The most comprehensive list of proven and actionable strategies to grow your photography business in 2021.
Despite the photography Industry taking a massive hit over the past 18 months, photographers all over the world are seeing huge growth within their businesses.
I asked my audience and network who the Worlds Smartest Photographers are, so I could reach out to them and tap into their minds to gather their most effective growth strategies here for you!
Below are 66 Growth Strategies being used by the world’s smartest photographers.
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- – KILLER BRAND STRATEGIES –
- – CLIENT EXPERIENCE –
- – NETWORKING –
- – CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY –
- – BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT –
- – SELF-DEVELOPMENT –
- – THE POWER OF PRINT –
- – OPTIMIZING SEO –
- – SOCIAL MEDIA –
– KILLER BRAND STRATEGIES –
Go Small To Go Big
My entire growth strategy is built on the premise of “Go Small To Go Big.”
I have felt that so many photographers concentrate on the wrong things such as social media metrics or trying to become “world-famous.” How are you going to be world-famous if your next neighbor does not know what you do for a living?
My entire growth strategy is to become the most well-known photographer on my street, my neighborhood, my town, and then the county I live in. Once I have accomplished that, I then take on the next county and eventually the city I’m from. I went from being a photographer known in Woodbridge, Virginia (I have won every best of photography award in my county for the last 3 years) to expand into the next closest metropolitan city which is Washington DC.
This is what it means to go small to go big.
Building Myself Into My Brand
It’s simple really. Simple yet a bit terrifying. One of the greatest things I have done for my brand has been to showcase more of my personal life on it. Pulling back the curtain of the behind-the-scenes and just being more transparent of who I am as a person (not just a business) on social media.
Eliminate Competition By
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with what everyone else is doing.
Focus on the number one thing you are awesome at. This is what big businesses do. Find your focus and capitalize on it.
I hyper niched down on creating a brand around tattooed brides for years.
By narrowing my focus to tattooed brides, I expanded my business.
You Are A Photographer – Not A Designer
I should preface this by saying 99% of you are photographers, not graphic designers. I see photographers (including myself) fall into the trap where, because we are in a creative field, we think we are also good at graphic design. We start designing our own logos, branding, websites, pricing guides, etc. It might not be bad, but it’s probably not good either. At the very least, it’s likely inconsistent and Brand is all about consistency.
You don’t need to break the bank with complete custom everything. Here a few incredible tools and designers that I have used to bring my brand altogether.
Tonic Site Shop – for the most beautiful website templates available. (Use code “SIXFIGURE” at checkout for $100 off)
Launch Your Day Dream – While you can hire them for a complete custom website, they also offer a more affordable design service where they design off a template. I worked with them to built out my website using the Tonic template mentioned above. (Use code “BENHARTLEY” at checkout for $100 off)
Canva – The easiest graphic design tool available. It’s so easy in fact that it can cause branding problems. Its easy to get distracted by the mass variety of options available and end up veering away from your brand. Make sure to keep your colors, fonts and design elements the same.
Showit – There are few website builders that allow for the design customization and simplicity that Showit offers. All my websites are now built out on Showit using Tonic Themes, customized by Launch Your Day Dream. (Use code “BENHARTLEY” at checkout for 10% off)
– CLIENT EXPERIENCE –
The sooner I can create a real connection with my clients, the better.
Using an app called bonjoro, I record and send personalized videos to all my possible couples. Once things progress to meeting over Zoom, I use the Mmhmm app (yes, it’s actually called that) to make the Zoom meetings much more personalized like below.
The Power Of Your Name
You probably heard this famous quote by Dale Carnegie before: “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” I could not agree more. People love to be remembered. They will automatically like and open up to you more when you call them by their name.
From the moment a client signs a contract with me, I request a list of the names of the wedding party and immediate family members. I also ask them to describe what relationship they each have with this person. The description does not have to be long—a couple of sentences max—but it gives me a better idea of who they are and what dynamic they have with the bride and the groom.
It does take a bit more effort to get their names right. If you search for tips on remembering names, many practical ones will come up (like repeating it out loud after someone introduces themselves: “John? I’m Kenny, nice to meet you, John.”). It is up to you to decide which method works best for you. Use it for every wedding and you will see a drastic difference in the way the wedding party treats you and interacts with you.
Start The Client Experience Before They Become Clients
The client experience doesn’t begin once they start paying you money. The client experience should begin more accurately as a “lead experience” when they first encounter your brand on social or through your website. This shift in perspective will change the content that you highlight on your website and on social media to focus on how you can give leads value before they ever sign a contract.
Elena Sanchez Blair
Even when times seemed impossible, I doubled down and SHOWED UP in a big way. I served my community by providing resources, engagement, and a little bit of beauty in an otherwise difficult time, always with deep compassion for what was happening on our planet.
Even when times were tough, I kept sharing. And guess what? It worked.
When things started opening up again my clients remembered me and I had the busiest fall season I have ever had. When you serve, inspire, and educate, your community remembers you. And when it comes time to pick a photographer your name pops in their mind because you SHOWED UP compassionately.
