Weddings are a seasonal thing. They really pick up in spring, roll on at a steady pace through summer and then spike into the fall. But then comes November… When the frenzy of peak Wedding Season slows down, it can be tempting to hibernate until spring. If you’ve had a particularly busy year, it may actually be necessary for you to cool your heels for a minute.
But once you pause to catch your breath, don’t succumb to the temptation to binge on Netflix and chill with your business. The Off-Season is your golden moment! This is your time to out-pace your competition and really build momentum for your business. Here are 17 Off-Season Wedding Photography Marketing Ideas. You’re probably already doing some of these. Some won’t work for you. And some are things you should be doing, and promised yourself you’d do last year. So let’s get to it!
1. Blog Your Shoots. Blog your weddings on your blog! This sounds obvious, and maybe it is. That’s why we’re putting it first. If you have weddings you haven’t blogged yet, pick out your favorites and get them prepped and ready for the blog. Schedule them to post at even intervals off into the future. If that’s one a week, great. If one a month, also great. Get your work out there on your blog, you won’t regret it. You’re creating a beautiful portfolio as well as a giant Google-sucking traffic magnet. It’s a win/win.
2. Get Re-Blogged. Get another blog to blog your blog on their blog. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Just look around at the wedding blogs you love, and see which of your weddings fits what they love. Then, you know, send it to them! If you don’t want to do it the hard way, you can also use Two Bright Lights.
3. Contribute a Guest Blog. Have a friend with a cool blog? Reach out and ask if you could contribute a guest blog. Surely there’s a topic you’re savvy on that they could use. Blogs always love a guest post, as it takes a bit of the work off their shoulders and builds credibility. And for you, it positions you as an industry expert and gives you something to talk/post/tweet about!
4. Create a Guide. As a frequent wedding-goer, you have a far greater grasp of the things that should be done and the things that must be avoided. Aggregate your knowledge into a helpful resource guide. Ten Wedding Shoes to Avoid at All Costs, Top Five People Not To Invite To Your Wedding, How To Look Amazing On Your Wedding Day… stuff like that. Make sure the images are all yours and ready to be shared. Share it on your blog, on your Socials, and then send it to industry blogs.
5. Tag All The Things. Do you have un-tagged photos of clients out there in the wild? One easy marketing trick is to go through all your previously posted photos and make sure every possible person is tagged. Reach out to old clients and encourage them to tag-it-up! Any new tag will cause your photos to show up in feeds around the world, which is always a good soft-marketing move.
6. Instagram. Is your Insta-game on lock down? Review the photos you’ve posted in the past and nix the ones that don’t represent your brand today. Remember, any photo that isn’t a great photo does not need to be in your visible portfolio. This isn’t technically marketing, but it is defensive marketing, protecting future clients from old photos that might turn them off. And for every old photo you nix, add a new, shiny one that you love!
7. Snapchat, maybe? Honestly, we don’t know what to tell you about this. We’ve heard it’s all the rage with the kids nowadays, and Leeann Marie is on there, so it can’t be all bad.
8. Woo a Venue. What are three cool venues where you’d love to shoot more? Often, a venue will have a relationship with a photographer they love. Why isn’t that you? If they knew you—and your work—they’d definitely love you, and probably refer you. So get out there and say hello. Stop in and ask if you can scope out the space because you’ve never shot there, but you’d like to be prepared when the time comes. Take a little tour, shoot a few photos of the space, make a friend! And when you get home, edit a few of the more unique photos and email them to the venue as a thank you for their time.
9. Shoot a Planner. Do you know a planner who is planning a lot of weddings, but is not using you as their exclusive, go-to photographer referral? Call them up! One great way to make friends with a planner is to give them a complimentary headshot session. They get a great headshot for their marketing, they get to know you a little better, and get to experience the joy of sitting in front of your camera. At the end of the session, you will be better friends and you might have yourself a new referral source!
10. Side Kick your Heroes. Some weekends, you won’t have a wedding. And some weekends, your photo-hero probably will. Reach out to a photographer whose work you admire and let them know that you’d love to second shoot with them some time, if you’re free and they have a need. Three benefits: a little extra income from second shooting, the experience of working with a hero, and building a relationship with a high-end photographer who could become a potential referral source!
Friends and Relations
11. Save the Date. Take a look at your 2016 calendar. See all those empty dates, the ones with no wedding to shoot? Create a nice image that shows the dates that are already booked. Say something like, “2016 is really booking up – if you have a friend getting married on any of these other dates, I’d love to meet them!” Share this on the socials and maybe email your past clients, just letting them know that you’d love a referral!
12. Ask for referrals. This is one we debated even mentioning, but some of our more introverted photogs could use the reminder. Your friends, family and past clients may not immediately think of your name when a wedding is in the works. They must be conditioned to think of you! Don’t spam people, but it never hurts to share a request for referrals on social and by email. Say something tactful but firm: “Know of a couple getting married? I’d love the opportunity to be their photographer. Please make an introduction!”
13. Incentivize the Referral. This one can go either way. Some feel that it is in bad form to bribe people to send you a referral. Others firmly believe it is good and right to reward anybody who sends you business. How do you feel about it? If you’re pro-incentive and willing to reward, make a plan and let people know! What is your reward? Is it a lovely gift? Is it a portrait session? Make it something that is appealing enough to keep you in their mind!
Do Other Things
14. Volunteer. Is there a non-profit organization whose vision you support? Volunteer to shoot an event, or their staff. This is a great way to get connected to people in your community, and potentially get future clients. Be careful, though. If you are volunteering your photography services for a good cause, it’s okay to work for free. But be sure you provide your best work, and when you are asked about a for-pay shoot, quote your standard prices.
15. Shoot a Directory! Many churches have a need for good directory photos. Reach out to churches in your area and offer your services. You can charge a flat rate for a single day, and in the process meet dozens of potential future clients. You may not want to be a church directory photographer, but you can’t deny the value of having 200 people knowing and loving your work. Don’t be smarmy, but also don’t hesitate to hand a business card to each church member that you photograph.
16. Create a Creative Project. The Internet loves a creative photo project. From Dogs Shaking Water to HONY, there is a constant demand for clever and beautiful image-driven content. What drives you? What intrigues you? What do you want to shoot? Do you live in Akron and love acorns? Shoot a series of Acorns of Akron! It provides great experience, allows you to be more creative than normal, and potentially becomes a fun blog post. And if you play it right, it can garner wider exposure for your business!
17. Never Stop Marketing. Whatever you do in the off-season, be marketing your business. That’s kind of the key. There are a thousand other ideas to help grow your tribe, increase your brand awareness, market more effectively to your target brides, and generally increase your 2016 bookings. Find the ideas that work best for you and get to work!
All images copyright Leeann Marie Photography, and used with permission.