There are a lot of opinions about how to run a business. I know this because I’m in a few different photography groups on facebook, and I do a lot of reading of blogs about photography. Everyone has an opinion about what kind of lens to get, how to organize your collections, to have or not to have collections, and so on. I certainly have MY own opinions about how to run a business!
I’m starting my third year of business, and I have been pretty gung-ho on not paying for any advertising. That changed for me in 2014 – I paid for advertising in a few different ways (some worked and some didn’t!) and I also did a bridal show for the first time ever back in November! I learned a lot in 2014 about how I feel about marketing and what I value enough to spend money on. Instead of telling you whether or not you should pay for advertising or for doing a bridal show, I figured I would just share my experience with you about when I did my first bridal show! 🙂
I was approached by Kathy of the New England Wedding Association about being a vendor at a bridal show in Portland, and I was kind of on the fence about it. Bridal shows are expensive to be a part of, and the expenses add up once you start to get all of your materials gathered! I knew I was tight on money and didn’t want to pour a lot of money into it because that’s not who I am, and not what I wanted to spend my money on. I kept my table very simple and got a lot of compliments about how I showcased my work! I felt pretty intimidated, not gonna lie, because there were three other photographers there who had very elaborate set-ups compared to my simple table. But that’s okay! Each business owner has their own ideas and values about how they showcase their work at a bridal show, and in all fairness, it’s what sets us apart. It’s all about putting out there the type of clients you want to attract!
I’m so glad that some friends in a facebook group talked me into doing this (mainly because the vendor fee was so low!) because I personally booked two weddings from it, and got some other inquiries. So, for me, it was worth it in the end, and such a great learning experience about meeting new people and how to present myself and my business! I just may do it again in 2015!
I used a mixture of mounted prints from mpix.com that I propped up on little stands; regular prints that I hung on a clothesline across my light stands; handouts that had my contact info, a photo on the front, my bio, starting price point, and a client review; “we do” banner from my couple Dave + Caitlin who graciously gave it to me after their elopement in hopes that I would get some use out of it (which I did – so many compliments!!); business cards; a bouquet from Carly + Jon’s gorgeous library wedding (my sister was a bridesmaid so I just used her bouquet); two wedding albums (these were huge with the brides! they LOVED looking through them and it gave them an idea of the photos I capture throughout an entire wedding day); my iPad with a slideshow playing on a loop; and a contact form for brides to leave their information!
Here is the price breakdown of everything that I purchased!
- Vendor fee: $300.00
- Albums from Artifact Uprising: $335.00
- 100 business cards from Social Print Studio: $32.00
- Light stands: already had them
- Bouquet: already had it
- “We Do”: already had it
- Clothesline and pins: $5.00
- Photo stands and baskets to prop up photos on a higher level: $22.00 from the Christmas Tree Shop
- 50 handouts from mpix.com: $52.00
- Combination of 30 prints and 15 mounted prints from mpix.com: $105.00
- GRAND TOTAL: $851.00
If you decide to do a bridal show, just remember to make sure it reflects YOU and your business – not what someone else has done! It was helpful for me to prioritize what was important, and then work from there. For me, keeping it simple was important and reflective of my style and the types of clients I want to attract was the most important. It can certainly be an investment that adds up SO quickly!
Here are two lessons that I learned from this experience:
- pack some snacks and bring a lunch! I got there a little early and didn’t take as long to set up my table as I expected, so I started to feel really sick towards the end because I hadn’t had anything to eat! A sweet woman who was just a guest at the show gave me some of her peanuts and I was so grateful!
- FOLLOW UP! One bride booked me on the spot, and another bride booked me after I sent out emails to all the brides whose date I had available! Otherwise, all that hard work is for nothing!