So, you’ve got a wedding photography business and it’s going fine. But, you’re hearing reports that your fellow photographers have got 48 weddings booked for next year and you have 2. And panic sets in.
Below are the 9 most common reason wedding photographers don’t have more clients. The good news is, they’re all totally fixable.
1) You’re focusing on being better
Have you ever thought you’d have more bookings if – your photos were better, you got that new lens, you finally figured out your editing, your couples were more hipster, you lived in the desert?
STOP. Unless you are the worlds worst wedding photographer, the reason you’re not getting clients has nothing to do with the quality of your work.
The problem with this is that you get distracted by things that don’t bring more clients or money in. You starting trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist by buying expensive kit, attending shooting workshops, watching YouTube tutorials.
And while you’re busy doing all of this, you’re abandoning your business, you’re telling yourself you’re “not ready yet” and you don’t want to share work until it’s better. And if you’re walking around thinking you’re not a good photographer, chances are you’re not selling confidently (or at all) because it’s hard to sell something you don’t believe in.
2) You’re the worlds best kept secret
You could be the best wedding photographer, but if no one knows who you are, you’re not going to get clients.
A marketing strategy, plan and time dedicated to getting eyes on your business is going to make the world of difference.
There are two main marketing issues – visibility (you know, people knowing you exist) and messaging (making sure once people find you, they get why you’re the one for them). Both are vitally important and work together.
Where are your clients spending time? How can you show up there? What can you talk about to get their attention? What do you feel comfortable doing consistently?
For example, my main marketing channel for my wedding photography business is SEO. I am front page of Google for a number of chosen search terms and I get the majority of my enquiries from Google. So, I know my stuff with SEO and am willing to put in the work on that regularly(ish) to maintain my position. But, I also understand that my business isn’t for everyone – so I write blog posts on topics important to my ideal clients, the branding and messaging as soon as you land on my site speaks to a particular kind of couple and wedding. Once they find me, I keep the right people there for longer and get them feeling invested in me.
3) You work with anyone and everyone
Do you have an ideal client profile? Do you actually understand who you want to work with, who would love to work with you, why you’re special?
If your ideal clients are just “anyone getting married with money to pay me” then that’s likely the problem.
There are a lot of wedding photographers. As fancy cameras and professional looking websites get cheaper, you can expect more to crop up everyday. This isn’t scare-mongering because I’ll let you in on a secret – the majority of them are terrible at marketing! They’re doing the, “if I build it, they will come,” thing.
Get yourself out ahead by picking who you want to work with and making a bold statement about it.
Remember, you really don’t need that many bookings a year, right? My totally unscientific estimate is that wedding photographers cover 20-40 weddings a year on average. That’s not very many people! That means that you can be super niche, in a way that a business selling a high volume or low priced things might be nervous to do. You could literally only photograph ginger couples, or cat owners, or space themed weddings. And you would find 20-40 couples who were totally in love with that. And what’s more, they’d book you over everyone else because you’re the expert in that thing.
4) You’re focusing on price
I mean, yes, couples have a budget. But also…no one is going to die if they don’t have a big wedding. A wedding is a luxury purchase from beginning to end, so, don’t feel the pressure to make yourself “affordable” and to compete on price.
I don’t know about you…but…when I want something really indulgent and of high quality, I’m not going with the person shouting about how I can have 50% off! There’s a good chance you’re actually putting people off by focusing on price and a “good deal”.
The number one thing I hear client say is, “maybe I’m too expensive?” They spend all this time agonising over whether or not their price is stopping people from buying. For starters, often when we tweak their pricing it becomes apparent people were put off by them being too cheap. But most importantly, none of us wants to be the photographer who is chosen simply because we’re the cheapest, right? So why are you relying so heavily on pricing as a bargaining chip to attract clients and close the sale? You are more than a number, my friend!
Also…charging next to nothing for wedding photography is a sure fire way to get burnt out real fast.
