Like I said, I've been kind of, I know that I'm sort of reiterating a lot of things, but I think that this is all very important. So before the client even inquires, the experience has already started. So your website should sort of be like an employee. It should be set up so that it really answers all of the questions that your clients are gonna have, you kind of have to get into their mind and know what they're going to say, and so by the time they actually take the time to hit that contact form and get in touch with you, this experience has already started. So we're already a little bit educated, they already know me a little bit, they already know what to expect and so it all has already started, so we have to really think about that, this is a continuous thing that we're going to set up for them. Okay, so let's talk about that experience. Let's talk about family preparation. So, like I said, one of the things that I see people complaining about is my client did this, my client did...
that, and I believe that that is because there wasn't enough client education. So we're gonna talk a lot about client education. First and foremost, you have to have to have to educate your clients. They should know exactly what to expect from start to finish when they are working with you, and that is everything from timing to when you're going to be emailing, every little detail, and this starts with inquiry. So they've gone through your website, maybe they've stalked you on social media a little bit, maybe they've even talked to a friend and now they're like, "Okay, I'm going to reach out "to this person and inquire." So, even in my contact form I tell them what they can expect, and I set the tone. And the biggest thing that I do in my contact form is I ask them questions. So I want them to know right away that I am the expert and that I am in control. And I see this happen a lot is that people allow the client to kind of come in and be like, "Well these are the dates I want, "and this is the kind of photo I want," and the reason that's happening is because you're not setting the tone as the authority figure. You are not saying like, hey, this is my business, you and I have connected now via my brand, now let me tell you how this is gonna go. Okay, so the contact form is the first point of education. So in that contact I speak my why. Yes. Even in my contact form. I tell them, this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship, I will never ask you to do anything you aren't comfortable with, however, we are going to have a meaningful evening together where we're gonna play at the, you know, it's very just the same, that ooey gooey emotional stuff, I'm speaking to them right away. And then I ask them what kind of session they're inquiring about, because I do do maternity, new born and family, so then now I know what kind of person they are, and then I ask them how they heard about me, and that's it. I don't ask them when they want to shoot, I don't give them a whole lot of information there. I want them to see that why, send me the email, tell me a little bit about what kinda shoot they want and then I'm gonna start the education process, so I really don't want to invite a lot of communication yet. Okay. So they inquired. You guys with me? And this is kind of a, I'm trying to slow down here. So I got that email from them and now I have a standard email. I have an email template that I send to every single person who inquires. I'm a huge template person, I'm a very big advocate of making sure that your time is being well spent. If you're sitting there writing a personalized email to every inquiry you get, you're wasting your time. Template, template, template, template. But I mean, you can make your own, it doesn't have to be anything that I do. If you're doing something repeatedly, make a template. So, in that initial email, I thank them, I speak my why. Yes, again. I know that I'm just like repeat it, but when they inquire I say, thank you so much for your interest, I talk about that, and then I say, family photography is my absolute passion and I don't have it memorized, but I explain to them that this means something to me, and that I realize this is personal experience to choose a photographer and I thank them for even considering me. Then I educate. So I'm not inviting them to book a session just yet. I do tell them what dates are available, but I want first, before they actually confirm them, to be fully educated so that there are no questions. Notice how I invite them to view my available session dates. You don't want a client saying, "I'm free on September 2nd, "this is when I want my session." This is what I say: here's my dates, you can pick yours, and they will pick one. They will pick one. You're in control, you're being the authority figure. You guys with me? Sorry, I know this is kinda. Okay. So how do I educate in this email? This is your opportunity, this is when you're starting that education, okay? This is how you field out the people who do not want your work. Cause sometimes you're gonna get that random inquiry who saw like one picture that you've ever done, didn't do any research and they inquire and they're like, they might've booked and it wasn't a good match. So you really want to make sure that it's a good match. First I send them to my price page. First and foremost. My price page is public on my website, you guys, by the way, so feel free to check it out. No secrets, I don't hide anything, I'm a pretty transparent person. So even my price page talks about the session experience, and my why again. Here I am talking about that over and over again but it does. So before I actually tell them what the price is, there's a part at the top where I say, this is what you can expect from your session. It's gonna be laid back, it's gonna be fun. This is how, it's gonna last about this long. And then I go into why I price myself the way that I do and what they can expect from their price, and then I go into the pricing. Why do I include the price page? Some people are really, you know, hold back on the price page, cause I don't want them to book me if they don't want to pay my price. So this is great, you're gonna field out a couple people right here with your price page. Then I give them a blog link, a blog post link. So these are all links within the email, and I say please feel free to go check out this blog post. And I will send them to a blog post that I feel like is a really good representation of my brand. Blogs posts are a great way to connect with you potential clients, because they see, when they're looking at your portfolio, they're looking at just one, a couple images maybe from a couple of sessions or whatever, but when they look at a blog post they're feeling that experience. So here we are, in an experience again. And when I blog, I want anyone who lands on my blog to really feel like they want that experience for their family. I'm gonna read to you just an example of what I might say on my blog, just kinda like I did for the social media post, because I just want you to know that this is actually what I do. I'm very like why, why, why, this is what I do, this is what I do. Okay. I'm not afraid to play on people's emotions, in fact, I think you should start doing that too. (laughter) Alrighty, so