Tanya Goodall Smith
Interviewing Past Clients
I have been interviewing my past clients on Facebook Live once per week. It’s a candid conversation, we talk about their business and then I ask them about their experience working with me as their branding photographer. Then I post those videos with some notes on my blog and email them to my list. It’s been generating leads and the surprising benefit has been a lot of those clients have booked me for another shoot after our interview.
Surprise Same Day Edit/Slideshow
In reality, I don’t do these to surprise my couples. I look at it as an opportunity to show the quality of my work to hundreds of people that are on a “wedding high.”
It could be an engaged couple attending the wedding I’m photographing. It can be a bride’s mom. Heck, it can be a venue coordinator or one of the janitors working the wedding. Implementing surprise same day edits has allowed me to book up fairly far in advance and be able to provide a service that frees me from a lot of headaches that rhyme with “Medding Mire and The Knock”
It’s Not A Client Experience If Its Not Replicatable
The magic of a phenomenal client experience is that it leads to word-of-mouth marketing. The problem with inconstancy is that if a past client shares the AMAZING experience they had with you, but it isn’t replicable to every single client, and you don’t deliver in the same way to a client referred – it will have the exact opposite effect. An inconsistent client experience is a negative review waiting to happen.
To make sure that your client experience is replicable, you will need it to be systematized and as automated as possible. (Even if the automations are automated reminders that get sent to you to do something highly personal)
The best tool that I have found to do this has been a CRM (Client Relationship Management Software) like Tave, or Sprout Studio. Both of these tools are robust enough to create beautiful workflows to take your client experience to the next level.
– NETWORKING –
Creating real relationships that are genuinely built on shared experiences and values. So often, the vendor and client relationships I see being built are overly strategic for gain or leverage.
Genuinely caring for people has been a life value I hold that as a bonus – has always kept my business moving upward.
Building Out A Systematized
Everyone has a client experience that generates referrals, however, vendors are in the industry for 3-10 times the amount of time that a single client might be. Not only that, but you also have 3-10 vendors per event!
I have a series of automated emails that send out to every vendor. The first gets sent out 7 days prior to the event where I introduce myself and ask how I can serve them. I then have an automated email right after the wedding to thank them for their work. Lastly, when the images are delivered to the client there is an automated email that sends each vendor the photographs from the day.
The huge upside is that when the vendors send couples my way, the conversation rates are AMAZING!
Intentional Styled Shoots
Here in the UK we have faced severe and continual COVID restrictions when it comes to weddings. During 2020 restrictions meant weddings were illegal and couldn’t go ahead or when they could they were limited numbers (increasing from only 6 people to 30 people, still in place today)
Networking and building relationships has always been core to my strategy for growth, but during this time it has become paramount in order to create imagery that would attract my core client base. Styled shoots are nothing new, however when you intentionally team up with the right suppliers to collaborate opportunities open up. Following these shoots, I was able to book a further 18 weddings for 2020/21, 10 for 2022, and 9 for 2023.
Relationships With Planners & Vendors.
I treat the vendors as true friends beyond the expected business interactions. It takes intentional effort through phone calls, follow-ups, even showing up for them when they need help.
I also heighten the value that I can bring from a business perspective. Sometimes, I bring a third shooter to a wedding, complimentary, for a couple of hours. This person will be covering setup and details to provide images to the planners and other vendors. Then I create a dedicated gallery for them without taking time or attention away from the couple that hired me. In a way, I treat other vendors as clients too.
Networking With Styled Sessions
NETWORK! The way that I started networking is by putting together styled shoots for free for vendors. I offered to pay vendors for their time and/or supplies. Like paying for half the florals for a florist. If you don’t have the money upfront, you can just ask if people want to be part of a free-styled shoot. Go to Facebook pages that are for styled shoots for your area.
- Look for photography/vendor facebook pages and plan a meet-up.
- Look on ticketmaster or eventbrite for vendor cocktail hours/meet-ups.
- Go to any bridal show and chat with people.
- Meet with as many local vendors as possible.
- Send hand-written notes to vendors saying you love their work.
- Make sure to always tag vendors in your posts.
- Do social media shoutouts saying which vendors you’re inspired by.
- Go to workshops and focus on building relationships and don’t ask anyone to do anything for you. Only offer to do something for them.
Don’t Be A Stranger
I don’t open the door to strangers who ring my doorbell. Other vendors and their businesses are no different. If you are a stranger cold DMing, emailing, or calling – you are a nuisance and will likely (not always) be ignored.
Instead, try this.
Spend at least one week being an advocate for that business.
“Like” their posts, comment with valuable thoughts, share their account, engage with their stories, tag them in a relevant post of yours, share their blog posts, write them a glowing review, encourage your audience to check them out.
After 7 days of doing this – when you go to connect with them, you will no longer be a stranger and that door will open.
– CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY –
Creating A 2nd Brain To Become More Creative
I created a second brain so I could become a better artist.
Manage the sum of everything you know and organize access to every great insight you’ve ever had with Personal Knowledge Management (PKM.) PKM is the art of capturing information and transforming it into something useful.
This access allows you to form new connections. And new connections lead to innovation.
Stay with me because I SWEAR this is so much more than a Pinterest board.
Most people are already saving all their favorite content across a web of different apps. The problem is they lack a system to transform those great ideas into actions.
How many of these are you guilty of?
