Wedding Photographers: 10 Ideas to Survive the Off-Season
Summer is about to fade away, and with it, the hectic season of weddings. Of course, you’ll still have a few celebrations to cover here and there. But there’s nothing like the frenzy of July, when you only have a couple of hours every night to go back home, upload your shots, take a nap, and get your fill of coffee in before rushing to another couple’s Big Day. So yes, winter is coming. But it doesn’t mean that you have to stay next to your (Facebook) wall, waiting for better days to come. There are millions of ways to take advantage of this precious time, from improving your skills, to diversifying your business or optimizing your online visibility.
At the Wix Photography Blog, we racked our brains to come up with fresh ideas of activities to run during the off-season, which you can easily promote on your photography website. We also asked some successful wedding photographers to let us in on some of their secret tips, and had a sneak peek at their personal routines. Read this article carefully. You’ll be surprised to see how many things you can do to keep your photo business blooming when summer’s gone, and get stronger for next year.
Warning: This blog does not address wedding photographers only. Like most shutterbugs, you probably have off periods. You too can get some inspiration from these tips. And don’t forget to share your own ideas in the comments - collaboration is the best way to get more clients, and make new friends along the way!
01. Revamp your photography website
Your #1 investment. You already have an online portfolio, that you’ve optimized with the help of our step-by-step guide on how to create a photography website. (If you haven’t, go now - we’ll wait for you before we continue, promise!). But when you create a website, besides an intuitive interface, a sleek design and some catchy text, what defines a successful site is its freshness. In other words: how many times you enter your favorite website builder to upload new content. While the foundation of your site has to stay the same in order to be recognizable, regularly reshuffling some elements can only help attract new clients, and show the old ones just how dynamic you are. Last but certainly not least, freshness is one of the key factors chosen by search engines to decide the fate of your website’s SEO.
The off-season should leave you more time than needed to revamp your photography website. First, tweak the visual atmosphere a bit, by adding cool effects such as the parallax scrolling effect or a video background in just a click. Second, upload the best of your latest photos. Third, add a blog to your site, where you’ll write articles that’ll help you rank higher in Google’s results.
Tips from the pro: For Kamron Khan, off-season is the perfect time to update her website and all other clients communication (such as e-mail templates). “I like to make sure everything is current. This includes links to a more recent wedding gallery, new photo examples, updated pricing, and the FAQ page to add anything that may have come up as a consistent question among potential clients.” Visit: Kamron’s Wix website.
02. Shoot engagements
Unless you’re extremely passionate, very drunk, or on vacation in Las Vegas (and sometimes all three together), you wouldn’t get married without an engagement first. Right? And while there’s only one hot season for weddings, engagements happen all year long. Start by presenting yourself as a wedding and an engagement photographer, on your website, business cards, and all other promotional outlets - both online and offline. To speed up the process, you can also send an email to your client base, telling them that you’ve decided to expand the reach of your activity, and that you’ll be happy to be referred to couples who are newly engaged. Finally, don’t hesitate to do some advertisement on Instagram. It’s extremely simple, won’t cost you a lot of money, and will help you reach the young folks right where they spend their time: on their favorite social media.
03. Give lessons
Over the years, you’ve acquired state-of-the-art wedding photography skills. For example, you’re second to none when it comes to negotiating with your clients. Or you happen to have a complete checklist of the most essential moments to capture on a wedding. It’s time to share this precious knowledge with your peers. It will not only boost your reputation as an expert in your area of expertise, it can also bring you some extra cash in too. Online courses are a major trend right now, and you can easily set up your own e-classroom on your website using Wix Video. This all-in-one tool enables you to display your tutorials on your site, and gives you the possibility to charge your subscribers per view, hour or month (100% commission-free). You might not have liked being a student, but you’ll love being a teacher!
04. Take lessons
Sometimes you earn, sometimes you learn. Use the extra time that you have during the off-season to polish up your skills. Join a photography club in your town and learn the good practices from other experienced professionals. You’ll expand your network (which is extremely valuable when it comes to finding new clients through referrals), and you’ll get to acquire new valuable techniques or approaches. If you feel more comfortable behind a computer screen, don’t worry: the Internet is chock-a-block-full of quality courses on virtually anything, from the basics of night photography to mastering Photoshop like a pro. Finally, don’t neglect your marketing skills. In 2018, a good photographer should also be a good business manager. Luckily for you, you won’t have to go super far for this.
05. Invest in a blog
“Words are not my forte, I’d rather express my emotions and thoughts through pictures.” Like most photographers, you can easily relate to this sentence. As far as you can remember, it’s always been very hard to take a pen and write something that you would consider to be of any value. Now that the pen has turned into a keyboard, did things change dramatically? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. The blog format is extremely convenient for people who don’t have the time, skills or desire to write 10 page-long essays. In a few paragraphs, using everyday vocabulary, you can easily tell a short story that will get your visitors excited. Start by transforming your latest photo shoots into articles. As similar as they may look, each wedding is different, and comes with its own challenges. Tell how you overcame them, how you bonded with the couple and worked together into turning the event into something truly unique. On top of admiring the quality of your shots, your readers will love this “backstage” look through a photographer’s eye.
But wait a second, we forgot the most important point: the advantages of having a blog. First of all, it’s a great SEO boost for your website, which means that more clients will be susceptible to find you more easily on Google. Second, it’s a great authority builder: people tend to think that professionals who can write about their practice are also more reliable. Finally, it helps you keep your community engaged and loyal. Convinced? Create a blog now and check out our complete guide on how to write a blog for your photography website.
06. Get published
Easier said than done? Think twice. If you want your wedding photos to get published, you should know that some smart platforms specialize in just that. Take Two Bright Lights, for example. This smart website lets you upload your photographs, and lets blogs and online magazines pick them for publication - with your prior authorization, of course, and due credits. It’s a great way to get more exposure for your work and reach new communities of potential clients (the platform works with hundreds of publications). You can also go for the “hard” way, which is reaching out to wedding blogs and online publications yourself. Simply go with a casual email or Facebook message to the editor, attaching a selection of the pictures you’re most proud of. You can also offer to write an article (guest-blogging) or do some commission work if you want to get extra money from the deal. In any case, remember that you’re an expert in wedding photography, with valuable content that can benefit a lot of people. So don’t be shy, and share as much as you can!
07. Clean your social accounts
While the great cleaning traditionally occurs in springtime, there is no designated season to make this one. Go on your Instagram, Facebook and other social accounts, and remove all the photos that are a bit outdated, didn’t perform as well as you expected, or that you’re simply not proud of. As a rule of thumb, your online outlets should only showcase the best of the best of your art. Pictures that don’t fully represent your current level of practice shouldn’t be visible on the Internet. And that’s non negotiable (yes, even that cute picture of your 3-month old labrador taken with your smartphone). Otherwise, you might lose clients before they even get to contact you.
Want to master social media like a pro? Your wish, our command:
08. Court other professionals
The marriage industry is a gigantic economic environment, which does not only involve photographers and priests only, but also venues, diamond resellers and wedding planners (among many others). During winter, try to build valuable relationships with as many professionals as you can. You can go and meet people from your neighborhood, or visit dedicated websites such as Wedding Wire. If they like you and your work, you can be sure they will bring up your name to some new precious clients. In return, you might recommend a DJ or a caterer who helped you out - and whose professionalism you sincerely trust and estimate. Another way of returning the favor is taking free shots for your partner, for them to use on their own website. It will cost you a few hours of your time, but the long-term benefits are huge.
09. Offer discounts
The sun might have disappeared, but the strong feeling of love can warm up even the toughest of winters. A lot of couples decide to get married off-season, sometimes because they can’t wait to get to the altar, sometimes because they prefer the enchantment of a wedding in the snow. And most of the time - it’s because they can get cheapest prices. Catering companies, venues and DJs tend to charge less during fall and winter, and clients expect the same from their photographer. Make the first move and start offering discounted prices for the colder months. Simply prepare a catchy text and a beautiful photo, wrap them together and send the whole package on your social media, along with an email to all your contacts, asking them to spread the word. Don’t worry about the newsletter’s design: Wix ShoutOut has it ready for you, for free!
10. Brace yourself and plan
So you’ve applied all of the 9 ideas we’ve talked about? Congratulations, but you’re not done just yet! When summer’s gone, it just means that you have to get ready for the next one. In other words, prepare an updated version of your photography business plan. Sit in your favourite coffee shop, and start thinking of how the last wedding season went. Did some events go wrong? List them down on a piece of paper, analyze them, and make sure you find solutions in order not to repeat them again next year. You also want to define new goals for next year that have to be both ambitious and reachable. Preparation is the key to success!
Tips from the pros: What is Alicia Wiley up to this winter? “Planning, planning, planning. The off-season is the perfect time to make goals for the next year, plan my schedule and new things I want to incorporate into my business. When I am in the hustle of the busy season I write down notes in the back of my planner that I can come back to when things slow down.” Visit Alicia’s Wix website.
By Jonathan Sitbon
Editor-in-Chief of the Wix Blogs