Whether you’re a destination wedding photographer or you’re about to move to a new city, getting your business up and running can be a slow building process especially when you have the added challenge of not living where you want to work. Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Molly Lichten over on Clubhouse who is a bi-coastal wedding photographer serving both California and the DMV area. If you missed this great conversation, I have distilled down all of the advice below!
I knew when we moved to San Diego in 2010 that we would end up back in Seattle, so throughout the entire time that I built my business in San Diego, I had continued to do at least one shoot a year in Seattle. This allowed me to continue relationships that I had started even when planning my own wedding and continue to have Seattle-based images to share. So when we moved back in 2019, I wasn’t entirely starting from scratch. That being said, there is a re-building process that takes time as you gain traction in a new market, and as Molly stressed, you have to give yourself some grace and be patient with the process. The wedding cycle is about a one year process from inquiry to booked to shooting to delivery, so it will take about a year to get back up and running. If you are moving and you can plan in advance, however, you can get up and running a little bit more quickly.
Steps to marketing in a new location
- Book a plane ticket and visit that location.
- Line up several shoots at venues that your ideal couples will be booking. This will not only allow you to utilize location-based keywords but will also give you a chance to network with local vendors in the area.
- Set up a couple coffee dates with planners in the area to start to build those relationships. In general, becoming familiar with who is in the community and getting to know the wedding vendors in that location will be the most valuable.
- Update your website and social media location to start getting the word out.
- Market your images utilizing geo-tags, hashtags, and keywords/descriptions on Pinterest and on your website to make sure you are starting to be seen by couples planning their weddings.
- Bonus – Build an associate team that could be local to the location where you aren’t so that you can have some physical presence.
Tips for successfully booking a non-local wedding
- Understand the price points of the new location. If you are moving or marketing to a region that has lower overall wedding budgets, you may have to reduce your package pricing. Conversely, if you are trying to book in a market that commands higher price points for overall wedding budgets, you may be able to actually increase your prices.
- Don’t just call yourself a destination photographer without some locations specified. If you are trying to be completely location independent, you may have a harder time successfully attracting the clients in the locations you want to shoot. Couples want to know where you are located and where you are serving.
- Bundle your travel into the wedding collections that you present to your couples. Where you are coming from won’t matter as much to couples if they aren’t seeing that additional travel cost itemized. But that doesn’t mean don’t charge for travel. Do the math and make sure that you are still able to make ends meet at the end of the day.
- Schedule routine visits for that non-local location throughout the year so that you can maintain your presence. It’s a lot harder to justify booking someone who can’t make it down for an engagement session when a local photographer will be able to provide all of the services. So be willing to have trips planned so that when you do get an inquiry you can make it easy for your clients.
There you have it! These simple but actionable tips will lead you on the path to successfully attracting your dream wedding clients. It’s true what they say, show what you want to shoot. And with some consistent strategy and a bit of patience, it will fall into place. I hope you found this helpful. As usual please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback.