The biggest question always for beginner and even experienced photographers is always how do I book more wedding photography clients? And unfortunately, there is no easy or quick fix but the good news is, there are lots of different ways and strategies that work to book more wedding photography clients. The even better news is that you can find the systems and strategies that work best for you! In this article I’m pretty much sharing all my wedding client booking secrets that have helped me shoot over 100 weddings in 4 years.
In this article I’m going to review what you need to have prepared before an inquiry even lands in your inbox, what you should prepare for your wedding photography consultation, my number one secret to booking $5,000 wedding clients and other tips and trick I’ve learned over the past 4 years when it comes to booking more wedding photography clients.
1. Preparing For Wedding Photography Consultations
Let’s go back, back to the beginninggggg. Laguna beach theme song anyone? I am too old? LOL. But for real. Let’s back up for a minute and talk about how you should be prepared way before a wedding photography inquiry even lands in your inbox.
Here are some mistakes I see photographers make time and time again when it comes to responding to photography inquiries:
- You’re Not Using Branded Email Templates. Are you responding to wedding photography inquiries on the fly every time one comes in? Are you rewriting the same boring email over and over to potential clients? One of my broken record marketing advice phrases is “If you’re bored writing, your audience is bored reading it.” Create email templates for the most common emails your write to run your business. It’s essential that your personality and your business values are communicated in your initial email to a potential client. Their experience with you (that you want them to rant and rave about to their friends) starts with that very first email.
- You Send a Pricing PDF Right Away. If you want to repel price shopping photography clients, this is your first step. I have never sent a pricing PDF in my initial email to clients and I book solid every single year. Your initial email to express your personality and make the client really excited to schedule a phone call with you and get to know what working with you would look like. If a client persists, send a starting price and let them know you will review your packages on the phone call. If you never hear from them again, they weren’t going to book you anyway. Your dream client will come along and want to invest their time and their money in you. If you read through this article and do the work, that I can promise you.
- You Don’t Follow Up. Just because a potential client doesn’t answer you right away doesn’t mean they aren’t interested! People are busy and get interrupted all the time. Think about how often you go to email somebody and get distracted by an Instagram notification and then don’t write that email for another few days. I’m doing a slow raise of my hand right now by the way. If you don’t hear back from an inquiry after 3-5 days. Send a friendly follow up email! I would be you that 9 times out of 10 they will respond with something like, ‘Hi! I’m so sorry, I’ve been meaning to email you but work has been crazy. I’m so glad you followed up, let’s schedule that phone call!”
Alrighty, so now you have the phone call scheduled! You are excited to talk to your dream clients about photographing their wedding butttt you have NO idea what the HECK to say to them.
Your palms get sweaty at the thought and you’re just so nervous you think you’ll totally blank and blow your shot if they talk to you. Sound familiar? I freaking get it. I was there in the beginning too but now I truly love my wedding photography phone consultations and have a 80% booking rate when I get a client on the phone. That’s on the higher side of the majority. I want to help you book more wedding photography clients!
Selling yourself on the phone can be super intimidating at first but the more you do it – the better you’ll become and the more weddings you’ll book because of it. Everyone starts somewhere right?
First, let’s talk about why phone calls are even necessary.
Welp, let me tell you this. Would you give someone you’ve never even talked to on the phone, THOUSANDS of dollars? Probably not. So why expect your clients to do the same. If you want to charge a premium for your service, the experience you provide needs match up. Plus, this is actually an opportunity for YOU to figure out if the client is a good fit for you.
Practice creates confidence.
“Giving good phone” as they would say back in my PR girl days is pretty major for most careers and it was while in PR that I got the practice and confidence to pitch ideas over the phone. I’ve also interviewed for dozens of jobs over the phone and by the time I left corporate MAN was I a pro at that. Confidence will come with practice. Practice just by saying your pitch aloud to your dog. You think I’m joking but I’m dead serious. I rewrite my sales pitch probably twice a year and I will stand up and read it aloud over and over again so that when I say it to a client, I’m super comfortable with it.
