Susan Stripling: Marketing
Hi, I'm susan stripling and welcome back to thirty days of wedding photography here for thirty days, teaching you everything that I know about shooting both technically and logistically, and then also everything you need to know about setting up your business, setting up your finances, setting up your pricing, getting that very first client taking care of the client, and then all the way through the workflow post wedding and everything that you need to know to deliver a beautiful wedding to your clients, keep them happy and get new clients. That's what we're here to talk to you about today, today, we're talking about marketing marketing is a really interesting and really logistically difficult thing because it varies by country, it varies by region, sometimes it even varies by city. What works for me in new york might not work for you in l a might not work for you in hong kong, but the great thing about marketing is there are so many wonderful different avenues and different ways that ...
you can go about getting your name out there. And hopefully I'm here today to help you with some of them to help you improve your marketing efforts, maybe get started if you're a brand new business and don't know where to go or if you've been in business for quite a while and you're stuck maybe feeling a little stagnant. You need sort of a kick in the pants, marketing wise, maybe something that I'll tell you today will inspire you to try something new that will help you out. So thank you very, very, very much for joining me again and today, let's talk about marketing, so the first thing that I want to talk to you about is assessing your competition now, there's a sort of conflicting schools of thought about this. Some people say it's not important to know what your competition is up to, you just need to have laser focus and keep on ly yourself in mind don't look at what other people are doing around you and then there are others who will say it's really important to know what everyone around you is doing because if you're not, you know, conscious of what your comp addition is doing, you can't be conscious of the moves that you need to make to stay ahead of them and that's the school of thought that I subscribed to I want to know what the photographers around me are doing. I want to know what they're charging. I want to know how their marketing I want to know why clients are hiring them instead of me, and I want to know what they're doing to get those clients toe hire them. So the first thing that I think is very important whether you're a new business or you're an established business is assessing the photographers that are your direct competition. I'm not talking about every single photographer that lives and works in your area because not all of them are going to be your direct competition. I'm talking about the ones that you lose weddings too. I'm talking about the ones that when it's between you and another person who's that other person that's, the competition that I'm focusing on and not knowing who you're going up against for weddings I think is very short sighted I'm not asking you to crawl around in there shrubbery and get to know their day to day life it's not that type of assessment but it's very important, I believe, to know what the other photographers right next to you are doing so that you can do it better or so that you could do something differently and more effectively. So the first thing I want to tell you to do is to do do not secret shop people seriously, don't do it don't make a fake email address don't email a client pretending to be an inquiry so that you can get their price sheet I know some of you have done it to me, I know you've done it to other photographers, whatever, but don't do it not only is it is it really just not, you know, the most terrific ly ethical of things, I don't think that it's a huge, massive big deal you're not, you know, doing something really, really bad. There are large corporations that do send out secret shoppers to find out what other people are doing. I get that, but I really just think that it's not really a good, polite use of your time and effort when it comes to figuring out your competition, there is no need to secret shop. All the secret shopping is going to do is get you there angry response, email and their price list and after a certain point, how helpful is that to you? It's? Not very the first thing that I would suggest that you do is look at vendor directories. Now, a lot of this is what I did when I moved from tallahassee, florida, to new york city, and I knew nothing about the photography market in new york. I didn't know about brides I didn't know about then use I didn't know about vendors, and I definitely didn't know about other photographers. I was fortunate in that I did have some local friends that were photographers, but I didn't really have a handle on who my competition was going to be. So these are the things that I did when I first moved to new york and these are the things that I continue to do year in and year out to keep an eye on my competition because it does change as photographers come into the market and photographers go out of the market and people raise their prices and people diversify into other things and stop shooting as many weddings it's always going to be changing your competition, some of it will be constant, and some of it will be new. So I do these things on a yearly basis, just just to take a look at what's going on around me. And as I said when we've talked about pricing and we've talked about managing your finances in a smart way, I think it's incredibly important there's no such thing as too much information, so information is power, as they say, and I like to know everything I'm very data based, so knowing what my competition is doing is very important to me. So the first thing I did to find out who my competition was was I looked at vendor directories and I started at the top. I looked at who was advertising in style me pretty little black book I looked at who was in june bugs, weddings, wedding directory I bought town and country grace armand martha stewart, new york wedding magazine and I made a list of everyone that had advertised. I even made a list of the size of the ad that they had, knowing full well that a quarter page black and white ad is much less expensive than a full page four color ad. I went after the photographers taking the big ads, and as I looked through these magazines and as I looked through these directories, some of the same name started floating to the top. So I put those those people on my short list of such. Then I started looking at vendor blog's. I went a little further into the style me pretty archives to see who is being featured regularly in the new york new jersey connecticut philadelphia area on these blog's, who was shooting at the four seasons all the time, who was being continually featured on it's on the website of the waldorf astoria. I wanted to know who was continually working at these venues and it's not that