Online Wedding Biz a Hit with Young Brides
The Best Wedding Gift: Quality Work, Personal Service & Lower Prices
by Jaimee Hubert
I run my entire wedding photography business online. Since I run an in-home studio and office, I donít have a storefront. My website has become my storefront. My objective with online marketing was to increase hits and the number of inbound phone calls, and reach young, computer-savvy brides who would love a digital photography studio run by a young female.
Iíve studied the most popular wedding marketing websites and gotten to know the owners of these websites and online magazines. I tried five different wedding websites, along with search engines such as Yahoo! and Google. Google has worked the best in terms of marketing, so far. Also, www.weddingcompass.com is very affordable and gives great leads. Itís an awesome site for wedding photographers just starting outóit basically gives you your own webpage if your website is not up and running yet. When I first started, this site booked me five weddings in a matter of months.
Shooting for an online wedding marketing company and magazine, OC Bride, has also been very successful. The more you offer your services, the more people who run these companies are willing to publish you and put you on their websites. Once the brides call or email because they like my site, I offer things that are rare in the Orange County wedding business. For example, I offer full editing and full copy rights, as well as two photographers and hourly photography. This is unique for a high-end photographer in Orange County.
In my first four months of business, I booked 35 weddings with just a small amount of online marketing. My biggest challenge has been managing the fast success. I had to find some great associate photographers, and since theyíre working photographers, itís hard to keep them long term since they book their own weddings.
The workflow is enormous in the summer, since every picture is edited; Iím sometimes backed up five weddings deep and spend 12 hours at a time in front of my computer. Iíve learned to edit quickly. Iíve also learned to say no to weddings that arenít financially beneficial.
When I started out, I wanted to accommodate every bride on every budget. But shooting two weddings a day, or three a weekend, is overwhelming. Now I try to sell my associates at a better rate and send them out to my smaller weddings. I pay them more than the industry standard to ensure I get some of the best work and best photographers.
Before running a wedding business from home, I did a lot of freelance photography and helped run the wedding division at a high-end studio. The studio did no online marketing. They relied on walk-ins from their storefront. This drove me bonkersówe werenít getting the brides I knew we could get if we went online. Our website wasnít attractive and I couldnít implement the marketing strategies I wanted to. So I went out on my own and started running my wedding business out of my home.
I went from making $12,000 a year freelancing to six figures in my first year. Since I run my business from home, itís much more personal, and Iíve made some great friends. There are a lot of wedding photographers in OC, so I chose to do something that sets me apart. Many good photographers here start at $5,000Ė$8,000. This is unreasonable for most bridesí budgets.
By keeping my costs down, I can also offer reasonable prices for great work. My most popular packageóa magazine-style flush-mount album, two photographers, full editing, and full copy rightsóstarts at just $2,950.
Jaimee Hubert is owner of Capturing Moments (www.capturingmoments.com), an online wedding business based in Brea, California. Sheís been in the photography business for 10 years and has run her own wedding and family photography business for two years.