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Top Pics of the Week – September 22

September 22, 2017 | colleen

photo by Lukas Piatek

Double exposures and smoke bombs and fireworks, oh my! This week’s top pics have it all. Thank you to Brandi Potter PhotographyYou Made My Day PhotographyTara Lilly PhotographyAndy Roberts PhotographyJacob LoafmanKatie HarmsworthRosey Red Photography, and Lukas Piatek for sharing your amazing work with us!

photo by Rosey Red Photography

photo by Katie Harmsworth

photo by Jacob Loafman

photo by Andy Roberts Photography

photo by Tara Lilly Photography

photo by You Made My Day Photography

photo by Brandi Potter Photography

A big thank you to our contributors this week! Want to see your work featured in an upcoming Top Pics post? Be sure to tag your images on Instagram with #photobugcommunity, and join us on Facebook over in our Photobug Community Group.

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Instagrammers to Follow – September

September 21, 2017 | carrie

Sometimes Instagram can feel like a big mystery that only a select few have figured out. Fortunately for all of us, there is definitely a recipe to success when it comes to this popular platform and our Instagrammers to Follow are here to give you the down low on what’s worked for them and what hasn’t, along with actionable steps that you can start taking today!

Will Khoury@willkhouryphotography

When it comes to attracting potential clients, people want to connect with the photos instantly. It is important that they enjoy the work and photography style before they meet me, and Instagram does just that.

Instagram expanded my business through the power of hashtags! Hashtags are a great tool to market yourself by targeting the desired audience or connecting your work to a specific location. It has also been a source of inspiration by exposing me to various locations that I’d love to travel to.

I definitely have a love-hate relationship with Instagram, mainly because of the captions!! Thank goodness I’m a photographer and not a writer. Not only that captions can be tough to write, but they are also time-consuming, especially when English is not my first language. But all that time and energy becomes worthwhile when an inquiry lands in my inbox that says “I found you through Instagram!”

To expect a photo to “do well” or to “gain followers” just by sharing photos and adding hashtags is not an efficient way to grow on Instagram. Post frequently and utilize hashtags that are relevant to your photos. This improves your chances of reaching who you want to photograph or who finds and follows your work. Engage with others in the community by liking and commenting on their work. It’s a great way to connect with other professionals and cultivate friendships. Interact with the comments on your posts. When someone takes the time to comment, I always do my best to reply or answer any questions about the photo. I appreciate their time and feedback on my work. This helps me form a personal connection with the people who follow my page and see my photography from the client’s perspective.

My most popular picture to date was Cynthia and Brad’s elopement in Yosemite National park. It was at the end of their elopement day during a heatwave and they decided to hop into the river and cool off. It was a moment that occurred naturally and I couldn’t help but hop in as well and capture the moment! I think this post did so well on Instagram because it was spontaneous, carefree, and unconventional. This picture also shows the couples’ strong connection and love for each other. It was a really special moment that I was fortunate enough to capture.

There are several pictures I have shared that I thought would do better than they actually did, numbers wise. I think this is important to share with aspiring photographers. I’m not sure if it was timing, algorithm, or simply not received well, but I’ve kept these posts up because it’s part of my work and it’s good to not get caught in the numbers.

Everyone’s portfolio is at your fingertips with Instagram. It’s hard to pinpoint sources of inspiration as the popular page constantly updates with every refresh. My friend, Erin Northcutt (@erinorthcutt), comes to mind immediately. Her work is authentically her. I can see an individual photograph and instantly know it’s hers. Sebastien Bicard (@sbicard_photography) is another photographer that I’m proud to call a friend. His work is timeless and purposeful. I love Melissa Rey’s (@melissareyphoto) creativity and her out of the box approach for documenting stories. Chris & Ruth (@chrisandruth) are definitely inspirations for destination shoots and I enjoy that their work is always clean and crisp! Finally, the surrealism of Muse & Mirror (@muse.and.mirror) mixed with the darker mood of their wedding photography is one of my favorite accounts to follow!