hard to find. All you have to do is sit at your computer for a while and do enough google searching and these names. We're going to start rising to the top for you if there are local blog's that do regular features who's continually contributing. To those blog's and that way, I was able to tell, okay, these were the venues that I kind of know that I want to work at, and these are the photographers that air repeatedly shooting at these venues and above and beyond that, you know, seeing who works where once I took that information, I was able to sort of go off off of that. Now, if you google susan stripling pricing, you're going find enough brides and enough message boards talking about what my rates are that you'll get a general sense of what my start prices without having to email me and secret shop me to find that out. So once I sort of had my hit list of photographers, so to say that I figured we're going to be my competition. When I eventually started booking weddings in new york and continue to be my competition now, I was able to take a look at them and then do some google searching of their names to sort of figure out start prices. And there are some sites like you go to the not or if you look at w, p j or things like that, it will have photographer rates start at, and it just gave me a ballpark. Understanding that rates start at could mean anything from time and files to time files. Two parent albums at a new home there's really no way to tell, but it was letting me see that a lot of the photographers that I thought were going to be my competition when I moved to new york and continue to be my competition. Now we're in a certain price bracket, so it gave me an idea of where I would need to be priced to be competitive with these photographers in this price bracket. So doing this research, understanding what the other photographers in my area are doing and where they're working and what vendors they're working with more often than not was giving me information about what was going on in the market around me, which was really, really helpful. And before I say anything more before I talk to you anymore about getting your work out there and getting your name out there and putting yourself on blog's and in magazines, and what not the most important thing that I can tell you is that the work matters. Nothing that I'm telling you today is going to make you successful if you're not a good photographer, and nothing that I'm telling you today is going to be such a secret marketing trick that it's going to mask the fact that your work isn't good. So before you really put effort into these things before you really start shoving your name out there are continuing to shove her name out there or taking out magazine ads I really strongly suggest that you work on the work working on the work is something that we're continually doing you're in and you're out is working professionals, but the best advertising in the world is not going to bring you clients if you don't have the work to back up the advertising do with that what you will, but I don't want you to lose sight that the work does matter and that advertising and marketing and branding and the best website in the world it is not going to make up for shoddy or worse mediocre work. So now that I said that the question I get asked more often than not when we're talking about marketing is do I have a target clients and the answer to that is no, no, I don't I used to try to do the thing that they would always tell you to do, which is sit down and try to figure out who your target client is where do they shop? What do they do? What do they like, what brands do they wear? What restaurants do they eat at? And I realized that when I was doing all of that, I was getting a really narrow world view of who my clients were and for every client that I have that lives on the upper west side and shops at barney's and love's manolos and all of those wonderful cartier fancy things that's discounting the clients that are getting married at the barn in vermont, who have almost no budget whatsoever but prioritize their photography budget so that they can hire me. I have noticed that my clients fall into several different brackets and none of them overlap. So for every client who hires me to work at the plaza where my sea is less than the cake, I have somebody who hires me to work at their backyard wedding, where my sea is more than the catering. So if I do have a target client, the target client that I have is simply a client that values beautiful photography and is willing to invest in that some of them have money, some of them don't. Some of them are getting married in fancy places, some of them aren't. And if I am to narrow the view of those clients, I am alienating all of these other clients for which photography is very important. So my target client is a very blanket statement in that it is anyone who values good photography and is willing to make the investment. In the good photography it's not rich people who are willing to spend money its clients who are willing to invest invest in beautiful work that is going to last them for years and generations to come that is my target client that said now that I have that target client how do I get them to find me how do I get them to pull my name out of the hat of thousands of other photographers on the internet well this is what I do first of all my goal is to get my name out there and as many different ways and variations and variables as possible I want people to see my work whether they can afford me whether they want to hire me whether they end up hiring me whether they're not even my target client at all I want to just start blasting my work out there because I view it as a funnel well some of it is a wide reaching a kind of effect and then some of it is very targeted but when I start with reid reaching that's throwing my name and my work on the internet and as many places as humanly possible because I am a junkie for rejection and people telling me that my work is not good enough I like to enter competitions and my personal favorite online competition which I didn't enter even once this year so I have a very bad competitors is fearless fearless photographers is an absolutely extraordinary organisation and what it values above anything else is being fearless in your work, whatever that may be to you maybe it's catching a wild moment maybe it's a client jumping in a pool, maybe it's putting yourself into your work in a way that you were afraid to do before but it embraces whatever is fearless in you and I think that that's a beautiful thing in the industry, the competitions are beautiful, the work that comes out of these competitions is mind blowing and inspiring and it pushes me to be better as a shooter. Now on the marketing side of things, it's great you placing more competitions, your work is out there more your name gets up to the top of your region I was in the you know it top photographers in two thousand twelve and then didn't enter in two thousand thirteen don't do that, please