Free or inexpensive ways to attract new wedding clients
Without attracting clients, you don't have a sustainable wedding photography business. And, let's face it, most of us don't have degrees in marketing or can afford hiring an ad agency to help attract clients, especially as a fledgling business.
But, you don't always have to spend a lot of money as a wedding photographer to market your business. There are several things you can do to attract clients that will cost you little or nothing.
1. Attend Wedding Vendor Fairs
Attend local wedding vendor events and fairs, even though there will likely be a fee to display. Wedding fairs are where wedding vendors set up tables, and future brides shop for vendors such as wedding planners, photographers, cakes, flowers, venues, etc. It's like a one-stop-shop.
Be sure to bring the best examples of your work. Your portfolio of work can be represented digitally on a laptop or screen, but keep in mind that many brides will want to see a product similar to what they're ultimately interested in purchasing. This type of event is an opportunity to display your talent and your products - what makes you unique as a photographer.
There are two reasons to attend this type of event.
The first (and most obvious) is to meet future brides looking for ideas and shopping for wedding vendors. Be ready to interact professionally and meaningfully with them. This isn't about just selling yourself. A bride wants to feel she can "connect" meaningfully with her photographer.
Take the time to engage with her by asking questions and answering hers. You'll be there competing with other photographers, also mining for clients. You could consider setting up a registration system where brides can leave their email to receive your newsletter or, at the very least, so you can follow up with them. If you can afford it, have materials to hand out. It should include brochures or pamphlets of your work. These work better than a business card that is easily misplaced.
The second reason to attend this type of event is to introduce you to other vendors in the industry, yes, even other photographers. You never know when a photographer is too busy to take on a new client on a given day and will refer a bride to another studio.
Let it be yours! But other wedding photographers aren't the only other vendors you'll want to meet. Other industry vendors also make client referrals, as well. Wedding planners, probably more than any other vendor, are a good source of referrals. Get to know them in your community.
This leads us to the next opportunity to market yourself.
2. Industry Networking Events
Consider regularly attending networking events for other photographers and wedding vendors. This isn't about mining for clients. These are for meeting other industry professional and building your brand and name recognition in the industry. Don't just work the room.
Take the time to connect to others, ask about their work, and so forth. You're more likely to get recommended by another vendor if they feel comfortable with you personally. You can be a brilliant photographer and find it difficult to get work if you're a disappointment in personality!
Just as you would follow up with a potential client, you should follow up with folks you meet at a networking event if even just to say it was nice to meet them. You won't get referrals if they forget who you are once they leave the event!
3. Wedding Day Excellence
Every wedding gig is an audition for the next one. It seems silly to say but during a wedding gig, give it your best and then some. You're not just working to impress the bride and groom, but everyone else there, especially those who'll see your finished work after the event.
Be sure to coordinate in advance with the wedding planner (and even other vendors like the florist). They will appreciate your effort and remember that later when other brides ask for a recommendation. Be the photographer other vendors want around at the next gig.
4. Client Experience & Satisfaction
The single most important person to you as a photographer is the client. The happier they are with your work, they more likely they will be to refer you to their friends. One bad review or word from an unhappy client, and it can take you years to recover. It could deter other clients from hiring your and other vendors from wanting to work with you.
Excellence is the only level of service and images you should offer.
Treat every wedding gig how you would want your wedding photographer to behave.
Get to know your clients well in advance of the wedding and take copious notes during your meetings.
Be responsive to their requests and establish a good rapport with them before the wedding.
The more comfortable they are with you, the better your photos will turn out. Communication is key!
Do advance walk-throughs of the venues, even when you've worked it before (rules might have changed)
Networking and attracting new clients to take time and commitment. Don't expect it to happen overnight.