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Thread started 09 Jan 2011 (Sunday) 01:31
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2011 - I need to be awesome

 
memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 10, 2011 05:44 |  #16

Just a thought... and I may be wrong here... but keep in mind that by going for the very top end of the market you are more likely to be focused on clients who book a long way in advance. Big budget weddings tend to use the better venues, which of course book out a lot sooner than others.

The big name venues will more than likely have a handful of photographers that they will recommend to their clients so they can try and keep the standards as high as possible from all their suppliers.
To a some degree it is a bit of a closed loop and it takes a lot of work to break into that loop and be recommended by a more upmarket venue.

My suggestion would be to build your prices up to level you want to hit over a few years. Once you have a reputation people will pay for your services especially if you are in high demand. It is a lot easier to raise your prices than drop them as the preconception of dropping your prices causes is that they were overpriced beforehand (unless you change the product as well).

My approach has been to get established first and slowly increase my prices. However I am not just blanket increasing my prices as I also planned to change the packages to add even more to them to coincide with each increase.

I have also taken the step of limiting my availability to create an exclusivity to my brand. In economic terms this relates to scarcity. If you are operating in a niche end of the market then basic economics "supply and demand" will dictate your prices to a degree. In simple terms a scarce resource with high demand will enable you to increase the price accordingly.

I'm not sure how the stats go for other wedding photographers but I started out in business doing lots of other things as well (web & graphic design, IT consultancy to name a few) but in the first full calendar year in business I did 16 weddings. Year two (last year) I did 24 and this year will probably be around 30-35 (35 being my maximum). This year is my first year working only doing wedding photography and no other business areas. The marketing however started a good year before the first year though and I was very aggressive with it.

You need a backup/alternate income source whilst you get established unless you have got a big savings account. You also need to have a good think about your break even point and it being easily achievable or not.

Oh one final thing REALLY work on your meeting and people skills. People hire photographers that they feel comfortable with. If you can "get in front" of potential clients it can make a big difference on whether they book you or not. I know that if I have a meeting with a potential client then chances are I will get the booking. I have a 95% conversion rate of meetings to bookings from about 20 meetings (only one couple hasn't booked me after meeting me).


Peter

  
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Jimconnerphoto
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Jan 10, 2011 10:47 |  #17

The best thing you can do for your business is work hard, be consistent and have alternate income.
It does not get easier down the road. Word of mouth advertising works best when it comes from previous clients. Not friends and family.
If you book 10 weddings this year you will find that next year it will be just as hard to book 10 more. Hopefully you have done a stellar job and your previous clients will have referred you more events.
Get your work out there, take coordinators out to lunch, do bridal shows, keep an awesome website and portfolio up, invest in your advertising.
Read business, sales and marketing related books.
Most of all, stick with it. If you find you are not comfy with the thought that you have no idea where you will be in five years consider working for someone else. There is nothing wrong with that.


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Ray ­ Marrero
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Jan 11, 2011 13:55 |  #18

Weddings... That's just one part of my business. You need to expand for the times when there are no weddings. Family portraits, child portraits, pet portraits, etc...

Keep a client database, after they are married they will need a family portrait or something down the line.

My photography business is two-fold, actually working the clients and marketing to find clients. When I'm not creating images, I'm creating marketing materials or marketing in some way. If you wait for clients to come to you, they never will.


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k8et
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Jan 11, 2011 15:10 |  #19

(not a pro or biz advisor)

I would do more than just weddings to start - as it was said, weddings are planned far in advance, you need more little jobs in between and they are good practice.

are you interested in any niche markets? I ask because advertising to them would be cheaper and word of mouth among a smaller target audience would go further. (I recently got married, and two sites I used a lot were offbeatbride.com and apracticalwedding.com) I believe (but don't know) that this kind of advertising can be about the same price as facebook but when a real person recommends you (rather than a sidebar ad that popped up right after the ones on weight loss and tooth whitening) it holds a lot more weight. Look for ones that have a large audience in the Sydney area.

Go be awesome, or at least have fun trying :D


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Chris
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Jan 11, 2011 15:25 |  #20

I don't have anything to add, but I wanted to say that you have some really nice stuff in your portfolio. Good luck!


Chris

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NeoSoulPhoto
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Jan 11, 2011 17:21 |  #21

I'm reading this. I suggest you do too.

http://www.amazon.com …-Successful/dp/15811525​4X (external link)

I also would never have only one stream of income. Nothing wrong with having a dayjob or another type of business or doing other types of portraits even if its under a different brand from your wedding stuff

Chris wrote in post #11619469 (external link)
I don't have anything to add, but I wanted to say that you have some really nice stuff in your portfolio. Good luck!

Ditto!


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The ­ Stig
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Jan 12, 2011 20:24 |  #22

"What I lack is the confidence to approach vendors. My networking with other professionals is poor. It is the one thing that I really need to crawl out of my shell and do. I have focused on getting my skill to be a consistent level, and now it is time to focus on marketing. I have just started facebook adverts and will review how that pans out. Its a whole new world to me and there is much to learn."

Sounds like you know what you need to do. Writing a blog, FB advertisements, all have a place, but you can't rely on them alone to bring in the business. You need to get out there and get known. I wish you well - you certainly have chosen a hard path.


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ralphlassiter@yahoo.com
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Jan 12, 2011 22:40 |  #23

Get your local wedding vendors (cake decorators, wedding planners, DJ's, etc) to be your friends and go for it!