Be conversational. This is not an interview but try to keep it both casual and professional. If you have something in common, talk about it! You want to connect with potential couples to make them feel comfortable with you before you get into your sales pitch.
Be prepared with questions and your pitch.
You want to come across as a super professional on the phone and one way to do that is to make yourself an outline of how the call should go. I used to do this back in the day when I pitched my clients products to magazine editors daily. Come up with a list of questions you want to ask your potential clients that will help you both get to know each other better. Have an outline to pitch your brand experience and why your photography services are different from everyone else. You can have an outline to review your pricing and packages as well too. Before getting off the phone, always ask potential clients if they have any questions for you and assure them that if they think of any questions after your call that you’re only an email away.
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2. Booking Your First $5000 Wedding Photography Client
I know what it’s like when you’re first starting out and booking that $5,000 client feels pretty similar to reaching out and grabbing a star. As wedding photographers it’s a blessing and a curse to see such a saturated market. At times it feels encouraging, that anyone can build a wedding photography business no matter what their background is. And other times it feels totally overwhelming and you wonder how or why you’ll be able to make it too. When you see other photographers “killing it” I want you to stop and think “look what is possible for me” instead of comparing yourself to them. Be inspired that someone has carved a path you want to follow. It means it’s all possible for YOU.
I remember exactly where I was when I booked my first $5,000+ wedding client. I was having a drink at a restaurant bar, waiting for our table. I saw the email notification of the signed contract come in first and then, the deposit. My business was just shy of being one year old and I had only been full time for 3 months but MAN I remember thinking and feeling like, “Wow, I’m ACTUALLY making this happen.”
To get technical, the package was $5,490 for an engagement session, full day wedding coverage (12 hours) with a second shooter, rehearsal dinner coverage and an album. Now my standard package starts at $5,500.
Here is the number one reason I think I was able to book my first $5,000+ client in my first year of business. And I think the answer will surprise you because it’s really quite easy.
Booking high price point clients is all in client experience.
Make client experience your #1 priority every single day. You might be asking, “Okay but Casey, what does that even mean?” and I’m just really glad you asked because I LOVE talking about the magic of client experience.
Like I mentioned above, your client experience starts with that very first email so you need to make sure that your brand personality and your business values show up from the very beginning.
Another important component of creating a killer client experience is consistency. Consistency builds trusts with your clients. What are ways you can create consistency? If your personality is on the softer, more quiet side then make sure your emails reflect that so potential clients aren’t confused if they get a super bubbly and quirky email and then get a soft-spoken artistic voice on the phone. Another way to stay consistent is make it a priority to respond to clients at your earliest convenience. Remember, they are your boss, you are getting paid to serve them so make them feel served above and beyond and I promise they will make you even more money by referring you to all their friends.
Anticipate their needs. I learned this in a painful way back in my fashion PR needs but man has it been valuable as a multi-business owner. You never want your client to have to come to you for help or for service. You want to try to give them answers before they even need to ask. One example of this for my wedding photography business is that I have an Engagement Session Email Series that starts immediately after they book their session. I found that most clients wanted to start planning their engagement session about 6 weeks before their photoshoot date. And so right at that 6 week mark, an email automatically goes out to them with all the resources they need when it comes to location planning, outfit style guides, how the shoot will go, when they will get their photos, etc. It’s created such an amazing experience for my couples that I found after I started doing this, they are even more excited to work with me on their wedding day.
Under promise and over deliver – every dang time. Could this be the golden rule of running a business? Probably. So simple and easy and it yields MAJOR results. Here’s how this works. Do you know that you usually deliver over 1,000+ wedding photos per gallery? (Another slow hand raise from me!) Then guarantee 700 wedding images in your contract. Do you typically deliver wedding galleries in 2-4 weeks? Then promise 6-8 week delivery in your contract so that you totally surprise and delight them with early wedding photos. Whatever your typical work flow is, just under promise so that over delivering is easy.
