Duke of Cumberland Arms Wedding

St Margarets Church Fernhurst and The Duke of Cumberland Arms Henley
Mimi & Joe

Duke of Cumberland Arms WeddingAck, well what can I say… last year I shot a lot of weddings and one of my favourites was Mimi and Joe’s.

They tied the knot in St Margaret’s Church (Fernhurst, West Sussex) last July with their reception being at the beautiful Duke of Cumberland Arms which is a beautiful 15th Century pub just down the road.

The lovely thing with the Duke of Cumberland is the views and the food. Joe has known the Head Chef Simon Goodman for many years so knew the food was going to be amazing (and it was). Each of the 65 guests could choose their starter and main which was then followed by an Assiette of Summer Desserts.

Duke of Cumberland Arms WeddingMimi wanted the Wedding to be romantic, but simple and elegant with beautiful flowers, alongside  beautiful scented Jo Malone candles and large vases…….pale apricots, creams and pink avalanche roses were on the tabletops and beautiful glass candlesticks with tall candles lighting up the dining marquees. You could smell the delicate scent of the candles everywhere and one guest commented… ‘it smells like Mimi’s home here’ – Mission Acomplished!

These days I’m haunting Pinterest, I love it there and now when I take bookings I’ll always ask if the couple are on Pinterest as it’s good to see their pins. It’s also great to get a feel for their wedding and the inspiration behind it.

Pictures can convey so much more that words and Mimi was great in having an active wedding board I could lend ideas from.

Mimi and Joe didn’t have any Bridesmaids as such but instead their daughter Evie and niece, Holly, 6 were flower girls, and wore beautiful silk chiffon dresses from Ilovegorgeous, which had a dusky pink satin ribbon tie and hand embroidered roses.
They had four pageboys – their son, Harry and their nephews, Tom, Charlie and Zak. They wore Ralph Lauren chino’s and white linen shirts and tank tops from Little Linens and little white converse!

Duke of Cumberland Arms WeddingI asked Mimi about her flowers and she said ‘The Flowers were from The Floral Emporium at Secrets, Milford. The flowers had a ‘hand -picked’ vintage and country feel about them, soft and pastel colours, and Karen and Vicky were absolutely incredible filling hundred of vases for me as well as doing large displays and made my amazing day beautiful and full of love!’

Other bits and pieces… Mimi got ready at the Spread Eagle Hotel, her dress was made by her Mother based on the combination of a few Philippa Lepley designs, the Band was the Alex and Phil Extravaganza, the cake was made by Joe based on a Peggy Porschen Cake which Kate Moss had at her Wedding – (a pyramid of 5 cakes) and I ran a photo booth in the evening!

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Weding Photography Advertising Pt1

Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 1 – Wedding Magazines

Lets talk ADVERTISING.

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while. But I wanted to make sure I’d exhausted all possible avenues before releasing it because what I’ve learned about the figures used to sell it, how it is sold, the perceptions people have about it, the mistakes people have made as well as the successes are worthy of not just a single blog post but several.

This is a chronicle of my (mis)adventures in advertising, It should save you money and if you’re in the position to spend out, it’ll help you make it go further.

Years in the making, you might want to put the kettle on

 

First, some caveats before we continue:

1. This is based on my experience and mine alone. Everyone is different, everyone has a niche. Any information given is from my own personal experience. I’ll quote actual real statistical figures publicly available.

2. I’m not here to bitch. Seriously, I’m not. I’ve thought long and hard about mentioning names and companies involved and I’ve decided to do so when required. So if you’re reading this and your name is mentioned then sorry about that, please read point number 1.

3. I’m a firm believer in paying it forward. This whole photographer section of my blog is because when I started out people fell over backwards to help and assist me. So here I am, telling you about my mistakes so you can get to where you want to be quicker or at least with less financial grief. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less.

4. This is something that nobody appears to talk about or more importantly….and I quite seriously believe…..are scared to. You don’t need to be and I want comments and interactions on this post. I want to believe that what I’ve experienced isn’t the norm. Prove me wrong.mo

5. These posts are subject to change. Young and old we’re always learning. I’m happy to be wrong and will adjust this post to suit.

Chapters:

Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines (You are here)
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
Chapter 4: Social Media
Chapter 5: Wedding Blogs
Chapter 6: Facebook Groups and Wedding Forums
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows
Chapter 8: What works for me

Advertising in Wedding Magazines, leaflets and printed media to promote your wedding photography. Spend: £2238. Ad cost per booking: £1119

As we all know, cold calls aren’t usually the bringers of good news.

