No, no - I don't have magic tips for you to help you book the ideal client. But I do have a revelation to share. Here it is: Not everyone has to like you, and you don't have to market to everyone out there!
When I started out, I thought I wanted to Book the High End Bride. I had dreams of $$$$$ and I wanted them. I live in Houston, and there are plenty of rich people having huge weddings.
Then I booked what I considered my first high end wedding. When the wedding day came, I realized that I really didn't click with them that much. Not because they were rich or extravagant, but ... just because. I had sold my work and not myself. We didn't connect on a personal level. I was uncomfortable the whole time, and I feel that it shows in the photos when I look at them. They miss that certain spark for me. (The bride loves them, and that is what matters in the end.)
My High End Bride dreams came crashing down.
I realized something. If I am giving up my Saturdays for people, it needs to be for people that like ME. Truly ME. Not just my work, but me as a person. I took a chance and moved my blog to the front of my site - and instantly had a great response to it! As a result, I feel like my clients are now better pre-qualified to know if they will like me and my style, and we work so much better on the big day.
That was when it hit me. I don't need EVERYONE to like me. I ideally want to book 20-30 weddings a year. That means that only 40-60 people need to like me. In a city with millions, I only *want* 30 couples to discover me and want to work with me each year. I'm not a wedding studio, I don't have tons of associate photographers. It is just me.
I can't tell you how much freedom I felt when I realized that. Here I thought I needed everyone to like me and want to work with me -- when the reality is I only want the IDEAL clients.
Once I clued in to all of this, I went from booking lower packages to booking my higher packages, and I've continued to raise my rates. More importantly then the money, I have consistently been working with clients that are my ideal clients.
My ideal client: someone slightly geeky who likes blogs and highly values their wedding photography, probably much more than anything else on their budget list, or second after the venue/food. They like my style, and more importantly, they like me. They are laid back and fun to be around, and willing to try out crazy things. We laugh a lot at our initial meeting. We leave feeling like we've made new friends.
I've booked another wedding with a large budget since I first wrote this a year ago. (Matter of fact, I booked it probably 2 months after I wrote this post.) But the client booked me because they liked ME. The fact that they pulled out all the stops for the wedding wasn't the issue. They valued their photography. It wasn't another item on their to-do list for wedding planning. We connected, and I still get that warm fuzzy feeling when I look through their photographs.
Not everyone has to like me. Not everyone is the perfect client for me to work with. But when I do find those clients? It is magic. To me, ALL of my couples are high end, because I think they are the most fabulous people in the world.
What moments of clarity have you had that have brought you freedom?
Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.