stay with it, but not only do I have, you know, twenty pictures up there in my fearless gallery, it also pushes me to become a better photographer. So it's a really great one two punch and that it's a good marketing endeavor, but it also makes me work harder as a shooter every single year because an online competition isn't painful or difficult enough for me I also enter w p p sixteen by twenty print competition so not only do you have the difficulty of finding the images that you want to enter then you have to go into the wonderful realm of printmaking which is it's extraordinarily difficult animal on its own but I do enter w p p ay every single year that was a wonderful one to think of getting my name in front of photographers which does help with my teaching career and it also gets my images online it's another hit in google when a client looks for my name and it might get my name out there in a way that other people haven't seen the competition's that I've done the things that I've done they all go online in my press section of my website and even things like the top ten list with american photo magazine which was kind of a ridiculous extraordinary honor I've had clients find me that way I've had clients find me through fearless I've had clients find me through whatever rabbit hole they fell in in the internet it led them to the winners of the sixteen by twenty print competition and they found me that way so anyway that I could get myself out there. The great thing about competitions is that you can use them for press could put them on your website it's a wonderful resume line item but it's also another listing on the internet that a client could possibly stumble across which is fantastic I will also put my name on any free online listing that will have me anything I don't care what it is paying for. It is a completely different thing entirely, but if it's a free listing if it's a free vendor listing if it's anywhere that I can put my name on the internet as a photographer, I'm going to do it. I'm going take it. Why not? Why wouldn't you put your name everywhere? I want to just reiterate that anywhere that you can get your name out there anywhere that you can put yourself in front of a client in any way get your name on the internet now let's talk about a little bit more specifics beyond that, getting your name out there anywhere for me also involves seeking publication on blog's my work is not exactly trendy. I don't follow the whole vintage aesthetic of fields and mason jars and really do saturated images which is you know unfortunately, in my opinion still very big in the industry right now I feel like my work is more clean it's more classic. I hope that it will really stand the test of time, but the problem is, is that makes it very unsuitable for a lot of bloggers that are out there now there are blog's such as june bug who really values beautiful photography and beautiful moments yes they need to show beautiful weddings that will inspire the brides that read it but they have a very strong premium on the photography that they show which is a really lovely thing the problem with that is that there are very few blog's that will take my work so unfortunately like a glutton for punishment I continue submitting and resubmitting and resubmitting on top of that because every once in a while they do and the publication on the blog's drives readers to my site it drives clients my inquiry form and it does book me weddings above and beyond the big ones above and beyond the june bugs and the style me pretties look for your local blog's look for brooklyn bride which is a wonderful resource for new york weddings look att tthe e uninjured z bride which is a really wonderful blawg for weddings in new jersey that are that are different that air beautiful that have wonderful photography look for things that are local look for things our local to your cities look at the blog's that perhaps that have been used that you're working at do they have a blogger does your florist that you work with a lot have a blawg you know don't just look straight to the top for that look anywhere that you can get your work featured on anyone's website and approach it when you're looking at publication on blog's when you're looking at publication even on the local florist blawg look for what their submission guidelines are and follow them. Don't just send out a blast email dear blawg person, here are my images follow their submission guidelines to the letter it will ensure that you get looked at stay in the loop and if you do get a rejection letter, don't get disheartened, send it back out to someone else. If you're looking for doing a lot of blog's submissions, there is a company out there called to bright lights. They will allow youto upload an album, customize inspiration boards and then send those inspiration board off the various publications both exclusive and non exclusive. And if you're rejected by that publication, then you have the opportunity to take that wedding and then re submitted to another one that's a really, really great resource. I do use that for a lot of publications, but as I work with blog's more and more as I know the people that I'm talking to about the submissions more and more, then I have the opportunity to emails my submissions to those people directly. So when you're trying to get published on different blog's and on different places online, don't just continue to be anonymous, make an effort to learn who runs the blog's, make an effort to learn the person that you need to talk to in terms of submissions. And it's just one extra step to hopefully pull you out of the pack of everybody else that's pushing submissions at them all day every single day. So another thing to not ignore I know that blog's air a really massive thing right now. Magazines are also huge that's why I just recently took out a full page ad in new york weddings magazine because I'm noticing a lot of clients trending back to not just looking at blog's online but buying and reading magazines and being published in a magazine for me if I could get a six page spread in grace armand that's like getting six full page ads and I know a lot of people will say, well, yes, but they're just taking their work and you're taking they're taking your work and they're not paying for it they're just using it to make money. You should really hold out. You should only submit to a magazine if you're being paid for it, and for some I would say yes, but for someone but also say no this appear. This picture that accompanies these slides is of chiara and peter's wedding in august of two thousand thirteen in newport, and it recently just ran is a multi page feature in the new england issue of grace armand I didn't really feel like spending for five full page ads in this magazine but in essence this is five full page ads promoting my work and I have gotten calls and I have gotten emails from it already and it's only been on news stands for a very short period of time so you have to gauge your comfort level if you're going