How to grow your business as a wedding photographer in South Africa

If you’re a wedding photographer, actively working in the industry, you should know that the competition is quite tough out there. And one thing you don’t want to do as a business owner is stagnate.

Becoming a professional wedding photographer is not easy and the job comes with its fair share of challenges. The good news is that the wedding industry is growing fast. You would, however, still need smart strategy and plenty of persistence to establish yourself as a recognized professional wedding photographer.

The following article will give you a complete guide to making it out there in the big world, all you have to do is follow our simple tips and steps to set you on the right track to growing your business as a wedding photographer in South Africa.

So, without further delay, let’s get started!

ONLINE PROMOTION: SPREAD THE WORD

Your business will gain massive exposure if you advertise it using the correct social media platforms and websites. We’ve put together a list of the best ways to promote your photography business online. Best of all? They’re all free or budget friendly. Let’s get started.

01 | ONLINE PORTFOLIO

BEST FOR: Showing off your most stunning work.

When it comes to wedding photography marketing, your online portfolio is your strongest promotional tool. It’s how your prospective clients will get to know you – and an awesome online portfolio will directly impact the amount of work that you receive.

If you want to get your wedding portfolio up, why not use an online website builder? Choose the one that offers a free trial and a variety of clean, modern themes for you to pick from, so you can create the wedding portfolio that fits your budget and style.

PRO TIP: Make sure you include a lively, detailed ABOUT ME page to show off your personality to potential customers. And remember to include a PRICE LIST: prospective brides and grooms will thank you.

02 | INSTAGRAM

BEST FOR: Growing your fanbase

Wedding photography is perhaps one of the most common topics posted about on Instagram, making it a competitive niche on a crowded platform. Here’s hot to promote your wedding photography business on Instagram – and stand out from the rest:

Grow your followers

Make sure you follow other wedding photographers and engage with their content. This could be as simple as consistently liking their photos or leaving the occasional complement on a great post. Hopefully they’ll follow you back – and help build your numbers.

Increase your post frequency

You need to post high-quality photographs on a steady basis. Post too little, and you risk followers losing interest. Post too frequently, and you could annoy your fanbase. Try posting somewhere between one to three times a day.

PRO TIP: An Instagram scheduling tool can help you keep on track, and Instagram analytics apps can fill you in on what content is working – and what isn’t.

Ace those captions

As tempting as it can be to caption a shot with that single perfect emoji, this is not a good way to promote your photography business. Instagram photos with engaging captions tend to fare better. Write a description that doesn’t sound like it’s coming straight from the fingers of a PR firm.  Give your Instagram followers a sense of your personality by writing captions in your natural voice; it will help make you seem authentic and approachable.

Use the right hashtags

Some of the most popular hashtags for wedding photography advertising include: #weddingdress, #bride, #photographer, and #weddingphotographer, just to name a few.

PRO TIP: Keep a copy of your go-to hashtags in a document on a program like Evernote so you always have them ready. A hashtag-finding service like Hashtagify can offer up inspiration for how to advertise your wedding photography.

03 | MY BUSINESS PAGE

BEST FOR: Making sure that your business shows up in Google searches. Setting up a Google My Business Page is super easy. Here’s how you do it:

Step 1.

Sign up for a Google account, if you don’t already have one. This can be a Gmail account – just make sure the account name is one you wouldn’t mind associating with your business.

Step 2.

Log into Google Business with this account by going to “Google My Business” and then “Get onto Google”. Add your business address and contact information.

Step 3.

A box will pop up prompting you to choose your business category. Choose the most appropriate one.

Step 4.

Google will ask you to select a verification method for your business. This is a necessary step. Once you get the go-ahead, you’re ready to add all the fun stuff to your Google Business page.

After your business has been recognized by Google, it will be a lot easier for clients to find you, thanks to the magic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

04 | BLOG

BEST FOR: Building your reputation as an industry leader

This is another great way to boost your wedding photography business’ SEO performance. Provided you use the right keywords, producing regular blog content will help you show up in more search results – and, hopefully, get more clients for your wedding photography business.

Choose an online portfolio that allows you to publish a blog. There, you can post a wide range of content to give a little insight into you and your wedding photography business: personal projects, behind-the-scenes shots, mini-tutorials – even little write-ups to share the story behind a special shot.

05 | OTHER WEDDING BLOGS

BEST FOR: creating a buzz in the blogosphere

If you’re not up to writing your own content, fret not, because there is luckily no shortage of wedding blogs on the internet. Getting your photographs placed on a popular platform can go a long way to boost your career. Not only do these sites carry a strong reputation and sense of prestige, but they also have the potential to show your work off to millions of people monthly, which could bring your exposure to a whole new level.

To get featured on a wedding blog, it is important to be selective in the photos you choose to submit. Blogs are always on the lookout for photos that offer something fresh or unexpected.

PRO TIP: wait until you hear back from each editor before pitching your photos to other outlets. Simultaneous pitching is generally frowned upon in the blogging world.

06 | SOCIAL MEDIA GIVEAWAYS

BEST FOR: Attracting attention to your social media accounts and gaining followers.

Posting a giveaway on your Instagram or Facebook account can be a great way to promote your photography business. It’s even better if your giveaway is in celebration of a follower milestone, as this draws attention to your popularity and can inspire others to follow you in hopes of future giveaways. Some examples of the things you can offer include a free engagement shoot or a free print.

PRO TIP: use this marketing technique sparingly – you don’t want to pull in too many contest people who have little intention of booking you.

07 | EMAIL LIST

BEST FOR: Staying in touch with existing customers – and potentially finding new ones.

