A lot of photographers approach the issue of booking photography clients as a sort of catch-all endeavor — they cast a wide net and are happy to get whomever comes their way.
That is a huge mistake.
The clients you want are those who are well aligned with your expertise, value your skills as a professional, and bring in quality referrals. Booking photography clients with those characteristics is the key to building a lasting, successful business. The rest only distract from your focus and devalue you as a professional.
So how do you get the gold standard of clients? Stop making these common mistakes:
1. Prominently displaying prices on your website.
One of the biggest mistakes photographers make is focusing on price competition.
Offering cheaper services than your competition to garner more attention is a fast track to the bottom of the photographer barrel.
Not only does it devalue you and your brand, but it attracts clients who are more interested in saving a buck than getting high-quality photos from a skilled professional.
Generally, those clients don’t value the art of photography, so they won’t respect you as an artist or understand what it takes for you to deliver your craft.
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Rather than display detailed pricing, pre-qualify serious clients by saying where your prices start and focusing on the value you provide.
Instead of talking all about why you’re awesome, talk to them about their needs and what you can offer them with your expertise. Show them you understand what they’re looking for and display client testimonials that speak their language.
2. Digital-only portfolio on your website.
If you’re sick and tired of clients who only want digital photos, then you’ve got to stop only displaying digital photos on your website.
Set proper expectations. If a client stumbles upon your site and finds only digital photos, that’s what they’ll expect you to deliver.
If you want more clients looking for artwork, then display professional photos of your artwork hanging in clients’ homes.
The easiest way to do this is to build it in from the beginning, just as you would a photo session.
Visit their home to figure out what sort of display would work best, and when you’re done, deliver the artwork and help install it for a beautiful display you can feature on your site.
3. Being afraid to say no.
When you’re running your own photography business, it’s tempting to say yes to all the projects that cross your path.
Don’t make that mistake.
It is a fear-based mistake that will lead you further and further down a path you don’t want to be on.
Saying yes to projects outside of your interests, offering discounts for friends and family, and taking on every type of photography from every person who calls you is a slippery slope.
One random project leads to another until you find yourself swimming in a pool of clients misaligned with your goals. This wide net distract your focus and ultimately devalues your expertise.
You have to draw the line. You’re not a hobbyist; you’re a professional photographer. This is your livelihood — protecting its value is vital to your growth.
If you’re unclear on what to say, just tell them, “Hey, I really appreciate you coming to me, but that’s not my area of expertise. I’m happy to refer you to someone better aligned with what you’re after.”
Once you get into this habit, you’ll notice that not only is it liberating, but people will respect your honesty and integrity.
4. Showing examples of work you don’t want more of.
Just as you don’t want to have only digital photos in your portfolio if you’re looking to expand, you don’t want to display examples of work that you no longer want to do.
Clients only know what you specialize in by what you show them.
If your website is showcasing projects that you’re no longer interested in, then you can bet you’ll be getting a lot of inquiries about those types of projects.
That said, take down any projects you don’t want to do more of. Put up only the best images and the style of work that you are interested in.
5. Having too many brands on your website.
People want to hire a photographer who’s an expert at what they do. If your website is featuring everything from boudoir to weddings to family portraits, you’ll look like a jack of all trades and master of none. And it’s tough for clients to have faith in that, which can make booking photography clients tough.
If a bride comes to your site and sees a bunch of boudoir photos, she’ll be hard-pressed to believe you’re the perfect person to document her wedding.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t take both wedding and boudoir photos; it just means you want to be thoughtful about how you display them.
One of the cool features StickyFolios has is its ability to create micro-sites for each niche. In other words, clients looking for boudoir photos will only see boudoir photos, while those looking for wedding photos will only find wedding photos.
Creating micro-sites by niche sets you up as an expert who’s honed their craft versus someone who’s desperate and willing to take anything that comes their way.
6. Doing Groupon or other specials that devalue your brand.
At first thought, a Groupon deal seems like a super simple way to reach more people. Sure, you’re offering your services at a discount, but in the end you’ll get more clients, right?
Groupon and other promo specials aren’t attracting long-term, loyal clients. They’re attracting clients who are looking to get a super sweet deal and run. That means no repeats, no referrals, and a whole lot less money in your pocket.
In addition to attracting the wrong type of client, those deals can piss off your current clients. How would you feel if you invested a ton of money into a service only to find that you could’ve paid half the price via a Groupon? Not good.
Just say no to these traps altogether. They’re not worth it.