The wedding season is nearly over. The leaves are turning and I’ve already seen Christmas trees in the shops.
Yep, we’re coming into peak season for family portraits.
Family photography is more profitable per hour than a wedding and less stress.
I earn around £50 per hour from weddings and £80 an hour from family photography (an average of £500 for 6 hours of work).
But for many photographers it would be easier to find a banjo playing unicorn than a good quality family photography client.
The main issue with booking family photography clients is there’s no deadline for getting it done.
Weddings have a fixed date and babies grow day-by-day, but families can do their photography any time… …so they never do it.
So you need to get creative.
You need to be proactive.
So here’s a reminder about some of the ways I get my family photography clients.
I’ve talked about the Facebook tornado technique until I’m blue in my face so I’m not going to dwell on it again. I’ve never got less than 20 enquiries when I’ve used it on either families, weddings or babies though. If you’ve somehow missed this gem of an idea then check it out under the ‘courses’ tab of the membership site. If you know about it but haven’t tried it then this is the quickest way of getting lots of family photography enquiries fast.
I’ve talked about these a lot too, but have you gone out there and tried to get any? Knowing an idea and utilising it are two very different things. All you need to do is find some businesses that share your target market (horse riding clubs, nice children’s clothing stores, beauty salons etc.) and then give them some vouchers (for a free session and free print) that are written as if they’re a gift from that business to their customers. Everyone wins. The business gets to give their customers a free gift, the customer gets a family photography session and free print and you can the opportunity to sell additional photographs to the family. There’s an example of the voucher in the downloads section of the membership site.
Charity auctions and events
Last month I offered 5 family photography sessions to a charity auction and I’ve got 4 booked in already. Again, it works on the principle of a free session and free print. Next month I’m supporting a Breast Cancer event where there will be 330 women. I’m photographing the event for free and all the guests will receive a voucher that explains I’ll donate 10% of an family photography orders to the charity. They’re also giving me a display area and announcing the promotion during the event. If you want to know more about working with charities then check out our video ‘How working with charities can grow your business’ in the marketing section of the membership site.
My mentor Charles Lewis always told me “you have to create a huge demand and then control the volume of work you do with the price”.
In other words, it doesn’t matter if you only book 1 great client out of 100 if you’re getting hundreds of enquiries.
That’s the mindset you need when running a competition (for a free session and lots of free artwork, for example). You’ll run it in a similar way to the Facebook Tornado and you’ll get lots of people entering by filling out your questionnaire. It’s then down to you to follow up with all these leads and find the ones who are a good fit for your business. Again, check out the Facebook Tornado course under the courses tab of our website to see how it works.
I plan to create a course where I write an entire year’s worth of promotional materials (email newsletters, Facebook posts etc.) so you can copy and paste the wording and get great results quickly. Promotions come in all shapes and sizes. Discounts, limited space (ie you can only photograph a limited number of bluebell sessions as they’re only around for a month), no up-front payment, value-added (ie. get something free that you wouldn’t normally), Novelty sessions, mini sessions, special locations, prize draws, first 5 callers only etc.
When you run a promotion you’re creating a deadline and that creates urgency in the mind of the family. Suddenly their family photographs aren’t something they can do any time; they need to take action quick or miss out. If you want to know more about how to run effective promotions then check out the video ‘Creating special offers that encourage people to book you’ in the marketing section of our membership site.
I’ve had free exhibits of my photography in a shopping centre, a restaurant, a care home, a florist, a jewellers and more. To get these exhibits for free I’ve built alliances with these businesses and in some cases given them free photography. It’s fantastic because people get to see my work beautifully printed and framed at decent sizes. People aren’t used to seeing family photography like this so it has a wow factor compared with most of the other forms of marketing.
Last month a family paid extra to get me to do a 4 hour round trip, all because they saw one of my blog posts. Blogging is a slow burner compared with many of these marketing techniques, but that’s the beauty of it. Most photographers will never bother. Actually, I should correct myself. Every time I’ve used my blog post ‘9 questions to ask a wedding photographer before you hire them’ in a Facebook advert it has brought me clients. Another great thing about blogging is that every post lives forever, unlike a promotion. A series of helpful blog posts can bring you a steady stream of clients year after year. And the more you write, the more clients you’ll get. It’s an investment that can be painful in the beginning, but it pays off in the end. Stick with it. If you want ideas for blogging then check out our video called ‘Blog your way to amazing clients and notoriety’ in the marketing section of the membership site.
Ask every client if they’d mind being on your email newsletter list. Over time you’ll be able to bring in clients simply by sending out an email. Just like with blogging this one is an investment that will pay off more and more as the years go by. But if you don’t start you’ll never reap the rewards.
Many of my family photography clients come from people buying vouchers for Christmas and birthdays and Mother’s Day. Use your website, email newsletters, blog and your social media to attract the gift givers.
Get well ranked on Google
Being well ranked on Google for lots of different search terms is still the number 1 way I find family photography clients. A large part of that is down to my blog, but if you want more help on ranking well without doing anything silly that upsets Google then check out our video ‘The No BS way to get well ranked on Google’ in the marketing section of our membership site.
Mix in the right circles and chat about what you do
This is one area I struggle with. We have no children and I don’t have any hobbies that get me in front of my ideal target market for family photography. But many photographers are very successful simply by mixing in the right circles.
They’ll chat to parents about their photography at the school gate, at community events and at horse-riding clubs or nature camps. Sometimes great clients are standing right in front of you and all you need to do is start the conversation.
So, which of these ideas are you going to focus on first?
What have you tried? How did it go? Leave a comment below.