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The Three Things Your Website Must Address to Avoid Losing Potential Clients

By Lauchlan Toal on December 28th 2015

photography-website-mistakes-that-kill-your-business-1Often it’s easy to think of your website as just a portfolio. You show off your best work there, and if people like it, they call you up for a quote. Pretty simple. However, your website is so much more than a portfolio; it’s a marketing tool. It’s a giant, interactive advertisement for yourself.

How many advertisements have you seen that just have an image and no text?

The text, or copy, is one of the most important parts of any photographer’s website. All too often we focus on the images, neglecting this crucial element. Without good copy, we can’t address the three things that are necessary to convert someone into a client – their needs, their wants, and their fears.

This might be your want (or fear), but what is your client's?

This might be your want (or fear), but what are your client’s wants?

Needs are the bare minimum requirements. If you can’t meet a client’s needs, then you aren’t even going to be considered. For photographers, needs can be specific to your field, or more general. For example, pretty much everyone needs a photographer who will conduct themselves professionally. You can easily show your professionalism in your copy by ensuring that your writing is free of errors and colloquialisms which may be too informal or offensive. Other needs might be certain gear requirements, like needing a camera that can produce a 60MP file, or needing strobes that can freeze a speeding bullet. Others might be a need for a wedding photographer who has a second shooter. If you don’t address these needs on your website, you’ll be ignored.

The next step up is the client’s wants. These are desirable, but they are also negotiable. This is where you start to compete against other photographers, as potential customers compare which wants each photographer can meet. Wants can conflict as well. For example, someone may want a specialist, but they may also want to keep a low budget. In many cases, they’ll have to compromise on one of those wants, and accept either a higher price or someone with less experience. Other wants may include wanting a photographer who does video or wanting the files delivered within 3 weeks. Try to consider your ideal clients and what they would desire, and use your writing to show them how you can meet those desires.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, are the client’s fears. This is where the marketing really comes into play. Needs are necessary and wants are important, but fears are what sell things. Let’s say you’re running for 5 kilometers. Are you going to run faster if it’s a race with a trophy at the end or if there’s a Rottweiler chasing after you?

Maybe not a Rottweiler, but I'd run from this...

Maybe not a Rottweiler, but I’d run from this…

People are motivated by fears more than rewards.

Losing something is scarier than not gaining something. We’re used to not winning things – every day we pass up on dozens of opportunities. We keep going through life, nothing changes, we can do something great tomorrow. But losing things? That’s terrifying. We’ve put in work to get something, and if we lose it, we’ve spent all that work for nothing.

[REWIND: Erik Almas Talks About the Essentials of Marketing and Photography]

This is why fears are the most powerful tool that you can use to sell yourself. What is your client afraid of? What’s holding them back from calling you?

The bride is afraid that her special day is going to be ruined – the photos will turn out badly, or the photographer will fail to deliver them at all. The mom & pop shop is afraid that no one will care about the photos they buy. The advertising agency is afraid that your photos won’t be done with integrity, and there will be blowback from consumers. Address these fears in your copy. State what you won’t do, what the clients don’t have to worry about. Not only does this put them at ease about your business, but it makes a potential client start thinking consciously about those fears. When they check other websites that make no mention of them, they wonder if they can be trusted. They wonder if their fears would become reality. But with you, they know that they won’t. They know that you understand them and that you can be counted on to not let them down. And that’s why they’ll hire you over everyone else.

Do you address your dream client’s needs, wants, and fears on your website? Share how in the comments, as well as any other ways you help to show people that you’re the right photographer for them.

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Lauchlan Toal is a food photographer in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When not playing with his dinner, he can be found chasing bugs, shooting sports, or otherwise having fun with photography. You can follow his work online, or hunt him down on the blogs and forums that he frequents.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    I definitely agree that the writing has to be correct. My mom was an English teacher and even though I ended up in the technical field of developing computer applications, proper use of English is needed. Grammatical errors and misspellings are a turn off for me. Besides photography blogs, I also follow computer blogs and when I run across a grammatical error or misspelling, I try to determine if English is their first language or their second.

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    • Lauchlan Toal

      Absolutely, it’s a very basic and easy to spot sign of professionalism. You raise a good point about language fluency as well. As someone who speaks French well enough to be certified bilingual, but not well enough to be anywhere near a native speaking level, if I were to start a business in France I’d be sure to get several people I trust to look over my website, or even hire a professional to write parts of it. While it is more excusable to have faults if using a second language, it will still be perceived as unprofessional and will be a source of rejection. Once you get past the first impression your fluency becomes less of an issue. Things become more conversational and it’s easy to mention that English (or whatever) isn’t a first language. Thanks for bringing that subject up – I hadn’t even considered that while writing the article but there certainly are tons of photographers who this applies to.

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    • Marco Introini

      thanks Ralph. I was wondering the same thing

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    • Ralph Hightower

      There’s one manager at work that I cringe anytime when I read one of her emails. She is probably fifth generation or older born in the US and graduated from a college in my home state. But her emails are rife with grammatical errors and misspellings. I think that her emails, which may be sent to external clients, reflect poorly on our employer.

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