to allow a magazine or a blawg to use your images without compensation are you comfortable with what the results of being published might get you and for me for something like this I definitely am it's also wonderful to be published in magazines you can tear them out you can have your tear sheets I put them in the press section of my website you can put them in any promotional packages that you might want to send your clients it's a really wonderful way to show that your work is being validated whether it's real validation or not clients like to see that your work has been out there it almost makes you look more trustworthy which I know seems a little absurd but I can't tell you the number of people who have come to me and said I think we found you online maybe it was in a magazine or I mean I think we saw you in a magazine but we also saw you ana blawg and they really don't know how they found me it means that putting my name out there in all of these different ways is really working so I want to urge you not on ly to seek publication on blog's but to not forget magazines to not forget that they're out there it's not forget that people are still reading them so beyond that I'm also looking for publication in trade publications and you might be asking what is a trade publication? Well, for example, think of all of the different camera cos that you work with and software companies that you work with and album companies that you work with they all have websites a lot of them. How blog's a lot of them take out ads in magazines if you work with a company that you really love contact them. Hi, random album company. I see that you have a blogger where you feature, you know, the albums that you put out I just got an album from you, it's really fantastic. I took a bunch of pictures of it. I wrote this really great article on how I sold it to my client and how my client loved it. Please feel free to take this and use this on your block. If you'd like to know things like that well, they mostly be seen by photographers. Yes, you never know when it prospective client might stumble on it and it's also another thing for you to take and to put on your resume of sorts, which is your press page of your website or the press page of whatever marketing materials you give to your clients, it's also a really wonderful way to strengthen their relationships that you have with other vendors in the industry. Just another thing to consider, and I'm not saying that you have that you have to look nationally or internationally for this. It doesn't have to be your album company. It could be your florist down the street who is thinking of doing an ad and you can put your image in their ad with your name right on it, there's a million different ways to take this one and run with it. So look at the area you live in, look at your city, your state, the venues that you work with and see how you can sort of leverage the publishing opportunities in all of the variety of different ways that you can go about it with these different vendors, so beyond that, above and beyond that, beyond just putting your name on the internet beyond seeing your name in print beyond putting your name in these trade publications and everywhere that you can possibly think to plaster it all over the internet, the thing that I actually believe is even above and beyond mohr important than that is pursuing vendor relationships. It's getting to know the people that you're working with at the venues that you've worked for, the vendors that you've worked with and even the ones that you haven't work for or with thatyou want teo one thing I wanted to speak to really quickly is the referral list now most venues, most vendors, wedding planners, they have a referral list where if a client comes to them and they say okay, we're getting married here at the holiday inn express, but we don't have a photographer there any photographers that you recommend most venues do have a vendor referral list that they'll give out to their clients and I see a lot of photographers who are hungry and desperate and all they want is to get onto this referral list. Listen, if you want to get on the referral list, which is a wonderful and incredible thing and we'll help your business and will bring clients to your door, you can't just call up the holiday inn express and say, hey, can you put me on your referral list because every photographer is doing that and every band and every d, j and every florist everyone wants to be on the referral list, the only way that I found that you can reliably get on a referral list is by working at that than you, which is unfortunately a difficult thing how do you work there if you've never worked there and how do you get referred to work there if you've never worked there? It's kind of a difficult one, but if you do shoot a wedding venue, if you shoot a wedding at the crystal plaza and livingston, new jersey and you desperately want to get on that crystal plaza, where for all list you need to work your relationship with that, then you and then not asking you to schmooze and I'm not telling you to suck up and I'm not telling you to be disingenuous because vendors and venues khun cia disingenuous photographer coming a mile away if you show up and it's all what can you do for me? What can you give me? How can you put me on your referral list? The response is going to be what can you do for me? So what I do in order to attempt to work my way onto these referral list is the first thing I do is I always follow up pushed wedding. I get to know every single person that I've worked with at the wedding from the bridal attendant who carries the bride's train everywhere we go to the person in charge of catering to every single vendor that I work with on the day of the wedding. Part of that I get from asking the clients I just asked them who are you working with? Part of it is introducing myself to people on the day of the wedding and asking for their card hi makeup artist you did a really fantastic job today I'd love to send you some images from what we did today can I get your card so I can follow up with you after the wedding and I am telling you every single photographer that these people work with will promise these things to them on a lot of people don't follow through you need to be the photographer that delivers and follows through and gives the images to these people so that they can put it in their portfolio give them the watermarked files for the website give them images for their ads that will run with your name on them and some of you might be saying well why should I give them these things they should pay for them I've you this is an investment in the advertising so as long as they will use my images with my name on them or my watermark on them I'm fine with any vendor attached to the wedding working with these images totally fine with it I have no problems with it whatsoever. So after every single wedding when the image goes online in this inn folio gallery I haven't email that's customized that's called vendor downloads