings come from clients without any type of meeting. Not even a phone or virtual meeting because of what I’m showing them on my website.
One of the most frequent pieces of feedback I get from those couples is that my website was very elaborate. "We saw enough of your photos, the portfolio and the blog, which has the recent weddings and e-sessions, as well as the FAQ."
If you visit my company website at aevitasweddings.com, you can see for yourself the content that is there.
My couples told me that because of everything they’ve seen, plus the reviews that they found, they have enough trust and confidence to hire me right over the web.
I want to map out exactly how I try to illustrate my photography and the experience of working with me, as well as my style and my vision. What I want to do is let prospective clients and visitors to my website know within the first 30 seconds if I could be a good fit for them.
I want prospective couples to have a definitive opinion right away, rather than be stuck in the middle and put me in the “maybe” pile. Perhaps we need to meet with Henry to get a better sense of his personality and see more of his work.
On my website, there are over 200 blog posts and 20-25+ slideshow. I recently added some albums and, of course, the portfolio. There’s over 1,000 images just in the portfolio alone.
I want to make sure they have a very comprehensive understanding of what my style is and what I can offer them even before contacting me. That’s really where your website is so important.
You don’t need to say the same thing over and over again. This is how many years of experience I have or I’ve shot this type of wedding. Of course, if they email you with any questions, you’re going to answer them.
But the point is, wherever you can illustrate something or use your images to illustrate it, then do so! Let them see the quality, the style of your photography, rather than just typing it in a text.
Don’t just say that you have experience shooting a certain type of wedding or at a particular venue, actually send the photos of that wedding or a blog post from that venue.
A lot of us are going to say that we have the experience. We’re going to write back in the email, "Yes, we’re available. Here’s our pricing and packages and do you want to have a meeting?"
But we can do so much more than that and your website is your first line of offense. When they actually go to your contact page and fill in the information, you want to make sure they have a pretty good idea of your style of photography, your experience level, what you’ve done, and how many years/ how many weddings you’ve shot.
You really want them to have a very good idea/understanding of that versus coming to you and saying, "We want to see more work."
And if they don’t contact you, chances are it’s because they didn’t like your style of photography or they did not see enough work to convince them that you could be a potential photographer for them.
Or maybe they Google us or check a wedding review site and they don’t see us there. Perhaps we don’t have enough reviews or any that are recent. I talked about that in episode 110 how I got to 400+ reviews combined on these sites. If you listen to that one, you’ll see exactly how I use reviews to get inquiries and bookings.
Many of us are not maximizing the images that we get from the weddings we shoot. Even if you’re just shooting 5-10 weddings a year, possibly second shooting and the main photographer allows you to use the images you capture, why not showcase all of them on your website?
Maybe we’re only showing 5-10% and missing out on the potential of further bookings because of that.
Everything is funneled to your website. Whether a prospective couple found you from a wedding venue/vendor, through word of mouth or a wedding review site like WeddingWire, The Knot, Here Comes The Guide, everything funnels directly to your website.
What’s the first thing they’re going to see on your website? Your homepage. It’s important to check what’s called the “bounce rate” of your home page with Google Analytics to ensure that the images you present there are impressing couples enough to make them explore further.
It goes without saying that you need to have a portfolio. If you’re into wedding photography, you’ve got to have a website and you’ve got to have a portfolio. That’s where you want to show your best work.
But don’t limit how much you’re showing. If you’re just displaying 20 images, it’s not enough to create confidence in prospective couples to actually contact you, see if you’re available and what your pricing is.
There is no magical number of how many images you should show in your portfolio. It’s a number that’s enough for the prospective bride and groom to feel like you know what you’re doing and they feel like they’ve seen enough that they’re will to consider and contact you.
Many of us stop with our portfolio. We also have our homepage, contact page, and the galleries/portfolio page. The next thing you should focus on is a blog. And if you have a blog, you need to be updating it frequently.
There’s so much value in having a blog and updating it on a consistent basis. At least twice a month is my requirement but I’m going to update it as often as possible. Every shoot I do, I’m going to have a blog post for it. It’s just part of my workflow.
But in addition to having a blog, you want to make sure you’re doing what’s called SEO - search engine optimization. Not just for your blog and images on the blog post, but your entire website.
How powerful is this and how useful is it going to be for you in the long run? I bought the domain aevitasweddings.com 2.5 years ago and I’m regularly seeing the benefit of the time and energy I put into optimizing my website and posting over 200 blogs.
Go to aevitasweddings.com/blog and you’ll see weddings there from 2-3 weekends ago to back in 2013-2014, all of which have been optimized with SEO. Prospective couples can see it all right there. I’m shooting weddings on a consistent basis, and possibly have shot at their venue or in the style they are envisioning.
Maybe some of us want to add a personal side to the website and share things about ourselves, our family and what we like to do. Possibly even providing some wedding day tips to our brides and grooms. There’s so much you can do with blog posts in addition to sharing your images.
It’s going to increase the chances of you being found and you can trace all of that data in Google Analytics. Which of my posts are the most popular? What keywords were typed in so that the prospective couple found my website?
Another website feature that has been really instrumental for me this year are slideshows. I signed up with SmartSlides (an amazing software program) back in February; you can see the results at aevitasweddings.com/slideshows. Each slideshow has 100 or 200 images. Some of the cultural weddings have over 300 images.
If I get a potential client to my website, they’re going to look through the blog and they might need a little bit more convincing. For some of us, that might be where they contact you. For me, that’s where the slideshows come in.
Each slideshow is around 8-10 minutes, so they can grab a cup of coffee, sit back and watch. It’s going to give them a very detailed account of the style, quality, quantity, and the types of photos that I’m able to capture.
If I do get inquiries and see a couple is getting married at a particular venue or in a certain style, I’ll send a link to a relevant slideshow of similar weddings to theirs. Even my past clients are actually telling me how much they appreciate the slideshows I put together!
After my portfolio, blog posts, and slideshows are the album designs. I just added this feature recently, although I’ve been using the awesome software company AlbumExposure for almost a decade.
It’s an online tool that I can use to help me get inquiries and hopefully bookings from there. Maybe the prospective couple is convinced by the slideshows but they’re looking to order an album from me. They want to see what the layouts look like.
I do have samples at my home but what if they’re out of town or they’re busy and they don’t necessarily want to meet in person? I can send the couple images of what a 12x12 leather-bound cover looks like, with the embossing of their names and the cover photo. Also, other features like how thick the pages. I have photos of actual sample albums that I can share with the couple (via Dropbox).
But I took things a step further by having an album design section on my website. You’ll see that in the “more info” tab in the navigation. There are 20-25 recent weddings from couples who ordered an album.
You can actually flip through the spreads, page by page, to see exactly what those couples got, and even give some ideas on what photos to pick for their own album. It’s amazing how something like that can trigger a huge light bulb. Wow, this looks exactly what we want. We want to have an album!
If I need one last nudge to convince a prospective couple, I can also share my online galleries. That’s where everything my past couples have received is located.
I can send them some of these gallery links and they can see all the photos that my past couples have received after their wedding.
From the first getting ready image to the last dancing photo of the evening, all color corrected and ready to be shared and downloaded for my couple and their guests.
Those are a lot of the features that I use on a daily basis. These are all links that I can share with prospective couples, a lot of which are public.
That’s how I’m able to truly share and visually show what I can offer and the experience of working with me. By the time a prospective couple contacts me, they’re already interested in hiring me and most of the questions at that point are about availability and pricing.
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