A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer – Part Four

Today is the 4th instalment of Libby Clark’s bride to be diary series. In the first 3 parts of this series we’ve discussed budgets and how hard it is to find a photographer using Google (there is just so much to choose from and so many sites to wade through). Throughout this series though Libby is learning from her own search exactly what her own photography business needs and all of this she is sharing with you.

so, enjoy part 4 of A Wedding Photographers Search for a Wedding Photographer. Over to you Libby…


Welcome back for another week. I hope you’re getting something from these posts because I’m learning so so much!

Last week looked at what I want and how I was looking for it. I focused a fair bit on homepages and how that is your place to shine. 50 milliseconds, remember?!

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This week I thought I’d leave the world of Google behind and try some other methods. I feel like I’ve struck gold.

Part Four– Where Else Can I Look?

To be honest, Google was overwhelming me quite a bit. I was so fed up of just clicking result after result and using slightly different search terms for a different list to click through. Obviously I’m quite a visual person so I wanted to see work before I visited the website. It’s all about speed! I wanted lots of pictures in front of me I could choose from and go from there, otherwise I was at risk of losing my patience and losing interest.

At first I thought about Facebook. I’ve seen people use this many a time, mostly through posts in wedding groups:

“Can anyone recommend a good wedding photographer who’s cheap?”

Eurgh, I HATE those posts! You just get comment after comment of pretty much every photographer each person knows. Like I said last week, photography is subjective so you can’t expect to find exactly what you’re looking for with a post like this. Unless you’re lucky.

I thought about going through the various photographer’s pages I’ve “liked” over the years but with over 1,200 pages in my liked section it seems just as daunting as Google. Don’t discount Facebook completely though. More on that in a minute.

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The most visual social tool I thought of was Pinterest. How many times as photographers have you visited Pinterest for inspiration? There is so much beauty out there that makes my jaw drop and Pinterest has the majority of it sitting there waiting to be pinned.

So off I went. Hello Pinterest, search “wedding photography Gloucestershire”.

OMG OMG OMG OMG… Yes really. Look at all the gorgeous photos!!

Whilst I still had a lot of results I was feeling much more confident. As long as the photographer’s name was mentioned and I liked what I saw, it was pinned. I decided that if I saw more than a few of one photographers work and pinned it, I would check them out a bit further. I only pinned 33 photos before I realised I was going to struggle to narrow them down so I had to stop myself.

An important part of this process for me if to give myself some thinking time. Time where I’m not looking for wedding photographers so that I can come back with a fresh mind. Indeed that’s what I did and whilst I still loved some of the work it was removed from the list because it wasn’t quite right for me.

The next night I began making my way through the list and looking at websites. I think I narrowed it down to 5 at the time. The next part of my search involved looking into these 5 a little more. I moved away from Pinterest for this and on to Facebook. I found myself looking for some interesting things I hadn’t expected. How often do they post? When did they last post? How many wedding photographs are on their page?

If I go to my Facebook page and ask the same questions the answers are as follows; Rarely, October last year, quite a few but they vary hugely in quality.

Ouch, so not only do I need to redo my website. I also need to seriously overhaul my Facebook page and get posting! I remember a friend setting up a Facebook schedule every day with different kinds of posts. Links, images and text. It worked brilliantly for her and the enagement on her page sky rocketed. As soon as she stopped so did the engagement.

Use social media, it works!

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I think I’ve found my main search tool. I wondered if I’m the only person who will find their photographer via Pinterest or if this is quite a popular tool? I’ll expand on this more next week but this week’s lesson was this:

Most friends I asked did not use Google as their main search tool. For some reason this surprised me!

When I put the question out to friends I started to get quite a mixture of answers and I wanted to ask more questions, so I’ve decided to do a little market research and do a questionnaire. I’ll let you know the outcome soon.

Next week – The enquiry stage

 


About the Author: Libby Clark

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Libby is based in Swindon, UK and has been shooting weddings for five years. Find out more about Libby over at www.libbyclarkphotography.co.uk

Be sure to join the discussion over in the buzzing RSP community and subscribe to Ready Steady Pro right here to receive the next part of this series direct to your mailbox or to be notified when new parts are available for reading!

