My wife and I started a photography business in 2010.
We launched under the brand of JonesPhotography.
Over the last 4 years we have worked hard to serve clients and build a reputation on good work and positive spirits.
While the business is doing well now, it was a struggle at first. We had no clients and average work.
Over the last 4 years, the business has evolved rapidly: re-branding to Paige Jones Photography, as I took a background role. I still second shoot for Paige and help run the business from a strategy aspect.
Our 2014 season has just wrapped up and as we look back at 2014 (our most successful to date) it got us thinking about our journey.
Every businesses first problem
When Paige and I decided to start a wedding photography business 4 years ago our biggest question was:
How do we get clients?
We didn’t know much about the industry at the time. Marketing a business was also a totally new challenge.
In 2014, we received 193 client inquires for the business, which translated into serving 30 couples.
Shooting 30 weddings (out 52 weeks in a year) is right where we wanted to be. Reaching this goal was a combination of hard work and strategy.
I’d like to break down for you exactly how we got here, so that you can learn from our experience.
Let’s start with the numbers
First let’s just establish the basics.
Where did those 193 inquires come from?
Let’s break this down
As you can see, the numbers tell a story of diversity.
There is no one single method that will grow your business, it’s a healthy combination of factors.
This has developed over years establishing the business and finding opportunities when they come.
This is an interesting finding for us. When we first began this journey we felt very strongly that advertising was always going to yield the most new clients.
I would have never guessed that number 1 would be networking with your competition.
Of course it helps if you don’t view other photographers as competition, which we really never have.
Paige has been a master at networking with other photographers, and it’s been paramount to growing the business. But it came about naturally. It is never her intention, when she is spending time with other photographers (many she would just call friend).
So if you take away one thing from our data, make sure you are engaging the people in your field in an authentic way, and it may just benefit your business.
The only surprise here is that it’s not a bigger percentage of the whole. We have invested a lot of time into Social Media for Paige Jones Photography.
Paige has consistently blogged her work and shared it on twitter and facebook. Instagram has been a constant as well.
This is a straightforward way to find new clients on the internet, but you have to be consistent, because it’s a big part of the business development.
This website yielded a high number of inquiries, but many of them below average.
It’s been a help in building the business, but the conversion rate on these is a bit lower than other categories.
We actually did invest 6K into a banner ad on their site, but it yielded almost nothing. It’s good for paige to have a vendor profile on here, it’s a really big hub.
This comes through time.
Building an online presence that allows random people on google to find you and book you comes through years of consistent work on the blog and social media.
But it’s become an exciting part of the business. Some really great people have found Paige, just generally searching for their photographer on google.
These are exciting when they happen, but haven’t equaled explosive growth, like we imagined they would.
Before Paige was getting featured we thought for sure it would be a huge boost, but it’s been just one part of the whole.
There is no 1 thing that made our 2014 profitable. It came through a wide range of activities.
If I had to boil it down to the basics of how we got here, I’d say it’s:
- Doing high quality work
- Serving clients at a high level
- Networking with multiple photographers
- Blogging consistently and staying active on social media
- Submitting work for feature (doing styled shoots just to try for features)
So if you take anything away from this post let it be this:
Building your business is about a combination of all the little things. Don’t worry that your missing a secret ingredient; you’re not. It’s hard work, it’s being kind to people and it’s trying your best.
Paige and I have scrambled at times. One wedding she wanted to quit forever.
But we’ve stuck with it and we work from the basic assumption that people just want to be served at a high level and with good intentions.
And that’s how we arrived at 193 client inquiries for year 2014.
My wife Paige is the full time lead on the photography business. She has committed the last 4 years to growing and having fun with photography.
After shooting 30 weddings in 2014, Paige is going to try and land around 20, with hopefully more destination weddings. Looks like Iceland is already on the calendar for 2015.