Introducing Wedding Maps- Our New Directory and Awards Platform
We’re excited to launch a new directory and awards platform for wedding photographers called Wedding Maps! In this article, we’ll discuss why, review the main features, and show you how to apply for membership.
First, WHY Another Directory and Awards Platform?
A professional directory is the natural “next step” for our community. Most of you started here with our free and premium content, designed to educate photographers with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed. From there, we went on to tackle another major pain point in the creative professional’s life, editing. So, we launched Visual Flow to make raw processing a snap. That brings us to today and all of you!
We wanted a way to “complete the cycle” and help this massive community of talented wedding photographers in the next step of your journey, BOOKING MORE CLIENTS! … Enter Wedding Maps.
Book More? Improve My Online Reputation? How?
An engaged couple has hundreds of choices when it comes to wedding photography in any given city or region. So besides the quality of our work, what tools do we have as photographers to stand out? This question is at the core of all of our features and decisions, and it led us to a four-pronged approach.
- Manual directory curation
- Wedding Maps Venue Features, SEO, and articles
- Partner website features
- Awards and “Faux Events” for marketing
Let’s discuss each of these.
Manual Curation of The Photographers
In order to join Wedding Maps, each applicant’s portfolio and business are reviewed for creativity, technical mastery, storytelling, client reviews, experience, and more. This manual process provides clients with a baseline level of assurance that the photographers are legitimate. It also means that photographers will be removed from the directory if Wedding Maps discovers any activity that we deem inappropriate for our client-serving industry.
From there, we wanted to allow brides and potential clients to search by location, and more specifically, VENUES!
Wedding Maps Venue Features, SEO, and Articles
We want to get you eyeballs and leads! And no, we’re not talking low-balling junk leads that you’d see through typical pay-to-play directories.
A high percentage of wedding photography leads are generated through search engine results, and on top of that, most future brides and grooms are searching for imagery based on specific venues and locations! How’d we get the name Wedding Maps? Because our business model is based on finding leads through location-based search! We’re literally creating “wedding maps” of the most popular locations and venues your clients are looking for.
What does this mean to you? VISIBILITY!
Here’s how it works:
Venue Listing Pages
Venue Pages are information and inspiration pages designed for your clients’ needs! That means when your potential clients are looking for a location for their engagement photos or potential wedding venues, the best images submitted from that location will be served up as inspiration on Wedding Maps Venue Pages.
These venue profiles combine essential venue information, such as style, capacity, price, etc with incredible images from our photographers so that wedding couples can visualize the creative and aesthetic potential of each wedding venue. If you look at this example, notice how the images from the venue link directly back to the photographer’s profile, creating an awesome potential for being discovered and booked.
Tips and Inspiration Articles
On top of Venue Pages, Wedding Maps articles are highly optimized for specific topics and keywords that a bride and groom might search. These evergreen articles attract eyeballs to your work and drive traffic to your profile, increasing your booking rate. See an example here.
Partner Website Features
Wedding Maps actively seeks ways to feature the work of their photographers on partner websites (like SLR Lounge and others). These features and links help build up a photographer’s online reputation and SEO rankings. In short, we want to help you fill up your “featured in” section of your website and drive up your search rankings. Here are a couple of examples of partner website features:
- 10 Desert Photography Tips for Beautiful Results on SLR Lounge
- Best Photography Spots in Arizona on The Photo Argus
Awards and “Faux Events” For Marketing
Last, let’s talk about awards and “faux events.”
Awards in the wedding industry serve two main purposes. The first is rather obvious, it’s a 3rd party validation of your skillset. This is nice, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy. But, it’s not what makes them truly powerful.
Awards and article features provide you with a “faux event” for marketing purposes. Each time your images receive an award or your work is featured in a Wedding Maps (or partner website) article, it gives you a chance to let your clients know, “hey, check out how awesome I am.”
Haha, OK you’re not going to say it like that of course. But what you can do is post to social media, congratulate your clients on having their images featured, and use this form of recognition to bring awareness to your work! Best of all, we’ve made awards SIMPLE!
Wedding Maps has designed a unique, user-friendly awards system. You can see how it works here. Traditional awards platforms require significant time in selecting and preparing the right images. Understanding all of the contest rules, predicting what the judges are looking for, and hunting for the best images are just some of the pain points in the process.
For Wedding Maps, we’ve made awards simple. Just submit your images like normal to your profile and the Article Features (described above). From there, the editorial team carefully reviews the submissions to select the best images for awards each quarter. That’s it!
Ok, now let’s get down to the brass tax. How do you join?
How Can I Apply to Join?
We are currently accepting applications for our next round of photographers. Keep in mind that we have strict criteria for acceptance, so do not be discouraged if your application is not approved this go around. Wait a couple of months, then give it another go. We still want to be a part of your journey, and help you improve your overall skills and your business within our community here at SLR Lounge.
Note: We do have membership fees that vary by location. They are primarily used towards 1) creating articles on wedding maps, SLR Lounge, and other partner sites that feature your work and 2) maintaining and developing features for the website. For more information, we invite you to fill out an application.