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Archive 2012 · stale business looking for some help
  
 
deebo7
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p.1 #1 · stale business looking for some help


this may fall into the depths of these forums, but i was hoping i could get some help from those businessmen here more successful than i.

some background: im 24 and have been doing weddings for 5 years now. I normally average 15 a year, but was shooting 20-25 my first two years (low prices). This last year I decided to put weddings on the back-burner and pursue a more editorial line of work. things picked up for me really well with newspapers (interned for the Oakland Tribune and Miami Herald), but now I want to get back into weddings again and things have been rough. Ive been trying to do everything I could to get a resurgence back into my wedding game.

Recently, to give my business the kick-start i feel it needs, Ive been advertising VERY heavily on both theknot.com and weddingwire.com. As well I have gotten many glowing reviews from past clients that I have put on my yelp.com and knot websites. I get maybe 40-50 page views a month (not first-tier i know, but respectable maybe?) but I feel very few of those result in client inquiries, and when they do its budget brides who got their uncle to shoot their wedding or something like that. Now I know im not a schlep with a camera, im good at what I do and i understand what photography is. i understand light and external lighting, I know what it takes to make a story out of a wedding, and I think im decent at composition and timing (you all can be the judge on that) and even with my news background, things are really slow for me.

For clarification, I try to market myself as a PJ photographer, one with editorial experience who is great at capturing candids and being a "fly on the wall." I start at $1800 and offer packages that range between 6-10hrs, with and without a second shooter/album. I am located in the Bay area, but am split with the Sacramento counties too.

Many of the brides I have been getting have always gone iwth price and quality and being their main motivators...pretty 50/50 split. Rarely the "I NEED YOU AS OUR PHOTOGRAPHER" which leads me to believe I may be focusing on the cheaper end of the tier, and I have nothing that sets me apart. No idea though.


My concerns are as follows:
My website may feel outdated?
My prices are too low, so I dont attract any real brides?
My work may just not be up to snuff to justify raising my prices?
People see me as just "a kid with a camera" and instantly discredit me.


Im just hoping that if anyone could, take a read, take a look at my website and just let me know what you think I can do.

I really do appreciate the help and will be gladly willing to repay in any way I can.

Thanks
website can be at www.donyaphotography.com or on my sig.










Jul 24, 2012 at 04:57 AM
tobicus
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p.1 #2 · stale business looking for some help


The biggest challenge in marketing, from what we've seen, is figuring out how to position yourself in front of people who are willing to pay for what you do. This, as you'll quickly see, is the element you rarely see discussed by folks here.


Jul 24, 2012 at 05:08 AM
TTLKurtis
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p.1 #3 · stale business looking for some help


I would stop advertising on theknot etc for starters. That's a lot of money down the tube for 40-50 unqualified 'leads' per month.




Jul 24, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Inku Yo
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p.1 #4 · stale business looking for some help


Ok, don't take this the wrong way because I'm no expert. If you want to get back into weddings, first thing I'd do is get rid of the "editorial" section on your home page.

Next, I'd change the first image on your wedding page - the light is all wrong, IMO. The "good" light is on the dude's face and even then, it's partially obstructed by the shadow from the girl's face. I would have posed them with her back to him and the light coming from the front. So, while it's composed well, the lighting hurts the image.

The next thing I would do is to revamp your portfolio and really showcase what you can offer a client. I don't want to get too specific and I don't want to sound mean (I know I can come across that way online), but there are lots of uninteresting images in each wedding gallery. By "uninteresting" I mean, yes they are PJ, but not of anything in particular. For example, the people standing in front of the picture frames looking/photographing at them... I'm sure there's a story there somewhere, but unless the viewer is privy to more info, it becomes an uninteresting photo.

This is all just my somewhat sugarcoated opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

\edit - ok, by "uninteresting" I also mean uninteresting to a potential bride/groom. Show images that are going to make them say, "I wish that were me." or "I wish I could look that happy on my wedding day." or something else that can connect you to your viewer and make them WANT to contact you. Like... Rob/Jess's gallery, first image - what's interesting about 3 guys standing around with guitars? Would a bride look at that and go, "OMG! I need this guy to photograph my wedding!"?



Jul 24, 2012 at 06:04 AM
hardlyboring
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p.1 #5 · stale business looking for some help


I generally agree with Inku.

The site needs revamping... I even see that a lot of the images are not properly sized for the web.
Show ONLY your best stuff.

The never ending game for the wedding photographer is always going to be ... "What do I show potential clients?"




Jul 24, 2012 at 06:16 AM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #6 · stale business looking for some help


Probably insignificant, but I can't get on your website as it requires flash...

Without looking at your website, you mention it might need updating, that you've been advertising on some wedding sites. Is your website the main way people find you? If this is the only way people find you things need to change. You say you've been going for 5 years - what is your referral rate? If low, something to work on, as you do need to work for this. You need to find other ways of attracting business... Perhaps working with other related businesses in your area could be a start.



