Tips to Help your Wedding Photography Business be More Successful – Starting Today!
I did a post on this topic a few years ago and thought it was time to give it a little facelift. The true interesting part is how much may of the topics are still relevant and can help your business as a wedding photographer. I did feel adding some more details would help. As far as my business it has grown dramatically. As of February 2015 I had to shot down any additional bookings for 2015. My average price I charge for a wedding has increased $1000 per booking. So I wanted to still keep the original topic but modify it to how I use it now.
Rates, Referrals and Reviews, the 3 R’s to Controlling the Cost of your Wedding Photography Business
Wedding photography is not a growing industry, but the amount of people wanting to be a wedding photographer is. The lowering prices of digital SLR and a soft economy has brought a rise in the amount of amateur and professional wedding shooters. Because of this, there is a wide range of prices and packages. As a professional wedding photographer I did not want my prices to be so low to group me in with the amateur weekend photographers, and I did not want my prices to be so high to be too high for the lowering budgets of most couples.
An average wedding for me is 1-2 hours prep time with meetings, paperwork and phone calls. Add an additional 10 to 12 hours the wedding day with about 10 – 15 hours post wedding work, and that does not even count a couples wedding album. Next lets talk about equipment, as a professional I need more than a camera and lens. I carry backups of all equipment, lens, flashes, cards and miscellaneous stuff. The last part of my expenses is advertising, needed just to get the word out that I am available for a wedding.
Most of my clients are from word of mouth or Google. With online referrals and some Internet marketing I have become highly ranked on Google for wedding photographers in Columbus as well as a Wedding Photographers. Because of this you don’t see many paid ads I have placed online. You will also not see me at area bridal shows, these shows can cost as much as $500- $1000 and there is one just about every month.
So How have I Lowered the Cost of Your Wedding Packages While Maintaining my Profit Margin (And increase Sales)?
Let me clarify this is not looking a the rate you charge as a photographer but looking into the advertising you do to promote yourself. Advertising is very expensive, any advertising I do I look to get the best price and targeted leads to couples looking for my services. I also look at the online benefit to those ads.
My ads must have 3 things in common.
A. Be target specifically to couples that are needing a photographer.
B. If its a online ad the domain must be ranked within the wedding industry.
C. Be cost effective to pay for its self with bookings.
In 2012 I was not doing any advertising with a monthly type plan because of the cost. (ie. WeddingWire, TheKnot, PerfectWeddingGuide and others)
Now it is 2015 and the principle has changed slightly.
I will tell a startup photographer these websites are still expensive and may be beyond your budget. There are plenty of niche related sites to place an ad that may be a small one time fee and provide you a wedding and a link to your site.
I will tell you I am now a featured vendor on Weddingwire. At the time I started advertising they ranked well and also I could save money by using many of their online booking and contract tools. As far as the return I booked my first wedding within 5 minutes of turning my ad on. I still feel it is a great site but in my area I feel the rankings have started to fall that has me examining it again.
When is comes to bridal shows you can attract some business. The problem is at what cost. An average bridal show costs about $500 to $1000 each event. Then at least $1500 for a pop up booth and $200 to update those photos. Then don’t forget the brochures and handouts you will need. Don’t get me wrong you can book weddings with this, just have to add the cost into booking the wedding. I still have not been to a bridal show but have had some associate photographers have a little success. They have stuck with the small $500 a show type that they knew were only going to be a handful of photographers. Plus with this type of show they knew 1 booking made it worth the trip.
This is not a new concept to wedding photographers, here are the basics. I want to do my best to make your wedding a memorable experience, so much so you tell your friends and show them your pictures. Then when they get married they call me. Simple.
So how I have expanded this today?
I have added some processes to my wedding workflow. I wanted to reach out to family and other vendors as soon as I can. I feel this helps set up a better relationship during the wedding. The better the relationship the more likely they are to refer a wedding my way.
Social media is vital.
I try to share as many images with family and vendors as I can. I have found the more they share around the increase in referrals I have. This is not just a word of mouth but I have had brides say they say my photo on a wedding venue facebook page and wanted to have a photographer who knew the venue.
Google and Facebook have become a huge asset to my wedding business. By asking clients to place good reviews on a few sites it helps my rankings on the search engines and also helps future wedding couples feel comfortable I have done work that has been enjoyed by other wedding couples.
In 2015 I will tell you this is even more important!! You can not do enough to get reviews. Had out cards send emails do what ever you can to get them online.
The Best Wedding Photography Prices
By working smart on my marketing and advertising I have dramatically lowered my cost per wedding while also doubling my wedding photography business and my profit margin has remained the same. With this reduction in cost I have passed this saving on to every wedding photography package to have a affordable budget range for wedding. By placing my rate into a more affordable range I have increased the amount of couples I can effectively market too and book.
Curtis Wallis is owner of a successful and growing photography business located in Columbus Ohio.
“Cost might get them in the door, but creative quality and style is what will always set you apart”