How to Become a Rich Wedding Photographer
This article contains several secrets that will make you a rich wedding photographer if you have the desire and discipline required.
Why do so many of us become wedding photographers? To reach the coveted work life balance? To be your own boss and work for yourself? No matter the reasons you picked up the camera and started photographing weddings, the beginning is tough. You have no portfolio, no clients and most likely, no skills besides taking great photos. Still, you want to become the best photographer and this article will give you the tools you need.
1. Accept it! Often Business is Slow
As entrepreneurs, we are always under pressure to deliver results, find new clients, build a network of referrals and make tonnes of money. Even when business is good we still fear that one day the money will stop flowing in. What if my competitors drop prices? What if nobody requires a wedding photographer anymore?
You need to be ready if the disaster occurs! There are four secrets grouped under the acronym IDEA (Invest, Develop, Expect, Accept) that will help you see the glass half full and remain positive.
1.1. Invest in Your Success
Education beats the best equipment in the world! You can have the most expensive Hasselblad and take mediocre images. On the other hand, there are award winning photographers who shoot only two lenses (think Christman Studios). Attend workshops, seminars, read books and watch youtube resources so that you become a great photographer. Keep doing this for the rest of your active life and your business will flourish.
1.2. Develop an Unwavering Belief in Yourself
All the great people have this in common: they believed in themselves. Edison had over 1000 failed attempts to build the bulb, KFC founder tried unsuccessfully over 1000 times to sell his famous recipe and so on. J.K. Rowling received loads of rejections before Harry Potter became a resounding success. Nothing stopped them and that is in part the reason they made it!
1.3. Expect Self Doubt
When money is tight, you can expect moments of self doubt. Everyone has them. Most photographers doubt their artistic capabilities, not to mention the business side of things. Still, keep plugging away and remember: self doubt is only temporary! Success is forever!
1.4. Absorb Success
Oh the great smell of success! Absorb it, enjoy it and be happy! After all, this is why you put so much effort to build a successful studio!
The IDEA technique is super helpful when navigating the treacherous waters of a slow economy when business is scarce. Now, let's find you some clients!
2. Target, Target, Target and then Target Again
As wedding photographers, the biggest challenge is finding new clients who love our style and personality. Who are those couples? Where do they shop? How can we approach them? Even more important, how can we make them hire us?
Once you understand who your couple is, start creating a list of people and organizations who can help you reach those clients. They could be former co-workers, a wedding planner, florist, decorator, baker and yes, neighbours! After all, those contacts know you and you need to make sure they are aware how good your work is.
Don't forget large corporations who love offering their employees benefits. For example, I had a friend who works at Blackberry and he managed to post an offer on their intranet so that employees getting married could hire me (and get a deal).
Once you start getting leads work on the conversion rate (% of buyers out of all brides who inquire about your services). Do not forget the ABC mantra of Sales: Always Be Closing (ABC). Don't be pushy, but keep in mind why you are in business: to shoot weddings, not to have coffee with couples, no matter how good Starbucks latte is.
3. Create A Buzz Piece to Be Perceived as a Wedding Photography Expert
As we all know, there are times when the phone doesn't ring. I even had to test daily if my contact forms were working, it was THAT bad. When that happens, it is your golden opportunity to create reports or articles that help your potential brides. Such examples I wrote are: Top Venues To Get Married in Toronto , an Analysis of Toronto Wedding Photography Prices and quite a few informative wedding guides and galleries: Chateau Le Parc Wedding, Sassafraz Wedding, One King West, Storys Building and many many more.
Make sure you are not addressing your competitors but your clients who are likely to buy from you.
A solid report/article helps you rank higher on Google as well and is invaluable from an SEO perspective.
4. Always Keep in Touch With Former Couples
In the past keeping in touch with brides was quite difficult, but nowadays it is easy to make friends on Facebook or follow them on Instagram or Twitter. Remember their wedding day / date and send them a card, call them or write them an email. Former brides are not repeat clients (unless they get married again - we will not want that), but can refer you other friends and you can easily become their family photographer if they were happy with your work.
