Pam Nafziger of Casual Moments Photography recently shared her journey as a photographer and marketer. Her insights will surely inspire you; so many of you will be able to relate to her story. I love her enthusiasm for learning, growing, and adapting to changes in the photography industry. It’s great to hear how our March Marketing Challenge is motivating and helping photographers refine and implement their goals.
“I have been an on-location portrait photographer now for 10 years. When I first started out, professional digital cameras were relatively new and so was the concept of casual, outdoor portraiture. I was fortunate enough to be in an area where I had lots of appreciative clients, and my business grew rapidly through word of mouth. I never even had to think about advertising, marketing, SEO or social media; I had more business than I could handle!
Fast forward to 2014, and times are very different for photography businesses. Between the rapid evolution of digital technology becoming cheaper and easier for everyone to use, and an economic downturn that had people cutting back on luxury items as well as looking for ways to earn additional parttime income, the competition for clients in a saturated market is fierce. In addition, the internet and social media has turned traditional advertising strategies on their heads! Smart marketing is now not only an essential part of maintaining a viable business, but a multidimensional process.
Instead of just waiting for clients to find me on Facebook or through my blog, I decided that it was long past time to stop making excuses and start doing some active marketing in 2014. The first thing I did was to do an objective evaluation of my current blogsite and branding in terms of the user experience and its search engine friendliness. That was almost embarassing – I hadn’t updated my galleries for years, my design was a mish-mash of inconsistency between pages, and it had several glaring errors that caused me to be very low in search results for keywords. I ended up working very hard to re-code and structure almost everything to get it up to speed. Once I got that done and felt like my ducks were in a row, I was ready to proceed.
Just about then, Photographer Cafe started the March Marketing Challenge–perfect timing! I started by taking their suggestion to do a Client Satisfaction Survey. I researched the best questions to ask, and developed my survey using Google Docs. I sent it to my clients, and got enough responses to determine what kinds of things I was doing right, and where I needed to address some issues. Using that data, I developed a Client Order Form (also on Google Docs) to streamline and guide their online ordering experience. It also helped me to restructure my pricing and products to be in line with their desires yet still profitable. Their favorable comments on my survey are going to be used as testimonials on my blogsite as well. I created several new pages on my website to educate them about me and my style, what happens when they hire me and how the process works, and FAQs. Finally, I developed a formal yet enticing Referral Program to reward my loyal clients and encourage them to endorse and promote my business. All of these things SHOULD have been done years ago … they are basic business stratgies that I ignored, partly because I didn’t see a need at the time and partly because I didn’t really know how to get started.
I feel like I am now ready to start actively marketing. I can use each and every one of the individual projects that I completed as blog posts and in social media, to let clients (previous, current, and future) know about changes and to show them that my business is working to serve them even better. The Photographer Cafe Marketing Calendar has been great for keeping me on track to make sure that basic tasks are being attended to (regular blog posting and social media presence) as well as all of my new projects.
There are so many Photographer Cafe templates that can help me continue to easily build on the steps I’ve taken so far. The newsletters would be perfect to send to all of my clients letting them know about all of the improvements I’ve made for 2014. The referral cards would work nicely for my new program. Many of my clients aren’t on social media, and the ones that are are seeing fewer and fewer Facebook posts from businesses like mine, so using the good old-fashioned postal service is something I want to revisit. The “Miss You” cards are something that would be great to send to those who may not be “plugged in” otherwise.
I feel more optimistic and excited about my business now than I ever have, thanks to the gentle encouragement and basic strategies of the March Marketing Challenge! Thank you!”