I love shooting so when it comes to marketing products and pricing and all of that, I had to learn that from somebody else, I really did. And then what I had to do was learn it from different avenues and put it into practice into my own business and worked out what I love to do, worked out what was working for me and my situation, and then come up with some strategies for marketing and some products that I really wanted to sell and that I wanted to see my work printed on and sold in. So when it comes to marketing and getting your business name out there, I used to advertise in a couple of obstetricians' offices. And what I did was, I made a very very small square eight by eight hardcover album. I made about five copies of it and I got dressed up. It was like I was going on a job interview. And I took my album full of all my pictures around to different offices and I showed them my stuff. And whoever wanted to have it on their coffee table in their office kept it along with a heap of bu...
siness cards and things like that. So I found that a massive tool in helping me get started with newborns because it was the right place at the right time. There were pregnant women going in there for the first time, for the last time before they gave birth. If they were sitting there waiting for their appointments, they were able to look through my book, see my images. It had my business name plastered all over it. And it was something for them to actually sit and look at. And there's an amazing saying that is, people won't remember what you tell them but they will remember how you make them feel. So being able to put a whole heap of images in there that made them feel so excited about the birth of their coming child, they remembered my business name because it gave them a feeling. And having my business cards there ready to go, I got contacted by so many people and that's like three, four years ago. So that got me a massive start in the newborn area. I used to do a lot of portfolio building sessions, which I think is also really important when you are starting out because it gives you an opportunity to practice. And when you say portfolio building session, it's not a free session. So I've never actually given anything away for free unless it's to a family member or to a very good friend of mine who really appreciate what I do. But when it comes to portfolio building, you are able to lower your price. But I don't recommend going and shooting their baby for three hours during that portfolio session and editing 70 images and giving them those 70 images. What I would do is concentrate on five setups and give them five images from that portfolio building session for a much cheaper price if that's how you want to get work. Then the pressure is off you, they're not there for three to four hours while you photograph your baby, and you're not having to then spend copious amounts of time in front of the computer editing those 70 images that you desperately want them to see and trust. Because five powerful images that you've spent the time to get right and setup some poses and all that kind of stuff and the editing five of those images is going to have a massive impact as opposed to 70 average images that you've rushed through and then have to spend long hours editing. So if you're gonna portfolio-build, I would recommend offering like a package, especially on social media, about how to get clients in your door and offer five images for a couple of hours and get them into your studio and start practicing and get those images onto your websites and onto your blogs. Because when people start finding you, they want to see your work. That's what makes them pick up the phone and ring you. That's what makes them email you, being able to see some actual images. So that's a really really good way to get started there. Since having put those books in the obstetricians' offices, I actually haven't advertised in too many other places. I once took out an advertisement in a magazine which was a free magazine targeted at mothers and women and I think I got one phone call and they didn't book. So it didn't work for me so I didn't go back and waste more money on that advertisement. But what I did was learn how to make my website and blog work for me because the internet and Google are a massive tool. And they're free, they're really free. So websites aren't free, blogs aren't free, but advertising on the internet is free if you do it right. So I would recommend, I'm not the best at it and I'm not very technically-minded, but I would recommend learning how to optimize your online information to get the most out of it which means putting enough content on there about what you do, specific to what you do and what you want to show. If you primarily want to show newborns, only show newborn work. I'm actually lucky enough to have a couple of commercial clients and I fly all over Australia to very very large construction sites, believe it or not. Put my hard hat on and my steel-capped boots and I walk around big mines and photograph them. And I don't advertise that but I'm their photographer but I don't show that on my website because I don't want, you know, I don't want people to get confused with what my actual specialize in. But that is an extra way for me to earn money. But I don't show it so that when people come to my site, they're not confused. They see my newborn work, they see the maternity shots, they know that's what I do, and it's targeted to a specific market. And so all the content that I'm putting into my blog and my website is picked up by Google. So when people search for you in your particular area. And I'm posting regularly onto my blog. I'm a bit slack at updating my website but I try to do it as often as I can. I'm constantly putting information onto there because people are so time-poor at the moment. They don't have time to look for things and everything is just punched into Google. You know, Brisbane newborn photographer, and I come up on the first page. And it's not because I pay to be on the first page, it's because I'm constantly putting information into my website and into my blog about my business and about what I do and repeating that content. But not so I'm overcrowding it but I'm constantly updating it and putting information in and that's what Google picks up. So it's really important to learn how to do that and be aware of the need to constantly update it so that it is, you're easy to find, especially in your area. Other things that come to, any free online listing place. I'm not sure in America but we have, like, websites called Hotfrog and things like that in Australia and they're just online directories and I list all my business with them. So being able to list your website with as many online directories as possible, they offer backlinks back to your website. So the more content you're putting out there with your website, the more likely people are gonna find you when they're searching for something in particular based on what your services are. But yeah, like, what sort of problems do you guys have when it comes to marketing? Do you really struggle to get clients in the door? Anyone? (laughs)
We want to hear from you, ladies.