– Browsers full of open tabs
– Albums full of inspirational screenshots
– Pinterest board landmine of projects you’ve never completed
Yeah, me too.
Thankfully, you can transform your content consumption into content creation with 3 easy steps.
1. Research: Collecting information and inspiration is not the goal. You have to do something with it. We have no trouble scrolling until our hands cramp up. We save the best of it, but never interact with it.
2. Record: Consuming and forgetting is a waste of time. You’re a superficial scroller if you don’t roll around in all the magic you’ve gathered.
– Save what resonates.
– Record how ideas make you feel or what they inspire you to think.
– Personalize your inspiration with reflection.
– Assign an action to put it into practice.
3. Create: Connect your ideas to projects. I had a ton of digital content strewn about dropbox, google drive and my notes app. I also have a million ongoing projects. The ecstasy I felt when I connected all those ideas and assets to their purpose is indescribable.
I bet you have a transformational, million-dollar course within your digital workspace. It’s just waiting to be connected.
I found creative freedom by storing information to create, feel and generate new ideas. Curate your brain and use it to make all your dreams come true.
As a photographer–the most important element to your business is a Profitable Portfolio. Every image that you post should be a magnet to attract the dream clients that you seek. The power of curation is MAGICAL and will transform your business into one that gets noticed. I’ll never forget the first portfolio review that was actually worth my money—rather than fluffy compliments, empty words, and ego-boosting, I was told one thing I’ll never forget: You’re only as good as your worst photo. From that point on, I only shared the photographs in my portfolio that’d book the dreamiest five-figure clients again and again.
That meant getting rid of brick walls, cleaning up backgrounds, and photoshopping out eyesores/messes/visual clutter. And that’s just the very beginning of what it means to book jobs on a global level because they simply can’t imagine anyone else as the lead photographer.
My advice to you? Be relentless and unapologetic with your imagery that makes the final cut. Have the highest standards in the world. Cull your favorite photographs three times if you have to. Whether it’s for a client gallery or your homepage, the extra time and effort is worth it—promise.
Erika and Lanny Mann (Two Mann)
Make Better Work
The life span of a photographer is typically short-lived. That’s because most people who start a photography business do so because they’re interested in photography. They’re interested in the gear, equipment, and techniques.
This is important, especially in the first few years. It’s kinda like a musician learning to play an instrument. But, after this excitement of learning a new instrument, in this case, a camera, wears off. Many photographers work becomes stagnant and formulaic. They lose their mojo, and they move onto other things. But, if you stick it out, this is the place where HUGE growth comes from.
It doesn’t come quickly. It comes via small marginal gains.
Eventually, you realize that in order to be a better photographer, you have to be a better person. You have to take an intense interest in WHAT you’re photographing, instead of how you’re photographing. Continually focusing on making (and sharing) better work – work that shows the magic of everyday life (including our own) – has helped us grow our audience far beyond the scope of wedding couples, and wedding photographers. It’s helped us connect with any humans across the world.
Limitations As Opportunities
I graduated college with a degree in 2 Dimensional Studies with an emphasis in Oil Painting.
I spent four years taking more and more advanced classes each year. Each year learning new techniques, experimental mediums, and being given more and better supplies.
During one of the final semesters of my senior year, at the height of it all, I was given an assignment I never would have expected.
I was assigned to produce an oil painting using only 1 brush, entry-level paints, and given just 30 min to finish it.
With these limitations in place, I ended up creating one of the most interesting and beautiful paintings of my whole 4 years at college.
When you embrace limitations, your creativity comes alive!
- Try photographing a session using only 1 lens
- Try to not go below f/5.6
- Try to only use 1 off camera flash
- Try giving yourself 10 minutes to create an interesting self-portrait
See how your creativity comes to when you experiment with leaning into limitations as opportunities.
– BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT –
Membership For Family Clients
The gist of the membership plan is that my clients sign up for one of three tiers, each of which includes a family session, all the digital files, and some print credit.
My clients put a credit card on file to be charged each month, then they have access to a bunch of member benefits. It’s great for my clients since they’re all busy and annual portraits are something they want but often find hard to keep up with, and it’s great for me for a bunch of reasons – predictable revenue, scheduling in advance, reduced email, etc.
Lean Into It.
When things get tough, most businesses panic and pull back on marketing and advertising.
That doesn’t work.
We have to keep our brand, our message, our products in front of people. While others pull back, that’s an opportunity to lean in and capitalize. We consistently choose to lean into the chaos and it has paid off in a big way for our business.
Focusing On B2B
My goal with B2B marketing is to find other businesses that cater to my target demographic/market. The product and/or service that they offer their clients would also appeal to the people I want to photograph.
The goal being very simple…. I want to get my hands on their client/mailing list. The reason is that it is an easy way to gain word-of-mouth marketing from a potential client that has already been vetted.
B2B marketing is something that I do about every 2-3 years. I seek out a business to partner with. I build a personal relationship with the business FIRST, then I work in a partnership so that I can run a promotion of my services in their establishment. My one rule is to only work with brick-and-mortar businesses.
An example of what this has looked like would be when I partnered with clothing boutiques and I had a single day of mini sessions. What this does is it shows their clients first hand what it is like to work with me. The clothing boutiques markets the event. I do not market it at all. The sales process is all done through me which gives me direct contact with the client.
