Hi there, I'm Manali! A wedding & portrait photographer & educator serving Charlottesville VA & DC. Click through for all my favorites from recent sessions, adventures and travels, as well as tips & tricks for clients! Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and feel free to connect with me elsewhere as well! Cheers to you!
Manali Photography is a wedding & couples' photography business based out of Charlottesville, VA. When she's not making couples laugh or teaching other photographers how to save time in their biz, you can find her at a vineyard with wine & cheese in hand toasting with friends & family!
As critical as it is to show up on social platforms to market your business, I think one of the most overlooked essential components of marketing is actually YOUR WEBSITE!
Think about it, your website is your online home where you can publish your best work, have potential clients get to know you better, provide information about your services & offerings and allow interested clients to get in touch with you. A good website signifies that you’re established, your business is still running and gives your clients a feel for what working with you will be like.
Putting together your website for the first time can definitely be a daunting task, but I encourage you to work on it page by page! Even if you’re updating your site, I’ve found that updating one page at a time is so much easier than trying to overhaul the entire site at once and hitting launch. Also, as you design on your desktop, make sure it translates well to a mobile-friendly version that is easy to read & understand!
I’ve actually made updating my website a part of my monthly routine so that I’m constantly improving and tweaking things for the better. Here’s a couple of things that I’ve found are essential to a great website!
ORDER YOUR NAV BAR STRATEGICALLY
By ordering your navigation bar, you can provide your potential clients an easy to follow guide through your website pages. On each page, you want to guide them to the next page in the process and eventually to get them to contact you if it’s a good fit.
I think you should absolutely have a picture of YOU or your team on your page! And it should be one of you LOOKING into the camera. Trust is established through looking someone in the eye! It’s important that people know the FACE and the person behind the camera. Some people choose to share how they got into photography, their brand mission, or why they love photography which are all great things to include about you and your story!
However, your potential clients (unless they’re photographers themselves) are not going to connect and be able to relate as much as they’ll relate to little tidbits about you and how you are going to be the BEST person to serve them.
I recommend including fun things that help you connect with your ideal client like both being very organized and how you’ll bring that as a strength or trait as a wedding photographer. Or how you really value family and you will treat their family as your own on their wedding day!
I also think this is something that you can infuse these personality traits and connection points into any place that you market your business! I try to talk to these points on Facebook, Instagram and in my blog posts! This helps establish a personal connection with your clients which helps you stand out in a saturated market.
Show what you want to shoot! This can definitely be tough when you’re first starting out and taking any type of shoot to build your portfolio. But putting forth your best work (even if you don’t have a HUGE portfolio yet) will attract customers with your style and aesthetic and will help push your business forward towards what you want in the future. I think it’s smarter to have less images in your portfolio that showcase your absolute best work rather than a TON of images that aren’t cohesive and speaking to the overall aesthetic that you are going for.
If you happen to shoot a wedding that’s totally in line with your brand aesthetic, I think it’s totally OK to use multiple images from the same wedding! Also, don’t feel like you have to show off EVERY part of the day in your portfolio! I recommend saving that to be a full gallery that you send your clients when they inquire with you.
I recommend having two to three featured galleries in your portfolio. For each gallery include 10 to no more than 40 images that give your clients a comprehensive idea of how you’ll photograph the event for them! This is enough for them to visualize themselves in those photographs and build trust that you’ll be able to photograph their event just as well!
After each wedding or shoot, I make sure to add 3-5 images that I truly LOVE that best represent my brand into a folder that I keep on my desktop. This makes it really easy to refresh my portfolio, individual website pages and have images to post on social media THROUGHOUT the year. It also makes putting together a “best of ” post at the end of the year a thousand times less daunting since you already have your best images all in one place!
BLOG WITH FRESH CONTENT
I full-heartedly believe that you should keep your blog up and running consistently! You don’t have to blog daily or even weekly but having a consistent posting schedule will let your clients and Google know that you’re an actively running business.
It definitely takes a lot of planning, time and energy to blog each shoot on top of actually shooting & editing but I’ve also seen the result of all that hard work pay off time and time again. Blogging has done WONDERS for growing my business!
