How do you break into the market?

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by Mike W., Feb 1, 2006.

  1. Mike W.

    Mike W. TPF Noob!

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    I've got to ask all you experienced wedding pro's... how do you break into the market?

    When you're first striking out on your own, even if you've got the experience, there's no reputation to draw on. Even your wedding portfolio coverage is limited... So, how do you market yourself?

    I've been watching the boards, and normally when someone asks about starting out the answers are always, "become a second shooter for someone with experience." I agree! But, after that, how do you find clients when you go off on your own?

    Personally, I'm working something out with a local seamstress that does bridal alterations in order to get referrals from her. I'm also offering free engagement sessions in a local university student paper - in the hopes that couples will sign me on for the wedding too once we've had a good shoot.

    What did you do? And, what am I missing?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I think a web site would be important. A search for wedding photography will often turn up many 'wedding' sites with links to all sorts of contractors....caterers, florists, photographers etc. Find some that have listings for you area and get your site out there.

    I've talked to a few casual wedding photographers (part time) and most or all of their business is word of mouth. Of course, that won't help much if you don't have any jobs to start with...but keep that in mind when at a wedding...a lot of guests are possible clients.

    An add in your local yellow pages.
     
  3. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    Hi. Another great early resource is www.craigslist.org. Other free resources are, www.onewed.com and www.wedj.com. Ads there are completely free and area driven. But as Mike pointed out, without a website, it's going to be slow moving. (On the last two, you cannot even participate without a website).
    Further advice to you would be, take that first year in revenue, and use it to start "branding" yourself in whatever market you see yourself in. Turn those deposits into ads and marketing supplies and equipment. You'll reap the benefits from it.
    Best of luck to you in your venture!
    Cindy
     
  4. Mike W.

    Mike W. TPF Noob!

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    Thanks guys... I didn't expect to see anything so fast! I'm already at work on the website. Your site looks great Cindy. I love the simple layout, clean lines, and nice big pictures. I hadn't really thought about using craigslist either...

    Mike, have you found that a yellow pages ad gets much of a return on the dollar in terms of advertising? I've been really torn about whether or not it's worth the money in the first year when there are so many other competing costs.

    Thanks again!
     
  5. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think a "presence" in the local Yellow Pages is very important, but will caution you about trying to one-up others in the area. I HATE paying that bill! It's been my experience when customers shop in the Yellow Pages, they just go right down the list anyway.

    More than 15 years ago, all the full time studios in my area (we're all friendly) made a collective decision to pull our display ads from the phone book. I suspect we all saved nearly $1000/year.

    Another idea: Is the guy you were shooting with willing to toss you his overflow? I sometimes get request for smaller events and pass on the name of my helper.

    Good luck!

    Pete
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Network, network, network. When starting out, I think word-of-mouth is more important than marketing. Get to know other wedding photographers. They are more likely to refer overbookings to people they know and who's work they've seen (or worked with).
     
  7. Taralyn Romero

    Taralyn Romero TPF Noob!

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    I'm in the same boat as Mike and all this has been very helpful but what if you're really just starting out - I have no portfolio (other than the shot of the two kids I posted in this forum) and have no clue how to go about getting people to even hire me or reccommend me. I've called some wedding planners to network but they all want to see portfolios.... I know I could do the job but I can't prove that to anyone... Any ideas on how to build your portfolio? I was thinking about posting ads in the newspapers offering a FREE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER - do you all think that's a good idea? I need the experience and portfolio prints... badly.
     
  8. ClarkKent

    ClarkKent TPF Noob!

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    I have been taking photographs for as long as I can remember, and I have always been taking photos of people and such. Its just been through the last couple of years that I have been getting more serious about photography. I have shot my best friends engagement photos, and I have used most as my friends as practice. And lately I have been blessed with a couple of refferals that I will include in a portfolio. Mostly though...most of my family and friends have been my practice and part of what I show people what I have done.
     
  9. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Join a photo club. Take classes. Go to photo exhibit openings. That's how I met other photographers. One I met at a photo club liked my non-wedding work and hired me to assist at a couple he was doing. My brother's friend like the ones I took at my brother's wedding and hired me to do his. Another photographer I took a class from saw the ones I had done up to that point (mostly as a guest) and hired me to do his own wedding.

    I wouldn't do them for free. I don't think it sets a good tone.

    As a side note, I know a photographer who did a wedding without even owning a camera. He got lucky and was asked to do one. He used the advance to buy the camera. He's also the guy that wanted to do fewer weddings after he was established so he raised his prices. He ended up getting even more phone calls.
     
  10. Taralyn Romero

    Taralyn Romero TPF Noob!

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    Wow - all great advice..... this is definitely one of those markets where the consumer preceives price to equal quality.... I will take what everyone said here and start networking more - I just sent some pics off to a wedding planner *crossing fingers*....

    Thanks Mike for bringing up this subject - what an immense help this has been already.
     

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