If a service is worth having you wouldn’t normally expect people to jump out from bushes without warning selling you ‘widget x’.

That’s the first point. If something was really that good at generating business it would be talked about all over the place, Facebook groups, forums, Twitter and it would be talked about yesterday and already be over sold.

Not via a cold call at 9.45 whilst you’re signing for a parcel at the front door and your dog’s howling the place down to let me know someone is there.

And rest assured. In five years I’ve never had a call that was worth my while. Never.

Yet, they call, they grind you down and you think ‘I’ll give it a go’ and boom you’re in ‘Guides for Brides’ for a year. I believe in going hard or going home (sorry Will) in respect to advertising. I know how I look at magazines, (small ads will never catch my eye) so I paid £234 for a half page ad in Guides for Brides. Below is the ad I used:

Let's be honest, it's not a bad advertisement

 

As you can see, nice couple, not too busy or distracting. Details are clearly there and I had two enquiries from it (which would be ace if it wasn’t from other photographers wanting to assist me).

I get so, so many emails from togs starting out wanting to assist. This isn’t me beingshowy either. EVERYONE get’s them if they’re visible enough.

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Wedding Photography Advertising Pt2

Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 2
Directories and ‘We’re from Google / Facebook / Some alien planet where reason doesn’t exist’

In this section I’m going to talk about my experience with cold calling Google / Facebook companies and Directories. In a way this section is in two parts but they do share some similar aspects worthy of one classification.

Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories and Cold Calls (You are here)
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
Chapter 4: Social Media
Chapter 5: Wedding Blogs
Chapter 6: Facebook Groups and Wedding Forums
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows
Chapter 8: What works for me

 

Advertising in Directories:

My definition is a site or entity that lists you amongst others of the same business and location somewhere that is part of your target niche, like a wedding forum or business directory.

Two immediately spring to mind, Freeindex and UK Bride. There is a clear distinction between these two. One is free, the other costs you money. Starting with free, because free is fun. I have a listing on Freeindex and whilst it hasn’t netted me any enquiries it has helped me establish a presence outside of my main website.

This searchable visibility is generally good because it shows you aren’t just someone with a website and a mobile number. Sometime people can leave reviews on and that’s even better.

Free is good

 

Free web presence is good. Don’t forget that, (just as long as the company you’re keeping is reputable too). As with everything free there tends to be a catch or financial incentive somewhere. Freeindex likes to try and up-sell you premium services which you don’t need and leads you don’t want. There is another problem….there’s hundreds of directories out there. Which is why you should pick a couple and walk away from them. Their value is limited.

This practice is carried along with other directories like the rude maniacs that are Yell who once you have a free listing try their utmost to get you to upgrade. I was called 4 times in a week and they were so persistent I had to hang up on them. Don’t use Yell. Like, everrrrr. Other directories will take your details and

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Wedding Photography Advertising Pt3

Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 3
Google Adwords and Bipolar Facebook advertising

The face I pull whenever I use Adwords

 

Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Bipolar Facebook advertising (You are here)
Chapter 4: Social Media
Chapter 5: Wedding Blogs
Chapter 6: Facebook Groups and Wedding Forums
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows
Chapter 8: What works for me

Advertising using Adwords and Facebook

Over 4 Grand.

That’s a lot of money. If you were buying Mars Bars in multipacks that would be 16,000 mars bars. Which is 3 million, 920 thousand calories. For an average male that’s enough energy to last him 1568 days, which is 4 years and 108 days.

That’s how much I spent on Adwords.

When I first started out and nobody knew who I was in relation to photography. Google Adwords was a golden ticket to exposure. Admittedly my work wasn’t at the standard it is today but I was charging between £400-800 per wedding. A far cry from the £1450 starting price I’m at now.

What work that I had though was still very good for the price point and yes, I got work from Adwords.

But boy oh boy was it expensive. Tax deductable, but still.

You can target keywords with Google Adwords and to some extent the audience yet, at approvimately £1.50 per click it’s a crazy amount to pay when it could be someone who might not have the budget for my services, might not like my work and might be getting married on a date I’m already booked for.

The Google Adwords user interface yesterday

 

It’s also quite complicated to use PROPERLY. I’ve not used Adwords for a couple of years now. I’ve not really felt the need but it was exceptionally hit and miss.

I was constantly fighting a bidding war between

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Wedding Photography Advertising Pt4

Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 4
Social Media, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest

It pays to be social....shhhhh

Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
Chapter 4: Social Media, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest (You are here)
Chapter 5: Wedding Blogs
Chapter 6: Facebook Groups and Wedding Forums
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows
Chapter 8: What works for me

 

Social Media. How to use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Google+ Places effectively. With a little Pinterest thrown in.

