This post on how to book weddings in the COVID-19 pandemic requires a little caveat. At ShootDotEdit we are here to help photographers succeed. We do not believe there is only one way to do things, and do not support photographers doing anything that makes them feel unsafe. But we also recognize that there are photographers who want to (and have to) be photographing right now. No judgement should be passed on any choice. We do not believe you should be photographing if you’re not ready to be out there, and if you ARE ready to be photographing, these tips might help! Please stay healthy and stay safe.
As a photographer you may be struggling right now with understanding how to book weddings in the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has hit the world economy hard. Businesses everywhere are facing a financial crisis. Many organizations are cutting down jobs to manage their expenses. As a result, many engaged couples are on a tighter budget now. They have decided to organize smaller weddings to boost savings. Some of them are planning to cancel – or have already canceled – their wedding due to the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
This is not good news for the wedding industry.
Wedding photographers are also affected by this unfortunate sequence of events. It wouldn’t be surprising if couples begin to forgo wedding photography altogether. Because photography is probably not a necessity for people in financial crisis, couples affected by COVID-19 financially might call a friend or close family member to photograph them instead.
Should you give up hope on your business? Should you stress about the challenges that the wedding community is facing right now? NO, NO and a big NO.
Instead, let’s talk about how to pivot, and how to safely run your business and especially book weddings in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brace Your Business to Survive a Global Pandemic
Though the current situation may not be conducive to wedding photography right now, this doesn’t mean it will always be this way. Of course, what is happening is having – and will likely continue to have – an effect on your business. But there is hope. The wedding industry will (and has already seemed to) bounce back.
Weddings have begun again and will return to something resembling normal (or a new normal) once the COVID crisis is over, even if slowly and gradually. People will organize weddings and other events with more mindful planning and renewed enthusiasm for what matters. And, (hopefully!), there will be a bottleneck of inquiries from couples who had to postpone their wedding this year as well as new couples ready to get married who perhaps were waiting for things to normalize. And you have to be ready to work with them!
If you are not comfortable booking weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic, it’s OK! Just hang in there and use this time to better your business, correct what needs correcting, set your workflow on the right path, and learn more.
18 Ways to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic and Stay in the Market
With restrictions lifted in many states, businesses are open. Make use of this opportunity. Get to work. Do not let any opportunity pass you by. Use our 18 Ways to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic now and in the future. Let’s see what you can do!
1. Devise a Marketing Plan
Your competitors may be taking their foot off the marketing pedal now. This gives you the opportunity to blow right by them.
Having a marketing plan is key to reaching the right audience. And with the right message through the right channel. So maximize your marketing budget. Now is the time to invest in getting your marketing ducks in a row. This way you will be well-positioned to gain a competitive advantage for the months and years to come. Good marketing will lead many ideal clients towards your door.
2. Invest in Digital Marketing
You might have been investing in offline channels such as trade shows and expos until now. Consider shifting the budget to digital marketing in these times. We know that many businesses are being run online these days. With the extra time at your disposal, you can create high-quality content and drive clients your way with a rock-solid online presence. More potential clients will find you easily in the long-run.
3. Consider the Marketing Platforms Around You
There are a lot of photography marketing websites available now to help Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic. Make use of them at their best. Display your profile on top wedding photography sites and reach a wider audience. It will increase your visibility and the chances of getting more leads. Search for similar marketing sites to help more people see you and talk about your work.
4. Collaborate With Local Business in Your Area to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Consider engaging with businesses like hotels, bakeries, jewelry shops and florists in your area – they are struggling too and will likely appreciate the connection and the ability to partner or brainstorm. Collaborate with venues and wedding planners to put micro-wedding or elopement packages together. Focusing on what clients are looking for right now – smaller, intimate gatherings – will help all of you Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic.