It’s critical that you carefully choose the businesses you want to build a relationship with. I research the owners to see if my services can serve them directly. The first time I did it, I offered to photograph their family first. I wanted them to see exactly what I can do and why I am different. I wanted to really build a friendship with them FIRST. This solidified my position with the businesses I partner with.
The value add for the boutique is that it brings clients into the store to purchase merchandise while they are waiting for their photo session slot.
Accepting The Direction
My business Is Pulled Towards
I have learned to lean in and no longer fight against the direction of my company. I have always been a wedding photographer but lately, I’ve been getting a ton of branding and fashion clients I would have normally turned down because that’s not my specialty.
Instead of resisting, I took these jobs and found a whole new love for this type of photography and allowed my business to grow in that direction. So many doors have opened and I and my business has become even more successful than before.
Selling Images After The Session
Being a Headshot photographer, I never had image sales. In the past, I would just shoot and charge a session fee and send them off to my retoucher. I didn’t make a dime on the images. Now they pay a session fee as well as $250 per image that they purchase. It’s a sales process called the TNT Method by Tony Taaf and it’s made a huge change in my income from each session and I’m so thankful that Tony created it and showed me how to do it.
Scaling And Streamlining
My Portrait Sessions
Four times a year, I offer a weekend of high-quality themed mini sessions. I get up to 18 families in a day, taking care of 50 families a weekend. Through this, I make as much as $35K in a weekend, efficiently making me 6 figures from photographing 3 weekends a year, leaving me time to do other things. The success has been found in the quality and intention behind each mini session.
Live Streaming Service
During the pandemic, I pivoted and offered live streaming of weddings. Anyone can OFFER live streaming but you need the marketing with it. I partnered with a local wedding planner so I could be on his micro wedding team. The key is not just “offering a service” – anyone can do that, but it’s the marketing, partnership, and execution.
- Marketing- I wrote blog posts and leveled up SEO for live streaming in my local market. /
Example here -> https://chipdizardweddings.com/livestreamingquestions
- Partnership – I partnered with a local wedding planner
- Execution – I set the rates and came out as the market leader in my area.
The Blumes (Phillip & Eileen)
Rapid Testing With Mini Sessions
Two years into business, we were unprofitable, overworked, on the verge of losing everything. We finally decided to stop trying “creative” artsy marketing ideas (a photographers tend to do) and fall back on Eileen’s solid business school principles.
As wedding photographers, it was hard to test these strategies on clients booked 12 months out.
So we decided to experiment with a genre we had permanently sworn off—mini sessions.
This rapid testing allowed us to implement, experiment and discover massively successful ways to build our business.
The next month, we succeeded with over $8k in mini-session sales in just one weekend. (That number is nearly double for us now, with 8 years of Minis experience.) Beyond sheer sales, our Maximized Minis lead to our senior and wedding bookings too + even a couple of celebrity portraits!!
Model Of The Month
I developed something called “Model of the Month” where I had parents submit their children through an application and I would select one additional client per month on top of my regular sessions. My goal was to create work that would attract my dream client, but also to fill in the increase of studio rent.
I developed a process where I blend portraits with paintings. So far this has brought in close to 100 leads. It has also forced me to test out new techniques that have shaped my entire body of work. My average for these model sessions is 3k.
Letting Go Of Control Through Automation And Delegation
I try to batch as much as possible in my business. As an example, all of my Pinterest for the previous year of high school senior clients was scheduled and done in a couple of hours by batching it all at once and utilizing tools like Fundy to assemble the pins. This is currently generating tons of organic search traffic with 2M+ Pinterest views a month. I also used this for blogging and Facebook to get those all done and posted in one day for the entire year and had all of the images outsourced via Upwork for similar outfits to be put together. This alone saved dozens of hours. This is something I had done by myself in past years and while it helps with your brand, social media reach and SEO, I had to make the mental shift that my time was better spent in ways that directly impacted my clients.
The other that has helped with my time and streamlining my business is further diving into the tools that my studio management system Iris Works has. In past years, I had sent all of my prep emails in one lengthy email. Along with responding to inquiries in 30 seconds or so, I have now automated all of my prep emails that my clients receive in bite size emails that are more easy for them to digest. This has not only improved their client experience with me by allowing them to feel more prepped and taken care of but it’s also allowed me to not have to worry about sending these emails out manually or overwhelming them with too much information all at once.
This alone resulted in my best year yet in 2020 with more clients than previously as well as a higher sales average than years past.
Having Set Business Hours And Not Deviating
Ironically, drawing clear boundaries for my business has me actually getting more done and my clients treating my with higher perceived value.
You know – Like an actual business.
Book Clients Using A Waitlist System
By operating on a waitlist system, I set up all my calls on one day per month. (you could do it twice etc.)
I spend that one day booking everyone in. Doing it this way increases the stakes for them to try to get on my calendar. While allowing me to batch the process into one streamlined day of glory.
Abby Grace Springmann
Batching Work Days Based On Theme
I started assigning each day of the workweek to a specific area of our business – Mondays are for our educational products, Tuesdays are for my branding clients, Wednesdays are for weddings/engagements, Thursdays are for meetings, and Fridays are when I work on business development.