  
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mikekelley
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Jan 12, 2011 22:43 |  #24

Shoot something besides weddings/people. I was originally pursuing that avenue and was coming up extremely short. You need to find a niche that you can take over and dominate. Get something with steady clients - e.g. not weddings. 90% of my business is repeat clients who keep coming back for more and see the value in my product. Not saying that this is the only way to do it, but it made it a hell of a lot easier for me. Weddings are hard to get in to, and unless you're a high-end wedding photog making 5k+ per event, I wouldn't pursue that, cause it's just not for me. I'd rather be the only one in my field in a given area offering what I do, or something alone those lines.


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ImCBParker
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Jan 13, 2011 00:11 |  #25

Lots of good suggestions here, especially not limiting yourself to weddings.

My honest advice would be know your market and where you fit into that market. I live in the third biggest market in the US, and have friends who have shot in most markets. Most of the higher end wedding photographers I know have a lot of experience, many including print. Some have prestigious degrees. Yes, your photos can speak for themselves, but when a client looks at higher end shooters in their area, they will hit all the usually wedding spots, conventions, knot.com, and the umpteen sites like it. How are you going to separate yourself in the high end market? What is your advertising budget? Where are you advertising? As others have stated, you will need a proper business plan.

Clients will look at portfolios, but most have a hard time distinguishing a good photographer from a bad just on shots. They will look at the about me section. Just like in any business, your resume will do the talking. I have known so many people who fell into the trap of "starting at the high end to not get stuck at a low price point." None of those people are in business. Not saying it cannot be done, but in a competitive market, in a competitive city you need to stand out. Where do you rank comparatively? High end perspective clients will look at bridal magazines, websites, and local lifestyle magazines. Every major city has these magazines and every year name best photographers. Whether you agree or not, they have the press which results in more leads. Nevermind if their resume includes the likes of Vogue, Elle, Esquire, etc.

I wish you the best of luck, but go into 2011 with a reasonable business plan. Know what your income expectations realistically are going to be. Know what your expenses will be. Have a solid marketing strategy, not just Facebook, blog, and website. My 13 year old nephew has that. What can you spend to get yourself into the high end arena? Cost of local wedding convention table? Magazine space? All to be considered in the high end space until you have enough word of mouth referrals.

Then ask yourself how long can you live with that balance sheet. Best of luck. It can be an exciting adventure, but like any adventure be prepared.


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artemisn
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Jan 13, 2011 00:28 |  #26

NeoSoulPhoto wrote in post #11620222 (external link)
I'm reading this. I suggest you do too.

http://www.amazon.com …-Successful/dp/15811525​4X (external link)

I also would never have only one stream of income. Nothing wrong with having a dayjob or another type of business or doing other types of portraits even if its under a different brand from your wedding stuff

Ditto!

NeoSoul, I see that book was published in 2002, can you comment on how well it still relates to the market nowadays?
(I'm not criticizing you, I'm considering buying it. :) )


Richard
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 13, 2011 03:35 |  #27

Here is an idea for you... something which I did on the spur of the moment which proved very successful (and free).

I went along to a bridal expo but not as an exhibitor just more to have a look at the competition etc. As I was passing the photography stands I noted who was asking about wedding photography. I stood nearby looking at another exhibitor's stand.

When they moved on from the photographers stand I approached the bride to be and mentioned that I couldn't help but overhear that they were looking for a wedding photographer and I happen to be one. I explained that I was just having a nosey at the expo and ended up giving the bride to be my card. As I wasn't doing a hard sell like the exhibitors it seemed to work in my favour. I did this with three different brides to be... and two of them booked me a week or so later.

I've exhibited at expos before and this gave me a far better return and for no investment other than a couple of minutes conversation and a bit of courage just to approach a stranger.


Peter

  
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tim
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Jan 13, 2011 04:29 |  #28

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #11630428 (external link)
Here is an idea for you... something which I did on the spur of the moment which proved very successful (and free).

I went along to a bridal expo but not as an exhibitor just more to have a look at the competition etc. As I was passing the photography stands I noted who was asking about wedding photography. I stood nearby looking at another exhibitor's stand.

When they moved on from the photographers stand I approached the bride to be and mentioned that I couldn't help but overhear that they were looking for a wedding photographer and I happen to be one. I explained that I was just having a nosey at the expo and ended up giving the bride to be my card. As I wasn't doing a hard sell like the exhibitors it seemed to work in my favour. I did this with three different brides to be... and two of them booked me a week or so later.

I've exhibited at expos before and this gave me a far better return and for no investment other than a couple of minutes conversation and a bit of courage just to approach a stranger.

IMHO that's both slightly creepy and dishonest.


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dariussutherland
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Jan 13, 2011 04:46 |  #29

Lovely style of pics.

1 thing tho, I can't see a link to any galleries on your website??


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dariussutherland
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Jan 13, 2011 04:49 |  #30

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #11630428 (external link)
Here is an idea for you... something which I did on the spur of the moment which proved very successful (and free).

I went along to a bridal expo but not as an exhibitor just more to have a look at the competition etc. As I was passing the photography stands I noted who was asking about wedding photography. I stood nearby looking at another exhibitor's stand.

When they moved on from the photographers stand I approached the bride to be and mentioned that I couldn't help but overhear that they were looking for a wedding photographer and I happen to be one. I explained that I was just having a nosey at the expo and ended up giving the bride to be my card. As I wasn't doing a hard sell like the exhibitors it seemed to work in my favour. I did this with three different brides to be... and two of them booked me a week or so later.

I've exhibited at expos before and this gave me a far better return and for no investment other than a couple of minutes conversation and a bit of courage just to approach a stranger.

That does seem a little odd. I hear your looking for a wedding photographer, of course they probably are they are at an expo.

Hey. It may work, but yeah, it's slighty devious, dishonest and creepy but he who dares wins...


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