5. Help Clients and Connections Thrive
People are seeing their budgets, health, and social lives diminish due to COVID-19. No one knows how long mask-wearing, self-imposed, or government-imposed quarantines will last. The fear of the unknown is disconcerting and challenging. So try to remember that, right now, a little kindness goes a long way in calming the storm.
While some won’t risk going outside, you can still check virtually on your fellow vendors, fellow photographers, and clients. That means staying in touch with all the valuable people in your network. If you try to help anyone in need, three months from now they may remember that kindness. Kindness and connection go a long way. And, even if you never book a wedding from these gestures, you may make a difference in the life of someone who is struggling right now because of the impact of COVID-19.
6. Stay Connected With Current Clients
Keep in mind that it’s much easier and less costly to sell to existing clients than to find new ones. The clients who cancel their bookings now will need your services when things get back to normal so you want to stay top of mind when the need arises.
To do so you can send out a weekly newsletter to them with relevant and interesting content to keep your clients engaged. Consider writing a piece directed at helping the bride and groom navigate during these challenging times as well.
7. Get in Touch With Your Past Clients
Don’t forget about your past clients. Stay in touch with them and tell them what new projects you have going on. Tell them about your new offers as well as discounts you have. It may make them think of you for future special events. Reaching out to old customers can even help you Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic because they already have used you (and loved you) and may know someone who is planning a future event.
8. Encourage Clients to Postpone or Reschedule Instead of Canceling
This might not help you Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic, but it will help you keep the present weddings you have scheduled already. You likely need these clients to help you survive any financial challenges you are facing.
Your first goal should be to assure clients that keeping their booking is a low-risk act. Give your clients the option to reschedule before they reach out for cancelations. This gets people to slow down and realize they have more options than they think. Naturally, most people will want to cancel everything except their streaming services : ) But you can remind them that they’ve already paid their photography deposits. You can explain to them that rescheduling is as simple as selecting a new date. This way you can maintain your hard-earned bookings.
Also you can continue to accept more weddings now that you know what future dates you are working around. You also may consider giving clients the option to delay deposits when they go to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic. In a time where work is scarce, refund requests can be disheartening, this may be a welcome change from other vendors they are working with.
9. Focus on Elopements. Micro-Weddings, and Engagement Sessions if You Want to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic
There is a big possibility that current – and even future – weddings will be a small budget affair. In that case you can suggest elopements or micro weddings to your clients. This way they can enjoy their wedding with fewer people and a smaller budget and you still get a chance to generate revenue for your wedding photography business.
You can also offer engagement sessions where social distancing is practiced. You can work with masks and gloves on, sanitize your equipment and keep a sanitizer handy. Learning to pose the couple through verbal instructions instead of reaching out and helping could be a new challenge, but you’ll adapt! And in this way, you’re still creating revenue with engagement sessions until new weddings come your way.
10. Organize Online Workshops for Brides and Grooms
Online webinars, meetings and workshops are trending right now. You can use this to your advantage. Make a few videos or organize mini-sessions for clients. You can suggest outfits and jewelry to wear to their engagement sessions. You can suggest vendors to prospective bride and grooms. This way they will remember you. Your old clients will refer you. The present clients will stay with you. The potential clients will want to use your photograph services. This is a great way to invest in your business and eventually Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic.
You can also hold workshops for new wedding photographers. You can talk to them about your gear, lighting , posing and pretty much any business tips you have to offer. You can add a ‘mentoring’ tab to your website and let them book a paid session with you.
11. Revamp or Tidy Up Your Website
If you don’t want to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic, now is a great time to give your website a thorough once-over. You probably know that 97% of consumers search online for a local business. If you don’t have an online presence (or one that stands out from the crowd) you may lose out on bookings.
Take a hard look at your website. Spend some time on organizing or reorganizing your portfolio and creating an attractive, clear, focused website with links that work (like making sure all your social buttons go to your own social media channels). Your website should communicate your expertise and credibility, showcase your work and generate leads. Also, conduct keyword research to make sure you’re creating the right content. This will help your site rank high and attract the right prospective clients.
