Are you making one of these five common booking mistakes? Our checklist will help you fix any faux pas and get great photography clients. (Photographs by SHANNON STENT IMAGES)
No, it’s not the quality of your photos. Nor is it your sunflower neck tattoo or the blue streak in your hair. It isn’t even the socially awkward way you almost say, “Love you! Bye!” at the end of client calls.
Thankfully, the reason no one is booking you is much easier to address than your finely-honed ability to forget someone’s name as soon as they’ve said it.
Here are five common reasons photographers lose clients – sometimes without even knowing it.
#1: You Don’t Have a Website
Your potential clients expect you to have a website. After all, if you don’t, your competitor does! And we all know the Internet is the gateway drug to spending your cold, hard cash.
According to Entrepreneur.com, customers look for websites that provide everything from basic contact information, to clear service and product descriptions. Add a blog to the mix, and you have instant evidence that clients are steadily booking you.
>>> Fix Your Website Woes
You can even use your ShootProof homepage as a clean and simple mini-website, with public galleries acting as easy portfolios for potential clients to view.
Still not convinced? Check out Constant Contact’s 10 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs A Website.
#2: You Take Too Long to Respond
We get it. You totally have plans to catch up on email tonight. Oh, wait – no, that was tomorrow. Or maybe the day after that…
The problem with the “whenever I get to it” approach to email responses is a data-driven one. In 2015, 80% of consumers expressed satisfaction with an email response time of three hours or less.
What is your average response time?
Once a prospective client emails you, they’ve likely been “stalking” you for days – if not weeks. When a client hits send, they’re eager, excited, and ready to make a booking decision. If you wait too long to respond, you risk losing them to another photographer who shares their enthusiasm.
>>> Fix Your Response Time
An auto-responder can help set client expectations regarding business hours and response times. Create a simple auto-response telling clients you’ve received their email, and that you’ll respond within one business day (or whatever is realistic for you.) You can also auto-respond with a link to a Calendly or Acuity scheduler, which allows your clients to book meetings, calls, and even photography sessions online.
Of course your clients want great photos. However, they also want a great photography experience. Share in their joy, and you’ll tell better stories! | Shannon Stent Images
#3: Your Client Can’t Get the Information They Need
Photography clients frequently express frustration with the booking process, finding it difficult to obtain critical information, such as:
- rates and pricing
- scheduling options (see #2!)
- turnaround times
- add-on costs, such as for prints and albums
While many artists don’t like to talk business, it’s a necessity if you want your business to last.
Remember: inquiring clients want to discuss pricing, payment, booking, and timelines. How else will they book you?! If your booking protocol is vague or unclear, potential clients may see you as unreliable and inexperienced.
>>> Fix Your Pricing Problem
Since the first Tyrannosaurus Rex gripped a film-laden Hasselblad in his scaly little hands, photographers have been arguing the pros and cons of posting their prices online. Hubspot makes a great case for publishing your prices on your website. If you’re still unsure, however, you should prioritize making it simple to share your pricing details – from anywhere, at any time. Hidden website links and PDF attachments are simple solutions, as are the communication tools provided by studio management solutions like Tave, ShootQ, and others.
#4: You Don’t Create Space for Questions
Have you ever customized a package for a seemingly frugal client, only to learn that they wound up booking a more expensive photographer? Or have you lost a dream-client because your rates are mere dollars higher than their set photography budget – a budget you never knew about?
The beautiful thing about owning your own business is the freedom to tailor your services to your clients’ needs.
This doesn’t preclude setting boundaries or establishing booking minimums; but it does mean your potential (and existing) clients should feel comfortable openly asking questions and discussing their options.
>>> Fix Your Communication Conundrum
Clients (and those who may become clients) are your business’ priority, which means you should establish open lines of communication from day one. Perhaps you invite them to text you, or you add them to an email list for “clients-only” auto-responses. Not every client will be right for you, but you don’t want to lose perfect-match clients because of a discrepancy you could (and would) have happily addressed.
Ask your clients at every turn:
- “How does this package fit into the budget you had in mind?”
- “Is this [product] in line with what you visualized?”
- “Describe the experience you hope to have with your photographer.”
As you learn your clients’ communication styles, you’ll learn to speak their “language,” making it easier to secure each booking.
#5: Booking You is Entirely Too Complicated
When a client is ready to seal the deal, they shouldn’t have to chase you down and force money into your hands. Use online client contracts that don’t require printing, and easy invoices your client can pay while bingeing Game of Thrones.
>>> Fix Your Booking & Billing
ShootProof’s contracts and invoices are included with all premium accounts, making it easy to confirm a new booking and get paid – all without spending a dollar more. If you don’t currently use contracts or require up-front fees, check out TheLawTog’s advice on this topic. You’ll look more professional than ever with smart, solid business practices in place!
Tell Us: How Are You Regularly Booking Clients?
If you have any tips or tricks for booking great clients, share them in the comments below!
Written by ANNE SIMONE | Photographs by SHANNON STENT IMAGES via TWO BRIGHT LIGHTS