Online galleries are the secret weapon every photographer needs to build a referral network and attract better clients who pay more. (Featuring: LEEANN MARIE)
Good news! Getting great referrals for your photography business doesn’t require a massive marketing budget.
Marketing pros talk about word-of-mouth referrals like they’re unicorns. Every business wants clients that come from friends, colleagues and collaborators. That’s because the best clients are the ones who hear about you through a trusted source.
What you need are online galleries – they’re the best bet smart photographers can make.
Give them something to talk about.
Small businesses can compete in a crowded market by focusing their energy on building a reliable referral network. When it comes to boosting referrals, smart photographers tap into the power of online galleries. For Pittsburg-based photographer Leeann Marie, getting referrals starts with creating stunning online galleries for vendors. Her favorite clients come directly from her favorite vendors.
Leeann’s approach is unique and ingenious. First she created a ShootProof category for vendors. Then she filled it with online galleries named after her favorite vendors. With each new vendor added, she’s building her referral network!
She controls image size for downloads and watermarking on a per-vendor basis. For example, she prioritizes top referring vendors and gives them more high-resolution images.
“Each time I work with a vendor, I add new images to their gallery. At the end of wedding season, I send emails through ShootProof reminding vendors that their online gallery is a fabulous resource for promoting their business.”
She doesn’t stop there. She also features Pittsburgh-area wedding venues on her website.
Let’s explore Leeann’s process for creating stunning galleries for vendors, from the moment a shoot is booked. “As soon as I book a new client, I send them a simple online questionnaire through Tavé, my studio management software. From that moment, I start gathering information about vendors.”
Gather the good stuff.
Leeann’s questionnaire gathers information about her client’s wedding, including important details about their vendors.
“Not only do I ask for their vendors’ names, I also ask for their websites. Then I use the address book tool in Tavé to create and organize lists of vendors – venues, designers, florists, bakers, planners, boutiques, bands and more!”
Each photo shoot – a “job” in Tavé – has a date assigned to it. That means each vendor also has a date assigned to them. When planning marketing campaigns, Leeann finds “heavy hitters” in each category. Those are vendors that consistently send her great referrals. Finally, she makes a wish list of vendors she wants to work with more.
“Tavé allows me to create custom fields for each company on my list, so I have a custom field called “Vendor Gallery Link.” That’s where I put the ShootProof gallery link when it’s created.”
By creating a repeatable process, Leeann takes the guesswork out of vendor relationships. She knows that her photos will be working for her, long after the wedding day.
Learn Leeann’s process, benefit by benefit.
Benefits for vendors:
- They only have one link to remember
- They’ve got a one-stop-shop for their images
- Their gallery never expires and is continually refreshed with new images
- They can share online galleries with clients as a tool for wedding planning
Benefits for Leeann:
- In a saturated market, custom vendor galleries help her stand out
- The galleries are dual purpose – they can be shared with vendors and shared with clients who want to see a specific vendor’s work.
- Easy access to images for social media and blogging
- Quick delivery of images to wedding blogs and magazines
- Relationship management – since the vendor is the primary gallery contact, Leeann can continue to keep in touch with the company, even if the contact person changes.
Vendor Albums: Designed for Busy Photographers
If you’re not ready to commit to creating freestanding galleries for vendors, consider using ShootProof’s Vendor Album feature. It enables you to create private albums within a client gallery. In addition to time savings, the Vendor Album feature empowers you to send a link to a specific set of photos and ensure that the person viewing them doesn’t access the entire online gallery.
A photo can live in multiple albums within a gallery, so you won’t waste time uploading multiple photos. When you’re getting to know a new vendor, or only need to send a few images, this is the fastest approach.
Here’s how to set up a Vendor Album:
Real testimonials tell a success story.
When you create online galleries for vendors, they’ll send you the clients you want– the ones that value your work. Using ShootProof galleries as marketing tools, Leeann is building a rock-solid referral network.
Here’s what her network is saying.
“I just want to say that of all the photographers we work with, you truly make things the easiest!”
“You proactively send me links when your work is ready, and you make it easy to download.”
“Thanks for the gorgeous work – and also for making it easy to find and use.”
What are you doing to bring in more referrals? Have any questions for Leeann? Let us know in the comments.
Written by RACHEL LACOUR NIESEN | Photography by LEEANN MARIE