While having the right gear and knowing how to use it is of the utmost importance when you’re trying to get into professional wedding photography, if you don’t have any weddings to shoot, it’s all for naught. Whether it’s photography or any other kind of business, knowing how to market yourself is imperative and, in this quickly changing, Internet-driven marketplace, there is a lot to know.
I talked to working pro Paige Denkin of Going Home Photography & Films about her company’s marketing strategies, social media, and her top recommendations for aspiring pros seeking to get into the game. Here’s what she had to say.
Photographs © Going Home Photography & Films
Jason Tables: From a marketing perspective, what is your number one piece of advice to someone who is just starting out as a wedding photographer?
Paige Denkin: Discover your "why" and find your niche. That's always step one. From there, invest in SEO education and learning everything you can about social media ads.
How have you used social media to help market your services and develop your brand?
I let my personal life mix with my professional brand, and social media is the tool that gives me those options. Besides just paid ads, platforms like Instagram allow me to interact with the community to build trust and to develop a system for connecting me to the ideal client base. Naturally, the people who follow and engage with me online do so because they relate to my style, my voice, and my work. By being honest and transparent, I build a trusting relationship with the community, and vice versa. It’s an organic method for building a community of clients, who usually become lifelong friends in the process.
Do you put money into online advertising? If so, what platforms do you recommend advertising on?
Yes, and Facebook is still king, for now. They own Instagram and allow you to post cross-platform, which is extremely helpful. You can also use demographics to narrow your ad reach, so you're only advertising to people who have recently engaged with similar hobbies or passions, and in locations you service. Google ads are another option that can be highly effective, when used correctly. However, simply boosting a post or taking out an ad will do nothing. There's no use spending a lot of money on an ad that has bad copy. Your advertising process should start slow, while you monitor which ads produce the most inquiries, website views, etc. Then you can invest more money into the ads that perform the best, develop an email campaign or funnel system, and ultimately become an important resource to anyone planning a wedding or elopement.
What about content marketing? Do you have a YouTube channel? Do you have a blog?
Blogging is important for SEO purposes, plus it helps to build a strong brand and to build trust with potential clients. It can be used not only for blogging past shoots, weddings, or elopements, but also as an educational resource for my community of inquiring minds. It's important to be the resource that your clients need. The most enjoyable form of content marketing, for me, is creating styled shoots in new locations. This allows me to network with new vendors in new places, scout new areas for current and future projects, and create intentional work that I can use to market in new areas, or attract engaged couples who are looking for someone who specializes in destination work.
We also have a YouTube channel that we use to host our wedding films, which we also post to our website, and our Pinterest business account. The best place to advertise yourself is wherever your ideal client goes to spend time. Not all our couples are so active on Facebook (as important as the cross-post to Instagram functionality is for us), but most all of them save ideas via Pinterest!
How has the pandemic changed your marketing strategy?
The pandemic changed the wedding photography industry in every way, including marketing. The online marketing techniques I mentioned have been imperative for a while, and will continue to be, but the industry is reshaping, and starting to focus more on elopements, intimate weddings, and so on. Everyone has to reconsider where to invest their money, and what the world will look like for the next couple of years. We've created a brand based on international travel, and decided not to market our business during the pandemic. It's given us the chance to reconsider, restructure, and rebrand. I think the world of weddings and elopements is going to look very different from here on out.
Are there any non-web-based marketing tools that you use?
Networking to cultivate referrals is still an important part of marketing, and it generally requires interactions outside of social media. Sharing our work with vendors, working with other photographers or industry professionals, referral incentives for past clients, working with real couples on styled shoots, offering education resources for creatives— these are all ways to build community, expand reach, and make honest connections with people.
Thanks to Paige Denkin of Going Home Photography & Films. What questions about marketing for wedding photographers do you have? Please leave them in the Comments section, below.