3 Ways to Find Clients While You Sleep with Moshe Zusman
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If you know me or have read any of my articles, you know I love taking pictures but that I also love the business side of photography. And as a businessman, you should know what I know: Time is money.
In order to practice my mantra of “Hold a camera, not a mouse,” I have to make sure I don’t spend too much time online looking for leads, booking clients and even marketing all my services to them. In the past, a lot of my bookings were done manually. A client would call, we’d discuss things and then I would invoice them. We’d have to remind them of their appointment before the shoot, make sure we collect the remaining balance, etc. Then, of course, wait for the deposit or payment, put their appointment in the calendar and, finally, execute the photo shoot.
Thankfully, life isn’t like that anymore. Now there are tons of ways for you to streamline your workflows and reduce the logistics you need to focus on so you can go back to holding your camera. Here are three things I use in my business to make money and get work done practically in my sleep.
The 3 Basic Tools
1. Online Booking
Things have changed quite a bit in the past two years. I’ve discovered services for automating my leads and bookings. I use Square Appointments (SquareUp.com), a service that does it all for me. My favorite three words are one-stop shop, and SquareUp is just that.
First, you’ll want to customize the booking site to reflect your business hours and services on SquareUp’s appointments site.
Once you’ve done all the initial customization, you’re all set. All this is on the admin side, behind the scenes. On the client’s side, it’s integrated into my website and the experience is smooth and simple. In fact, ever since I started using this service, my booking rate has gone up and client feedback about the overall booking experience is always positive.
After you’ve set up the backend, you’ll embed the Square Appointments code onto the booking portion of your website. It becomes a seamless booking experience for the clients, and a completely hands-off task for me.
The service sends clients reminders via email and/or text before the shoot. All I need to do is keep an eye on my Google Calendar (which I live by) and make sure I’m in the studio to meet the client. The time savings alone is a deal maker for me. I no longer have to email clients a reminder or remember to collect payments.
2. Targeted Ads
Another way I save time is by not being online too many hours of the day to market myself. Instead I use Facebook, Google and Yelp ads. I have a monthly budget for those advertising tools, and each one is different—in its use and target market. So I diversify my marketing between the three. Here’s how.
I do a carousel of ads for specific demographics: people between the ages of 21 and 65 (because a 16-year-old high school student can’t afford my services anyway), government sector, health, law and Realtors—the top clients in my area. The main reason is not to waste clicks on someone who’s not a potential client and maximize the return from the ads. Using demographics means profiling your customers and placing the right ad in front of the right person.
Not everyone is on Facebook, believe it or not. So, for those “conservative” Google searchers, I want to be on the first page when they search for “headshot photographers” in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas. In addition to a great website with really good SEO, I want to make sure that my Google ads show on every search page. Google ads are perfect for that.
Yelp is a great way to advertise your services, especially in the headshot market. Unlike for wedding photography, people search for headshot photographers on Yelp because it is a quick service that’s typically needed locally. I have never heard of a bride searching for a high-end wedding photographer on Yelp, but I do get a ton of inquiries for headshot services.
Yelp offers packages that include options like removing competitors from your page and the “request for quote” button. I use all of them. Yelp is great for metropolitan areas especially, because people in those areas love fast service.
All of the marketing outlets you use should be targeted locally to your geographical area. Don’t market headshots in L.A. if you’re a NYC photographer. No one hops on a plane to get a headshot across the country. Market yourself within people’s reach—both financially and geographically.
Another thing that’s common to online booking and marketing is the idea that you “set and forget,” or at least forget about it for a while. I tweak my booking site only if needed (hours change, I’m out of town, etc.) and my ads run for one to three months before I change them.
3. The Perfect Assistant
To help you keep your hands on the camera and off the mouse, consider hiring a studio manager. If it’s too early to do that, consider a virtual assistant. Even though the services above are “set and forget” and “one-stop shop,” there’s always going to be that one (or more) client who needs special attention, has questions or simply needs help with the booking process. For that, we have an email and a phone number where my studio manager is always there to take care of my clients while I’m away, out of town or holding that camera.