Make sure you equip your wedding website with an email sign-up form to start collecting email addresses. Creating a newsletter mailing list is a great wedding photography marketing strategy. It allows you to maintain a direct connection between you and your customer base, from people you have a photographed before, to prospective clients.

Fill your newsletters with helpful content, whether it’s tip on how to ace that “we’re engaged!” selfie, or some of your most unique wedding shoot ideas. The idea is to provide helpful information, as well as inspire – a knowledgeable wedding photographer is the kind they want to hire!

Create a Client Guide

A Client Guide not only saves you time on answering the same frequently asked questions, but can also help attract new, qualified leads with potential to be converted into clients. Here’s how you do it: create a pdf guide with useful information, tips, planning insights, then offer that pdf for free on your website in exchange for a user’s email.

08 | PAID ADVERTISING

BEST FOR: Investing in exposure

There are many platforms that you can pay for advertising. Social media channels, which are more kind to your budget, or Google Ads, which require larger spending.

To decide which platform to pick, start with analysing your website traffic in Google Analytics. Where do most of your users come from? Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest? Or perhaps organic and direct search? This will give you a hint on which channel needs to be nourished and exploited more.

With Facebook for example, you can narrow down your target audience to people who got recently engaged, or like certain Bridal Magazine pages. It’s conveniently connected directly to your Instagram, so you get to kill two birds with one stone.

09 | FACEBOOK

BEST FOR: Connecting with your clients and fans one-on-one

Facebook is a wonderful place for wedding photography advertising. There’s a lot you can do with your Facebook presence. First, you need to set up your Facebook Business Page. Here’s how you do it:

• Create your page name and fill out your basic contact information. In order to do this, you must have a personal Facebook account that you can link to your page.

• Pay close attention to your Facebook business page’s name, as this will also serve as your page’s URL.

• Choose your cover photo and profile photo for your page. This is where you can show off your photography skills already.

• Invite friends to like your page. The more likes, the better!

You’re all set up now, so here’s how to market a photography business on Facebook:

Share photo of recent wedding that you’ve shot and offer sneak peaks. Add a watermark and ask posters to tag your business page so people know whose amazing work it is. Utilize Facebook Messenger as it provides an alternative to the telephone for both you and your prospective clients. Also make an effort to run a Facebook advertising campaign because there are two big benefits in terms of wedding photography advertising:

• Facebook allows you to choose the right advertising campaign for you, depending on your intended target audience and budget.

• Facebook lets you target your audience based on factors such as age, gender, and location.

Now that you’ve got your online presence, it’s time you look at a smart strategy to establish yourself so you can start and grow your professional wedding photography business.

Tip 1

Understand the ins-and-outs of wedding photography business. Start off by doing research on all the wedding photographers operating in your local area, the kind of clients they are targeting, and the pricing they are offering. You can get most of this information by studying their portfolio websites. Most wedding photographers showcase galleries of weddings they have shot, the services/packages they offer, and the pricing they charge.

You’ll need to figure out how you can differentiate yourself from the competitors in your local area. And most importantly – what will your USP be? It could be your pricing, your style of photography, or the way you package your wedding photography services.

Tip 2

Start with your inner circle. When people in your immediate close circle, family, and friends start referring your services to outsiders – that’s a sign of trust and that your skill set has matured. Once you start getting references on a consistent basis, then is the time to evaluate your progress.

Tip 3

Be smart about your pricing and stay on top of your expenses. Running a successful wedding photography business is all about balancing your expenses and pricing to make sure that you are always profitable. Many times, wedding photographers end up with an unsustainable business due to miscalculating how much expenses they are going to incur and underquoting to win the business.

Make sure you add up all your expenses – fixed as well as incidental expenses. This includes everything from equipment, rentals, gas, insurance, set materials, to assistants and processing time. Then you need to determine the pricing for your wedding photography services. Start with a realistic target of how much you wish to make in a year. This will help you plan accordingly by dividing the number of assignments, days or hours you expect to earn the next year.

Tip 4

Create a brand for your wedding photography business. Creating a brand for your wedding photography business is an essential step to stand out and get recognition as a professional in the industry. Your brand includes your business name, your logo, and all the visual elements you use (fonts, themes, colours). Keep the key elements of your brand identity consistent throughout your business cards, brochures, sales material, and website. Make sure that your brand identity exudes professionalism and feels premium to evoke trust amongst your clients.

Tip 5

Take care of the legal stuff. Protect yourself. Contracts and agreements are essential for both you and your clients. Clearing listing down the exact nature of services and deliverables you would provide to the client, and the pricing you will charge in a contract will save unnecessary confusion and bitterness at the end of the project. The contract should make clear to both parties on what is included and what is not included in the scope of work. Clients often demand more time or need extra deliverables (prints, albums, etc.), so make sure that you list down the prices for any extras in the contract as well.

Tip 6

Collaborate with other photographers. Other ways of using social media to increase exposure for a wedding photographer is to collaborate with other photographers from a different genre. One of the most common ways for wedding photographers is to work along with boudoir photographers, as the two are available for weddings. Ask them to tag you in all the behind-the-scenes pictures.

Tip 7

Embrace going LIVE. Going LIVE on Instagram or Facebook is an amazing way to connect with your fans and followers. The first few sessions may seem awkward in the beginning, but once you get used to it and fans start interacting with you more and asking questions – you’ll have material to talk about. LIVE feeds allow you to show off your fun, knowledgeable, quirky personality.  

Running a business solo is hard work. It takes time to learn new skills and polish out your existing ones. If your budget allows it, outsource the tasks that take too much time, effort and metal protest. We hope this article will motivate you to try new ways to grow your photography business and get out of your comfort zone for the sake of experimenting and rising as a creative business owner.

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