Short answer: Pay someone else to do it for you.

Long answer: Social media is a darling, imagine a place where thousands of people suddenly know who you are and what you’re all about only to forget everything in 10 seconds.

Like a Goldfish does.

0 to fishy in 60 seconds

 

That’s Social media. Because everything is constantly changing nothing endures in this world, yet it can be the most productive, cost effective and bridge building part of

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Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 5
Wedding Blog Advertising – does it work?

iwtb

Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
Chapter 4: Social Media
Chapter 5: Wedding Blog Advertising (You are here)
Chapter 6: Facebook Groups and Wedding Forums
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows
Chapter 8: What works for me

 

Advertising and Marketing using Wedding Blogs

Before I talk about wedding blog advertising and promotion I’m going to remind you of the caveats from Part 1:

  1. This is based on my experience and mine alone. Everyone is different, everyone has a niche. Any information given is from my own personal experience. I’ll quote actual real statistical figures publicly available.
  2. I’m not here to bitch. Seriously, I’m not. I’ve thought long and hard about mentioning names and companies involved and I’ve decided to do so when required. So if you’re reading this and your name is mentioned then sorry about that, please read point number 1.
  3. I’m a firm believer in paying it forward. This whole photographer section of my blog is because when I started out people fell over backwards to help and assist me. So here I am, telling you about my mistakes so you can get to where you want to be quicker or at least with less financial grief. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less.
  4. This is something that nobody appears to talk about or more importantly….and I quite seriously believe…..are scared to. You don’t need to be and I want comments and interactions on this post (and you can do so anonymously if you choose to). I want to believe that what I’ve experienced isn’t the norm. Prove me wrong.
  5. These posts are subject to change. Young and old we’re always learning. I’m happy to be wrong and will adjust this post to suit.

I’m also going to add another: If you run a wedding blog this isn’t meant to offend you.

 

Unlike a lot of other sources of advertising, using wedding blogs is one of the easiest to monitor. In nearly all cases there are three types of promo.

A straightforward advertisement in the form of a box or banner ad:

A promotional blog post bigging you up to the masses. (Blogger endorsement):

Or via a supplier directory:

There’s others, but these are the main ones and the ones I’ll be talking about in this post.

On a slight tangent, some of the researched figures and methodology mentioned here can be applied to all types of advertising online. Not just wedding blogs.

Whenever you apply to advertise on a wedding blog you’ll be sent

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Wedding Photography Advertising Pt7

Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 6
Using Forums and Facebook groups

Online communities are great - just watch what you say and think before you post
Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
Chapter 4: Social Media
Chapter 5: Wedding Blogs
Chapter 6: Using Forums and Facebook groups (You are here)
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows
Chapter 8: What works for me

 Wedding Forums and Facebook Groups

Compared to all other types of advertising covered in the preceding sections this is the most challenging and rewarding of all of them combined.

For the most part, it’s free too.

Wedding forums:

There’s a wedding forum I regularly participate on which is the Hitched.co.uk website. I pay £50 for a directory listing but this gives you a golden ticket that allows you to post in their forum as a supplier. Not many forums do this. In fact Hitched is the only one I can think of and it does have it’s benefits.

I get one booking a year from it on average and don’t post that much. I would double that figure but I’m always already booked. So for the cost vs return I’m already up on pretty much every other type of advertising covered so far.

The beauty of the hitched forum is I can have a banner underneath each post populated with an image and I can interact with brides on related subjects. I can’t go in there and just drop a bomb blatantly plugging my services but I can chip in to related threads and in turn, other brides see it, go to my site…that sort of thing.
Being a sponsor is more rewarding than you initially realise.

 

So you’re probably wondering ‘but you only get one booking per year’ that’s not great? Well no, it isn’t. There’s more to it than that though.

1. It’s an excellent form of networking and for taking the wedding pulse. It’s real easy to be cut off from a Bride and Groom’s needs and current trends.

Interacting with other brides keeps you informed of current trends and what people are looking for. Priceless.

This allows you to tailor services to suit

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Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Pt7

Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 7
Wedding Fairs / Bridal Shows

It's just not for me.

Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
Chapter 4: Social Media
Chapter 5: Wedding Blogs
Chapter 6: Facebook Groups and Wedding Forums
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs / Bridal Shows (You are here)
Chapter 8: What works for me

Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows

Usually when I’ve written these chapters I’ve written the content and added images later.

