Recently I launched a mentoring programme for wedding photographers and I’ve been enjoying working with a small group. Our first month together has been focusing on business foundations. You can’t build a house without good foundations and for us that partly means ensuring that your website is as strong as it can possibly be.
Creating websites used to be a job that we outsourced to a web designer or developer but there are now so many wonderful templates specifically for photographers from companies like The Design Space and Flothemes that most of us use those as our starting point. We choose the design that appeals to us most and set about adapting it with our own text, images and branding.
This DIY approach means that we can achieve a great look without having a great budget but I wonder how much strategy is being applied. As photographers, it’s easy to focus on the visual appeal of our sites but not pay attention to some important elements that make the experience better for our potential customers.
1. The Customer Journey
Let’s think of physical retail outlets and use one of my favourite stores as an example – Oliver Bonas, or as my daughter likes to call it The Mum Shop! Like many successful chains there has been a lot of thought put into the design of the store so that when a customer arrives, they can see an obvious route to take. There is a deliberate navigation of the space that starts with the new, premium stock first, goes around all of their displays and leads us to the tills. There’s no confusion and it makes our experience easier so we can just concentrate on looking at all the pretty things.
So back to your website. Do you have an obvious route for the customer to travel around it?
It might start with your premium stock (your best images), move them around your displays (your portfolio, your blog, your about page) and eventually lead them to your till (your pricing page). Don’t just leave this for users to figure out on their own, direct them with Call To Action Buttons or arrows that deliberately creates a route for them. Just like being in a well designed store, your customers will feel more at ease and more engaged with your services.
2. Your Pricing Page
So while we are thinking about those tills at Oliver Bonas, I’ve noticed that something happens at this point in the experience that must be another vital part of the psychology they purposely apply. When I take my goods to the cashier, they always compliment me on my choice. ‘Oh you are getting the yellow dress with the pockets, that’s my favourite in the new collection’. I’m so chuffed with myself at this point that I barely even notice that I’m handing over my debit card. But when I look at many wedding photographers’ pricing pages they often lose all the personality of previous pages. Photographers start using formal speak and almost have an apologetic tone sometimes.
Your pricing page isn’t the place to dampen down the experience for a customer, it should be where you crank up the feels. This is the part where you are asking for a payment so this is the part where more than anywhere else, you need to create a good experience. If you use a contact form for them to get your rates, make it fun to fill out. Mine asks them what their favourite cheese is or for them to tell me their Uber rating – ever since I found out that we have one, I’m obsessed with raising mine! My form connects to my CRM, the brilliant Studio Ninja. As soon as someone fills it out they get sent an email confirming that I have their enquiry and while they wait for my reply I have my top five tips for improving your Uber score. My strategy is to make them feel as if we already have an in-joke, that we are already bonding and I’m making it fun for them.
3. Contact Details
Now this one drives me mad. I cannot believe how many photographers have websites with no clear way for people to contact them apart from filling out a form. Imagine how many services a couple has to book for a wedding and out of each of those they will probably have a short list for each one. Now that’s a helluva lot of contact forms to fill out. But also getting a quote for a wedding is not the sole reason that someone might want to contact you, so please do not make it difficult. Have your email address and phone number on your site in an obvious place. Imagine someone wants to get in touch to tell you that you’ve won a big award, you really don’t want to put any barriers in their way.
4. Your Name and Location
If your company name is not your actual name, is it obvious what your name is on your website? This sounds so basic but you would be astounded at how many times I’ve seen a website with a company name but no reference anywhere as to what the person behind it is called. In this saturated market that we are all working in, making personal connections with customers is what often stands us out from the crowd but nobody can connect to a person without knowing their name. And full name please, we are asking for a fair old chunk of money from clients so we need to build trust as early as possible.
Same with location. Yes you might cover all of the UK or the entire planet but it’s still reassuring for clients to know where you are based. For them, it might impact their decision, they might want to work with someone that they can easily meet with ahead of their wedding. Or again, it’s another layer of trust and reassurance for them. We are not faceless internet companies, I’m Lisa Devlin that lives in Brighton.
5. Your Social Media
The last thing that I want you to check on your website is this. Is it easy to find links to your social media accounts? Think of this as Book Marking. While potential clients are in the shopping around phase, they might visit our site with a view to shortlisting favourites or with a desire to start following wedding suppliers on their social media. You want to make it super simple for them to find you on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or wherever you show up the most. So don’t hide your links to these away on just one page on your website. Ensure they appear in multiple places throughout your website.
If you are already doing all of these actions on your website then give yourself a nice, big pat on the back. If you are not, then maybe set aside some time to get your fixes in place and then next time a potential client lands on your website, they will easily find everything that they need and book you.