Beth, By moving back to your home town, you have a BIG advantage.
You know lots of the people in your town and they know you.
As you said, "Word of mouth" is a great referral.
There is an old saying in business: "Your best customer is the one you already have".
Did you have customers in your old hometown??
You need to keep old customers happy
and get referrals of new customers from customers who come to you.
Families and children are a great start.
You might want to have a showing in town hall or your public library.
Good luck, LUCKIEST
Hi Beth, I think Luckiest's suggestion about contacting your local public library and offering to do a mini-showing of some of your photos is a good one. Perhaps they would welcome several themes throughout the summer: weddings, summer fun, back to school, etc.
Maybe an empty store window in a mall? Wouldn't hurt to contact the mall and ask.
Since you are back in your hometown, contact some of your friends for assistance. Ask them if they would reach out to their friends with a one-time coupon discount for your services.
Ask your local high school(s) if you could advertise through them for senior pictures.
If you don't have a brochure, take some time to develop one.
Who wants to be next to offer some ideas?
Thanks for the suggestions! Most of those are practices I already have in use. I'm already doing well and making a living doing this but I want more. Don't we all? I mainly do families, kids and maternity sessions but doing weddings is really where I earn my paycheck. Business slows down between Oct & Feb and I'm looking to branch out and be able to stay just as busy (and profitable) by making some connections with some business owners. And I'm getting ready to start advertising head shots as one of my services. Great for all business pros. I was looking more to see if there were any businesses out there that had relationships with a local photog or any photographers with any new ideas for building relationships with local businesses.
Beth, there must be other photographers in town.
Maybe one or more locals are also looking to branch out (as you put it) and maybe be interested in a partnership arrangement.
Also there is nothing like face to face interaction.
There is something about an in-person interaction that can't be replaced.
I had a career as a studio owner. The whole nine yards. CPP, Craftsman degree, Seminar instructor, Convention Speaker, President of my state Professional Photographer's Association....etc. I gotta tellya...I'm glad I'm not beginning now.
The first thing I should suggest is to look very carefully at your wedding income. After expenses, how much "Net Profit" are you actually making ? How much Net Profit per hour are you making from weddings ? If you have priced your services properly, you CAN, not only earn a good profit from weddings, but also begin a relationship that will provide you a "Life-cycle" client. If you price your wedding services too low, the results can be very deceptive. You may see a strong income and a strong percentage of income from weddings; but if you're priced too low, you will just be "spinning your wheels". Remember it takes considerable time to interview prospective brides, have pre-wedding consultations, Photograph the weddings, do the post wedding computer work, arrange the albums, "deliver" the albums...etc.
And now days, many brides expect you to do everything for a few hundred dollars and then just give them the files. I'd rather play tennis, go flying, or have a day of relaxation than to do that.
Once you are in so strong demand that you can "Pick and choose", you don't even interview brides expecting that.
You also need to fill the "Dead TIme". - that time between January and April when many studio owners "Scan the horizon" in search of a client. - HELLO - - - HELLO - - - ECHO - - -ECHO -- - I created various promotions to lure in clients during that time. If you don't develop income during that time, you will be siphoning off profits from the good months to carry you through the "dead months".
One extremely important piece of advice I can give you, is join and become Active in your STATE AND LOCAL PPA AFFILLIATES. Why not share in the knowledge acquired by most of the leading professionals in your state?
I will contact you directly, through your email address.
I've just moved back to my hometown so I'm starting all over again with my photography business. Facebook and word of mouth have always been my best referrals. Looking for some new ways to build relationships and market with other local businesses. That includes wedding vendors, realtors, lawyers and other professionals needing headshots and businesses geared towards families and kids. Are there any of you out there that are photographers or have an arrangement with a local photog? Any ideas would be appreciated! Thanks!