Jess Woodhouse@jess_woodhouse_

Instagram has been a great way to connect with other photographers locally and everywhere else. We end up sending each other referrals and that’s definitely my favorite aspect of the platform. It’s also been sort of a business card for me. When I start chatting with wedding guests and they ask me for a card, I just tell them to follow me on Instagram.

Consistency is what we all aim for, however keeping quality high is important too. Find a good balance and you’re golden. I’ve been using more hashtags lately and it really helps with exposure. Use venue location tags too! I’ve had clients book me because my photo was the top image for a local venue.

I posted a photo recently of one of my couples kissing on the trolley with champagne in hand. Their friends were all crammed into the seats around them cheering. It’s one of those moments that happened naturally and I think you can just feel the love and happiness.

Laurence Revol has been a favorite of mine for a while now. I love her use of composition and light. Bayly & Moore inspire me because their level of creativity is outta this world. I watch their stop-motion videos almost daily. Olivia Bee is a portrait photographer whose dreamy style I love.

@laurence.revol
@baylymoore
@oliviabee

Prisma Blanco Fotografía – @prisma_blanco_fotografia

Instagram has affected us very positively! Thanks to this tool, we reach many of our customers and it allows us to reach different places regardless of distance.

Our advice is to continually update the profile by uploading the latest works and constantly share content, that the profile maintains a line regarding your work style.

The image above is our most popular image because it is a photo that transmits love and calm, and we chased a lovely and warm sunset.

We like to see another type of photography, we do not usually see only wedding photography. Some of the accounts that we often see often: @drcuerda & @anniset (we love this couple) @jasonmpeterson, @mattu1 and @1924us (a little of everything).

Ellie Asher Photography@ellieasherphoto

One of the great things about Instagram is that it’s a venue that gives you another opportunity to shape how you present yourself to the world. It’s a portfolio that has to be created over time and that gave us a good opportunity to see what we really liked about what we were creating and use that information to refine our style and direction. That and the obvious benefit of being in front of so many people, some of which book us, has made us love Instagram.

I think the most important thing for us has just been to post intuitively, and not allow ourselves to be consumed by the pressure of posting for the sake of posting. For us sometimes this means going a week or two without posting in order to feel like we found the image that feels like the best fit for us. We definitely don’t want to shine a negative spotlight on those who do post frequently and often, and we know a few Instagrammers would disagree with our philosophy on that. Sometimes we envy photographers who are able to post every other hour! But we need to be sure to be us.

We have been happier now with our feed than we have since we started because we have allowed ourselves to distance ourselves from the pressure and obligation of posting. We post what we like and what we’re excited about and we think people really seem to sense that honesty and respond to it.

It seems a bit weird now but this image was the first vertical we posted because we had mixed feelings about Instagrams vertical aspect ratio. So maybe it had something to do with our followers not expecting it. More likely we think we can all relate to that feeling of a sky that’s too big above, a moon that’s right where it should be, and its just the two of you right next to each as night starts.

For inspiration, both Will and I gravitate towards Nirav Photography and The Kitcheners‘ Instagram feeds! Great artists seem to inspire and cause us distress. We just see the talent, work, and creativity that they have as being on a completely different level and it’s just such a treat to see what they bring out of couples.

Assemblage Photography@assemblagephotography

Although Instagram has been mildly exasperating (shadowbanning and algorithm woes, anyone?), it has also been pretty amazing. I’ve been getting enquiries and bookings from people in different continents because they saw my work on Instagram and reached out. I think it’s so exciting that anyone anywhere could easily stumble across your work on Instagram and decide to connect with you! I’ve also made so many incredible photographers friends from all over the world through Instagram. I think it’s important to find your tribe because we all know how hard this can get sometimes. It’s so incredibly helpful to have a group of people who get you, and who can support you and offer advice and encouragement.