On this section though, I’ve added the images first because, nothing sums up how I feel about Wedding Fairs more than the above image.

You see I’ve never liked (most) wedding fairs. It’s because I feel like you have to be a market trader, hard selling your goods to get anything from it.

It’s like the Hunger Games but where everyone is nice to each other and nobody has to die

I know that when I’ve done them I’ve stepped back and let people come to me but in many cases you’re sharing a venue space with 9 other Photographers all competing over the same visitors. Some of which are quite aggressive in their sales and attitude. By the time they get to me they hate wedding photographers.

It’s not really for me.

Now actual experience with them:

Ok, so the first wedding fair I ever did was at a small private Airport in Shoreham. The only place this wedding fair was advertised was on their website and we paid £50 for the 6ft table.

A plane yesterday.

This was the weirdest experience ever. Because it was so poorly advertised not one person that walked through the doors was there for the fair. It was a Sunday and they were people just coming in for a Coffee in the cafeteria and to watch the planes landing.

Seriously.

However I took a full day wedding booking, one for Laura too and also

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Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Pt8

Advertising for the Wedding Photographer part 8
What works for me and some conclusions

In case you're wondering what's going on here. I've let an 8 year old flower girl use £7000's worth of camera kit. For a brief moment, she felt special, trusted and an equal. There's more to wedding photography than just shooting the wedding. You're an addition to the day and have a responsibility too.

 

Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
Chapter 4: Social Media
Chapter 5: Wedding Blogs
Chapter 6: Facebook Groups and Wedding Forums
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows
Chapter 8: What works for me and some conclusions (You are here)

Here in the last part of this series I’ll tell you what has worked for me and where my business comes from but first a small update to this post……

I’ve been asked numerous times if I offer a workshop or general health check of someones photography / website and if I can help steer them in the right direction.

I now offer these, they come in two flavours.

  • A full website SEO teardown with a written report and guidance on what to change / fix – £150
  • As above but with a usability and image critique – £200

If you’d like to take advantage of this service (and it’s money well spent), please ping me an email via my contact form. Turnaround is usually just a few days.

…and we’re back, what works for me and in no particular order:

1. Venue referrals.

So we all know venues are difficult to nail down. As a wedding photographer, basically, you’re screwed unless you shoot a wedding there and impress them enough to add you.

Even if you do make it to a venue suppliers list it’s one thing to be on the list and another one entirely to have a venue co-ordinator behind you pushing your name out there during the venue booking process

Take three venues that I’m on the list for. The total number of weddings I shot this year for each of them was 2, 3 and 12 – The number of weddings at each venue was roughly 60, 170 and 85 respectively.

Which one do you think actively sells their suppliers vs handing over a piece of paper with names on?
Turn up, shoot, do a good job, do a good blog post, copy in the venue...get it retweeted....

 

This is where building relationships and going the extra mile helps a lot. If you shoot a wedding somewhere, shoot for the venue too. Make them want to use your images, then when they get in touch ask them to add you. There are a lot of people who will give venues images for free. But if yours are good enough then they will trade something for them.

...if you're lucky and you're work impresses the right people you might get an email like this.

 

I learned this lesson last year when a venue contacted me for some images, I sent them away for free and afterwards wondered why the hell I did it. It’s not a small business like a florist, it’s a wedding venue.

Don’t take your focus away from the couple whose wedding it is, but during the wedding breakfast in your downtime have a considered walkabout. Take photos that sell the venue.

But don’t give anything away for free. You’ll get nothing in return, you’re just one of 100 togs through the

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Nonsuch Mansion KD Wedding

Nonsuch Mansion
Kat & Dan

Nonsuch Mansion London WeddingSummer seems like months ago and as things are now (a little) quieter I can catch up with the blogging.

Here’s Kat and Dan’s late July wedding at Nonsuch Mansion. I started off at their home in Earlsfield where Steph from Beauty Call was there to start off the makeup before finishing it at Nonsuch itself.  I wasn’t there for long before shooting off to the venue.

Nonsuch Mansion London WeddingOnce at the venue I nabbed the other details, jewellery, the grounds and the dress. (Which was from ‘All that Glitters’ in Wimbledon) and her shoes were from Dune.

Dan’s three piece was from Reiss and their flowers were supplied by Jay Archer who lately tends to be a complete blur whenever I see her, she works so hard. The table decorations were amazing and filled the room.

Nonsuch Mansion London WeddingMyself, I brought some balloons and a Triceratops. A Triceratops whose rampage could of been stopped had they of just thrown the bouquet at it. But who knew right?

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