Three steps to getting better inquiries
Davey and his wife, Krista, are no strangers to dealing with inquiries, both as photographers and now as web designers. The process of getting inquiries may seem daunting to any photographer when they're first starting out, or looking to make a change in their pricing. However, Davey believes that knowing the data behind your inquiries can help you feel comfortable in securing your next clients.
Davey is also sharing his 3 key tips for getting more qualified leads and how to actually turn down clients when they're not the best fit.
Davey works with his wife, Krista, to do custom web design and SEO for service based businesses. Before they started this business they had a photography business. Krista started the business first as she worked at a design studio. She picked up a camera and started learning as much as she could. Shortly after, they shot their first wedding together for $400 and decided it would be a great side income. Davey dove into the business side of things and got hooked on finding ways to grow their business.
Davey and Krista also helped co-found The Rising Tide Society around the time they both went full-time with their photography business. At that time, Krista was receiving many inquiries to help with other photographers’ websites since she had built her own. They decided to limit the number of weddings per year to 10 in order to grow their brand and web design business. Five of their 10 weddings this year were booked for June, but they had to refer them out because they are actually having a baby in June!
Finding your first hand-full of clients doesn’t have to be too difficult if you start out right. For photographers, your first clients can and should be close friends and family. It is after this market runs out that photographers find themselves in a dry spot. Davey suggests that you really serve all of your clients well (regardless with how well you know them) and make great relationships with other vendors while you’re building up your online presence. Word of mouth referrals are the best way to keep your calendar full.
Inquiries can be exciting but also scary as well. You never know for sure if you’re going to book them or not and that is where the nerves set it. Davey and Krista began tracking every single inquiry to see when and where they came from. By doing the same, you’ll be able to project your slower months and your biggest referrals which allow you to make informed decisions about your business. Davey says the most important thing you have on your website form is ‘how did you hear about me?” When you start tracking where they come from and if they were ideal clients, you’ll be able to determine where to spend your time and money on marketing too. Inquiries truly only come from a hand-full of places - personal relationships, online presence, and social media. Learning to show up in these places (based on your referrals) eases the stress in your life. It doesn’t have to be complicated - just start tracking, there is comfort in knowing your data.
Setting your goals
Not everyone that inquires with you will book your or will be your ideal client. There is no magic formula regarding x inquiries = x bookings because there are so many factors that come into play. Another thing to consider is how your pricing affects the number of weddings your book or need to book. Again, Davey believes that you’ll never know what your booking rate is if you don’t track your inquiries. Take all of the data from your inquiry tracker and set goals for how many you want from each referral source. It will take a lot of work to continue to build those referral sources and relationships but it will make more sense and become easier as you go.
Your strongest inquiries are going to come from word-of-mouth either from your couples or other vendors. Think about the vendors that are typically booked before you are booked and focus on building relationships with them. Davey warns that this will be slow going at first, but once you start, they will begin to compound on top of each other and you will have a leg in with the next relationship. When you go to networking events, Davey encourages you to focus more on getting to know someone more than handing out your business cards. Here are Davey's 3 tips for getting better leads.
- Relationships pay the biggest dividends
- Focus on your online presence / SEO (including blogging! This goes into SEO, but it is also 'social proof' to show that you're still producing work and it is great social sharing content.
- Showing up where your clients are (ie; Instagram or Facebook and be consistent!) and being hyper-focused on what is going to bring in the client and the money.
Again, this all takes time - building relationships, growing SEO, and figuring out where your clients are hanging out - but that all goes into running a business and not a hobby. The payout will come in the long term if you start small and slow. Your business will look different than other photographers, but that is okay. Davey recommends picking one or two of these to focus on if you're just starting out. If you pick Facebook over Instagram to focus on, but you have some presence on Instagram, make sure it is consistent to your overall brand.
Turning down inquiries
In the beginning, many photographers get used to saying yes, that it can be hard for them to say no down the road. There may be times you need to turn down an inquiry; not because you're overbooked, but maybe because they're are some red flags from the start or you're not a fit stylistically. You can be up front with them and let them know that you're not available or you're not a good fit, and follow up with a lists of other photographers they could use instead.
Davey Jones is a brand and content strategist, and one half of the Davey & Krista team. After several years in education, photographing over 100 weddings and launching the Rising Tide Society, Davey decided to make helping creatives run better businesses his full time gig.
Davey and his wife Krista specialize in helping people create brands that book through custom branding and website design, consulting, and search engine optimization.
Since building their first business they have found purposeful and fulfilling work—and a life that includes palm trees, blue skies, time with our pups, and—of course—wine and pizza.