and I take that e mail and I send it to every single person that I worked with at the wedding. From the florist to the make up artist to the cater to everybody. It was wonderful to work with you. I am so thrilled to show the images of blair and jeremy's wedding with you. You know, here's how? If you would like to use them, I would like you to use them with the watermark or the credit. I would love to work with you again. Please let me know if there's anything else that you need from me. And then I back off in about six weeks after that, I follow up again. Hey, I just wanted to check in and just wanted to see if you got the images from the wedding that we worked on together. It was absolutely an honor to work with you. I would love to do it again. Please let me know if there's anything I can do for you and then back off it's just the same of dating it's just the same is making a new friend. You cannot come on too strong. You can't look too desperate or it's never going to work out, and I really, truly view building vendor relationships as making new friends. And if there's someone that I don't really like, a much I don't click with, if I come off too strong and too desperate to get on their referral list, they're going to feel that it's going to be disingenuous. So in everything that I do business wise, I just try to have a level of authenticity that I'm comfortable with. So pursuing the relationships that I have are with people that I want to pursue relationships left just as I would and my regular everyday life. So that is another thing to bear in mind. The other thing, if you're trying to get him to get in with a venue or a vendor or someone that you've never worked with before, why don't you offer to shoot something for them? There is a great venue in philadelphia, it's, the place that I got married and every so often they have kind of a mess actor event for clients and prospective clients where they make food, they lay it out, they decorate the space, it looks really great and people can come in and look at everything offer to go shoot something like that for the venue. Hey, front palmer! I see that you have a client meeting greet coming up really soon and it's going to be really fantastic. I've heard really great things about your space I don't know if you have anybody shooting it for you, but I would love to come and shoot it for you and give you the images I'd like to show you what I can do for you in your space and I'd also like to help you out vendors and venues love it's a two way street with their relationships and and they need that if they're going to help you, you need to help them too. If there's a florist or an event decorator that you're dying to work with called him up and offer to photograph an event for them. Hey, once you're done setting up for the reception, I would love to come in for you and document the space for you and get the images to you so that you can use them for your promotional purposes. All I ask is that you use my name when you use the images and that you know, if you could think of me if any other jobs come up in the future, that would be really great, but I'd really love to do this for you if they take you up on it, don't get in the way of the hired professional don't be a jerk introduce yourself say what they're there to do and stay out of their way but it's a really great way to get to know vendors and then use that you might not have gotten to know before there are a million different ends they don't all have to be shooting a wedding. Yes, a lot of it is who you know but you are very responsible for how you get to know these people. Nothing is saying that you can't call them up and offer to come in and show the work or offer to shoot something for them pro bono or even just drop them a note on their facebook page to say that you really admire the work they d'oh if I view these vendor relationships kind of like starting a new dating relationship starting slow, getting to know each other, you know, deciding where this might be going and being authentic the entire entire time very, very, very important. That said another thing that I haven't done in quite a while, but I am definitely open to you considering doing in the future and I have done in the past are the new base bridal fairs ah lot like what I was talking about before where the venue will have kind of a meet and greet for current and prospective clients sometimes then use or small groups of vendors together we'll have small bridal fairs are small you know, perspective clients come in bands might have showcases where all of the band's under one entertainment company play that night so that prospective clients can see if you have any opportunity to go to exhibit to put your workout at one of those things consider it there is never a point that you will reach in your career where it is not still important to get your name out there, and it is not still important to shake hands and kiss babies and that's something that I have a very hard time with. I have a very hard time with with relationships, I have very limited time, so I also have a hard time getting out there and doing all of these things, but I have definitely noticed that if I let these things lag, if I let them lapse, if I'm not continually vigilant about these things, they'll start to forget about you after a while, there is always some photographer right behind you, ready to take your place, so you kind of need to keep moving. So if you're going to do these things, if you're going to go after some of these vendors and some of these venues and start trying to get to know them a little bit better, I highly encourage you to make a list. A vendors and a plan of attack where do you want to work who do you want to work with? How are you going to get at them it's a little sneaky it's a little like being a spy but maybe if I want to work at the four seasons my best end is not shooting a wedding there maybe it's shooting event for them maybe it's exhibiting out their bridal fair maybe it is getting permission to shoot a bridal session on their property and then delivering the images to them there are dozens of ways that you have an in and I promise you that as long as you come at it authentically and respectfully and honestly not just well let me what can you do for me what can you do for me? Give me give me give me two way street just keep remembering that so now that you have your plan of attack now that you've looked at blog's now that you've figured out how you're going to scatter your name every single place that you can on the internet another thing that is really important to do is get to know the other photographers in your community there are a million different ways that you can get to know the other photographers shooting around you first of all the very first thing that I did I'd been in business for about a year I went to w p p I I didn't know a single soul didn't know anybody I knew like two or three people vaguely from the internet but I didn't have friends I didn't have people I was looking forward