Using geotags and a variety of hashtags (a mixture of general and specific ones, popular hashtags and some which are less commonly used) helps to get your posts seen by people who do not follow you. Getting featured by big accounts is also one of the easier ways to get your work discovered by others. Being helpful and genuine is really important too – always make it a point to reply genuinely to comments and DMs (I always try to be as helpful as I can when I answer questions about how I edit, technical questions and questions about my gear, etc.). Most people are really appreciative when you’re willing to help.

Also: don’t be too worried about likes. Sometimes I know a photo might not do very well because there are certain things people like to see more than others on Instagram but I post it anyway because that’s what I feel like sharing at that moment. It takes the fun out of Instagramming if we have to bother about how well our photos perform all the time. I treat Instagram like an informal portfolio that also allows me to share a bit about my personal life so that my potential clients can get to know me better. (Also, Instagram stories are really useful for sharing behind-the-scenes and more personal stuff.)

And to be honest I’m not as active as I think I should be on Instagram and I think my feed is a bit of a mess but I’m trying to get better at it. Currently, I use a planning app (called UNUM) and it’s really helping me a ton by letting me plan my posts and captions, etc. I try to curate my feed so that potential clients are able to see what my style is the moment they look at my grid.

My most popular photo is this one here – my couple and I hiked up the mountain in the dark, back to the spot where they eloped earlier that day. We made a campfire, roasted marshmallows and hung out til the sun came up over the fjord. Norway is so breathtaking and this was one of the most incredible moments I’d ever been part of. I think the photo was so popular because I wrote a heartfelt caption sharing some good news about the photo and it got commented on a ton by friends, clients past and present, fellow photographers and people I didn’t know, etc. I mean, you might even say that it was on fire (pun intended – I’m kidding please don’t include this or everyone will think I’m a dork. Or maybe it’s okay to be a dork? I don’t know, now I’m just rambling.)

A few crazy talented photographers whose work I really love seeing in my feed are (there are honestly SO many, but here’s three of them): Ryan Muirhead, Muse and Mirror, Rosey Red Photography, and Tessa Shannon.

https://www.instagram.com/ryanmuirhead/
https://www.instagram.com/muse.and.mirror/
https://www.instagram.com/roseyredphotography/
https://www.instagram.com/tessa.shannon/

Big thanks to this month’s Instagrammers to Follow!

Looking for more Instagram advice? Check out the Ultimate Instagram Hashtag Guide for Wedding Photographers.

xoxocarrie5

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Step-by-Step Email Marketing Game Plan for Wedding Photographers

September 18, 2017 | carrie

Photo by Karra Leigh Photography

Email marketing will never be dead. I know that’s a bold statement, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one. No matter how many social media platforms there are in the world, there is no beating the direct and everlasting value of email marketing. If you’re thinking to yourself that what I’m saying is outdated, you’re wrong. Your wedding photography business is the ideal business to market through email and today, we’re going to give you an easy step-by-step game plan for building your own email list and using it to drive sales.

step 1. choose an email marketing software

First thing’s first, you need to pick an email marketing software. Most of these platforms offer trial periods as well as free plans for businesses who are under a certain subscriber threshold. For example, MailChimp is free up to your first 2,000 subscribers. Here are a few tried and true options (but keep in mind that there are literally hundreds of email marketing software options out there):

step 2. create your first subscriber list

Now that you’re all set up with your email marketing tool of choice, it’s time to create your first subscriber list. I think that the most logical list for you to create is a client list, meaning that you’ll be collecting emails from new and prospective clients and signing them up to your list (with their permission, of course!). Within your subscriber list, you can segment your subscribers by client type, for example, you might want to segment your list into existing clients and prospective clients to help you better market your services!

Photo by The Hearnes

step 3. collect emails!

At first, you may get discouraged by the goose egg that appears next to your total subscriber count, but hang in there – Rome wasn’t built in a day! You know that amazing form on your contact page? Get that contact form hooked up to your subscriber list. We love using MailChimp, as it has a plethora of integrations with other apps and software such as Formstack. While collecting emails via your form is easy, it may take awhile for you to really grow a solid list based on this marketing strategy alone.