Jul 24, 2012 at 08:16 AM
deebo7
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p.1 #7 · stale business looking for some help


ahh thanks guys, really appreciate the help. i do admit to being terrible and knowing which photos my clients will like vs what i know i like...something Ill definitely need to work on. i am working on a new website i might link up later, in hopes that maybe a fresher look will carry on.

as far as referrals go, i get a few but not as many as i expected. that isnt to say my clients aren't happy with my work, because they ALL are, but i just don't see the referrals as often as I hear people here on fm do. that always struck me as a bit odd too.



Jul 26, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Mike Mahoney
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p.1 #8 · stale business looking for some help


deebo7 wrote:
as far as referrals go, i get a few but not as many as i expected. that isnt to say my clients aren't happy with my work, because they ALL are, but i just don't see the referrals as often as I hear people here on fm do. that always struck me as a bit odd too.


Referrals are key .. when they dry up your business dries up also.

People talk .. and by talk I don't mean posting anonymously on some bride forum, I mean a bride will talk to one of her friends about her wedding experience, including her photographer. This is where 80% plus of your business can (and possibly should) come from.

But if you've been out of the game for a while it's likely that people aren't talking about you as much anymore .. could be time to rebuild.



Jul 26, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Ian Ivey
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p.1 #9 · stale business looking for some help


Oy, when I open your web site, the most prominent thing after your giant generic logo is a GOAT, STARING AT ME IN CAPITAL LETTERS. And then there are some people who are clearly not like me (and, speaking from a shopping bride's point of view, I want a photographer who is like me, and shoots people like me). Bless your heart, mate, but golly, that's a scattered presentation.

And then there's a center-justified impenetrable wall of fine-print text, for good measure.

I'd be shocked if the lack of focus (pun intended) isn't scaring off most qualified leads who land on your home page. "Deeba 'Donya' Yavrom: Goat and wedding photographer." Seriously, now.



Jul 26, 2012 at 09:35 PM
joosay
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p.1 #10 · stale business looking for some help


As others have mentioned - I would re-do your website and separate wedding work from your editorial work.


Jul 26, 2012 at 09:42 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



ai3x
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p.1 #11 · stale business looking for some help


Ok so yeah you're website isn't ideal. I have to say thought I know many photographers with worse website who do OK.

Updating the website is the easy fix though the rest is slightly more difficult. Referrals take time but if you're not getting any after 5 years you probably have a problem. It might be worth making a generic questionnaire to give to complete brides asking for their honest opinions of your service. The glowing reviews are great but honesty is where you'll actually improve. Also make sure you stay in touch with them. Send them a bottle of wine with their album and a nice first anniversary card. When their friends get married you want them to think of you.

Alex



Jul 26, 2012 at 11:20 PM
BKphotography
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p.1 #12 · stale business looking for some help


Great idea with the vino Alex.

I wonder what a bottle of Buckfast goes for these days...



Jul 27, 2012 at 12:51 PM
blueirisarts
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p.1 #13 · stale business looking for some help


Their is something about "Do it yourself" pricing that may be deterring business for you. A bride may view your "4 steps" as being too much because all they want to do is get a price from you, not have to work for it.


Jul 29, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Tony Hoffer
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p.1 #14 · stale business looking for some help


Some very good advise here.


Jul 29, 2012 at 04:14 PM
deebo7
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p.1 #15 · stale business looking for some help


i appreciate all the replies everyone. i did go ahead and change my website around and added the DIY pricing thing (more to make it easier for people to choose stuff than anything else).

i think my next step will be the questionarre to see what i did good and most importantly, what I did bad...and then move on from there. plus a little 1st year anniversary schmooze shouldnt hurt either.

once again, a huge thank you to everyone who took the time out to help

cheers



Aug 07, 2012 at 12:38 AM
MattSepeta
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p.1 #16 · stale business looking for some help


First things first- No logo is better than the corny aperture symbol logo currently displayed.


Aug 07, 2012 at 01:17 AM
deebo7
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p.1 #17 · stale business looking for some help


yeahhh, youre probably right


Aug 07, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Inku Yo
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p.1 #18 · stale business looking for some help


deebo7 wrote:
i appreciate all the replies everyone. i did go ahead and change my website around and added the DIY pricing thing (more to make it easier for people to choose stuff than anything else).

i think my next step will be the questionarre to see what i did good and most importantly, what I did bad...and then move on from there. plus a little 1st year anniversary schmooze shouldnt hurt either.

once again, a huge thank you to everyone who took the time out to help

cheers


Really quickly - much improved opening slide show. I didn't look at the other galleries.

The "create your own package" thing is misleading. I'd just remove it. I expected a calculator type thing, not instructions telling me to email or call you. Jus' sayin'.



Aug 07, 2012 at 02:46 AM
D. Diggler
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p.1 #19 · stale business looking for some help


deebo7 wrote:
i did go ahead and change my website around


The goat is gone!



Aug 07, 2012 at 03:01 AM
deebo7
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p.1 #20 · stale business looking for some help


that goat will pester no one no more!

and here i thought the create your own package will set me apart, haha. guess ill take that off too, thought it might be a bit unclear.



Aug 07, 2012 at 10:17 PM
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