to going to see but I just went and when I went I talked to people I introduce myself to people I sat in seminars and I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me I talked to people in the lines at trade shows I talked to people in the line buying my starbucks in the morning and I started to get to know people and I never would have thought that the very first year that I went to something like that be p p I that thirteen years later I would still be going back there and I would be going back as an educator and that the dpp I would introduce me tio these companies that I worked with that have become friends I I didn't know that I would meet my husband there so I'm not saying that you're going to meet a husband every time you go to a networking event that's not really what I'm getting out but I have made extraordinary friends at these organizations and at these conventions and I've made wonderful acquaintances with that that I can collaborate with that aiken balance business ideas off of and that I can also look at their work to see what the trends are so not only I really believe that not only is it important to know vendors and venues and people like that to build relationships with but it's also important to build relationships with other photographers in your area they can refer to you you can refer back to them they could be there for you in times of emergency if you're sick or you need a second shooter or you need help with something it's nice to have a community of people behind you it makes you feel a little less alone when your work at home in your pajamas but it's also a great way to send referrals back and forth if you're booked you can send them to somebody if they're book they can send them to you and all of that could start by the person that you're standing in line next to at the starbucks first thing in the morning at a p p a convention people is great they have national conventions they have state conventions they have local guilds I very first got started in photography as I've mentioned a million times in tallahassee, florida and I was a member of the tpp g and I loved it it was photographers in my own city we could talk about problems specific tow us in tallahassee and it was a great way to build a referral network a very like minded people who literally lived right down the road from me so that is a great way to get to know people joining facebook groups. I hate to sound like an old photographer, but when I very first got started, we didn't have facebook, and now that we do have facebook it's a lot easier to meet people that are local if you're very shy in public it's a great way to get started getting to know people a really wonderful resource. So get on facebook look att the groups that might be pertinent to not only wedding photography, but wedding photography in your region or your city and your state, and joined them and start getting to know people you know, talk to people on the internet, you never know where that might lead you. It might lead you to a great place business wise, or you might just make your best friend there never know other industry events, not necessarily just pertaining. The photography there's, nace, there's, isis, there's things with caterers, there's things that have been used there are other industry events that you can go to and above and beyond that wherever you live. There's meetup dot com toe look at go meet some photographers there, go join your chamber of commerce, go join the junior league! It doesn't have to just be photographers it's meeting other people who might be like minded business people in businesses that are not the same type of business but you never know where that will lead either you don't know if the guy that you sat next to on the plane on the way to the convention that you went two might be somebody that ends up being a great business contact down the road so I'm always kind of open to meeting new people not necessarily just in wedding photography related fields but in other fields as well and then you've got your basics like camera clubs go to your local camera store see if they have any camera groups that meet you never know when you're going to meet somebody who will be very influential and important on your business or you to theirs and you have no excuse it is you that is going to do this it's you going tio get out and pound the pavement and get online and meet people and make friends and get to know people and you only have yourself to blame if you don't get out there and start making some friends so now that I've told you to get up and go out and make some friends the other thing that is really kind of important for you to do is tow have happy clients I know that sounds like photography one no one I know that sounds incredibly incredibly basic put good customer service is the best marketing that you could possibly have if you have miserable clients, they're going to say miserable things about you to other people if you have happy clients they're going to tell the entire world how happy they are with you so it's very important that as you're improving your skills as you're putting your name out there as you're working on marking and working on branding and working on everything that you're working on don't lose focus of the clients that you have and the needs that they have that you continually have to service for them so my clients come first and foremost they come above any teaching opportunities that I have they are the most important thing to my business because making a single one unhappy can ruin everything and making someone very happy can bring you years of business to come so be nice to them so let's talk a little bit more about marketing as it pertains to maintaining your presence online now I know that that might sound like a no brainer like of course you're online we're all in line we're all online all the time but more above and beyond being online all the time it's really important to me that the way I am online is a very deliberate and very well thought out thing so my presence online I have my blawg obviously we all have logs it's facebook and I'm not talking about a personal facebook I'm talking about my business facebook account it's the susan's tripling business sand page um, twitter and I'm also very active on instagram. I'm not google plus er I'm not I does anybody do link down? I don't do link done if you do that's awesome, but I don't it is very important for me to maintain each of these things, maintain them on a regular basis and maintain them very specifically. One of the things that I tried to tell my daughter who's almost thirteen years old is that nothing that you do online ever goes away. Everything that you do online is online always and forever and could follow you for the rest of your life flash career. So I am very, very, very careful with who I am online and when I'm here and I'm talking to you if you go read my twitter feed, which I update myself, and if you look at my facebook page in my business facebook page, which I do myself, I am