It’s been SO HELPFUL- it forces me to actually *do* those not-so-fun tasks on my to-do list that, otherwise, tend to get pushed from one day to the next (and the next). Context switching within my own business is a major drag on my productivity, and devoting each day to one area helps limit the number of times I’m having to completely switch gears.
I’ve noticed I’m meeting more of my own deadlines, and with Fridays developed to business development, I’m finally getting around to those “important-but-not-urgent” tasks that have been on the back burner for months!
Mastering Email Copywriting
Most photographers are missing enormous opportunities for growth in the emails they are automating.
We’ve all heard that email marketing is not dead (especially with all the changes happening with Facebook ads), but what if you’ve tried setting up a “freebie” or “opt-in” and you get great downloads but nothing more happens from the emails you’re sending?
Chances are you might be making some of the simple mistakes in your emails that many of my clients do because, well, specializing in writing copy is not what you’ve spent time learning.
But the good news is that once you know what the important pieces are in emails, you can make these simple changes and start getting more inquiries from your automated emails.
Come along with me through an email audit I did for a client. We’ll go through the first two emails in her lead funnel email sequence, the delivery email and the follow up email. I’ll show you what parts of an email you need to spend extra time on and what may be keeping you from getting the conversions you anticipated.
SUBJECT LINE & PREVIEW TEXT
This is the first thing anyone sees and is what gives them a reason to open your email. You need to be clear, compelling, and to the point.
It’s easy to overthink this part, but I’ve got a copywriting secret to share with you, but before I get ahead of myself let’s look at our example first.
Delivery Email – Subject Line & Preview Text:
Subject Line: This subject line makes the assumption that this is the only “freebie” this person has asked for. If this email gets lost in the sea of emails, the subject line makes it difficult to find your valuable resource.
Preview Text: There is nothing wrong with the preview text. But look what happens when we rewrite it repeating the words used on the opt-in page. For an added bonus we started the preview text using active language.
Follow Up Email – Subject Line & Preview Text:
Subject Line: This subject line gives the impression that something is wrong on your end and you are not sure if they got the “freebie”. Compare that to the one below that is a more natural follow up question that focused on them not you.
Preview Text: Again this preview text comes across like you don’t trust the email automation and ultimately focuses on you. The new preview text paints visuals of dreamy wedding venues and if they haven’t looked at the original email this copy is more compelling for a bride to want to open the email.
Subject Line Tips: Being honest these tips are not so secret but if you are not in the world of copywriting there is a good chance these are new to you.
- If you are going to use emojis, use them intentionally. Emojis can devalue your subject line or come across as “extra”.
- The magic number is 7 – Try to keep your subject line to 7 words or less, any more run the risk of getting cut off and have no impact on getting your email opened.
- Create a swipe file of great headlines. Look through your emails that have captured your attention and got you to open. It doesn’t have to be industry related. Find the main structure and replace the extra words with your industry words. *I totally did this with the opening sentence.
CALL TO ACTION
A call to action is anything you ask the lead to do. Everything from download or open the “freebie”, follow me on social media, to book a call with me.
Your call to actions needs to be strategic and you don’t want to have too many in one email. People need directions along the journey to doing business with you, but don’t overwhelm them with multiple options and unnecessary clicks.
Let’s look at the call to action in these two emails.
Delivery Email – CTA:
So how do we make this email more effective with the call to actions? The main call to action to “Download The Guide” is perfect and all this email needs. The second to last paragraph with the passive CTA needs to just be removed (for more reasons than just the passive language). And we need to switch out the Instagram CTA to be focused on the reader with active language. Something like “JOIN ME ON INSTAGRAM”.
Follow Up Email – CTA:
This is a great example why it’s important to be strategic about the call to action you use in your email. Is this really the next step you want your lead to do? Do you really want them to let you know they received the “freebie”?
The emails that follow the delivery email are about increasing your Know, Like, & Trust for this lead to eventually want to book you as their photographer.
There is no clear next step in this journey that should take a lead from your opt-in page to download your freebie to ultimately hiring you.
There are multiple factors that impact what the ideal next step is that you are going to ask in the follow up email, but your goal is to get them to schedule a discovery call with you.
Every email you automate NEEDS to have a P.S. at the end.
Just like people scan your website (if you didn’t know that we need to talk), they scan your emails. Especially if there is a bulk of text. Odds are most people are viewing your emails on their phones and what is a small block of text on a computer can easily become a large chunk of text on a phone.
There are multiple ways to help break up your text like bulleted lists and adding bold or underlining text but even with adding these to your email people are going to scan to the bottom.
Use your P.S. wisely with these tips:
- Keep them brief and to the point.
- Make them a summary of the main point of your email.
- Include the most important call to action.
Trust me, just making these simple changes will impact your open, click and conversion rates. Use this checklist to get started.
- Record the date and your current metrics on the emails you are going to optimize (open and click rates for each email)
- Optimize each email, one at a time.
- Is your subject line clear and compelling?
- Is your subject line 7 words or less?
- Does your preview text enhance the subject line?
- What is the main Call To Action you want the reader to do with this email?
- Does your CTA use active language?