If you show that you’re busy and in-demand, that automatically increases your value since you can only take a limited number of sessions each year! Plus, it gives potential customers PROOF that you do what you do well and with a lot of heart. It gives them a peek into what their pictures will look like AS WELL as what the experience with you is going to FEEL like which can be equally as important!!
If you need even more reasons to blog, I hear it’s great for upping your SEO over time and that Google goes through your website each time you publish a blog post! I could probably write an entire blog post just about why blogging is still a great idea in 2020 and show you proof that it’s not “dead” like some people might think it is. My blog has constantly been one of the most visited pages on my website since I got started and I don’t think that’ll change any time soon!
INVESTMENT & INFO
There’s a lot of debate about whether or not to include pricing on your website in the wedding industry and I think ultimately this is a decision you have to make for yourself in your business.
I always include a baseline of what my prices are on my website! As a consumer reaching out, I always want to have a ballpark of what he investment will look like. Plus, my wedding clients are BUSYYYY! They have so much planning to do and are meeting with so many vendors in a really short period of time and trying to finalize basic details for their wedding. They don’t have time to waste!
The saddest thing is when you hop on a call or meet with a couple in person and happen to be a great fit only to realize you are so far out of their budget range that they’d never be able to work with you and comfortably stay within their budget! Pretty sad, right? Putting my average price up on my website helps qualify my leads and make sure I’m close to their budget and so when I meet with people they’re almost ready to book!
OVERALL DESIGN & AESTHETIC
Three words for you here: LESS IS MORE! I definitely have learned this the hard way!! If you take a look at the branding of higher-end shops & boutiques, you’ll notice that a lot of them incorporate a lot of white space and margin. Sure they’ll have pops of color here and there but they let their products be the main focus in their store and don’t have a lot of distracting elements in the space.
Also, I suggest sticking with TWO complimentary fonts & colors to base your entire site around! This provides simplicity and consistency across the board! When in doubt, SIMPLIFY! And along with this idea, more and more recently people have stopped reading as much text on pages. If you check the amount of time people spend on a page, you’ll be shocked to find just how little it is!
I recommend making sure to keep text size large enough that it’s easily readable, breaking up every 2-3 sentences of text, and making sure you don’t have any lines with only 1-2 words since it’s not as visually pleasing.
This is the one thing I see where a lot of creatives can up their game on for their website! Make it easy for people to get in touch with you!!! This means putting your contact form on several website pages and making it VERY easy to get to. After all, your website is a great first touchpoint but you want them to get in touch with you to learn more!
I recommend including your email address so people can reach out directly if needed! Sometimes I find it a little difficult to reach out to vendors with photos from an event we worked together if they don’t include their email address on their website in an easily accessible place.
Here are a couple of essentials I always ask for on my contact form. If I get an inquiry from somewhere OTHER than my website (and trust me, I get inquiries from literally every communication platform that I’m on), I always funnel them to my contact form. This helps me get all the details that I need to respond back to them without a lot of back and forth so that I can provide them with all the information that’ll help them figure out if it’s what they’re looking for.
I always ask for the following things:
Bride AND Groom’s Names – Addressing by their names is a good personal touch to include in the email response back. The sweetest word in any language is your NAME so I make sure to include their names at least twice in the email back!
Date – This lets me ensure that I’m available to shoot their wedding or refer them to other photographer friends
Venue – This helps me decide if I need to include additional costs to cover travel within my initial quote of their investment with me.
Referral Source – This helps you track analytics on WHERE your leads are coming from which helps determine where to spend your time marketing! Also, when possible, I like to always send a kind little note to people that refer me to their friends because I always SUPER appreciate it!!
About Wedding / Event – Generally, I can tell how strong of a lead is by what people type here! This tells me if people are just looking for a photographer based on price or if they’re looking for a personal connection with their photographer as well as a general aesthetic/style they’re going for! I also use this to email back and write about what strikes me as unique about their wedding because I’m always interested in the details! It provides points of connection I can make with my client which helps me stand out among other people that they’re reaching out to as well!
That’s all I’ve got for today but I hope this helps you the next time you revamp your website! Let me know if there are any other tried and true tricks you guys have for a great website that converts potential leads into loyal customers down below!
More Great Business Tips – The MP Education Series
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