3. Booking More Wedding Photography Clients
Now that I’ve totally spilled the number one thing that allows me to book more wedding photography clients, I want to share some other tips and tricks that also contribute to getting more wedding photography inquiries.
This is kind of an unpopular opinion in the photography industry but it’s what I’ve done since day one and I’ve done pretty well for myself if I do say so myself. Always respond to clients promptly AKA within a few hours of seeing their email. Some photographers think this makes you look “desperate” but I strongly disagree. With the right email copy, I actually think responding to inquiries quickly majorly adds to your client experience. In my initial email to inquiries, I express just how excited I am to chat with them and how much my job lights me up. It comes across as excitement and professionalism – definitely not desperate. Plus, when you respond to them immediately they feel served and we are in the service industry after all.
Invest back into your business. For the first 8 months I was getting paid for my photography jobs, I invested every single penny back into the business while I was still getting income from my 9-5. I purchased online courses, attended a workshop, bought lenses and an extra camera body and more. Heavily investing for these 8 months help me refine my photography and business skills FAST. It put me years ahead of people who started at the same time as me. If you put in the work, you will never lose on investing in yourself and your business. I always made the money back tenfold.
Shoot for free. This is absolutely essential for building your portfolio, refining your skills and giving you the confidence to ask for what you’re worth. You need to experiment with different types of light, different locations, different couples, etc. Here’s how I went about shooting for free without becoming the “for exposure” photographer. I ONLY shot sessions for free if I reached out to the couple or model. I never said yes to people who asked me for a free session unless it benefited me. Setting this boundary for myself early on was so major.
Plan creative shoots, just for you. Nothing creates more confidence in your craft than creating with zero expectations. When you can just experiment with new techniques and have creative freedom, it really improves your skills and therefore your value to your clients.
Raise your prices every 3 months. Does that sound shockingly scary? That means you really need to raise your prices. If you are investing in your skills and your business, you need to be raising your prices because you are getting BETTER and better with all the work you’re doing. As you’re doing more experimental creative shoots, raise your prices. When you teach yourself fancy Photoshop skills, raise your prices. When you learn off camera flash, raise your prices. All of these added skills make you a more valuable photographer to your clients and you should charge as such.
Network with vendors! Vendor referrals are between 30-40% of my bookings every year. Whenever I get a booking from a vendor, I send them a thank you gift because 1. I’m super grateful for their trust in referring me and 2. I want to encourage them to refer to me again. Ask a fellow wedding vendor for a coffee to connect with them and build a genuine relationship. Also, the best way to appreciate and connect with vendors is to make sure you are referring to your favorite vendors. There’s nothing better than getting an easy booking from a referral.
Pinterest marketing! Typically I get between 300-500k+ impressions on Pinterest each month and it’s a HUGE traffic driver for me. It’s probably the most powerful social media platform when it comes to driving traffic to your website. My best Pinterest tips? AF with your keywords. Think about Pinterest as Google for pictures. What would someone search for to find your image? What ‘keywords’ are essential to your ideal client? Schedule your pins in Tailwind! You can schedule 30 days worth of pins in an hour. It’s so easy and fast with BIG results. I know you have an hour a month you can dedicate to Pinterest – get it on your calendar! PHOTOGRAPHERS! Make a conscious effort to shoot more vertical images. I almost exclusively shoot wedding day detail photos vertically because I know they will perform the best on Pinterest.
Now, I wish that I could tell you that doing these things for a few days or even a week will fill up your wedding calendar but it’s not super likely. Hopefully the best case scenario is that you do improve your booking rate in the first few weeks of implementing these strategies! But what will always, always make the difference in business and marketing is consistency. Do these things for 6-12 months and I really do think you’ll be amazed at how you and your business grow. And please, shoot me an email, a DM, a Facebook message with anyyyy questions. I am here to help and share all the knowledge!
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