- If you use a secondary CTA, make sure it is subtle and not distracting from the main action you want the reader to take.
- Add a P.S. for those who scan and scroll right to the bottom of your email.
Now give it at least a month (maybe more depending on the number of downloads) and compare the metrics and the number of calls you’ve booked from this funnel.
If you are not seeing much of a change it may be the purpose and content of your emails. Like my client, you may have to rewrite the whole email which is what we did for the follow up email.
Pricing For Your Business
In the past, I would look at my work and try to come up with the pricing. Or I would look at competitors’ work and base mine on their pricing. Now I price based on what my household needs, business expenses and future goals, such as college, vacation etc.
Do It Your Way
I’ve done it my way. Looking out into the world of photography businesses, one might get a sense that there’s a set formula for success or a single way that will guarantee success. The beautiful thing about being a creative entrepreneur is that you get to decide and design what creativity looks like.
Trust in being yourself and conserving and focusing your energy on the ways you feel most whole expressing yourself. If social media doesn’t sit well with you, trust yourself and lean into whatever it is that works. There is no formula. Just you and your creative magic, and if it feels like a struggle, you’re likely doing it wrong.
Raising Your Prices (Without Losing Clients)
So many photographers are afraid to lose their client base if they raise their prices, and yet we know that we need to charge more. We need to be profitable, but what if everyone starts telling us “NO?”
It’s a valid fear, and I don’t blame photographers for being cautious – but we can’t stay at average prices.
What I have always done is rapidly raise my prices but in small increments. After EVERY session booked, I’ll raise them $100 – $300. If I start to hear the dreaded, “You are too expensive” more than 30% of the time, I might cool it for a bit, sometimes even stepping back down for a brief period.
Play with your pricing – test and learn. This is your business and you don’t need to make any announcements about changes you are making with your prices. Get in the habit of raising them!
– SELF-DEVELOPMENT –
Shaun Austin Gordon
Surrounding Myself With Giants
Surrounding myself with people who have either
1. Already seen my problem
2. Can see my problem from a new perspective without all my baggage
This has brought completion to so many areas of my life and business. These people open me up to see the contributing issues and once I understand the roots of the problem I can bridge the gaps.
I believe in the power of the tongue.
I recite positive affirmations about my life and my business on a daily basis. I believe those affirmations have made a huge impact on where I got to today.
Working With A Coach
I have struggled for years to hold myself accountable and actually move forward in a positive way with my business. It wasn’t until very recently that I took having a business coach seriously and actually starting putting the plans and procedures into place that my coach assigned.
I, like many artists, struggle with self-doubt and even depression. I had to acknowledge those things and get the proper help in those personal areas to move forward in my professional world. That was a huge hurdle and one that I constantly find myself facing again and again. But, in order to succeed, I have to keep jumping over it.
I really just started seeing my expectations become reality. I have started getting more consistent leads and bookings because of the changes I am making in my business. I have started believing in the value of my work and clients have actually started paying me the amount I have listed in my pricing because they see the value as well.
We’ve all had the great experience of a “Shower Thought” – a brilliant idea that hits you out of nowhere while you’re in the shower. This practice will make these moments of genius a daily occurrence.
A lot of self-development comes from great ideas, books, podcasts, and videos. The problem that I see most often is that we are constantly being inundated with so much noise that we don’t clear enough space for much to stick.
We are non-stop being filled with negative words, ideas, fear, gossip, and stories from our friends, family, and coworkers. The news and radio is a never-ending pool of fear. Social media is working overtime to expose ourselves to our deepest insecurities.
If you want to make an impact in your life, it starts with vigilantly protecting yourself from the messages you hear. Clear Space by turning off, blocking, and limiting the fear, negativity, and salesy “not enough-ness” that you are being force fed.
You will be shocked by the genius ideas and expanded capacity that will appear to fill the void.
– THE POWER OF PRINT –
Prioritizing Albums And Wall-Art Through The Client Experience
In years past, I had included albums in all my collections. I believe it’s important for my clients to have printed product so I include a base album and most of my clients end up upgrading to more pages after I have the album pre-designed for them.
Except I found that my couples weren’t upgrading. In fact, many of my couples were just covering the base cost of the album in their “upgrades.” Which means that I was giving my time away freely.
What I wasn’t doing was prepping my clients for what the album process looked like. I would mention it to them during our Discovery Call and then again when we met up before their wedding (oftentimes just reminding them that they get an album).
In 2019 and into 2020 I changed up my approach.
I found that the more information I could give them about their album and the more excited I made them about it, the more they would end up buying from me.
Here is what this looks like:
1. Discovery call: covering albums
2. After booking: 3 emails that go out over the course of 6 months talking about the album process and what to expect. And one email that talks about wall art too!
3. Meeting with the client: bringing sample albums and swatches – having them pick their colors and size right there
4. During the wedding: mentioning how well these will go in their album at least 3 times
5. Setting up our album consult after delivery: Send them information about what to expect during our album date. Having them send me a photo of an empty wall in their house for wall art
6. 48 hours before our album date: Sending pricing, confirming time, going over the process again
7. During the Album date: using their first dance song in a slideshow with Fundy Designer
By implementing these seven things, I’ve increased my album sales by an average of $2000 per client. And wall art? My sales have literally been 100% higher than before I started this technique.
