Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 6
Using Forums and Facebook groups
Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 2b: The Hitched Directory
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.
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.
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 the market better. In a way it’s free market research. One year it was boudoir shoots, then engagements shoots, then photo booths….and so on. Each year something is more popular than the other.
2. You are infinitely searchable. You pop up near the top of Google when someone searches for something related in a lot of cases. Google at least treats this site like it’s WordPress. If say someone is talking about ‘Nonsuch Mansion’ and you chip in and comment chances are this thread will appear at the top of Google and you’ll be there too. It’s very effective exposure and worth the effort. Especially if someone has found you already elsewhere but weren’t in a position to contact you, then they see you again but this time are in a better position to act.
3. It gives you a public visibility, a face and a voice. It humanises you. Our websites, about me pages and blog posts are really just comments and what we want the client to see by design. It doesn’t say anything about who we are really. People can tell a lot more from you by seeing how well you play with others. This is a pragmatic touch to Wedding forums that is often overlooked.
Wedding forum decorum
It’s real easy to be misread on a forum, to look an idiot and if you’re a guy, get jumped on by all the girls for saying something that to you, was perfectly innocent. It’s not a place to peddle your wares and act superior but to build bridges and HELP people.
In return for your efforts you’ll get noticed not just by the forum members but other couples searching your name to see what comes up in the search results. Nobody is going to hire someone who they think is an ass or has a personality disorder. Not for their wedding anyway.
Sell yourself through your unbiased expertise and let your signature banner attract the attention.
Other Wedding forums
As I’m here being completely honest Hitched is the only one I know of this big that allows suppliers to post.
The You and Your Wedding forum is another biggie but a prime example of when wedding forums go bad. Spam everywhere:
Brides aren’t stupid. Someone shamelessly promoting themselves or a product are as easy to spot as dirt on a wedding dress.
Still, I’m on there. Even so, I’m there wearing asbestos gloves:
Disclosing I’m a photographer is just about all I can do without breaking the forum rules. Sure, the spam is there and tends not to get pulled right away….. but it does eventually (to be replaced by more spam). I value my post count, so tread carefully….even though I’d prefer not to be classed as a Bridezilla. 😀
The rest of the wedding forums pretty much have zero tolerance for suppliers posting. At least in the UK. UKbride’s forum is massive but as with most wedding sites, they’re happy to take your money for a listing they won’t allow you to post.
Which is a shame as Hitched has a good thing going and it surprises me more forums aren’t doing it, IMO.
So imagine hitched, but free and full of professionals. Welcome to Facebook groups.
I won’t repeat what I’ve already said above but a room full of the competition isn’t a bad thing. You’ll learn tonnes of things to push your business forward and get referrals from other suppliers.
And also, wedding suppliers get married too.
Where the groups are full of a supplier mix then it’s more like a directory and a coming together of talents.
Where the group is full of the same type of professional then it’s more developmental and a sharing of available business.
When in these groups it’s good practice to share your knowledge and pay things forward.
Be nice whenever you can and make the effort with people. As with the wedding forums above, it gets noticed.
Stand out amongst others as that helpful tog who advises everyone. For free. Work will come your way as a result.
In the previous chapters I mentioned that a Wedding Photographer isn’t a brand. But…..if you wanted to become more well known, this is how you do it. I think. Let me know.
Some groups are full of suppliers. Dressmakers, Venue owners, Bloggers…all sorts and they all have the power to mention your name when asked. So be nice.
If there’s one reason above all else that you should play nicely and help each other out it’s this; Many people don’t. By doing so you are already miles ahead of them.
Expanding on being nice, a word of caution. The internet can take something that sounds good in your head and take it out of context for many people causing a backlash of EPIC proportions.
Sometimes it’s best not to say anything at all. Seriously, some people may get you, others might hate you for that innocent comment which you now have to explain in simple terms because someone was hyper sensitive about that subject.
Sometimes you can’t cure crazy or fix stupid. A simple comment could end up with you spending an hour explaining yourself on the web and knowing when to say something and when not to is an artform.
We’ve been there at least once, but still, it’s the internet. If you try to please everyone you’ll die trying.
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