Lots of people visit your website, but you’re still not getting the number of bookings you want.
You’ve rocked the website publication — posting your best images, creating an easy-to-use contact form, and showcasing the packages you offer. But for some reason, you’re not converting as many strangers into photography clients as you’d hoped.
So, how do you turn strangers into photography bookings?
We know that email is, by far, the most effective way to market online. But for email marketing to work, we need to collect email addresses of all those strangers you’re trying to reach.
The first step, though, is to find the right strangers.
Think about marketing your photography business like dating… or making friends when you move to a new city. It can be hard to establish a good connection with random people. Some people have completely different interests. Others are in a different stage of life and your schedules don’t line up. Some people are annoying. And others talk about themselves so much you can’t get a word in.
New relationships can be tough… until you find the right person.
Eventually, you meet someone and the relationship naturally progresses. You share an interest and suddenly it’s easy to find time to get together. Their quirks don’t bother you and you have an easy conversation… where you both contribute.
See, a relationship won’t work with just anyone — in your personal life or in business. If you want to increase your client base, you have to find the right audience for your business. That’s the only way to collect email addresses and start converting more strangers into bookings.
How to Find the Right People For YOU
Your business isn’t for everyone. You’re looking for a specific type of client, and what you do will NOT attract everyone.
…and that’s okay!
You’re looking for the people who need what you offer.
If you photograph families, you need to find clients who are parents. If you specialize in pet photography, you want to find pet owners. If you shoot weddings, you need the find happy couples planning to walk the aisle soon.
So, how do you find them online?
There are lots of ways to get your target audience’s attention, but one of the most effective ways is by offering the right resource. When you offer information that appeals to the RIGHT people for your photography business, your perfect clients will come out of the woodwork!
When you offer the right resource, your best clients actually ASK to receive your emails. It’s completely voluntary. They can opt out anytime and opt back in later.
They won’t be overwhelmed with what you send them because they’re hungry for it. They can’t wait to learn more about this stuff! See, the people who will be your best clients want to know what you have to teach them.
It’s so easy for us to doubt ourselves — don’t!
Each of you has something amazing to teach. There’s something unique about the way you provide photography that changes people’s lives. Own how special that is. When you realize how many hundreds of people in your city want exactly what you have, the magic really starts to happen.
You just have to deliver it in a way that they can receive it. When you figure out the right resource to offer, you start the process of filtering out the people who are attracted to what you do.
Then, you can start turning these strangers into inquiries.
How Teaching for Free Pays Off
The free resources you offer pay off when they lead clients to learn more about what you do.
It takes time to get to know people, and if someone randomly comes across your website, they won’t be ready to book right away. They need some time to learn what type of photographer you are.
Providing education that appeals to your clients keeps new people in your market interested long enough to get to know you AND build trust in you.
Take weddings for example. What information would help a couple planning their wedding?
Maybe you offer tips for looking your best in pre-wedding photos or advice on creating engagement photos you love as much as your wedding photos. What bride wouldn’t sign up?!
Consider high school senior portraits. What might a parent of an upcoming graduate want to know? You could offer tips on how to take awesome graduation pictures, give a list of the 10 must-have photo ops before graduation, or offer advice on taking better prom pictures.
A mom anxious to savor every moment of her kid’s last year at home would ask for these tips without hesitation!
This is the heart of permission marketing: when you offer valuable resources to your clients, they give you permission to email them. When they want what you have, they ask you to contact them.
No one wants to deal with interruption marketing anymore. It’s boring and annoying. We’re not so easily fooled into letting people bombard us with unsolicited advertisements. We’re experts at tuning out the noise.
Instead, we want our clients to WANT our information, and the only people we listen to anymore are the people who help us figure out problems in our day-to-day life or business.
If you want new clients to pay attention to who you are and what you have to offer, you have to provide info education that problem-solves for them.