It’s all about prepping your client, creating an experience, and showing value in printed product.
By selling more album upgrades and wall art, I can take on fewer weddings every year – which means more evenings and weekends with my family and friends.
Making Print A Priority
I want to give an experience to my clients that they overwhelmingly deserve The type of experience that would make them feel appreciated and valued. Prioritizing print has allowed me to do just that. I
When first getting into print sales, I didn’t go into it thinking I am going to be making an extra $30,000 that year and yet boom, here it is. It was the residual side effect of just providing more value. A word of caution – People sense BS a mile away. I’m going to be extremely blunt here: If you don’t believe in prints and the value they hold, you won’t sell any.
A point worth mentioning. My couples typically spend less than the national average on their wedding, however, these people see value in photographs and are willing to still spend the money on it. Seeing their day in print has made them feel like their day meant something even if they didn’t have fireworks, a 5-course meal, or a private villa for a venue.
Print makes them feel as though their love is special and worth preserving.
Offering Albums With A 30% Discount
I’ve been offering albums with a limited time 30% discount on an automated photo delivery platform like Fundy Proofer. It’s a simple automated process that doesn’t put a ton of sales pressure on the clients and yet still lands sales because of the incentive. If the client needs more time to make the album, I’ll extend the discount by 3 days.
During Covid, I created layflat albums for my favorite venues and planners with the work we’ve done together. I included a gift card for coffee and a nice note as a way to cheer people up through a tough time. I designed the album with the venue/planners name embossed on the cover and so the last page is a bio about me and contact details.
Leads have poured in through these since people are excited to share the work we’ve done together and gladly recommend me. I’ve got at least 15 leads and several bookings this past year through them.
Make Your Own Prints
Many photographers who first start with print have a hard time up-charging something that they feel the client could get at Costco for pennies on the dollar.
One incredible way to make your prints stand out from any other option is to be the actual artist who physically prints their own artwork. We use a Canon Prograf 1000 for archival prints, but when just starting out, the Canon Pixma Pro-200 is a great option.
This process brings back the handmade craft of the art and separates your print as a complete one-of-a-kind piece of art.
– OPTIMIZING SEO –
Most photographers blog just to blog and don’t see any results because there is no strategy attached to it! SEO and Strategically blogging has been the key to my success, given I move every 2-3 years! I’ve been in San Diego for only a year, moved in the middle of the pandemic, and with Strategic blogging, have a full calendar with no paid ads.
In 6 months in 2021, Ive received 176 QUALITY LEADS from Google!
Doubled Down On SEO
We doubled down on our SEO when the pandemic hit by creating more helpful content blogs and going after more competitive keywords and improving our site performance—and we have more than tripled our organic monthly clicks from Google (we went from about 200 clicks a day to an average of over 600 organic clicks to our site each day).
Our inquiries from Google have tripled!
By doing keyword research to understand what my target client was even searching for and then producing content around these exact subjects, I went from being in page 7 to page 1!
Wedding Venue + Elopement Location Guide
I built out a venue and elopement location guide that within 8 months brought in over 3,000 clicks to our website.
If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It
It’s a simple principle, especially when looking at some of the above results – however, it’s the critical first step of SEO. Google Search Console and Google Analytics are similar and yet different.
Analytics allows you to track more “onsite” visitor behavior – Time on your website, bounce rate, conversions, site speed etc.
Google Search Console focuses more on tracking how your visitors get to your site. What searches you are showing up for, and how pages on your website are performing ti generate leads back to your business.
You can sign up for Google Analytics here -> https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/
You can sign up for Google Search Consol here -> https://search.google.com/search-console
– SOCIAL MEDIA –
This social media strategy is a great way to stir up conversation and build engagement.
Share a story about a dilemma and invite people to share their perspective, create a poll or use “this or that” challenges. The interaction builds engagement and engagement results in growth and ultimately lead generation.
Miles Witt Boyer
It’s an abrupt change in people’s social media experience to realize they have developed a friendship in their inbox that isn’t leveraging their public profile at all. This process along with an authentic and intentional respect for people’s time and reach has allowed me to not only connect with a lot of the highest end of our industry on an intimate level but also with potential clients, existing clients, vendors, and brands in a way that is familiar and safe to them but has powerful implications for my company.
Short Form Video (Tik Tok/Reels)
When I look at the last 4 years of running this little business, last year was definitely a pivotal year in terms of growth across my business. I started a Tik Tok account in December of 2019. I didn’t think much of it. And just would scroll to get away from the redundancy of everyone doing the same thing on Instagram. But I started to realize that people like me were not using Tik Tok. And that there was a huge void for photographers. I started posting in February 2020 and the audience growth that I saw was insane.
It was like nothing I had ever witnessed on social media. And then the inquiries started. People from all over the country who would open an inquiry with “I found you on Tik Tok..”. Within 3 months I built an audience of 25,000 on Tik Tok. And within a year over 70,000.
From photographers to brides, I was reaching a whole new group of people that not only built my online awareness but were allowing me to book my calendar out, and build a new education business. Then in August, Reels was introduced. I tried to get those around me excited about Reels and the potential it could have, because of what I saw on TikTok. For the most part, people were reluctant. So I just started showing up the same way I did on TikTok.
