It’s about time for another FAQ’s post! 🙂
How can you get exposure other than Facebook or charity work, without spending a lot on advertising?
Facebook has made it so easy for new businesses to advertise, but I stand strong in my stance that Facebook should absolutely not be relied on as your only source of advertising. Ask yourself this question: If Facebook disappeared tomorrow, how would anyone find you? I am a firm believer that every photographer should invest in a professional website. The fact is, most people are searching for products and services online these days… and if you don’t have a digital footprint, then you’re missing out on a good chunk of potential business.
Having a blog is also another great way to attract clients… and it doesn’t need to cost you much at all. (A WordPress blog is free!) Blogs are amazing for SEO… particularly for wedding photographers. If you do a blog post from a wedding and list the vendors that were involved in the wedding, then any client who does a search for that particular vendor has a chance of seeing your work.
Another great tool is magazine advertising… not exactly free (I spend about $700 a year on magazine advertising), but it’s a fantastic resource. A few featured weddings in your local wedding magazine is amazing for exposure to potential brides.
And of course, the best free way to gain clients is word of mouth! If you really ‘wow’ your clients, they will become walking billboards for you. You can gain even more clients by offering a referral program… “Refer a friend and receive a complimentary $50 product credit when they book their session!”
What has been the best fan base builder “thing” you have done for Facebook?
Honestly… it’s just taken time! I started my page years ago… back when I was the only Crystal Lee Photography on the Internet. 😉
In the past few years I’ve slowly built my client base, which has in turn increased the number of fans, or ‘likes.’ But, unfortunately, the number of fans that you have means less these days than it used to. Facebook is really making it hard for business pages to reach all of their fans. I have over 4,500 fans… but my posts reach anywhere from 200-1700 viewers. So it’s not so much the number of fans that counts… it’s the percentage of fans that you’re reaching.
Another reason why you should have a strong web presence outside of Facebook… it’s an amazing marketing tool, but things could change at any moment. Maybe Facebook will virtually implode… maybe they’ll start charging all business fees to have pages… it’s unpredictable, and unreliable.
I would really love to know how to get repeat clients from newborn sessions. I think a lot of clients are stuck in the mindset of only doing newborn and then 1 year sessions… How do you get those clients to come back before they are a year old??
Client education is really important here. Back when I was working at the retail studio, we thought it was crazy for a Mom to come in with a baby under a month old. Now I’m photographing babies in my own studio that are a mere 5 days old, but many Moms don’t realize that they need to bring their little ones in that early. As the Photographer, it is our job to educate our clients and present them with the best options possible.
One way to guarantee repeat clients is to offer a Baby Plan. My Baby Plan includes 3 sessions… newborn, sitting up, and birthday. The Baby Plan is greatly discounted compared to purchasing a la carte sessions and packages, which is a great incentive for clients. Another option is to create a “Baby’s First Year Planning Guide” for your clients, with sample images from each milestone… 0, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. And most importantly… make it a point to stay in contact with your clients. They may not remember to contact you for 6 month portraits… so I would recommend setting up a special calendar with specific reminders of when your clients will be close to hitting certain milestones. Then just send them a courtesy email reminder, inviting them in for a session with you. 🙂
What type of forms do you need to open up a photography business?
That is a fantastic question… but unfortunately it is not something that I can answer. The laws vary from state to state, even city to city. But if you are accepting money from clients for your services… then you need to register your business. If you are advertising yourself as a business at all (even with a Facebook page), you need to get a business license. It is so important to get your legal ducks in a row! If you get busted running a business without the proper documents and licenses, Uncle Sam is not going to be kind.
My advice… contact some of the CPA’s in your area, find one that has experience with photographers, and schedule an appointment. Your CPA will be able to give you the rundown of what business entity is best for you, what the tax requirements are for your area, what licenses you will need, etc.
When it was time for me to get ‘legit,’ I’ll be honest… I had no idea what I was doing, and because I was the new girl in town, I had no one to get advice from. So I went to LegalZoom.com, put out about $700, and they did everything for me. They sent in my documents, got my my tax ID, got all of the licenses I needed… you name it, they did it. Could I have gotten away with doing it for less money? Of course. But I chose to invested in a professional service to help me out, and it was worth every penny. 🙂
Do you have a question you’d like to have answered on my next FAQ’s post? Just stop by my Facebook page and drop me a comment! 🙂