I recently received this question: “How did you expand your client base outside of your ‘friend circle’?”
We all start somewhere, and normally it’s through the encouragement and support from those around us! When I started, I dragged my friends outside and downtown for photo-shoots to really get practice! I’ve photographed several weddings of high school and college friends, which was amazing. But I couldn’t rely just on the business from friends to keep my business growing!
So I wanted to share some ways you can reach outside your friend circle!
Word of mouth referrals. Several weddings I’ve booked have been from my name being passed along just through word of mouth! This might sound old school, but is really a strong way to get your name out there past your immediate friend circle! Having a trusted friend tell you in person how much they LOVED working with a specific vendor goes a lot farther than any online review! If your friends tell you what an amazing photographer you were to them, ask them to spread your name along to their other friends!
Social Media. I could write several posts about this, but I’m just going to touch on it! No really, it’s hard to keep this paragraph short! When I started, Facebook was the biggest thing for me to find clients on. I could tag people, and it would show up to their other friends. Facebook has changed drastically in the past years, especially for businesses, and they make it difficult to be seen without paying. Now, I’ve shifted more toward Instagram for business growth, so I try to post regularly to show consistency with my work and build trust! Even if you’ve shot just a couple weddings or sessions, you can keep pulling old images back up to post regularly! One of my last posts was from a January wedding, but I felt like it would be very strong with what I was saying and the look of my feed! Make sure your feed does look consistent, and spend time on your content (again, this could be an entire post!!). Also, use hashtags to build traffic too, and figure out what your ideal bride in your location will search and include that in your Instagram posts! Before you go hashtag crazy, watch out for hashtags that are shadow banned! Here’s an article that might be helpful on that! Vendor Relations. I’ve gotten many inquiries from other photographers referring brides to me! Find some photographers around you locally, and build relationships with them so you can refer brides and have that community! Also, build relationships with other vendors by sending them images you’ve taken for them to use and ask them to tag you! I get to shoot at one of my favorite venues again next year because the venue used my images I sent them and tagged me, so brides getting married there found me!
Have a website, and share it. It doesn’t even need to be super extravagant! Clean and simple can be so powerful, but have a place you can direct potential clients to see your work and learn about you. It also allows other people to tell their friends where to go online to see more! Instagram is a great way to share images, but a website is a more professional landing as clients make their decision! Keep your website images updated, while using just your best images! Also, do some research on SEO! I’m no expert at this by any means, but if you blog, be sure to use key words a lot that brides might search for so you’re seen easier on Google!
Tell people what you do. I used to be so nervous to say the words “I’m a photographer” when I was starting. I worried people wouldn’t take me seriously, and I’d get discouraged when it was referred to as just my “hobby” when I was trying to make it my JOB! And then someone told me “If you can’t say you’re a photographer and take yourself seriously, don’t expect anyone else to.” Katelyn James recently posted a video saying that one way she got her name out there was just by confidently telling people what she did! It helped spread her name quicker, and build her business! So never be insecure or afraid to tell other people about what you do!
Stay with it friend. It takes a lot of work, patience, and trial and error to run and build a business. Find what works for you, and what you need to improve on! Maybe make it your goal today or this weekend to tell 2 people what you do, and reach out to 1 person in your field to build a relationship with them. It will be SO worth it!
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback! Contact me anytime using the contact tab or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!