this is a blog post. I don't have the pictures, but. So I say, I believe that those that come into our life come for a reason. The reasons may never be revealed, but I do believe in this. I met this family when they were expecting this sweet little angel baby. They laughed easily and clearly enjoyed each other's company. It was one of my favorite maternity photoshoots to date, then I had the pleasure of capturing their sweet baby girl at home when she was just a few weeks old, and it was an absolute pleasure to capture them again when she was just about a year old. When I spend time with this family, it makes me feel like I'm hanging out with old friends, nearly every session feels like this for me. This job brings so many beautiful souls into my life and for that I am so grateful. I hope your new year is off to a great start, thanks for being here. So, just speak your why. Get emotional. Get touchy-feely. It works, it attracts people who are going to appreciate this kind of work. Okay, so I send that, I send a blog ling to every potential client. I want them to have multiple times to interact with my work to make sure that this is actually what they want. Notice how I stay in control? (laughs) So I keep talking about that. People are like, "Gosh, this is kinda crazy, "you're not giving them any choice." But it's because I want them to know that this is what they're going to get. So I think that the session experience actually ends up being better for both of you when you're totally in control. Because when you're not, what happens is you're gonna get these people that are coming that have all of these ideas, I never have anyone come with like a Pinterest board or anything like that, that doesn't ever happen for me, because I tell them. I am the artistic director, this is what we're doing, I am going to take care of you. I'm gonna give you a great session experience, you don't have to worry about a thing. And so it's a really, it ends up being great for both of us, right? Because then, it's kinda like a win win. I tell them, like i said, exactly what they can expect. So in that email there's no question what is gonna happen if they book a session with me. So it just eliminates any of that guesswork, it eliminates any of that oh my gosh, my client showed up and they wanted me to use these props. We talk about all of that, it's all there for them, okay?
Hi, so can you just clarify when you have the email template that comes back to them, within that template you're sending them to your price page, and sending them a link to your blog, so it's quite a meaty--
Thing. So, even though that's a template, do you still sort of customize it to answer any specific questions that might have come in in the initial contact like, you know, can I bring a cake? Or something like that (laughter), for my baby to smash.
That would be a big red flag for me.
Yeah, so. It is meaty, it is a meaty email, and it really fields out the people who are like, okay, no. And I didn't have it on here, and I thought that I did, but I also have an FAQ. And you're gonna get that in the bonus is my what is included in the FAQ And I think I'm actually gonna talk about that in a minute. But, I will, if they said something specific like, for instance, one of the best, most amazing fun things that's been happening to me in the last couple of years, I actually think it's because of the Instagram, because the reach is outside of Seattle, is I've had some families travel to Seattle for session for me. So if they ask me something like that and say like, "Hey, we're going to be in town "in September," Yes. I'm gonna make a little blurb at the top that says, you know, let me check those dates for you or whatever. Or if someone say, "Hey I found you because "you know my sister's coworker, "and they loved your work," I'll say, oh I love working with that family. So yeah, I will say a little tiny bit, but the amount of energy to answer one question, or put a little bit of something personal in like that is so much less than if you're rewriting your emails every time. And when I have these links in there, it's ensuring that they're getting that education every time and that they, at that point, they know what they're gonna get. And right at that point as well, they can't book yet, they have to, I say, I look forward to hearing from you, let me know if you are still interested and I will send you a link to my welcome site. And so they have to put a little bit of energy in, my clients, and that's why they appreciate it so much. You have to be that authority. Yeah.
I do have a question from online.
A couple of people are asking about, does every family, you were talking about social media and the blog post, does every family give you permission to share their photos online, and if so, do you ever have any objections, do they have to sign a release.
Yeah, no. My clients, I have actually a lot of very private clients. I would say that more than 50% do not sign the model release and that's totally fine with me. It is their right not to sign the model release, it is absolutely their right. So when they inquire, or when they book, I have a session form and I have a model release on there and they can decide if they would like to use it or not, or sign it or not. So yeah, no, absolutely not. Yeah.
Another question. You mention that you are pre-educating the clients, but we all know everyone is really busy, so (laughs), a persona asks, saying that a lot of her clients don't actually go through the FAQs, or don't actually read everything. Do you find that, and if so, is there any way around that?
This is why I give so many different options of education. So I, I feel like I might have even miss some of the stuff. I have that FAQ that I link them to, I link them to a blog post, I link them to my portfolio, I link them to my price page, and every single one of those places speaks my why, has extreme examples of my portfolio and tells them about the session experience. So even if they only go to one of them, they're getting a pretty good, solid piece of education there. I think that it's very consistent and clear. So, yeah, absolutely. I'm sure not everybody is reading all of those things, but if they are going to book and then they go through that session form, then we start to get even to more education. So if they actually book, they get even more.
Jessica Brake had asked, "How do you create "and send out your email templates? "Is that a program that automatically sends it out? "Do you have auto-reply "or do you respond to each one, "just copy and paste it?"
Okay, so that's a super good question. And I will admit that I do use a studio management software now that I just started like a few months ago, using that, so I always wanna show you how you can do this for free, any of this stuff, because you can automate, you can do it all for free. So before I had studio management software I simply had a Google Doc that had my template, and I would just copy and paste it. Think simply. This doesn't have to get complicated, it can be super simple. Even the act of just copying and pasting is gonna take so much less energy than sitting there and trying write out an email, and I did that for years. I don't know why. I did that for years, it was silly. So don't just write out the email. (laughs)