 

A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer – Part Three

We’re back this week the 3rd installment of Guest Blogger Libby Clark’s diary series, opening the pages on her own search for a wedding photographer. We’ve spoken about the budget, we’ve touched on how difficult it can be to find exactly what you’re looking for in a saturated market and even how with tools such as Google we’re still presented with far too much choice! Today however Libby dives further into her search and details exactly what she is looking for and what she is doing to find it. So, please do enjoy part 3 of A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer, by Libby Clark…


Hi all,

Last week’s post certainly provoked some discussion and food for thought in the Ready Steady Pro Facebook group. I talked about the search terms I found myself using, mostly broad searches that weren’t getting me anywhere. So I had to do some more in depth searches.

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Part Three – What Do I Want and How Do I Find It?

This week was all about using keywords and different search methods. I decided the best thing to do would be to write down what style we were looking for. As a photographer this is where I knew I was going to struggle. We all have our own specific style and we wouldn’t use it if we didn’t like it. So what I’m looking for is someone who photographs the way that I do and better, but I have that budget of £1,800 to keep in mind. I might be able to sneak that up to £2,000… maybe.

Our theme/style for the day itself is very rural, involves cider, lots of natural colours, flat caps and flowers. In my head I see lots of light, soft images of the blushing bride (that’s me!) looking whimsically into her new husbands eyes with the sunlight behind them. Soft and warm colours… *sigh*. Sorry I went into a daydream of prettiness there!

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So how do you sum that up into keywords? I guess I can add vintage to the list so I search “Wedding Photographer Vintage Style Gloucestershire”.

Now that’s a bit better. The first thing I see is a website that lists local photographers and I notice a few more keywords in their first paragraph; reportage, documentary style, posed photographs. This also reminds me of fine art, classic, unique, street and a few more keywords I can add to the list. I just need to narrow down which.

When I shoot I like to do so in a documentary style but the couple photos are the perfect opportunity to be a bit more creative with lights and angles. Without going into another daydream we want someone to capture the true essence of the day so we’re definitely looking for documentary style with a fine art twist. That might be hard. Do people even do that? I do so I hope others do!

Ok, good. I have some more keywords:

“Wedding photographer vintage style gloucestershire documentary fine art”

Bit of a mouthful I must admit but hurrah! I have far fewer results and I go ahead and click on one. So far, so good. For the most part I like what I see on the home page slideshow even though I’m a little frustrated it’s not loading very quickly. I’m not very keen on the second photo I see though. The guy has a slightly awkward look on his face and doesn’t look comfortable. Stuart hates having his photo taken and will only let me do it so I’m really aware I need to find someone he can be comfortable with and relax.

I did some assistant and second shooting work last year in return for some mentoring and one of the things I was told was to only showcase the best of the best. Nothing mediocre.

I can see why now, maybe it’s my overly critical eye but I’ve noticed this one error and I’m about to discount the photographer because of it! I think about the fact I’ve done exactly the same thing and tell myself not to judge so quickly and carry on looking.

This is the next lesson:

People can make decisions in 50 milliseconds. You have 50 milliseconds to make people go WOW and encourage them to keep looking.

I think if I’d seen the second photo first I wouldn’t have gone much further but thankfully the first photo caught my eye so I’m going to look past the second photo. The next few won’t load properly. I’m getting a bit annoyed at this point but when they do eventually load I do rather like them. The photos fit our style with rural, gorgeous backlit couples. Unfortunately one photo is so crowded with confetti I can’t see the couple. But I’ll keep looking, I’ll just remember to give the guests small handfuls of petals rather than a full box! I then notice that this photographer has been featured on one of my favourite wedding blogs and was a regional finalist for a Wedding Industry Award. I’m not fussed they didn’t win it but I feel a bit more confident about them now.

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You might have noticed at this point I’ve only looked at the home page. I’ve not even looked at the portfolio so the next lesson I’ve learnt is this.

Your home page is THE page. I’ve always used mine as a bit of an introduction to the rest of my website which is clearly the wrong thing to be doing. This is what your clients are going to base the majority of their decision on.

I’ve now spent a few minutes here and I’m still liking what I see enough. I suddenly remember the “bounce rate” I’ve seen on Google Analytics telling me how much time people are spending on each page before they leave. I’m lucky if I get a full 10 seconds on my home page! I’ve given this photographer at least 5 minutes of my time so far. I finally scroll down past the slideshow and see a short paragraph. I wasn’t going to read it but as it’s above the links for the other pages I’m going to. Ooh, they describe their style as “fine art mixed with documentary”! I’m a little excited now so I click through to the gallery.