Here are a few other ideas for building your email list:

  • Run a giveaway – Have people enter your giveaway by signing up with their email
  • Add a site-wide pop-up – As an incentive, offer a wedding planning guide, engagement shoot advice, or some other type of wedding planning related PDF to anyone who enters their email – the more tempting your incentive, the better your conversion rate!

Never stop marketing your email list. If this means that you run two giveaways per year or that you need to create some kind of new wedding planning guide each year, do it!

step 4. create a content strategy for your emails

Before you start sending emails to your subscribers, you need to figure out what the heck you’re going to send! Think about what your goals are for your email list and work backward to make content that will help you achieve those goals. Here are some easy ideas for content you can send out on a regular basis:

  • Travel dates and your availability – Let people know when and where you’re available!
  • Recent blog posts (which means you’ll need to start posting to your blog!) – Showcase recent weddings or engagement shoots that you really love.
  • Promotions – If you’re running a special, let your subscribers know about it!
  • Giveaways – I know that your giveaways are your strategy for gaining more subscribers, but giveaways are a great thing to let your subscribers stay in the know about – it’s just one more incentive for them to stay subscribed.
  • Vendor highlights – Do you love working with a local planner or venue? Let your couples know!
  • Local recommendations – Have you ever bonded with someone over loving the same taco joint? Let your subscribers know what you enjoy doing when you’re not traveling the world for weddings.
  • Miscellaneous advice for couples – You know a thing or two about weddings, let your subscribers in on any tips and advice you may have for them to make planning easier!

step 5. automate the heck out of that email list!

So you’ve got 500 people subscribed to your list, that’s great! But having those emails alone isn’t enough; you need to use them. If you’ve never heard of a drip campaign, then boy am I about to blow your freaking mind. A drip campaign is a set it and forget it approach to email marketing. For example, in MailChimp, depending on which list and segment an email is attached to, I can set that email up to receive a customized email experience. If you have a lead sign up via your contact form, then they can receive different emails than your existing clients do – which is great, because the more custom your emails, the better the experience is for your subscribers!

As a wedding photographer, you’ll probably have the following three groups subscribed to your email list:

  • Prospective clients – These folks are interested in hearing about what you have to offer and any deals/specials you might be running. The best type of drip campaign to set your prospective clients up on is one that pushes them to hire. Your prospective client drip campaign should be set to email at a higher frequency than your other drip campaigns.
  • Existing clients (pre-wedding) – Your new clients or clients who are still in the process of planning their wedding don’t need to be emailed nearly as much as your prospective client segment. These folks are probably looking for 1-2 emails (before their wedding) from you regarding wedding planning and additional services that you offer to your wedding clients (i.e. albums, engagement shoots, post-wedding shoots, etc.!).
  • Existing clients (post-wedding) – Depending on the services that you offer, emailing existing clients after the big day might be more or less important to you. For example, if you also shoot maternity, family, etc., then continuing to market your services to your clients after they say I do is really important. Keep them in the loop on specials you’re running as well as sending them examples of other work you do that they might be interested in purchasing down the road.

Photo by Justine Montigny

step 5. set goals and watch your email list (and business) grow!

It’s important to set goals for your email list. A few vital things to track when it comes to email marketing:

  • Subscriber total – this is obvious, but be sure to set yearly or monthly or quarterly goals for the number of new subscribers you want. Your goals don’t have to be huge. Even if your goal is just to gain 100 emails in your first year, at least you’re still working towards something. Tracking this metric will hold you accountable.
  • Open rate – This metric is calculated by the number of subscribers on your list compared to the number of subscribers who are actually opening your emails. The more interesting your content, the better your open rate will be, which is why this is an important metric to track. You want to make sure that the content you’re delivering is what your subscribers want.

Now that you’ve set up your email marketing game plan, it’s time to keep at it and watch your subscriber list (and business) grow!

Need help managing all of your new business? Be sure to check out our roundup of the best business management tools for wedding photographers.

xoxocarrie5

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