5) You’re not asking for the sale
There are several places that wedding photographers make this mistake:
Your website isn’t selling
Is your website guiding people to take action? Do you tell people how to work with you? Do you repeatedly tell them to contact you? Or how to contact you? Or that you are even open to do their wedding?
This may sound obvious, but it’s missing from so many websites – people don’t want to go hunting for a way to pay you, they need you to tell them what you do and how they can access it.
I want you to go shouting at people, make it so obvious – “this is how you can work with me, click here to contact me!”
You’re not adding a call to action in your marketing content
You know all those blogs posts and social media posts of pretty pictures? Do you ever talk about what you actually do? Do you ever talk about who you work with? And how they can contact you?
This could be as simple as shoving “PM me for a chat about your wedding photography” at the end of an Instagram post, or, “contact me to check availability” at the end of a blog.
You’re not closing on your sales calls/meetings
I was the worst for this for a long time. When I started, I was so uncomfortable talking about money and so worried about it being awkward if the couple rejected me, that I would leave meetings with no idea if they wanted to book or not.
Now, depending on your sales style, you might not want to pull a contract out and have your clients sign their lives away in the meeting, but, at the very least you should be doing a “soft close”.
The soft close is when you tell people about the next steps – for me, it looks like telling them about the deposit, how contracts work, what the next steps are. And often that will lead to the clients saying, “great, send us the contract.”
You can also ask for a decision – ask them how they’re feeling, what package they’d like to go for, what’s stopping them from committing.
Aside from losing sales, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to answer the clients questions and understand their needs better. Maybe they love you but something you said/didn’t say made them nervous and if you asked what’s holding them back, you could have a 5 minute conversation where you put their minds at rest.
6) Your offer is confusing
OK, I had to put this in because sometimes clients come to me with soooo much going on that it takes me hours to get to grips with it.
Ask yourself – if I wasn’t in my business, would I understand this?
Sometimes it shows up in confusing, flowery words for things. Or technical/industry language.
Sometimes it’s packages that are just super hard to understand – if you need a spreadsheet to understand your pricing/packages then there’s no way your clients are going to know what’s going on and you’re creating a huge barrier to them buying.
Sometimes it’s just too many options – do you do 15 different things? Are you asking your clients to make hundreds of tiny decisions in order to book with you?
Sometimes it’s just that everything is cloak-and-dagger. I don’t care if your pricing is on your website or not, but, if clients have to jump through hoops to get a straight answer out of you…if you feel like you’re keeping stuff hidden…their BS-meters will be ringing.
Simplify! In general, we want marketing language to be so easy to understand that an 8 year old could get it. And we want what we sell to be instantly understandable – clients should understand the value, what they get and the price in seconds.
7) You’re making it all about you
This one happens a lot. In fact, I think it’s a right of passage when launching a small business to wake up one day and realise, “ohhh, I’m making this all about me and it’s just not…”
It’s a super easy trap to fall into. We’re told that personal brands are the thing. That we’ve got to show our personalities, share from our lives, treat clients like friends, be ourselves. And that’s all great advice, people do connect with people. Know, like and trust factor is huge in business. Especially weddings, which feel so intimate.
But…what often happens is, somewhere in the mix of trying to be yourself (whatever that means), you forget about the client. You forget that, actually, you’re only being yourself so that a client can connect with you. And you can be yourself through a specific filter. You are a multi-faceted, complicated being…and that’s hard to tie a nice marketing bow around. What you actually want is to be yourself while talking about a couple of specific, considered topics that mean a lot to your ideal clients.
This is where messaging becomes super important. I can talk to my clients like a real human, with a sense of humour, sharing anecdotes from my life (and pictures of my dog). But, I’m not telling them about all the various aspects of my life, I’m talking to them about a couple of things – I’m talking to them about being nontraditional, about valuing time with friends and family, about not taking things too seriously, about not loving being photographed. I’m using points that I know are important to my clients when booking a wedding photographer and that are integral to my brand, to anchor what I talk about, how I talk and what I share.
