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When you think of things you should do to improve your chances of success as a photographer, your mind probably goes to photography things…
Learn your craft. Develop a portfolio. Come up with a killer marketing plan. Work on getting referrals. You get the idea.
All of these things are critically important to your success. But there’s something else you need to focus on, something that often gets overlooked if you want to maximize your ability to develop a business that’s successful in the long term. What is it? Communication.
Communication in Photography
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When I talk about communication in photography, I’m not talking about your ability to communicate your intent through your images. I’m also not talking about your ability to communicate with your subject or your assistants.
Though these are certainly important skills, I want to focus on a different kind of communication - business communication with your clients.
Too many photographers don’t take communication with their clients seriously enough. It might be that they don’t communicate often enough. It might be that they make it difficult for clients to get in touch. In some cases, the process of communicating with clients is just too cumbersome.
The question is, what can you do about it?
Tips for Improving Communication With Clients
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Getting in touch (and staying in touch) with clients doesn’t have to be a difficult or time-consuming process, nor does it have to be only to collect payments!
If you want to make the most of your contacts with clients, consider giving the following communication success tips a try.
Communication Success Tip #1: Practice Listening
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It’s cliche to say it, but you can’t have good communication without first being a good listener. And don’t confuse “being quiet” with being a good listener, either.
When you meet with clients in-person, on the phone, on video chat, or some other medium, really hone into what they’re saying. Ask questions for clarity. Repeat what you’ve heard to check that it’s what the client meant. Affirm with them that they have been heard and that you understand their needs and wants.
The more effort you put into hearing your clients, the less likely it will be that you make a mistake or miss something that’s important to the client. That, in turn, will make your working relationship more productive.
Communication Success Tip #2: Streamline Communication
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One of the biggest hurdles to maximizing the value of communications with your clients is simply finding the time to do so.
Answering the phone, responding to emails, checking contact form submissions on your website, and responding to texts from clients can become an all-encompassing endeavor. And that’s just the clients you already have! What about the leads you’re following up with?
Fortunately, there are communication tools out there that can help you manage all of these communications in a single platform.
Podium, for example, enables you to communicate with current and prospective clients via text. It also manages interactions with people that visit your website - you can converse with them via text as well.
Not only that, but it integrates with Facebook and Google so you can easily keep track of leads and reviews, all in one handy dashboard, as seen above.
There are many other features, too, but what impresses me the most is the ability to have all of these communications neatly organized into a single platform. It simply makes communication easier while enhancing your ability to have genuine, timely interactions with clients. Plus, you can try it for free!
Communication Success Tip #3: Be Human
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There is a time and a place for formality in your communications. For example, your contract should be black and white with no room for ambiguity.
But discussing a legal document is a lot different than talking with a client about their needs and wants. In those kinds of conversations, ditch the formality and just be human. Be warm. Be engaging. Demonstrate that you understand where your client is coming from and that they are understood.
It’s that kind of genuine communication I was talking about above.
People want to work with photographers that are engaging and personable. If you make the process of being able to engage with your clients an easier task, you’ll find that it is also much easier to show them that you’re not a robot!
Communication Success Tip #4: Become a Master of the Follow-Up
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Good communication isn’t something that happens once. Instead, communication between you and your clients is something that needs to occur throughout the process of your employment with them.
The same goes for leads - it’s not a one-and-done situation. You don’t want to pester people about hiring you, but you also don’t want them to forget about you.
Your follow-up is just as important as your initial contact with a client or lead. The follow-up is your chance to answer questions they might have, clarify anything that is causing them concern, and ask questions of your own.
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With clients, the follow-up can act as a bridge to a referral. With leads, the follow-up can be a quick check-in that helps them decide that you’re the photographer for them.
Again, this isn’t rocket science, and if you use tools to help you manage communication easily and effectively, you’ll find that your ability to communicate is enhanced without taking up more of your day.
Communication is Central to Your Success
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You have a lot to worry about as a photographer, particularly in these tough times. But just because you have a lot on your plate doesn’t mean that you can let effective communication with your clients slip by.
Communication is not optional. It’s not something you can “do later.” It is a critical component of any successful business. Use these tips and insights as a springboard for evaluating what your communication practices are like right now, and what you can do to improve them for the future.