A little more than 5 years ago I started my little business. It was just a side business next to my full time job as an online marketeer at big French cosmetics company. I loved the idea of being my own boss and doing what I love each and every day. But if you would have told me back than that within one year I would be a full time photographer with 30 weddings in her first full time season without a day job next to it I wouldn’t have believed you.
So how did I get those 30 first weddings booked?
1. A portfolio
I had a small portfolio of weddings that I shot for friends and acquaintances the two years before which I think was crucial to be able to show some work. You can follow workshops or ask experienced wedding photographers to second shoot to get experience and learn. You will slowly build a portfolio of images. The fact is: if you have nothing to show people wont book you.
Like I mentioned before I was an online marketeer before (and deep in my heart I am still a photographer online marketeer). I love the aspects of analytics, of SEO and even SEM when it works. I loved playing around with google and writing codes for my website so I could be found on Google. Designing complete reports from google analytics to see where my traffic came from and how I could improve it. It started becoming an obsession: I wanted to be the first coming up with certain search terms and my obsession quickly became my first source of income. I got found by wedding couples and they liked my work and they booked me. Even if you don’t know how to write codes for your website you can contact your web designer or when you use wordpress you can use great plugins that will help you with your google ranking. I would recommend you „WordPress SEO by Yoast“ to begin with. A lot of photographers will tell you that you don’t need google as it is better to create word of mouth marketing. I agree in a way that I think word of mouth marketing is more sustainable. But when you start out being found on google will help you get your first weddings booked. (SEO and analytics is a huge topic. Going into details would totally overflow this post but maybe it is an idea for future posts to dive deeper into those topics)
3. I called other photographers
My father (who was one of my first fans) found two photographers online from my region and told me their style would be pretty similar to mine. I looked them up and really liked their work. Instead of stalking them and thinking of them as competitors I just called them. I asked them that I really like their style of photography and I would love to meet them. They were very hesitant in the beginning as they weren’t sure if I was just a competitor. We met up and talked about our way of working, we compared our prices and I told them that I would love to recommend them to the wedding couples that inquire me when I am already booked for the day. I gave them my best smile to convince them of my good heart but it wasn’t until I send them the first wedding couples who actually booked them that they believed me. And they started referring me as well to all couples that inquired when they were booked. This was my second source of income when I started. A coffee and a smile and a promise to refer them.
I am happy that till today we try to meet up every now and then and still have great contact.
4. I contacted other vendors
When I started out I went to all networking events that were out there and I went to a lot of coffee dates with people from the wedding industry. Where in the beginning I never thought this would get me any bookings (because a DJ or a make-up artist could never refer me I thought) I was completely wrong about that. Following just my gut and getting to know people, networking and building relationships with them was just the best thing I could do. Even wedding fairs were a great way to meet people from the industry. This is the starting point to your word of mouth marketing.
It’s a wrap!!! Go out there meet people, learn google and just find photographers around you that might have a similar style to your photography and contact them. This seems to be really out of your comfort zone? I know walking into a room of people when you know nobody is never fun but the magic always happens outside of the comfort zone. Make it happen!
PS: These few steps seriously brought me my very first 30 weddings in just one season from April till October and based on these I quitted my day job in the online marketing world and sat instead in my yoga pants in our second bedroom at home and started working on my own online marketing.
Instead of procrastinating and don’t know where to start now I want to take you by the hand.
Download this free “action plan” to get towards your first 30 weddings.