Business + Marketing

Six-Figure Wedding Photography: Feeding Word-of-Mouth for Your Business

July 15, 2019

By Ashley Beasley

© Luke and Ashley

In the first years of our business, we were fed the biggest lie we ever heard: that you need to charge what you feel like you are worth. And for a while, we believed it! I witnessed this in group forums on social media, read blog posts from influential leaders and even paid to listen to this message at a workshop. As budding photographers and business owners, we grabbed onto this and believed wholeheartedly in this mantra.

In January 2013, having been in business for two years, we decided to raise our prices because we believed we were worth a whole lot more. That month, we received two dozen inquiries and yet not one booked. 

We were confused. How could this be? We took the advice of everyone around us, who looked like they were winning, and it wasn’t working. 

With our tail between our legs, we decided to reach out to those who inquired with us and ask them why they chose to go elsewhere. It was a humbling experience because the response was the same over and over again: We had little to no experience and our portfolio didn’t justify our pricing. This feedback was like a punch in the gut. It went against everything we heard from the professionals.

We soon realized that just because you “think” you are worth an amount does not mean that the client sees the same value. We learned that the only time you should raise your prices is with demand. If you want more demand, you have to get more exposure, and to get more exposure, you have to create rave with your clients.

We decided that we needed to take 2013 to cultivate an experience for our couples. We wanted word-of-mouth to trickle into more bookings. We did not have the budget for paid advertising, so going this route was our only option. Today, we run a business that has grown exponentially since 2013 and has made six-figures for the last three years.

We always use this analogy when mentoring others: When buying a computer, do you pick an Apple or Windows? Apple is at least three times more than a PC, but people are willing to pay three times more for it. Why? Because of the rave that Apple has created around its product.

Your clients are doing the same thing with you. You are being compared to other photographers, and your clients are determining if you are worth your perceived value. Here’s a step-by-step of how we got there.

1. We dropped our prices way down.

We knew it was better to get in front of hundreds of people than just a few at a higher price point. At that point, 2013 was not about making money; it was about gaining exposure in our local area. We said yes to almost everything that came our way. We wanted to better our craft and get in front of the multitudes of people. Doing just that, our booking rates increased dramatically. We worked hard on becoming better photographers. By the time our couples’ weddings came around, our work was even better than it was when they booked us. They felt like they were getting a steal, and rave came naturally from friends and family.

2. We found ways to stand out from our competition.

We heard over and over again how wedding vendors were not communicating with their clients. Our couples were frustrated with this lack of communication, so we took their frustrations and made sure to use that as one of our strengths. When we got a lead and we were able, we would immediately call the client. Our couples were blown away by this gesture and grateful that we cared enough to call and speak to them right away. Our booking rates increased once again, and we heard over and over how no one else was doing what we were doing. Most other wedding vendors would take a day or two to even reply back! In a market so competitive and saturated with other vendors, we knew we had to be the first person they spoke to. Eight out of 10 times, we would book our clients by being first.

At the wedding itself, we would display a same-day slideshow during the reception on a 27-inch monitor. Our couples were delighted and all their guests and family members were amazed. This one extra step we took during the wedding showed our brides and grooms how much we care about them.

3. We under-promised and over-delivered every time.

We had heard from others how they waited for months and months for their wedding images. We didn’t want to be those photographers. In our contract, we state that images are delivered at the six-week mark; we strive to deliver our images in half that time. As we got busier and busier with shooting weddings, we decided to outsource this part of our business so we could still provide a quick turnaround. 

4. We sent out a survey to our past clients.

This is one of the biggest and scariest things that we did. We asked questions about pricing, our customer services, whether they would book us again and how could we improve. Thankfully, we had some great feedback, but we were not perfect. We changed and tweaked how we did business. We learned to embrace the negative and use it to push ourselves to be better.

Since 2013, we have raised our prices every year and continue to see growth in our business. The year we said yes to so many things was hard (eventually, saying no can be better for business), but we knew it was only for a season. As demand increased because of the rave we were producing, our prices increased. This lesson of supply and demand was the greatest lesson we learned in our business, and we continue to reap the benefits of this simple truth.

Ashley Beasley and her husband, Luke, are a photo duo based in Virginia who run their own education platform called Luke & Ashley Education. Each month, Ashley is breaking down the stepping stones to becoming a six-figure photographer. She last wrote about the power of email marketing.


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