Business + Marketing

Six-Figure Wedding Photography: Solidifying Vendor Relationships and Scoring Referrals

September 20, 2019

By Ashley Beasley

© Luke and Ashley

Each month, Ashley Beasley is breaking down the stepping stones to becoming a six-figure photographer. She last wrote about being a money-managing master. See more at the bottom of this article.

Word-of-mouth is an essential aspect of an organic marketing strategy if you want to grow your business. Most photographers and other small-business owners know this. There is nothing like getting your past clients to rave about you to their friends and family. A foundation of trust is there, and from that, the client already has confidence in us.

While getting a referral from a client you had worked with once before is great, what about getting referrals from those that we work with on a more regular basis? Vendors that contribute to making our couples’ days a success are highly valuable when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing.

Having been in this business for the last eight years, we have been asked numerous times by our brides and grooms which vendors we recommend for their wedding day. Our professional opinion matters to them because they trust that we would only recommend the very best. The same is true for non-photography wedding vendors. Venues, planners and other wedding professionals are being asked for recommendations for photographers because they are trusted people in this industry.

The question is, how do we as photographers get on the lips of these trusted vendors? You get referred by building authentic relationships.

Luke and I did not take our business to six-figures by being fake and self-centered. We had to give a lot and create an experience that was above and beyond the norm. Our time in doing this has helped us build a business where multiple trusted vendors refer us without any advertisements or referral circles. 

Creating authentic relationships with your vendor teams is a win-win for everyone involved. Not only does it lead to more bookings, but also creates an even better experience for the client. 

Here are three proven strategies you can start implementing in your business to start building those relationships.

1. Ask what you can do for them.

Remember, Luke, and I gave away a lot, and it takes giving to get something in return. Not everything will pay off, but when it does, it is so worth it.

As photographers, you have a talent that other vendors do not have—photography skills! Ask them if they need new headshots, branding material or anything on that level.

And guess what? If you are offering, give it away for free! You want to help their business grow, and your talent can do just that. Your time and gift will be valuable to them, and, hopefully, out of that act of kindness will grow a trusted business relationship.

2. Communicate your enthusiasm.  

I am still surprised by how little vendors communicate with one another. Set the tone of the conversation.

If you are working an event with them, reach out beforehand and introduce yourself. Tell them know how excited you are to work with them.

Whether it’s the first time or the 100th time, go back to number one and ask them if they need anything from you, letting them know that you are not only there for the clients but also the vendor team.

[Tips to Improving Your Communication with Clients Who Book You]

3. Follow up with them later. 

It is natural that after a session or wedding to move on to the next client and forget about following up with the vendors of your last event. But this step is such an important touchpoint.

Sending a thank-you email along with a vendor gallery for them to share the images goes a long way. There have been countless times where the vendors were shocked that I sent them pictures that they could use for their portfolio.

As a collaborated team effort that invested in our couple’s day, it’s important to us that our vendors have images to show off their hard work and talent. By doing this small, simple act, our work gets shared with new audiences regularly.

Having good vendor relationships is invaluable to your business. Not only does it bring a trusted word-of-mouth referral, but overall, it’s an excellent professional friendship in the industry. This kinship will bring growth to your business by offering a different perspective and new ideas. Our connections with other industry professionals have been the bread and butter to our wedding photography business. Invest in your vendors; it will pay off ten-fold. 

Ashley Beasley and her husband, Luke, are a photo duo based in Virginia who run their own education platform called Luke & Ashley Education.


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