12. Write Blogs and Work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
One of the simplest marketing tools a photographer can use to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic is SEO. You can boost your SEO rankings by writing wedding photography related blogs. If you feel you do not have the skill, you can outsource it to a service provider like Fotoskribe. This way you will have content that not only showcases your stunning images, but also is SEO building and keyword rich. Working on SEO for your website is like working out at the gym. You know what to do and how to do it. But the hard part is staying consistent and motivated over time.
13. Build Your Social Media Presence
Many people depend on social media to stay connected in a virtual-only (by need or by choice) world. Make sure you’re reaching your audience where they’re at. In particular, platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are great for visual content. TikTok and Snapchat are popular too, but you may need to think about how to use those to book weddings in the COVID-19 pandemic (if that is your goal).
Make sure that all the information on your social media profile is up-to-date. Include your website address and ways to contact you. Look for ways to spice up your feed and share relevant information to stay top of mind.
Also, ask questions that spark conversations and engage your audience. Try to foster trust and build relationships. Remember to pay close attention to your tone. Be authentic while staying true to your brand voice.
14. Set up Facebook and Instagram Ads to Attract Clients
Many established photographers spend money on Facebook and Instagram advertising these days especially if they are looking to book weddings in the COVID-19 pandemic. If you haven’t invested in these platforms yet, now may be the time. Entire communities are dealing with quarantines, so to ward off boredom people are flocking to social media. You can capitalize on this by advertising your business on Facebook and Instagram.
If you’re new to digital ads, don’t worry. Facebook has a six-part advertising guide to help you get started and we have a great blog we wrote on Facebook Ads for Wedding Photographers as well!
Couples might not book weddings in the COVID-19 pandemic but they definitely are planning 2021 weddings. You can take advantage of this in sponsored ads and screen time.
15. Wedding Directory Sites or Bridal Blogs
Over the past few years, there has been much talk about the benefits of wedding directory sites. These directory sites give you a chance to showcase your work at a common platform. They put you on par with other wedding vendors clients may be searching for within your area. Find one that you love and see if you can purchase a small ad to help you book weddings in the COVID-19 pandemic.
16. Gather Online Reviews
If you haven’t given much thought to your online reputation, it might be time to do so now! Most of the consumers between the ages of 18 to 34 rely on online reviews. They trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations. What do your reviews say about you?
Before using third-party sites like Google or Yelp, first claim your business profile. This way you can control what goes onto your listing and respond to comments. Then, complete the business information and upload images to showcase your expertise. Lastly, reach out to your clients and ask them to write a review for you. Don’t know how to do that? We wrote a blog post on How to Ask Clients for Reviews right here!
17. Pre-Sell Packages
Create special offers like service bundles or gift cards. You can sell them right now and fulfill them later. This will give you an opportunity to promote your business. It will also expand your client base. Your current clients would want to grab this opportunity. It will also help you generate a much-needed cash flow to keep your business healthy.
18. Offer Discounts
At a time when couples want to keep their budget tight, discounts could be a good idea. Discount packages or free prints offer will encourage new clients to book you. Remember, many wedding photographers are trying to book weddings in the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have attractive discounts you might win the race. Clients searching for wedding photographers may be more likely to book ones with more benefits for the same price.
Consider asking your customers to refer you to their friends and families and offer them a discount. It may encourage your old clients to come back to you as well as bring in new clients. But give the discount only if the people your client has referred actually book you.
Stay Safe and Proactive
If you plan well and incorporate our tips for How to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic into your business, you will survive! Just remember to stay positive and do not lose hope. Panic and stress are your enemies. Make sure you are taking time for yourself – exercise (check our out Yoga for Photographers blog post), meditate and keep yourself healthy. It is important to take care of yourself in order to keep your business running.
Let us know how ShootDotEdit can help you. If your business is picking up and you need help editing, We’ve Got You! If you want more inspiration we’ve got that, too!