Welcome and best of luck with your photography business.
Almost 50 years ago my brother and I did wedding events on weekends for extra spending money.
The best advice I can give you is SCORE. SCORE is FREE and can help you with both a business and marketing plan.
Another suggestion is to get people to know you in and around Cypress.
You can do that by part of a trade show, support a cause (I supported a local little league baseball team or even education) and get your local newspaper to run a story about the event and you. FREE Publicity.
Yeah i have heard about SCORE! Actually we have met with them, and I am going to try and go to some of their seminars that are coming up. I printed the business plan, and I am going over it with my partner, and investors. I have to set up an appointment with them after we finish the plan. We are also doing the Houston Wedding Showcase in August to get our name out there!
How did you get the newspaper to run a story about it? Did you just ask them?
I helped my wife start up her photography business. I can probably help you avoid some bumps in the road.
Question- are you working out of a location, or are you strictly going "mobile" to weddings and other events?
I am an on location photographer.
Sorry for the delay in responding. I got side tracked for a bit.
OK. I am relieved to hear that you don't have a physical studio location. A LOT of studios have shut down in the past year or so. People just aren't spending as much on portraits right now. Having monthly rent and utilities makes it really difficult for a new photography studio to survive. A lot of studios are doing just that- they are just surviving. The owners are not able to really take any profit out of the business. Keep your monthly costs low, so if you have a very slow month you can weather the storm.
You probably have already discovered this, but one of your biggest competitors will be from what my wife calls "Mothers With A Camera". She actually calls them M-WACs. High quality digital cameras are now affordable enough that you'll see many moms with them at whatever event their kid is at. Some of them decide "My pictures look so good! I'm going to be a professional photographer!".
The problem with the M-WACs is they are happy to charge whatever they can, just to get the job. They drive down prices that real pros can charge. So, don't compete with them on price. Instead, you need to differentiate your photography business by the quality of photographs and services. Look for other ways to stand apart from the crowd as well. I know one guy who specializes in pet photos. He's known as the "go to photographer" for these types of photos. My wife has some really nice princess dresses that she'll dress the little girls in. She also has special princess backdrops. She is known around the area as the "princess photographer".
OK. This is probably way more info than you were looking for (and my hands are getting tired from typing), so just a couple random other thoughts.
- Make sure you have your business listed in Google Places. It is free. It helps your business show up locally when someone searches Google Maps for a local photographer.
- Also, consider testing out Google Adwords. Your business can appear in Google Search results when anyone searches for keywords that are related to your business. My wife has found this far more effective than advertising in local children's magazine or flyers. Sometimes Google will give you a $100 credit to get you started. There is a phone number at this link. Can't hurt to ask, right?!?
- Again, be very careful if you decide to advertise in local periodicals. They will try to sign you up for a three or six month contract. Don't do it, at least at first. Tell them you have to measure the "return on investment" for one month before agreeing to a multi-month contract.
That's it for now. Best of luck!
Barky rightly pointed out some good ways to get the word out. I would also like to add a few more.
1) Yelp- Get a few of your clients to post some reviews on Yelp.com. This would generally help in rankings at Google places.
2) On adwords, keep a focus on where to bid on keywords. Don't do nationwide ads, people in Cali won't come to you. Focus, Target and WIN
3) Build a solid website with some portfolio. People always like to see before they hire you especially in the photography niche.
There are lot more but I can't think of them rightaway. If there is a way to contact me via this forum, please do and I will help you out for free.
You want to get the word out about your business? You have to start with your customers. You can use all the google adwords and yelp you want, but if your customers do not use those services or visit those pages - they will never know about your business.
I suggest you work with SCOREs to create a profile on your customers - who they are (brides, mothers of brides, wedding planners, etc.), what their needs are (low cost, high quality, speed) and where they find their information (magazines, web, planners, event locations).
With this information in hand, you can easily create a marketing plan that will put the right message, in front of the right people.
Best of luck!
Although the advicing of Barky is very good and strong I have a few points to mention, as well as to somehow order chronologically the things that are most important:
1. Get a locally optimized website - as you are a local photographer, not servicing nationally or internationally you will need your website to serve the needs of predominantly the local population. Therefore, you'd rather want your website to show up in searches for local keywords, rather than generic ones
2. Get an optimized Google Places listing - unfortunately, the principles of Google Places are pretty similar to the ones with the websites. It is not simply going, filling in your profile, and showing up for "photographer in Texas". It requires hard work and is closely connected to the website optimization. There are hundreds or even thousands of photographers in Texas, only 7 reach the first page
3. Advertise on AdWords (do NOT use Boost!) - optimizing your website and Places listing takes time. So while waiting for it to reach first page, the best option is to go on with the paid AdWords. As Barky mentioned, you get some nice bonuses by Google.
These are of course only the basics, but if done correctly, they can bring you the required flow of business.
Good Morning to everyone!
I just officially started my wedding, event, and portrait photography business called Epic Studios photography! I am located in Cypress, Texas but am proudly serving the Houston Metro and surrounding areas up to a 180 degree radius! Does anyone have some good advice for me on how to get my business out there so people know I exist? How to make the most of marketing? Any advice would be great!