pretty much myself online. I'm just a very careful version of myself and the me that is sitting here talking to you right now. This is me, this isn't some persona that I ended when I come and I teach this is what I'm like. In real life, I'm maybe not a peppy might be a little more bitter definitely where we wear sweat pants that I'm wearing right now, but I'm also very careful about what I talk about online. I don't talk about politics, that's not to say that I don't have extraordinarily strong political leanings or views, but you're never going to know what they are because I don't think that that's important tio how I run my business and whether or not I am religious, you don't need to know what religion I am, you don't need to know what god I worship or don't worship. There are many photographers who put their faith into their business, and it is it could be a beautiful thing when it is done beautifully, but I strongly feel me personally, just me that politics and religion are best left out of my business. So while I might have unfriended you if you went completely deranged on the last election, you're never going to know who I voted for. I don't think that's important, so I choose to keep that out of my online persona. Well, I put pictures of my children on instagram, I will that every single time I instagram a picture of my children, I ask them first, if it's okay, can I put this picture of you guys online? Do you mind? I barely ever blawg my children, and when I do, I ask them I'm very careful about how I exposed them online because their lives are not mine, and if I'm going teo put them out there, I want him to be okay with that, and if they ever said mom, please stop instagramming me it's, of course, of course I will, and I'm very careful with what I instagram and I'm very careful with what I post on facebook. You will never, ever see a picture of me on instagram or on facebook in a bar holding a drink now maybe I'm a w p p I maybe we're all sitting around and it's been a long day and a long night, and I'm having one glass of red wine. You won't know that from a picture online. Maybe I've had sixty two glasses of red wine. Maybe I'm behaving really badly, I assure you that I'm not, but I'm very careful with what goes on line with my name on top of it, both personally and professionally. A lot of people feel otherwise, and that is perfectly fine, but the type of business that I run needs to be very true to the type of person that I am. So that's, what I'm comfortable with and all I'm trying to tell you here is if you're going to go online and you're going to live a little bit of your life online so that your clients can feel like they get to know you, you need to be comfortable with the you that you put out there, and you need to be comfortable with the fact that if you put it out there, you can't take it back. So I actually said in my vows to my husband on our wedding day, I promise to never retweet without thinking because that is a fatal flaw of mine and something that I'm constantly trying to work on is how am I online all the time? So I don't care if you're twelve I don't care if you're fifty be conscious of the personality that you're putting out there and the things that you're putting out there for public consumption. What does your site say about you above and beyond? What your online president says about you? What does your website say about you? And now, if you've been with us since day one, you will have seen me talking through the mini, sometimes frightening generations of my website before it got to where it is right now. But your website needs to say something about you and your business, and for some of you, that might be a no brainer. But when you don't have a website or when you have a generic website and you're looking to upgraded to a version two point oh, twelve point oh, you need to have a very clear understanding of what your side is going to say about your business before you do any of that you need to establish your business identity. What do you want people to feel when they look at your website? What do you want people to feel when they look at your work? What emotional reaction are you trying to invoke in people that are looking at your images and your site online? What are you trying to say about your business to prospective clients when they see you online? If you don't have a very clear sense of what your identity is, your marketing and your branding is going to be not very clear either. And as I've talked to you about needing to hire a lawyer, if you need one an accountant, a financial advisor, why would you hire anything other than a professional to create the storefront and the face of your business online? My very first websites, I did them myself, of course I did them myself, I don't know what I was doing but when it was time for me to really take things seriously, I hired a professional, and then when it was time for me to take things even more seriously, I stepped up to a amore capable professional to execute the vision that I was trying to put out there for my business. So when you are looking for a professional toe, work on your branding and to work on your website, you need to be prepared to wait. When I very first got started with infinite design, there was a six month wait to get started on a new website. I'm pretty sure I also waited nine months the last time I worked on my new website, and it was a weight that I was very, very, very willing to dio, because I knew that once we were able to work together, they were going to be able to do exactly what I wanted. And also it gave me nine months to prepare every single thing that I needed to give them so that they could get started and create what I needed. If you are going to hire someone to do your website, or to do your branding, or to do your marketing materials for you, the first thing that you need to do beyond establishing your business identity is you need to find out what inspires you, oh and I'm not asking you to go to pinteresque and start just making a pinterest board that means absolutely nothing although I did make a pinter s port and it was awesome, I'm asking you to find what is inspirational to you and when I sent things out to my web designer saying I want my website to reflect that I am upscale, that I am elegant, that I am timeless and classic with an edge I needed to give them examples of what timeless and classic with an edge meant to me the very first thing I told them as I said, I want my business and my website to be chanel meet alexander mcqueen and these two lovely gentlemen from lancaster said what? Okay, we need to know what that means to you, so I worked on gathering fabrics, pictures, colors, pictures of anything that invoked that response in me anything that I felt showed classy, timeless with an edge I put into my folder of inspiration, so I was able to give that to them so that they knew what the words that I was saying really meant to me and what I am trying to do with my website with my branding with everything I have on line is to