Offer to help bakers, florists, decorators and other industry experts. It will help you in ways you won't expect even when you don't get referrals. I agree! There are so many wedding photographers per square foot that it is not even funny! Still, few of us do a good job at networking and delivering the images we always promise our colleagues.
5. Price Your Wedding Photography for Success
Pricing is one of the scariest topics and many professional photographers are lost when it comes to assessing how much their work is worth.
Many photographers use a price per hour technique. They build 3 packages based on an hourly rate they actively work on a wedding. Still, few of us consider equipment depreciation, time we spend responding to emails, travel time, the cost of workshops and so on.
An easy way to price a wedding is to target a certain income annually. Say you want to make $100,000 gross income and can book 50 weddings. If you make $2000 per wedding, you hit your number. Or shoot 25 weddings at $4000. Well, you get the idea. Now, make sure your costs are below the price you charge or you will go out of business in no time. As you streamline your workflow and get better at processing, your hourly rate will increase.
6. Be Super Productive with The Following Techniques
Nobody can get rich unless she is extremely productive and demands the same from her employees. On average, we are disturbed every 3 minute by notifications, calls, messages, colleagues, etc. It takes 12 minutes to regain focus. Yes, you read that correctly. We are always in a state of refocusing without really being productive. Here are a few productivity techniques that the accomplished photographers and highly productive people in many areas swear by.
6.1. The 90 minute Airplane time
For 90 minute shut down your phone or set it on airplane mode. That way you will not be disturbed and can work for 90 minutes, or three times more than the average Fortune 500 CEO. A study shows that the top CEOs have 28 minutes of productive time per day.
6.2. The Pomodoro Technique
This is a technique named after the pomodoro (tomato) egg watch. The idea is similar to the Airplane time. For 25 minutes you sit down and work. No calls, no checking emails no social media...just work. Only if your house is on fire you can stop working. After 25 minutes you take a 5 minute break where you don't work.
6.3. The 50 Minute Focus Sprints
These are chunks of 50 minutes of pure work followed by a 10 minute break.
Do you see a trend here? We need periods of undisturbed work, followed by recovery time. Exactly like the athletes, sprint followed by recovery. Don't even try to push yourself to work over 90 minutes as your productivity will drop like a rock.
6.4. The One Thing
Have you heard of the Paretto's Law? What about the 80-20 rule? It basically states that 80% of the results are achieved with 20% of the effort. What if we prioritized the 20% of the tasks that generate 80% of the results and we focused on the 20% of them? We would be very very productive as the top 4% of tasks will probably generate 96% of the results. Now, in the book "The ONE Thing", the authors Gerry Keller and Jay Papasan suggest an extreme application of the 20-80 rule. Just do the most important thing on your list, finish it and then move to the next one.
7. Build a Multitude of Passive Income Streams
If you have to go to photograph weddings, meet clients, edit photos, you don't run a business, you have a job or many of them. Your family will not be happy as you will be working on acquiring clients Monday to Friday and photographing weddings Friday to Sunday. A proper business is the one that can run even in your absence. In the book the E-myth, Michael E. Gerber suggests creating a system, well documented so that you can hire people to do it. The system should be so well designed that a monkey could do the job. Until that is the case, you will still have a job.
In addition, invest your disposable income in vehicles that increase your net worth. Do not splurge on the newest camera when the old one is still amazing. Rather, use the $5,000 to buy stocks or Exchanged Traded Funds that will appreciate over time. Don't buy things that depreciate, buy investments that appreciate. Don't like stocks? No worries, buy real estate, gold, land or any other investments you understand.
Say you shoot weddings: the second you want to spend your weekends at home with your family, you don't get paid. Still, if you created a video training on how you shoot weddings, you could start monetizing that video.
Wedding photography is rewarding and very very competitive. Using the above mentioned techniques you can crush the competition, be very productive and make tonnes of money.
The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber
The Wealthy Freelancer by Steve Slaunwhite and Pete Savage
The One Thing by Gerry Keller and Jay Papasan