photo by PeopleImages via iStock
Losing photography clients is something that you should expect during an economic downturn like the one we’ve been experiencing, but if you’re losing photography clients left and right then you may need to take a harder look at your business practices.
This topic came to be the other day because one of my friends has been struggling with learning how to keep photography clients happy. Right before the pandemic hit he had been struggling with scaling, and so he was missing deadlines for some of his clients and just generally not communicating well. Now, after the pandemic, this failed attempt at scaling his photography business appropriately means that he is losing photography clients almost daily.
If you are finding yourself in the same situation, then you could use some of these photography business tips. After all, you can’t stop losing photography clients if you don’t know why they’re leaving in the first place.
photo by DjelicS via iStock
All of the reasons I mentioned above for why my friend is losing photography clients could be classified under “being unprofessional.” But, this isn’t where I want to start. I want to start with your appearance.
When you are a business owner, the old adage about dressing for the job you want and not the job you have is so true. If you want to work with high-end clients, then you need to dress like you already are. It makes networking a breeze because you can always go out for a last minute drink with a potential client and not have to worry about running home to change first.
Of course, I’m not recommending that you should wear a suit and tie to every 14-hour shoot, but I am recommending that you dress well and invest in yourself. Make sure that your camera bag is replaced when it starts to fall apart and generally worry about your appearance more than you are.
Being unprofessional doesn’t end here, though. I also see many photographers showing up to photoshoots late, or saying inappropriate things to clients. I see this most often in event photography. You need to remember that you are not a guest at the parties you are photographing. You are there to do a job, not drink or make crude jokes to guests.
Finally, start communicating better with your clients. You’ll stop losing photography clients the moment you start to realize that they would rather hear about the fact that you’re running behind than not hear about it and have to deal with the consequences later.
Being Slow to Respond
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You could be losing photography clients before you even get them if you are slow to respond to potential clients when they reach out looking for your services.
Tons of marketing studies have shown that the best way you can learn how to get more clients is by being the first business to respond. You have to assume that every potential client that reaches out to you has also reached out to at least five other photographers in your area (and let’s be honest, with Yelp this may be a low number). The clock starts ticking the moment you receive a new message. I have a personal goal of responding to every potential client within 20 minutes of their first message. This may not be feasible for you right now, but set a goal and stick to it.
You’ll also need to remember to constantly communicate with pre-existing clients. I understand that it can be difficult to do so when you are in the middle of a busy season, however if a client is wondering where their photos are or where they need to meet you for their photoshoot, they need a response. Losing photography clients over communication issues happens far more often than you’d like to think.
Not Meeting Deadlines
photo by Cecilie_Arcurs via iStock
This is another surefire way to start losing photography clients. The deadlines that you set for yourself need to be adhered to as if they were deadlines being set by your boss.
This is why I’ve come up with a way to make sure my photos get to my clients on time every time. I create a personal deadline in my own calendar that is at least 2-3 days earlier than the deliverable date I give my clients, in all but the rarest of occasions. I do this because I know I have a difficult time meeting deadlines. It gives me enough flexibility to ensure I won’t be late (at least on my clients’ end).
My system may not work for you. Perhaps you just need to push the date you give your clients back a few days. Or, you can give them a period of dates when they can expect their photos by. I will caution against using this last one frequently, though, because your inbox will get flooded with people desperate to see their photos on the first date you’ve given them.
Offering Cheap Prints
photo by scyther5 via iStock
You could also be losing photography clients because you are offering them cheap prints. If you’re using Walmart or some equivalent photo printing company, then you need to reevaluate your business model because your photos cannot look their best on crappy canvas.
It may seem a little counterintuitive at first, but the only way you can learn how to make more money as a photographer is by spending a little more money upfront. If you have a reputation for delivering cheap prints to your clients, then you may need to start purchasing slightly more expensive prints and eating the cost until your clients begin to recognize that you are more serious about giving them a beautiful product.
If you are on the search for a good print shop, then I’d like to introduce you to CanvasHQ. CanvasHQ is a wonderful print company (that won our 2020 Canvas Print Shootout) because they are family-owned and take great pride in creating products that last for well over a century.
Every canvas that they create uses museum-grade canvas. That canvas is hand-built. Then, the inks that they use to print your photos are meant for outdoor use. This way, your canvas will never fade from the sun. It also won’t change if your canvas is stored in a humid environment or if it accidentally gets wet.
CanvasHQ also provides a “current production time” clock on their website so that you can let your clients know exactly when their new print will get to them.
Plus, though CanvasHQ provides you a better quality of print, they don’t cost as much as their competitors. In fact, you can get a CanvasHQ print for as little as $20.