It’s not an overnight thing, but it's worth it
Many photographers start off saying yes to any and every inquiry that comes their way. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, there comes a point when not everyone can be your ideal client. Tiffany Wayne is sharing her journey to full-time wedding photography and how she began narrowing down her favorite clients by using her gut and communication style.
It takes time and a few not-so-ideal clients to help you determine your ideal qualities, but don't give up! Once you start saying yes to more and more of the right ones, the more you'll love the clients you work with and the referrals coming your way.
Tiffany took some photography classes in high school, but never dreamed of being anything other than a stay-at-home mom. She studied communications in college while still playing around with her camera on the side. While working for a law firm after college, Tiffany reached out to her high school photography teacher for advice on making photography her career. He suggested a 10 month course that Tiffany signed up for immediately. This led her to a career in fashion photography before spending 2 years in California working for a street photography firm.
When she decided to move back to upstate NY, she realized she was limited with job opportunities in her career field and she was either going to have to move to another city or just start her own photography business. Tiffany decided to take the leap and start her business while living at home to support her new business.
Her biggest struggle with getting into wedding photography was that she wanted to be recognized as someone who had studied photography and not just someone who picked up a camera. As a lover of romance and weddings, she wished she had started shooting weddings sooner, but she is so glad she took the leap to get started 8 years ago.
Finding your ideal client
It took Tiffany about 4 years before she really found and booked her ideal clients. Coming from a beauty and fashion background gave her an editorial style when she started, however as she grew in her business, she wanted to highlight the love and emotion of everyday people. Things started clicking for her as a photographer once she made this switch. The same is true for most new photographers - many start taking all the inquiries and figure out their ideal client as they go. It is really easy to compare yourself to those in your area, but Tiffany encourages you to stay in your lane as you narrow down your ideal client.
Once Tiffany started putting more of herself out there, she began clicking with those hiring her and she’s still good friends with many of her clients today. The photographer is one of the vendors clients will have the most interaction with on their wedding day, so let them get to know you! One of the biggest mistakes we see people make is not having an about section on their website. Yes, you are running a business, but people are hiring who they know. They want to recognize and connect with the person they are choosing to shoot their wedding and sessions.
Making it work
Keep your list of ideal client qualities at the forefront of your mind when you are interacting with potential clients. We all know word-of-mouth referrals are the best leads, and the more you say yes to your ideal client, the more ideal referrals you’ll get. Tiffany schedules an initial call or meeting to get to know them and their ideas for their wedding. These calls allow her to determine if they are a good fit for each other before she sends over a proposal or a contract. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you don’t think it is a good fit, it can be hard, but worth it in the long run.
Closing the deal
No one wants to be pushy about getting clients to sign a contract which can leave everyone in limbo. Tiffany encourages you to really listen to what they are saying and try to answer all of their questions honestly. Having real conversations with them and not just pitching them your hook, line, and sinker allows you to guide them into booking you. Let them know what the next steps will be in working with you and how you will follow-up with them.
What about the ghosters
There comes a point in every photographer’s business when chasing old leads gets..well old. Your clients have a lot going on during their engagement season and Tiffany recommends you driving the process. Over-communicating the steps never hurts. You’re the business owner so be clear and up front with them about what you need and when to secure that day. Follow up with them a few times, but at some point it is okay to move on.
Start from within
Dig deep into how you can be strategic in what you’re putting out in order to attract the right clients. Many of the situations we see business owners facing might have been avoided from the beginning if they stood their ground. Take the time to determine what is important to you and who you want to work with and then start putting yourself out there so they can get to know you.
More About Tiffany
Tiffany is an upstate New York native that treasures the bond of family, enjoys decorating in neutrals, large coffee mugs and everything with avocado. Tiffany is an internationally acclaimed photographer, published author and mom-prenuer. Her work is featured regularly as a source of inspiration for newly engaged couples and emerging photographers. Previous to opening her photography business in 2010, Tiffany worked in both New York City and Los Angeles holding leading roles in the industry- including Director of Photography for a national magazine. Her mission is to decorate homes with beautiful, authentic imagery that preserve moments of happiness at the highest quality for people that value family and elegance- delivered with a sense of warmth and unmatched professionalism. Her happiest days are spent taking pictures with her daughter and eating funfetti.
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