Is WeddingWire Worth It for Photographers?

As small business owners and photographers, I’m sure you’ve considered sites like the Knot, WeddingWire, SnapKnot and other directories that promise to deliver high-quality, targeted leads right to your inbox. But are these worth the money?

While you’ll find differing opinions on blogs and forums, there is not a general consensus in the industry. Why? Because the answer depends on a variety of factors, like lead conversion rates, your margins, to your opportunity costs, and more.

So to help your business, here is our analysis based on actual numbers after two years of advertising with WeddingWire.  This info is based on our experience in Southern California, so your experience will undoubtedly vary, and we’d love to hear your thoughts and your experience in the comments below.

This article is a continuation of our Photography SEO and Web Marketing Ebook, available for purchase in our store or for free in Premium.

WeddingWire Plans and Our Cost

At the time of this article, WeddingWire has three pricing tiers:

  1. Professional – Lowest Price
  2. Featured – Middle Tier
  3. Spotlight – Most Expensive (Often “sold out”)

In year one, we started with the lowest tier, the “WeddingWire – Professional Membership,” and we decided to upgrade to the “WeddingWire – Featured membership” in year two, which we’ll focus on in this article since it’s more recent and relevant. Their “Spotlight” was (and still is) sold out.

How much did it cost? Your actual costs will differ depending on the category of your business, with photography, for example, having a higher price tag than cinematography. Larger cities will also be more expensive than smaller cities. We had a small discount for staying on board for year two and a “review incentive discount,” a discount they give out for accumulating a certain number of reviews.

The final bill was $272.92 per month or $3,275 per year. So what was our return on this investment?

The Numbers | Traffic, Clicks and Leads

The WeddingWire dashboard provides users with information like storefront visits, website clicks, reviews collected, and lead collected.  Those of you who love data will really enjoy this section of their dashboard.

Cost Per Storefront Visit

‘Storefront Visits’ are visits to your WeddingWire profile and not your actual website.  For Storefront Visits over a 12 month period, we received the following:

  • Store Visits: 1,964 Visits
  • Total Spend: $3,275
  • Cost Per Storefront Visit of $1.67*

*Cost Per Storefront Visit is calculated as Total Spend divided by Store Visits. Because we link directly to our WeddingWire account from our high-traffic home page, not all of these visits are organic within WeddingWire search.

Cost Per Website Click

Website clicks are clicks from your WeddingWire profile to your actual website. For Website Clicks over a 12 month period, we received the following:

  • Website Clicks: 249
  • Total Spend: $3,275
  • Cost Per Website Click of $13.15*

*Cost Per Website Click is calculated as Total Website Clicks divided by Total Cost.

Cost Per Lead of $41.50

Leads are calls or messages sent to your business for prospective clients. For Cost Per Lead of $41.50 over a 12 month period, we received the following:

  • Total Leads: 98
  • Total Spend: $3,275
  • Cost Per Lead of $33.42*

*Cost Per Lead is calculated as the Total Leads divided by the Total Spend. “Total Leads” is a combination of the leads received directly through the WeddingWire “contact button” on their site and clicks from WeddingWire to our main site that lead to someone contacting us. This latter part was tracked as a “goal” in Google Analytics. We’ll get into goal setting up Google Analytics upcoming workshops.  To stay up-to-date on Marketing Workshop releases, please sign up for notifications here.

So Is it Worth It?

Whether or not any advertising investment is worth it depends on a few factors:

  • Your lead conversion rate
  • Your average package price
  • Your margins
  • Your opportunity costs.

If you’re able to convert a good number of these leads, charge a sustainable package price, and manage the time and costs of each shoot, then a price tag of under $50 per lead would not be too bad. However, if you aren’t able to convert many of those leads, your package pricing is low, or your costs are too high, that number might not be sustainable.

Example with some numbers

Let’s assume you calculate your cost per lead at $50 and you are able to convert 10% of those into clients at an average booking price of $3,000. In this scenario, it costs you $500, i.e. $50 divided by 10%, to book a $3,000 client.

Now let’s say the cost of each shoot (excluding the marketing costs) is $1,000 for the second shooter, lighting assistant, post producer, album designer, etc.  Note: even if you’re doing all of these things yourself, you should still try to place a numeric value on your time.

In this scenario, you’re now at a $1.5K of profit without factoring in any other expenses and taxes you might incur.

Is that worth it to you? Some might think so, while others might not. The point is, a huge chunk of your profit is going into the lead conversion process. So what are other alternatives?

Alternatives to Directory Advertising

There are 8 ways to generate leads for wedding photographers.  We’re going to cover these in upcoming Marketing Workshops in detail (signup for release notifications), but here is a quick overview.

  • Search Engine Optimization (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
  • Search Engine Paid Advertising (Adwords and Bing Ads)
  • Client Referrals (Clients, Friends of Clients, Etc)
  • Vendor Referrals (Coordinators, Venues, Etc)
  • Social Media Organic Marketing (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Etc)
  • Social Media Paid Ads (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Etc)
  • Directory Listings (WeddingWire, Knot, Etc)

Why We Choose to Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

For us at Lin and Jirsa, we focus the majority of our marketing budget on content for our website (SEO) and organic social media efforts. Ranking well in search has been the backbone of our marketing efforts.

The graphic below shows the “source” on the left column and the number of times someone submitted our “Contact us” form on the right column.

Things to notice:

  • Between Google, Yahoo, and Bing – Search accounts for over 40% of conversions
  • linandjirsablog.com is our blog on a separate site. The majority of that traffic comes from niche search terms, so search plays a role here as well
  • Yelp is pretty solid in term of traffic and lead generation. The quality of those leads is another topic for another workshop.
  • Compared to everything else, WeddingWire does not generate a lot of leads.  Note that the 47 you see here excludes leads directly from the Weddingwire contact form and only includes people who clicked to our site from wedding wire and submitted a contact form.

The Cost of SEO | Is It Free?

If you study and practice good SEO strategies, you will not need to spend much, if any, actual money. However, it’s also important to realize that it takes a lot of time, effort, and consistency to rank well. However, the primary advantage of SEO over paid advertising is that SEO continually drives traffic over time, while paid advertising stops delivering the minute you stop spending.

If you’re interested in our methods, we have the Photography Web Marketing and SEO Ebook that is available for free via Premium or for a flat price in our Store.

CHAPTER 1.01 – INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 2: 1.02 – SEO BASICS & KEYWORD STRATEGY

CHAPTER 3 1.03 – CREATING CONTENT

CHAPTER 4: 1.04 – SITE STRUCTURE

Chapter 5: 1.05 – ACCESSIBILITY, SPEED, AND DUPLICATE CONTENT

Chapter 6: 2.01 – LINK BASICS

Chapter 7: 2.02 – LINK VALUE FACTORS

Chapter 8: 2.03 – NOFOLLOW, RELATED LINKS, & ANCHOR TEXT

Chapter 9: 2.04 – LINK BUILDING STRATEGIES

Chapter 10: 3.01 – THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Chapter 11: 3.02 – MAXIMIZING SPECIFIC SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS

Chapter 12: 3.03 – MASTER LOCAL SEARCH

Chapter 13: 4.01 – Initial Decisions

Chapter 14: 4.02 – WORDPRESS AND SQUARESPACE

Chapter 15: 4.03 – GOOGLE ANALYTICS

Chapter 16: PAID DIRECTORIES

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