[private]Okay… you are an artist, I get it but we all need to pay the bills so let’s cover the slightly grubby subject of selling. I’m quite open about the fact that when I fell into wedding photography back in 2000, the work more or less landed in my lap. I switched from music photography to weddings after my then agent got married and I shot it for her. I instantly fell in love with the whole process and decided that was it… I was over hanging out with pop stars and wanted to spend my time capturing the magic of weddings. I’d only have to work one day a week, I’d get paid a small fortune and the rest of the week, I’d swan about town buying shoes and meeting friends for coffees. Right? Well it kind of was like that for quite a while. My ‘marketing plan’ was to put the word out to friends and friends of friends that I was shooting weddings and have a website full of pretty pictures. That first year I shot 25 weddings and have shot an average of 30 most years since.

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So what is so different now? In the time since 2000, wedding photography has changed dramatically and the market has flipped on it’s head. If it was the property market, we’d say then was a sellers’ market and now is a buyers’. With the massive influx of new photographers to the industry but a continuing decline in the number of couples getting married, we now have to compete like never before for those potential bookings. This is the reason we have to work hard on our brand management and marketing. Hopefully this series will inspire you to find ways that work best for you in your market and your business. So if we haven’t got as much of the power and we are bloody lucky to get our clients, then how can we do effective selling to achieve and then maximise each booking?

Now first up, let me point out that I never do a hard sell, I’m simply not that kind of business person, however I’d be a fool not to apply myself to some kind of selling strategy. Overall, I believe wedding photographers are like Disney…. Disney sets out to sell happiness not theme park tickets, cinema seats, DVDs or toys ~ all of that comes as a result of it being perceived to be about happiness. Now what are wedding photographers selling if not stories of happiness and other emotions from a wedding day? Yes we need to sell prints, albums, parent albums, frames or extra hours coverage but don’t set out shoving all that in people’s faces as soon as they find your business. Start to think more about selling that happiness and the rest, just like Walt Disney thought, should follow.

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For instance, we have already looked at having an awesome home page for your website in this series so that is as good a starting point as any to start selling happiness. Make sure your page features some couples looking happy/in love/emotionally connected as that will evoke the feeling that you could also achieve this on the viewer’s wedding day. At the very center of my home page is a couple, running, giggling and HAPPY. This is no accident but it is me planting the subliminal message that I sell happiness. In my About Me photo, I’m smiling, I look happy ~ happiness is infectious.

On my social media, I’m upbeat, playful and optimistic. Engaged couples are happy people and they don’t want that bubble burst by reading your latest rant or bit of bad news. Save all that stuff for private groups or real life friends. Instead fill your business Facebook page with aspirational images that you have shot with convey the emotions of a wedding. I might post a little collection of images from a wedding that tell the story of a first look or a single image of a couple in a field with a rainbow behind them. It breaks up the ‘look at my latest work/products’ posts which of course you need but they are not very engaging if that is all you post. Go over to your business Facebook page right now and ask yourself, does it sell happiness? If not then immediately add a happy picture.

Where else can we sell happiness? What about that ultimate theatre of aspiration, Pinterest? There we can collate a perfect wedding/home/holiday/wardrobe/life with a few clicks of our mouse. Companies like Boden and Ikea harness this desire for happiness with boards full of lovely lifestyles, interspersed with their products. It is easy for you to do the same and totally free so get pinning. How will this benefit your business? After Google, Pinterest is the next biggest source of traffic to my site and I’ve had several bookings from being found on there. Make sure you link your Pinterest account to your website and I even add in my URL to the comments box when I pin my own images. I have boards like Brides, Colourful Weddings, Bridal Party which are all super lovely and smiley. Secondly make sure your site is easy to pin from, one of the beautiful things about Pinterest is that its users do all the work for you.

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Once you get your head around that you are in fact, a purveyor of happiness, then let that influence everything from your logo, to your blog, to your emails. Make it your priority to project an aspirational and happy lifestyle/wedding through your all of visual imagery. You will get more bookings and can then follow it through with how your present your additional products. Don’t just take a photo of an album you are trying to sell and put the price next to it… photograph it in context of a happy life or a beautiful interior ~ What, you don’t have one? Well I’m pretty sure you could at the very least create a beautiful corner/shelf/table top, curate your space to project that happiness. Throw confetti around it or put a beautiful tea set next to it or pretty cocktail glasses. You are not just saying buy this album, you are saying buy into this lifestyle; Imagine looking through your own album of happy photos that I’ve taken while sipping that cocktail. You want to up-sell the amount of hours that couples book you for? Then show off joyous, emotional moments of a bride getting ready and her Dad seeing her for the first time, the bridesmaids’ giggles when the champagne is popped open in the morning or the deliriously happy guests dancing and having fun in the evening. Even include photos of yourself at the reception in the photo booth or on the dance floor. Put yourself right there in the fun times.

At the very heart of what Walt Disney set out to do is tell stories that make us happy. I have just shot my first wedding of the year and as soon as I checked my emails on the Monday, I had a message from the mother of the bride saying that the whole day was so happy she couldn’t wait to see the images. They booked me because they believe the images I shot will retell that story of happiness… and that is pretty darn magical.[/private]