Or if anyone on the internet is really struggling to get clients in the door, I would love to know because it's such a great place. We have the chatroom and we have questions that can come in here and maybe we can troubleshoot together and figure out some ways to really get your business out there and get it noticed.
We do have some questions about portfolio building and that initial starting, getting clients in. Courtney D wonders, when you say give them five images, do you meant the digital files? Is that for the portfolio building, do you do the same kind of gallery that you would do for a normal client, just a smaller amount?
No, I definitely wouldn't give them a gallery. I would give them five edited images on either a USB or a disc. Then I'm not having to, because it's at a lower price, then I'm not having to cover the costs of products or anything like that. So even though, you know, we all want to be able to have our images to print it beautifully, if you want to give them, you know, a five by seven of each of those digital files, that would be a great way for them to display those images in your house but you don't necessarily have to. We live in such a digital world these days, everybody has everything on an iPad or their iPhone or Facebook or whatever other social media forum that they're using. So make it easy for you, is what I'm saying, and make it so that you don't have a lot of expense going out for those portfolio building sessions.
Sure, and we have another related question. When you're doing a portfolio build, do you tell the potential clients that that's what you're doing and that's why that the price is discounted and you explain the whole thing to them?
Yes, I used to advertise that I was doing portfolio building sessions. And now that you've got Facebook and everyone has a Facebook page, put on there, I'm having a portfolio building session. This is what you get in return for this session at this price. And people will come to you, especially if you have, and I'm so amazed that when I'm looking for someone, for a model or something for a workshop, people that had liked my page will put someone else's name in there and tag them in there that don't follow my page. So it will bring more people to my page that they might know someone that would be interested in that. So post that on there and see what happens, you can't fail.
So you talked about having a blog and a website and I'm seeing a couple questions including Tanya from Portugal. I already have a site but I don't have a blog. Is it important to have a blog and why? And then also questions about how do you feel about the blog sites and is there a difference? Do you have different audiences?
A lot of people are compressing both of their blog and their website into one, which I think is great. It's easy to maintain, it's easy to look after. With that, you can constantly be putting your latest sessions on there and updating it regularly with new content so that when clients go there, they're seeing your latest work, not website portfolios that have been on there, images that have been on there for 12 months and not updated so. But with websites, HTML sites, Google can read all of the information that's in there whereas Flash sites, I have a Flash website and it's not ideal but I've been lazy, I will admit it (chuckles) in updating. It's something on the to-do list. But it can read the content that I have on the very front page but it can't actually read any of the content that I have within that website in the About section or anything like that. So I have the website there purely because even though it's a Flash site, it's actually a really good tool for me for online galleries. It has an amazing online gallery system which works perfectly for me. And it also has text sections in there if people want to go there. But the one that I update content on regularly is my blog because it's just so easy to post five images from a session on there for people to see and for those families to be able to share them with other people.
Looks like we have a question here from one of the students.
So in terms of marketing to your current clients, do you do anything like a referral program or anything like that?
No, I don't actually. At the moment, I don't seem to need to but I recommend definitely trying something like that if you can. I have a lot of reoccurring clients come back to me and the trick is customer service. So as you've seen, I treat my clients like gold and I'm consistent with the way that I communicate with them. I'm not all about them one minute and then very vague with my communication. I'm all about them from the minute they contact me to the minute I deliver their products or they get their products. So I have to be very very consistent with them and make sure that I give them the best possible customer service that they deserve because of how much I cost. Basically, they have to have value for what they're spending money on and they value my customer service and the way that I treat them so I'm very very mindful to always give them exactly what they deserve. But I have customer service background in retail and hospitality so it's always kind of been there. I've known how to deal with these people.
Can you kind of take us through what that client relationship looks like in terms of, what do you mean when you say give them good customer service or how do you maintain that? If you are having so many repeat customers and clients, that's amazing.
Well, customer service, to me, is just being there for them. Is being available to your clients at any particular time for any reason. I am never rude to them, I always answer their questions and I promptly reply to their phone calls if I miss them. If I'm in a session and someone rings, I always reply to their emails quickly and I do it with a smile on my face. And I'm passionate about my business and I try to express that to them and they love that in me. So that customer service is always going beyond their expectations and giving them what they deserve. And you know what, that goes for any business. I recently had to withdraw from using a particular business because they didn't contact me for quite some time after I originally contacted them. And they were a little bit disappointed that I was not gonna be working with them anymore. But had they have responded, yes. And you know what, I just also want to add that when it comes to customer service, don't take on a job if you can't fulfill, or don't take on any particular assignment or anything like that if you can't fulfill those people's needs. So if I'm going through a really busy part in my life where I can't possibly fit any more clients in, I'm not gonna overbook myself. I've allocated so many days a week for me to be able to work and shoot clients. If I continually overpush my boundaries, I'm not gonna give my current clients the level of service that they require. So I'm gonna start to sort of slacken off and my work, my final product, is not gonna be as good as what it should be if I had that extra time. So it's a massive combination of everything, you know. Don't be afraid to tell people that you can't do the job if you can't. Don't take on something that you can't fulfill what their expectations are as well. But customer service is massive.
So do you have set hours in which that you'll respond to a client? Like you mentioned that you always respond to them quickly.
Every morning, obviously, it's pretty hectic in my house getting my kids out the door for school. And we have piano lessons, we have soccer practice, we have running before school. So I don't sit down at my desk until nine o'clock which means my kids are dropped off at school and that's when I come back. If I have a client that day, they're not coming til 10 o'clock so I have nine til to answer any emails, make any phone calls I have to do, pay any bills, order any prints, things like that that I have a system that's pretty streamlined at the moment so it's quite easy to do that. And then over an afternoon, if I finish my shoot early, I can used that time between, say 1:30 and 2:30, to answer some more emails. But then, when three o'clock comes and I get home from school with my kids, I don't sit back down at my computer unless I have something really urgent. But I don't sit back down at my computer until the kids have gone to bed at 7:30, eight o'clock at night. And then if more emails come in and I'm sitting there, I'll reply to them, so people like a prompt reply. But if I've been contacted the day before and I can't for some reason get back to them, what I'll do is just reply the next day and say, look, or the following day, I'm so sorry for the late reply. I don't give them a great in-depth story as to why but I apologize and then I'm there, they have my attention.
So in regards to those office hours that you talked about, when do you actually deliver the product? Like, do you do that yourself? Do they come to the studio, do you drop ship?
It depends on where they live and if it's a large product, they will come and pick it up. If they have driven a couple hours for their session, I will have it delivered by a courier because I obviously don't have that time to drive there and drive back. But a lot of the times, yeah, they come and pick it up if they're available to or a courier is required.
Alright, so let's go back to getting clients in the door and then we'll kind of--
I know, we got sidetracked.
Let's go through some, no, that's great, that's great, but some kind of themes here with the world of marketing. So getting them in, Wishing Well Studio, this is the age-old question. I have a hard time getting clients in the door because my area is so oversaturated with photographers. How can I fix it without giving away tons of free shoots? Kim from Wisconsin. So, again, we talked about building the portfolio but a lot of people, when you asked, are people struggling getting clients in the door, the over-sounding question was, or answer, was yes.