After a few minutes of looking I decide this photographer, as good as they are, doesn’t quite fit my style. I think I want more of a fine art approach than I initially realised. But the point is I took my time, I didn’t go to the home page and move away 50 milliseconds later. The website was really easy to follow and I wasn’t wondering where I had to go to find things.

Next week… Where Else Can I Look?


About the Author: Libby Clark

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Libby is based in Swindon, UK and has been shooting weddings for five years. Find out more about Libby over at www.libbyclarkphotography.co.uk

Be sure to join the discussion over in the buzzing RSP community and subscribe to Ready Steady Pro right here to receive part two of this series direct to your mailbox or to be notified when part two is available for reading!

A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer – Part Two

This week we continue our series with Ready Steady Pro Community Member and guest blogger Libby Clark. Libby has kindly agreed to open her diary and provide us with an insight in to her own search for a wedding photographer. Being a wedding photographer herself this series will offer us, the readers, an idea of the thinking process that our clients go through when looking for that one, all-important vendor: their wedding photographer.

Part One of the series was very well received, where Libby discusses budgets and lessons that can be weaned from her search to benefit her own business, so without further delay here’s the second installment:


Hi all,

Thanks for coming back to read part two! Apparently I’m not as bad with words as I thought so here is part two:

Props

Last week I discussed “The Budget”. It opened my eyes as to how wrong my own pricing structure probably is! As much as we like to think all couples have an endless amount of money to spend on their wedding I’ve realised they often don’t – because I’m one of them. So as I mentioned last week my own wedding photographer budget has been set at £1,800. With that established it was time to start looking for a photographer, properly.

The next part of my journey has so far proved equally interesting (and challenging!)

Part Two – Where Do I Start?

Last week I mentioned that I’ve been guilty of using keywords that I just expect my website to be found when used. I don’t know why because having recently searched “wedding photographer Swindon” I’m ashamed to say Waitrose had a result before I did! In fact I gave looking for my own website after looking through 22 pages of the search results.  So this week I learnt why SEO and keywords are so important. My search for a photographer started as it did probably do for almost all couples:

  1. Open Google…
  2. Search “Wedding Photographer”

Why did I do that? I genuinely didn’t know what else to type and where to start my search! Using Google is how I’d hope my couples would find me, so why wouldn’t I find a photographer this way?

There were pages upon pages of photographers listed in the search results that all featured because of just two key words: ‘Wedding Photographer’. As it so happens the first few results are photographers I know. They get regular bookings and do this full time (Most likely because they’re at the top of Google!) But I don’t feel relieved I have a lovely list to choose from, I feel somewhat overwhelmed. There are so many?! Where do I start?!

Ok, let’s try again. Let’s narrow things down:

  1. Open Google…
  2. Search “Wedding Photographer South West”

 

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The results aren’t much better really, I still have a massive list to go through but there are more in my area of the country now. Kind of.

I live in Wiltshire but we’re getting married in Gloucestershire. To those of us who live here we are South Westerners. To the rest of the UK however we somehow fall into ‘the bit between the South West and The Midlands’ and suddenly I’m thinking about the fact that if I find and love a photographer in the deepest depths of Cornwall we’re going to have to pay for their travel and accommodation. (Quite rightly though; I don’t expect them to travel all that way for nothing.)

That’s where I’ve probably got one up on those couples planning who don’t have a clue about the industry as my expectations are probably a little more in line with the accepted norm. This was my next lesson as a photographer:

It’s really appreciated if you make it clear what areas you cover at no extra charge and, if you do charge for travel where that starts. If you are based in Cornwall I doubt you’d be happy to travel up to Cumbria at no extra cost!

By now I’ve been mindlessly clicking on random photographer’s websites for a couple of hours but no one is really doing it for me. I’m going to need a rethink. I know I’ve fallen into the trap that I expect all couples do: search terms that cover far too much for their brains to consume. Time to sit down and think about what we want and use keywords.

Next week… What Do I Want and How Do I Find It?


