What are some ways to increase my number of bookings?

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Question - "I don't understand what I'm doing wrong, I'm not getting very many bookings but I believe my work is the same if not better than the photographers who are around me and they are always shooting and booking sessions... any idea on how I can get an edge in over the competition?" Any ideas/suggestions for her?

Tami: I'm interested in the replies as well :)

Michelle: Could be pricing. I know lots of people who are cheaper than me and are busier than me but I also have limited availability. If you've recently raised your prices or changed something in your business it can have a slow start

Nik: Will be interested in replies as well.

BP4U:  i agree, i think pricing has a lot to do with it... when i first started i had to sell my sessions cheaper than the competition until i got a good referral base going... but i would tell the clients that were booking at a cheaper rate that...."ohh better be glad you got our introductory rate.." so that they would know if they referred someone to me it wasn't going to be the same price

Bobbi-Alan:  2 things that boosted my session bookings in 2011 were - I got in with a preschool and did their school photos. Not only did I make a ton of money off of preschool parents, I booked an additional 10 (ish) sessions from people who had kids there. And I also ran a contest on my Facebook page. It brought people to my page and they saw the work I do. I always find that (for me) when I am slow, I find someone who would normal not book a session (because they can't afford it or something like that...) and who has a completely different set of friends than who is originally booking with me and give them a free shoot. So, once you post those pictures on Facebook and tag them in it, that is a whole new set of people that is seeing your work for the first time. (I hope that made sense!

Jill: Marketing also has a lot to do with it, how is she spreading the word about her business? Do people know all of the different types of sessions that she offers?

Nik: What worries me is that I drop my pricing then then quality of my clientele will drop with it. At the end of the day if you want to pay Pixi Photo prices go and see them...I offer a unique, one of a kind memory of a small fraction of your life.

Dana: Agree with Bobbi-Alan Van Reet...100% When I am slow or havnt posted photos for a couple of weeks, I do a free session, and also pricing has a ton to do with it. There are so many "professional photographers" in my area right now...that people have alot of people to choose from, and most dont have the $$, so they choose what they can afford, even if they have to sacrifice quality

Kristen: Don't give your work away. It will devalue your brand and you'll attract the wrong clientele, learned from experience here. I hate to say it but clients don't always see that one photog's work is better than another (in focus, not over-processed, etc). They'll book due to referrals, pricing, and availability. Think outside the box when it comes to your marketing. A networking friend told me that if I wasn't telling at least 5 new people about my business everyday, I wasn't growing. So I take a stack of cards with me everywhere. I've gotten a wedding and 2 portrait sessions at the grocery store. I send my card out in every mail correspondence (water bill, etc); don't be afraid to strike up a convo with people and tell them what you do. Practice your 30 second commercial, and use it!

Jill: I also carry business cards with me everywhere I go - I give them to people that help me in drive-thrus at places like Caribou, leave them with servers at restaurants..I even made magnets to stick on my file folders at my full time day job, every once in a while I will notice that people have taken one or two, and I'll put new ones up!

Marla: "Building Your Photography Business" by Vik Orenstein lots of good marketing ideas!

Tania: Great tips thanks

Patricia: I was told that my prices are too low, so I reevaluated, and raised to conform with the competition. Im hoping it works, because I want to book more as well. Right now i think things are going to be slow because it is winter, no one wants to go out. They are still paying Christmas off, and worrying about tax season coming. They need the money to get what they want. And how long has she been in business. I have been doing this in my area going on my second year, so I haven't built up a quality rep yet. It takes time! Don't give up! Im not!

Mindy: Hey Bobbi-Alan i also had the idea of offering school photos to my sons preschool but i am unsure how to approach them about it....also how to set my pricing. Do you charge a sitting fee per child or just make money off the prints ordered? also does the preschool need to make money also, or just me?

Kristen:  Mindy, they'll promote it more if they have an investment, so i give a percentage back to the school. And usually i make 3 or 4 packages up and no sitting fee. Don't sacrifice your style either. If you're an location type photograph don't think you have to do the cheesy school photo thing with a boring backdrop. Keep it true to you!

Mindy: Thanks Kristen, i dont do packages actually. Just have them spend a minimum on prints but they can choose any size on our website....that's what im trying to do anyway :)

Jen: I'm interested in the responses as well..

Carrie:  If pricing is too low people don't take you serious and you wont get the type of customers you want. Advertise at doctors offices and preschools and talk to some boutiques about doing some photos of their products and in turn they will hang your photos in their store. But whatever you do dont lower your prices, bad idea

BP4U:Love the idea of putting your business cards everywhere at restaurants, bills etc! Never thought of that before.

BP4U: Thinking along the lines of preschool photos what about church directory photos? They can still be lifestyle type and do all the headshots for the staff and what not

Mindy:  For the idea of putting business cards at other businesses does anyone know where to get a nice display made that will hold business cards? something eye catching where i can make my own design even?

Jayme: One tip of advice- never compare yourself to other photographers!! This just devalues you as an artist and does not help you at all to get to where you want to be. And the comment, "I believe my work is the same if not better than the photographers who are around me."-that's your problem. If you have the same style and/or look as another photog, then what sets you apart? NOTHING! Be your own person and find your own style. That makes you unique and in demand.

Patricia: How about church bulletin? Living social.com is a good outlet to drum up clients. You have to split the cost with living social, but you have the opportunity to upsell after the shoot. My packages include a cd, and they choose for what package they bought, 15 or 25...I put up more than they are supposed to pick, and I also get them to buy al of them. So, a $125 just turned into a $175.

Carrie: Mindy, I bought some of those stand up plastic display, 8x11 and then you can buy these to attach,http://www.brochureholdersonline.com/peelbus.html

Mindy: Thank you Carrie :)

Bobbi-Alan:  Mindy - email me at bobbi@vanreetphoto.com and I'll give you details on what I did at our preschool.

Mindy: Thanks so much Bobbi that is very cool of you to do! not very many photographers are willing to let other photographers know how they do business! i really appreciate your help :) and all of the help on this page!

Melissa:  I am in the same boat as the person who has posted the question! But I just keep advertising and throw in a deal or two and see if I get any bites. I also offered a barrel racing organization, that is raising money for prostate cancer; to take pictures for them free of charge and give half the proceeds from sold pictures to the fundraiser... I'm hoping it will help in getting us out there to more people :)

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