I think that's why this posing class is so good. Learn to do it well, learn to shoot well. Know the technical aspects of your equipment so that when you need to get that shot, you can get it and you can nail it without having to fumble with your camera settings or anything like that. And take your time posing, be patient, get your images right and people will fall in love with them. But make sure that you have a presence online. Make sure that you have information out there that people can see in particular places where pregnant mums go to. Sit down with a group of people and make a list of all the different business that pregnant mums go into. Hospitals are also a really great place to advertise but they're hard to get into. But I have found, with me, the people that are seeing those images are actually the mums that have just given birth. And because I take bookings quite far in advance, it's no good to me because I obviously can't fit them in. But if you've sort of got availability, I recommend going to a hospital, dropping off some flyers if they're up to it. Like a maternity hospital, and anywhere that sort of caters to pregnant women or women who are about to give birth.
We have a question again about the portfolio building and getting those clients to come to you. Farren would like to know what type of discount you recommend for portfolio building sessions and would you recommend going back to portfolio building sessions if you have been doing newborns for a while but you want to kind of give it a little boost?
Yeah, I started off four years ago doing a portfolio session for $250. It sounds really cheap but they only got a handful of images and that was really good for me but that's four years ago. Now, if I was starting off in the same place, I would charge a little bit more because I think that, I know what that person was saying about having to charge so little without having to give it away for free when you are in an oversaturated market but we do need to have pride in what we sell and we need to value it. And we're not gonna value it if we're giving away for free. So it's really important to have a price on it but just make sure that you constantly posting about your portfolio sessions. Put great images on there to sell those portfolio building sessions and only offer a certain amount. And if you have the right information to go along with that, and the right images, people will definitely take you up on that offer.
So it's interesting, we're seeing people coming in from all different places and Ally M says that, I'm in the opposite position, in an area where custom photography is not really appreciated. While it's great that she's not one in a sea of photographers, it's also difficult to get clients in the door and okay with the cost. So what else, you're good at your job, you've got the good work, how about educating people about the value of photography? Or is it needing to find those right people?
It's finding the right target market, definitely, for your business so you want to target those women and men who are about to have babies. But I don't know, have products, invest in your business. Have some great big products printed like this and go and put them somewhere for people to see. When they see it, they fall in love with it, they want it. Get your products out there that are visible to people to see them and they might value it as much as you do.
And if they don't, then they're probably not your client. I think we started out yesterday saying that there were 370,000 babies born every year, and so...
Yeah, in Australia, there's 800 plus born everyday, so I mean, and I shot 100 in a year. We have a lot of baby photographers but not every person wants their baby photographed and especially the way I do it. You know, some people want it done differently because we're all different. So it's just, I suppose, taking a bit of a risk and putting some products in some places where people might see it and might want it. But yeah, it's trial and error, definitely, to finding the clients that want your work.
I kind of have a two part question. First, let's say you are in the portfolio building process. Do you have a recommendation of where to find those pregnant moms if you don't have the pictures to put out there for them to see? So if you're looking for clients to photograph for your portfolio, where do you find those clients?
Well, I suppose if you're putting advertisement out there, I would recommend making a little flyer, a little five by seven flyer. Have you got a picture of a newborn that you can put on it? And just put some details about the portfolio session and little postcards or anything like that and put them in some places where pregnant women might be, which would be obstetricians' offices. And like I did with my little book, I got dressed up really really nice, I took my beautiful hardcover book in, and I actually went for a cheaper version of the book because it's gonna be handled a lot. I wouldn't put the album that I sell in my products and pricing. I would not put that in an obstetrician's office especially where they take toddlers and all that kind of stuff. But I would put something that's a little bit more robust, something that can be replaced easily and without too much expense. But take those objects, those flyers, especially with a photo of your work on it, and take it to places like that. Even find out where they do pregnancy yoga. Find out where they do even daycare centers. Usually parents with toddlers like we saw today, they have more babies and things like that. So there are lots of places where pregnant women go. We just have to figure out in our area what the trend is.
Okay, and the other question is, as far as marketing to the right type of client for you and kind of weeding through that, do you post your pricing online so that it can weed out the people who maybe aren't really in your price range?
I don't put my pricing on my website. There is a section on there that I haven't updated from the beginning of the year because I change my pricing every year. So I don't recommend that because you never know. They might think like they might have a dollar value in their mind about what they want to spend on our photography. But when they see what we have to offer, they will find a way to afford it. I don't but you'll see my pricing PDF shortly and it's full of images. It's full of images to help sell those products at the price that they're at. And yes, only people will contact me back who can financially afford it. But a lot of people will find a way to afford it.