About the Author: Libby Clark

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Libby is based in Swindon, UK and has been shooting weddings for five years. Find out more about Libby over at www.libbyclarkphotography.co.uk

Be sure to join the discussion over in the buzzing RSP community and subscribe to Ready Steady Pro right here to receive part two of this series direct to your mailbox or to be notified when part two is available for reading!

A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer – Part One

Over in the Facebook Community for Ready Steady Pro community member Libby Clark mentioned just how hard it is, as a wedding photographer, to find a wedding photographer! Fellow member and contributor to this blog, James Hepworth struck upon a great idea – Let’s invite Libby to share something of a diary with the rest of us: ‘A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer’. So, here today I’m peased to share with you Part One of Libby’s diary-type series on her search for a wedding photographer and wedding planning.

All wedding photographers, especially those who aren’t yet married themselves, should really have a read of this. It’s a great insight in to the mind of a bride (who just so happens to be a wedding photographer too!)

Over to you Libby…


Thanks Michael for the introduction. As you now know I’m Libby and I’m very much a part time Wedding Photographer. I work full time in a job I love so I know I don’t put as much effort into my business as I should. Especially when it comes to marketing and my website. But that’s another story for another time!

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You might have guessed from the title; I’m getting married! I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a blog about planning my own wedding for a few weeks, so when James suggested it, and Michael asked me to write one about my own search for a wedding photographer I jumped at the opportunity.

The aim of this diary style blog is for the professional photographers out there to get the other halves’ side of what’s important in marketing. Over the years I’ve been guilty of designing websites with keywords and creating designs that I assume will be ok. I know what I want people to search for in Google to find me so why wouldn’t they? I like my design so why wouldn’t anyone else?

So let me take you on my journey… of search terms and things that have struck me whilst I’m looking for my own perfect Wedding Photographer. It’s not quite going as I expected.

Part One – The Budget

As I work in the wedding industry, I think I always knew I would find planning my own wedding hard. I’ve been to so many weddings and seen so many beautiful things my head is somewhat bursting (and so are my Pinterest boards). Friends have always said “I bet you can’t wait to plan your wedding, especially the photography”. Actually the photography is the bit I’m dreading the most! There was no way I was going to rush into a decision but I also knew I couldn’t leave it too long.

After several weeks of looking, we have found the perfect venue so we’re booking it! We have a date, a church and thankfully Stuart (my fiancé) and I both have the same idea when it comes to themes and styles. I’m one of those super organized people who likes to have everything written down. And lists, oh how I love a good list!

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So now that the venue is chosen, I need to find a photographer. You’d think that being one myself, setting the budget for this part would be easy.

Oh my days it isn’t! Not even a little bit!

Our budget for the whole day is just over £20,000 which is about average for a wedding these days. Of course I appreciate that a good photographer will charge what they’re worth and if I could have my way I’d probably budget about £3,000 towards it. Sadly both Stuart and our bank account don’t agree with this. So, after a couple of arguments, a genuine suggestion that we just give all the guests disposable cameras (yes, really), and eventually the acceptance that there was no way I was going to back down we agreed on a budget of £1,800.

This is where my first point of realisation came in… I charge £700 for a full day of wedding photography including a disc of edited images, an online password protected gallery, a photo book and an engagement shoot. I know I’m undercharging and a lot of my pricing decisions came down to confidence. However, I was discounting photographers who charge under £1,000 for a full day as probably being inexperienced and not confident in their work.

Now maybe that’s not a fair analysis, but I really don’t want to be one of those people who regrets not spending enough on their photographer. Equally I recognise a good photographer when I see one, and a bad one, so of course I won’t be going on pricing alone. It does make you think though, if everyone in my target market has a budget of £1,800 for a photographer, are they even going to look at the cheaper ones? If I’m anything to go by, possibly not.

It’s only been a few days and I’ve already realised my pricing is quite possibly wrong for my target market! I think I’ll be sitting down and starting my pricing structure over.

Next week – Where Do I Start?


About the Author: Libby Clark

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Libby is based in Swindon, UK and has been shooting weddings for five years. Find out more about Libby over at www.libbyclarkphotography.co.uk

Be sure to join the discussion over in the buzzing RSP community and subscribe to Ready Steady Pro right here to receive part two of this series direct to your mailbox or to be notified when part two is available for reading!