To allow my audience to see more of my personality, and to provide them value and encouragement. And then my Instagram started to take off. I grew from 4,000 to 10,000 in weeks. It blew my mind that as a business owner, we could strategically use short form video to reach and hook our people. My bottom line has grown in ways I never thought possible. I’ve been able to start education and passive income, a goal that I never knew was one I could achieve. I have had the best first 2 quarters in 2022. And I’ve been able to raise my wedding packages from 3800 to 5200+. All of this was possible because I started marketing differently and broke a mold that I wasn’t meant to fit in anyway .
I will include my screenshot of Instagram from August 2020 with 4,000 followers after 4 years. And a screenshot now at 17,000+ because of Reels! And I started my Tik Tok in February of 2020 and have 70,000+ with a few of my videos hitting 1 million views. Monetarily, I have been able to diversify my income with jumping into education. I am booking more ideal clients who find me and book me as I continue to raise my investment because they have fallen in love with me from my videos. And I was able to launch a course and generate $25,000 in a 10 day period because of short-form video.
Showing Up As My Authentic Self Through TikTok
Utilizing Tiktok and reels to reach my clients in a more “authentic” way.
I’ve booked over 12 clients since joining Tiktok and most are Personal Branding clients. This doesn’t have to mean millions of views. Connecting authentically and generating bookings can happen with a couple hundred views.
DM’ing New Leads
More and more people are sending fewer inquiries through email and more people like to just slide into Instagram DM’s. I found it is much easier to convert those inquiries because I can quickly send an audio or video message and connect with them in real-time, rather than force them over to your website to fill out a separate form.
Using TikTok to organically reach huge numbers of local people. I’ve booked 4 weddings, and about 10 commercial jobs since starting the platform in May.
I’ve leveraged TikTok as a media outlet in order to get more featured on other platforms. I’ve used it to be on the front page of the local newspaper, interviewed on the radio, and met a number of people we never would have had the chance to meet – all through leveraging TikTok.
Quality Over Quantity
Rather than it being about how much content you can get out as quickly as possible – Provide HIGH VALUE CONTENT in social media presence that is relevant to your target audience. What do they NEED in their lives that you can link to photography? How can you help solve a problem for them? How can you make their life easier? Providing this kind of content can help boost the know, like, and trust factor and convert those audience members into paying clients.
Showing My Face
I upped my social media game. In the last year, I started implementing reels, and showing my face on my stories more. I also hired a social media team to help write captions, respond to comments, and schedule my posts to make sure that I am consistently pumping out quality content and staying engaged.
Keep It Fresh
I’ve gotten an incredible response from leads and couples via Instagram once I began posting more non-wedding related work. I think showcasing elements of my photography that are heavily influenced by things that inspire me and the work I create bridges a gap for a lot of people and allows me to connect with like minded couples since they get a better insight into who I am without me needing to post something directly and obviously about myself.
The more I began to share my personal and commercial work / project, the more I started to notice people reaching out to me to work with them or hire me for their wedding or session. I think people relate a little bit more to us as creatives when we showcase our work , influences and passion through various photography projects or styles of work. So many people contact me to shoot their wedding because they loved something I create that wasn’t a wedding at all.
I essentially try to keep my Instagram feed fresh and interesting. I don’t want to be predictable, posting the usual run of the mill content for a wedding photographer. Striking a balance isn’t easy, but I’ve used my skills and experience as a curator to help build a narrative within my website / via social media that gives couples a well rounded idea of who I am as an individual and creative.
Being an Early Adaptor
When playing the social media game, you have to play by their rules. When Instagram introduced reels, I was sure to be an early adaptor. Since Instagram is hot and heavy on reels, they show them more and that means more exposure for you!
Early Adaptor – 1.5M New Followers On TikTok
Early Adaptor – Instagram Reels
Yakaly Di Roma
Early Adaptor – TikTok
Tiktok is the only platform we hadn’t used so we did a few tiktoks with trends but with little feedback so instead of trying to give away tips or trying to do funny sketches or trends, we decided to post best images from either a specific wedding or session(s). The first one got a bit over 100k views which happened to convert into two maternity bookings and the second we posted reached a little over 1.6M views with multiple enquiries and two bookings one for 5.5k and one for 7k. Straight up self-promotion, not trying too hard, free advertising basically.
Optimize Your Profile
With the massive reach that IG Reels and TikToks are getting – Let’s make sure that when your content gets views that you are converting them.
- Your IG “Name” is searchable and should target your keywords – not your Brand Name
2. The next line should define WHO you help, and HOW you help them.
3. 3rd – Why should anyone care? You can either go authority or relatability/connection here.
4. Lastly, you want to have a call to action. Invite them to your contact form, give them a freebie, share your portfolio video, etc.
✨YOU MADE IT THIS FAR – BEFORE YOU GO ✨
If you took anything away from this post, consider joining me over at my FREE Mastermind Group for Photographers. There are over 17,000 photographers in the group who enjoy weekly free coaching from me and many of the educators you see featured in this article!
You can join the group by going to www.benhartley.com/mastermind
See you there!!
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