Nothing is more discouraging as a photographer than looking at a near-empty calendar. Especially when your photographer friends start booking out their next year in advance! It’s easy to start doubting yourself. (We’ve all been there!)
Before you freak out, let’s try to get to the root of why you’re not booking more photography clients. Starting with your marketing.
Your marketing is misaligned
Often times when photographers come to me with low bookings, it’s because they’re getting a lot of pushback on pricing. While I do believe in things like pricing yourself out of your market, most pricing issues have nothing to do with your price.
It has to do with how effective your marketing is at building trust and transparency.
It’s easy to rely too heavily on your photos to fill your social media feed. Even features meant to build rapport and show off your personality, like Instagram Stories, are wasted on reposting your latest Reel. It’s great for getting hearts and follows but bad for converting followers into paying clients.
If this is what you’re doing, your marketing is misaligned.
People buy from people they like. Even if they like your photos, they need to like you as a person. Especially if you expect to capture them at their most vulnerable or happiest points in life.
To fix this, start treating your marketing like a documentary of the experience of working with you. Focus on each aspect of your process and highlight what it’s like for clients to receive their photos. Show off your personality and quirks.
Once people start getting to know you and know what to expect, they’re a lot more likely to book with you.
Your website does not show your value
Like it or not, it takes more than pretty images in your portfolio to impress clients these days. Your photography website must be designed to sell your value, not your pricing.
That means you need to be purposeful when designing each page on your site.
I like to start by curating images that tell a story about what the experience is like working with my photographers. From getting ready before the photoshoot to joyful clients seeing their albums for the first time. Even sprinkling in behind-the-scenes photos that show you directing clients to the perfect pose. Use each section to draw more of a mental picture of what it would be like working with you. Website viewers should start imagining themselves in place of your clients.
This way, by the time someone inquires they already know they want to work with you. It certainly softens them on pricing because they value your work and want the same experience.
If this sounds similar to what I said you need to do with your marketing, it’s because it is! Your website is your greatest marketing tool. I go into more detail about what your photography website should include here.
Lack of session details
Another reason why you may be losing clients is that you aren’t answering the questions people want to know about. Right down to your session details.
Most photographers put the bare minimum bullet points on their website with the goal of giving more details once someone inquires. Then, when someone does get so few details they decide to inquire for more information, they’re sent a session guide with equally few details on what a session involves.
Most websites and session details look something like this…
Your Photography Session Includes:
- X minutes
- X outfit changes
- X amount of photos in gallery
Put yourself in the average person’s shoes. Most non-photographers don’t get regular photoshoots, even once they have a family. They have no idea what’s included in the price. They want to know you’re going to not just press ‘click’ on the camera, but also to help them look their best.
Not only do people want to feel comfortable enough to buy from you, but people need details!
Your session details should make potentials customer feel welcomed, safe, prepared for what working with you looks like, and valued from the moment they open it. Walk people through everything they need to know. Spell out exactly how they can count on you to guide them through the process and come out on the other side balling over how amazing their photos turned out. Give details about yourself away to strengthen the connection they feel towards you as a person and photographer.
The more you articulate the value of your session, the more people will want to book.
Not nailing the pre-booking experience
Not sure if your booking experience is the problem? Dive into Honeybook to see how many people inquired last month vs how many people you booked. If people are inquiring to work with you but not booking…it might be your booking experience that’s the problem.
If this is your hang-up, it’s an easy fix. My copy-and-paste email templates for photographers transform your emails into a well/oiled booking machine. It starts with having an engaging auto-response email after someone submits an inquiry to you.
That email should explain what the next steps are and have a link to schedule a consultation call. The easier you make it for people to go through the booking process, the better.
Plus, getting people on a pre-booking call allows you to build rapport with them. So many photographers forget this step and go straight for the sale.
Poor communication in the discovery call
Imagine you’re on a first date. How would you feel if 3 minutes into the conversation they start asking you about how much you make and commenting on the prices of wine? That would be a little awkward, right?
Now imagine hearing someone spout off their session fees and product collection prices within the first few minutes of speaking with them. You might feel awkward and pressured to buy.
The key to booking more clients is to treat your initial call as a way to get to know their vision and their “why” behind wanting a photoshoot. If you’re a wedding photographer, ask them about the proposal and how they envision their wedding day to look. If you’re a portrait photographer, ask them what kind of person they want to see looking back at them in their photos.
Deep, personal questions like these before you talk pricing can lead people to open up and connect to you. It shows you care about them as a person.
By the time you get to pricing, it makes it seem like you’re just providing them more transparency before booking rather than rushing into a sale.
It may take some work to learn engaging communication skills like this, but it’s worth it.
Not asking for the sale
In 10 years of coaching photographers, I’ve never met anyone who liked sales conversations. I think that’s why so many of us struggle to actually “ask for the sale”. We like to just put all our cards on the table and wait for people to jump out at us with their money.
Sadly, that’s not realistic.
Not only do you need to get comfortable with asking for the sale to get the initial booking, but you also need to get comfortable with it if you plan to upsell products and prints.
Luckily this is something you can work on. My favorite way is to use a script on your initial call to the customer. Then, follow it up with an automated “have any more questions?” email in your Honeybook email workflow that asks if they’re ready to book their session.
Most people appreciate the follow-up and will come back with questions you can address and use to reiterate their “why”. This method has been very successful for my clients.
Everyone has seasons of their business where they have to dig in to overcome a sales slump. Getting people to book is the hardest part of being a photographer. Try these five tips to start booking more photography clients. Let me know how it goes!