Community Discussion Topic: Pre-shoot Preparations

What’s your pre-shoot ritual? Sure, we all charge the batteries, format the cards and clean our lenses, but what else do you do to prepare yourself and your equipment for a shoot?

There are some who can’t feel prepared unless they know that they have been through a rigourous set of equipment checks: is it all working, is everything packed?

If you have a list you complete before each shoot share and discuss it with us over in the Ready Steady Pro community

In the usual way I’ve posted this video to kick off the question / discussion:

The idea behind these videos and scenarios is to encourage us to discuss what we would do if they were to happen to each of us as a photographer in business. Discussing as a community is sure to conjure up a vast array of responses, each of them different from one another. There may not always be one correct answer, but by talking about it I sincerely hope it will encourage us to give thought to our actions and better-equip us to deal with the things that this industry and our clients throw at us.

Community Discussion Topic: Increased Albums Costs

This is the first of a new series of videos I’ll be posting to the Ready Steady Pro community, asking questions and setting pretend (albeit very feasible) scenarios that we as working photographers could possibly have to contend with. The idea behind these questions and scenarios is to get every one talking about how they would handle the situation. The discussion, I hope, will stimulate us to think about our actions and will better-equip us to deal with what this industry and our clients will at some stage throw our way.

The first scenario I have for you is relating unexpected increased costs from your album supplier:

The question for those not able to view the video is this:

You’ve not sold an album for a short while now, but your most recent client has just placed an order with you. You then find that the album supplier has increased the cost of their products by 10%.

You speak to the supplier who tell you they’ve been communicating the price increase for months. You check your email and the updates from your supplier are in your Junk folder.

How do you deal with this scenario?

The idea behind these videos and scenarios is to encourage us to discuss what we would do if they were to happen to each of us as a photographer in business. Discussing as a community is sure to conjure up a vast array of responses, each of them different from one another. There may not always be one correct answer, but by talking about it I sincerely hope it will encourage us to give thought to our actions and better-equip us to deal with the things that this industry and our clients throw at us.

Clients are finding you via their mobile

I get emails all the time from odd email addresses claiming to offer ‘SEO services’. More recently though the emails i’ve been receiving have taken a more focussed attempt to question whether my site is mobile friendly.

The reason for this, just in case you didn’t know, is likely because on Tuesday 20th April 2015 Google decided to place a requirement on sites to be mobile friendly! Well, it’s not a requirement as far as your site will continue to work, but by not having a mobile friendly site your SEO rankings will be hampered and your search result rankings will drop!

For more information on what this is all about and for the official scoop direct from Google, you can check Google’s official announcement here. It’s a bit wordy and long-winded, so I’ve summarised the key points below for you below…

How Do I Know if I’m Mobile Friendly?

So, now that all sites need to be optimised for mobile too, how do we know whether we’re meeting the requirements Google are placing upon us? Simple, use the Google Mobile-Friendly Testing Site, right here:

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What do I need to do to become Mobile Friendly?

If you use the testing tool and find you’re not meeting the requirements to be deemed ‘Optimised for Mobile’ then you can also read some of the guidelines here on the WebMaster Blog. Just to give you the highlights though, the post says of optimising your site:

A page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

If you want to make sure that your page meets the mobile-friendly criteria:

  • Check your pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test
  • Read our updated documentation on our Webmasters Mobile Guide on how to create and improve your mobile site
  • See the Mobile usability report in Google Webmaster Tools, which highlights major mobile usability issues across your entire site, not just one page
  • Check our how-to guide for third-party software like WordPress or Joomla, in order to migrate your website hosted on a CMS (Content Management System) to use a mobile-friendly template

We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.

There are a whole host of other tips and advice on mobile-optimising your site, just head on over to Google’s dedicated micro-site to find out all about this thing!

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Am I mobile Friendly?

Yes I am! I’m fortunate enough to be with Squarespace, who have been mandating that all sites on the Squarespace platform were ready for this change to a mobile-oriented SEO boost. So, if you’re using Squarespace, provided you really haven’t managed to change your template too drastically or have disabled the Mobile-Friendly feature. Squarespace mention it all on their blog too:

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 00.07.40So, I hope you found this information useful and that you can get your SEO-led inquiries back on track!