The down season is the best time to focus on your branding for the coming year. When shoots and fewer and editing is lighter, you have the time to devote to your brand. As a photographer, your brand is what represents you to potential clients, so it’s important that it says what you want it to say.
Pick 3-5 Words that Best Represent Your Work/ Style
What impression do you want potential clients to take away from your site? Write down these words as inspiration to keep in mind during this process. When you make choices about which images to include in your online portfolio or how to word social media posts, these words will be your guide. Always reflect back onto them to keep your branding on track.
Make sure that your website is functional, well-designed, and showcases your work in the strongest possible manner. The actual design of the website will depend on the desired functionality as well as your brand as a photographer. If your style is light and airy, you’ll probably want a minimalist website without much color (perhaps white) to best showcase your work. If you have a dark, contrasty style, perhaps a darker colored site will work better.
Your work and the information you are providing on your website should be the main focus, and a design should never detract from that. Good design isn’t noticeable– in other words, it shows off the content so well you don’t even notice that it’s there. As photographers, the portfolio section and images you include on your website are the most important part– after all, this is what potential clients will be hiring you for. I recommend designing your site to highlight your work.
Your logo is your first representation of your brand, so it’s important for it to be strong. It should convey the 3-5 words that you chose in Part 1. Your logo visually represents your brand to your clients, as it will appear on your website, your business cards, and potentially elsewhere (marketing materials, social media, etc).
Choosing Images for your Portfolio
Choose images that highlight your best work, but also images that you want to shoot more of. If a bride hires you for the images that you show on your site, there is an expectation that you will create images in a similar quality to the images shown in your portfolio. Therefore, if you are trying to change your style, it’s important to refresh your portfolio with images in this new style, in order to attract clients who want to create images in this style.
What information should you include on your website? Again, this depends on your industry and your brand. Assuming I’m writing to wedding photographers, a general rule of thumb is to include the following sections: about the photographer, portfolio, the experience, pricing, and a contact page for potential clients to contact you.
About the Photographer– This is general information about you, who you are, and what you believe. This is where clients come to get to know you and get a feel for you as a photographer. The most important part about this page is the opportunity to gain a potential client’s trust. If you represent yourself well, and you’re a good match with your client, they will hopefully trust you enough to contact you for a consultation and consider hiring you to document their special day.
Portfolio– The images you include on your website. You’ll probably have images throughout the site, as well as a dedicated section to showing off your work.
The Experience — A blurb about how you operate as a photographer, what a client will gain from working with you, what a “wedding day experience” is like with you. I use this page to paint as clear a picture as possible as what the client will get in working with me.
Pricing– I put my package prices online so that clients are aware of my price range I know other photographers who prefer to share prices over email on an individual basis. This choice is completely up to you.
Contact– A page (normally an email form) for potential clients to contact you for bookings or with questions. This is a good place to post links to your social media as well.
It’s important to keep a consistent brand across all platforms. This includes your website, business cards, facebook, twitter, instagram, and any other social media platforms you may have. If you update the images on your site, I’d recommend updating your facebook page to reflect a similar style. Likewise, if you create a new logo for your photography business, make sure that you replace it on all platforms, including printing new business cards.
Social Media is your strongest marketing tool. This is your space to represent your brand, to share your work, and to share about yourself as a photographer. During the off season, you can curate your social media to make sure that your posts are representing yourself well as a photographer. If you’ve changed your style drastically, you might want to go back and remove old Instagram photos that no longer represent your brand.
Social media is also your strongest advertising tool. You can use the down season to run marketing campaigns on social media to drum up business for yourself during the busy season.
The new year is a good time to update your pricing. During the down season, you can take the time to go back to your books, review your fiscal and business year, and see what you need to do with pricing for the following year. Perhaps you have specific growth goals that you need to update your pricing to achieve. Updating pricing for the new year also gives you a good stopping point to honor old pricing– prices are good through 2016, but for 2017 bookings these are your new prices. It’s a great organizational system.