elevate myself I'm trying to take what my business is I'm trying to take what my work is and I am trying to elevate it to a status so strong that you can look at it in a second online and know exactly what I'm about now. Beyond that, the one thing that I truly cannot accurately speak to you about is theo, that is something that I am continually learning. It is something I am continually struggling with it something that I am continually seeking advice from professionals about if you are wanting to improve your ceo, I am not the person to teach that to you, and I have no problem telling you, I don't know, I can't do that. There are many people out there that can do that better than I you will not get an fto lesson for me. I am sorry, but if that something that you're trying to improve their are wonderful resource is out there for you to get help, just be very careful in who you hire toe work on the ceo of your website or any of your information online. There are fantastic scams and crooks out there, so if you are going to hire someone, take your time and research, ask around, make sure you're working with someone who will be able to do exactly what you need. So we've talked about three ways to get your name out there we've talked about ways to maximize your relationships with people now, let's talk about paid listings. And this is a really somewhat controversial one because you have to figure out the amount of money that you're going to spend on this listing that you're looking at will you be able to book enough weddings from it that will have made that expenditure worthwhile and above and beyond that? Will you be able to get your name out there to enough people that even if they're not turning into direct bookings are they turning into referrals? Are the paid listings getting your name in front of other vendors in your area? That's one thing to consider when I first went on june bug when I first went on style me pretty eye was not on ly trying to reach brides but I was also trying to get my name and brother in front of other industry professionals that also looked at those websites so to me a paid listing is worth it if it translates and two things if it translates into direct the bookings from clients and if it translates into vendors getting to know me that might not have seen me before now I track all of this information I definitely look at where every single person is booking me from I have spreadsheets and I have my shoot you data we will talk about all of that data when we talk about managing your studio but every single time a client hires me I know how they found me I do my best to know the trail of websites that led them to me or the vendor referral or the past client referral that led them to me. I want to know how they found me, and that way I can look back and I can say, oh, I got seventy five referrals from my style, me pretty listing, but only five people booked me or only one people booked me. One person booked me sorry, but then again, I can also look at some other listings and say, wow, I only got five referrals from that, but all five people book me, so when you're tracking your bookings and you're looking at your paid listings, you have to look at the enquiries and you have to look at the bookings, and then you have to find the numbers that are comfortable to you. There is no algorithm that I could get you that a paid listing is worth it if it gets you at least one hundred enquiries a year in six bookings, well, maybe, but also maybe not. Maybe it is super worth it for you if it gets you one booking, but its massive. So these were things that I can't teach you, that you have to find numbers that you're comfortable with yourself when we're talking about paid listings I am listed on june bug weddings which gets me both enquiries and bookings and vendors getting to know me. I am listed also on style, me pretty. It gets me mohr enquiries than june bug, but it gets me less bookings so that's an interesting bit of data have for a brief period of time, I was listed on brooklyn bride, and while it was getting me enquiries, it wasn't really getting the bookings, and I was able to really analyze those to see that the clients that were frequenting this blawg, paul fantastic clients having fantastic weddings, they weren't a match for my style. They weren't a mesh for the work that I was doing and the products that I was delivering. So I ended up parting ways that that paid advertising not because I didn't like them, but because it wasn't reaching the people that were actually hiring me. I've taken out a listing on the un jersey bride, which is a really great kind of jersey based resource because it does get traffic. It does push clients that I want towards me, and I think above and beyond those there isn't really thinking is there really isn't anything else that I pay for online? I am listed in the online section of new york weddings magazine the reason why I'm listed there is because I have a full page ad with them. So when considering print advertising, I also have to consider what online component comes along with the print advertising and will that or will that not help me? So some of the paid listings are a gamble I could have done. All of my research in the world signed up for style me pretty only to realize that it was a total style in this match and got me nothing, so I have put money out there, and I have paid for listings that got me absolutely nothing whatsoever, but sometimes you don't know unless you try it, but I also know that, for example, being listed on the knot will do nothing for me, it isn't reaching the type of clients that are hiring me, and I would have to spend so much money to be on the top of their listings for new york city, but it just isn't financially viable for the return that it would bring me so that's, not something that I'm willing to consider. So do your research look and see where your competitors might be advertising. You know, if there's someone that you continually go up with you for weddings over and over and over again, it is definitely worth seeing where they're listed and not only how our people finding you, but if that guy's your competition, how are they finding him? So do a little research on him or her, and see where they're listed in what advertising they're doing. It's. Just market research, and it's, just basic smarts. So today, we've talked about how to get your name out there on the internet, in ways that are free, whether paying for anything is absolutely worth it. How you need to consider your presence online, how to meet other professionals, both vendors and venues and photographers that will become friends and colleagues, and sources of referrals and inspiration for you. I hope that you have found this helpful. Thank you so much for being with us. So far, we have so much more to cover from mark, from booking your clients to taking care of your client's toe, actually shooting the entire wedding and all the way through work flow. So we're really just getting started here, and we'll see you again soon.