We can take our potential clients from overwhelmed to clarity by teaching them what they need to know. When you give them a solution to their problem, it makes choosing YOU as their photographer a no-brainer.
Here’s how it works…
Be the Expert
Offering free education often means teaching one of your skills, which is scary for many photographers.
I’ve heard photographers ask, “Why would I want to teach people how to take better pictures with their smartphone!?”
Because you want to become their expert! When people ask for more information, they take a step towards getting to know you better. And by giving you their email address, they’ve made a micro-commitment.
Now, you’re able to put yourself in front of your clients when they’re ready to consume what you have to offer. As they learn from you, read your emails, and routinely see your images, you build your reputation in their eyes — whether they know it or not.
Eventually, they’ll decide, “I’m ready to hire someone.”
Who else is there on their mind? No one! If you’re the person they’ve been learning from and if you’ve sprinkled in your images in the information you’ve offered them, they know just how awesome you are and you’ll be their first choice.
This idea of “Why would I show them how to take better photos?” in fear of putting yourself out of a job isn’t valid. You’ll always take better photos on your camera than they can with their smartphone.
In the meantime, you’re becoming the expert to them. You’re building your reputation as a professional photographer. Eventually, when they are ready to hire someone, they’ll remember, “Nate was amazing! I’m going to go ahead and hire him.”
The advice you offer gives also helps you stand out from your competition.
That’s exactly what happened with Aaron and Elizabeth. They had great traffic on their site, but weren’t getting the consistent inquiries they needed to take their business to the next level… until they started using more info education.
I worked with Aaron and Elizabeth to build a personalized info education plan — they collected more emails in three months than they had in the prior three years. They had HUGE results. They turned those leads into over 25 bookings and their business took off. Now, info education is a central part of their business.
Here’s how Makayla and Dave Harris put it:
This idea of becoming the expert is clutch. Be the pro. Live into the idea that you have valuable information and skills your clients need. If you do, you’ll take a complete stranger and turn them into someone who sees you as the best photographer they can hire.
It’s Not Me. It’s You.
So, how do you start this process of becoming an expert to your future clients? Actually, it’s counter-intuitive.
Old-school websites put all the focus on the photographer. It’s all about “Here’s how great I am, here’s my work, here’s my pricing, here’s how to reach me, here’s how great other people say I am.”
While that’s an understandable approach, it’s not effective.
Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on the client. Stop making it all about you and make it all about them. The content on your website should be about what you do to help your clients.
To use the dating example again, let’s say you meet up with someone at a coffee shop and strike up a conversation. You tell them all about your past, your family, your career, your hobbies, your hopes, and dreams… the entire time. You never ask the other person any questions. You don’t get to know them.
You’d never get a second date like this. You’d probably never even make friends!
You wouldn’t do this in face-to-face interactions — and we’ve got to stop doing this on our websites.
Yes, people want to know what you do and see evidence that you know what you’re doing. But they also want to know you care about them!
So change your website to meet the needs of your clients. Don’t bombard them with everything they could ever want to know about you. Instead, give them a glimpse of who you are and then give them a way to choose to learn more.
Once you have a free resource that’s all about helping your potential clients, you need to embed that offer everywhere!
They should see your free resource on every part of your website. Put it on your homepage and hide your pricing behind it (so they have to give you their email address to get pricing info).
If you have StickyAlbums, you can take this to the next level.
Embed your offer in the albums so that as people are showing off their photos, other people can sign up for your offers too. You already have a customizable app for each client — now your whole past client base can become your sales force.
If you embed the offers inside every app for every customer, others have the chance to opt into these great resources while they’re looking at their friend’s photos.
We turn strangers into bookings when we find the right people for our product. Not everyone needs a wedding photographer, senior photographer, pet photographer, or boudoir photographer. To separate the people who are just looking at their friend’s pictures from your future clients, offer a resource that only your perfect client would want.
Then, they sign up, you build trust, and eventually, they hire you! After all, you’re the expert!