8) You’re not focusing on value
I know, value-schmalue. It’s all anyone in marketing talks about, right?
That’s because it really is everything. Letting clients see value is what gets them super excited about you, willing to spend more money, ready to commit now.
I could write forever about this, but, what I want to focus on here is value as it relates to what I said above.
It’s easy for us to make business decisions based on what we want, right? You put your prices up because you want more money or you want to do fewer weddings a year. You share photos on social media because it helps get you more clients. You get the contract signed to protect yourself.
Let’s say we do make these decisions purely selfishly (even though I reckon you’re all decent humans who care about your clients and yourselves). It’s hard not to really when we’re in our business and in our own struggles with overwhelm, editing queues, not enough time with the family, not enough money, etc.
That’s fine. But, then we want to make sure those decisions have value to our clients. For example, let’s say you start offering a second shooter with all your packages and you raise your price to accommodate this – you’ve decided you’re too stressed at weddings to work alone, so for your quality of life you want a second. Great. Good reason. For you.
But now you want to understand the value for your clients. Frankly, your clients aren’t going to care much about your stress levels. So, you’ll want to frame this as a benefit for them – you might talk about never missing a thing, getting more photos in the final edit, having prep for both couples covered, additional angles…whatever, you get my point, right? You’re making it about your clients and why it has value to them. The extra couple of hundred quid is a no-brainer when they’re confident the second photographer will stop you from missing precious moments, right? They’d have been less inclined to spend £300 on lowering your stress levels. Even though they’re good people.
9) You’re not actually doing any/enough marketing
Let me be real with you. There’s a good chance you think you’re doing more than you actually are.
I’m all about making marketing seem simple and easy. I don’t believe marketing should be using your whole day, all day, everyday. I do think around 50% of your time as a business should be spent on sales and marketing. But…
Depending on what marketing channels you’re using, you should be being seen a lot. If SEO is your thing, this might mean 1-2 blog posts a week, if social media is your thing, this means 1 or more posts a day.
Whatever your channel is, familiarise yourself with how often you need to show up and be intentional.
Make a plan, designate a specific day to marketing. After all, marketing is building the future of your business. And time-blocking makes this a lot easier.
Let’s say you do all your marketing on a Monday – maybe you write all your posts in notes and copy and paste them everyday, maybe you get a scheduler and schedule your social media posts, or you pre-write a couple of weeks of blog posts and schedule them in.
And remember your messaging and calls to action. Make sure you know what you stand for when you’re writing – what do you want people to know about your business? What will your clients connect with? What are their struggles? What do they care about? And what are you going to say to let them know how to work with you? What call to action will you include?
As much as we would all love it, we can’t just post on Instagram a few times, write a single blog post or build a website and expect the clients to come rushing in, waving money above their heads. Make sure you’re actually showing up for your business.
Oh and of course, assess. If you’re getting nothing from your blog but lots from Instagram, double down on Instagram. If you notice posts about one thing get more engagement than another, do more about that. Refine all the time…that will make writing marketing content so much easier in the long run because you’ll know where to post, when to post and what to post about to get maximum impact.
Want more wedding photography clients?
That’s probably why you’re here! This blog post is a great start to troubleshoot what you’re doing right now, to get more wedding photography clients and make your business work for you.
I know it’s often really hard to see our own businesses clearly. That’s why I love having my own coach and what I do with my business coaching clients.
I specialise in helping creative and wedding businesses make bank. We look at your marketing, pricing, business structure and mindset to turn your wedding photography business into a money-making machine…one that you actually enjoy working in.
If you would like a very experience set of eyes on your business and a fast-track to the business you’ve been hustling your butt off for, send me an email and we can arrange a time to chat about where you’re at, where you’re going and how I can help get you there faster with 1:1 coaching.