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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.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Pier-Yves Menkhoff

    I do not recommend WeddingWire. WeddingWire is not honest in its relationship with its Wedding providers.

    My company, created in 1994, films Wedding in France, Europe, Usa, Asia, Etc. 

    – A few years ago, Wedding Wire proposed us a subscription per month or per year. We chose 3 months. We had a forced subscription of one year.

    – When we pay $ 40 per month, Wedding Wire does not inform the Client he will not appear on the Site. We need to pay $ 50 per month.

    – We asked to be located on Paris. In fact we were located on San Jose, then on Denver. Despite many complaints, we have never been located in Paris. Consequence: no result for our company.

    – WeddingWire does not assume its mistakes. We have never been reimbursed for our subscription.

    – WeddingWire does not comply with US and European laws. An account must be deleted at the request of the Customer.

    – WeddingWire punishes customers who quit. Wedding Wire has erased our many positive reviews to leave only four including two negative ones.

    – Two of our Clients complained to WeddingWire for deleting their reviews. No response from WeddingWire.

    We invite anyone to read the positive reviews on our website. Who can think that a director who films in Germany, Belgium, Canada, China, Korea, Spain, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland, USA, is bad ?

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  2. kiel rucker

    I’m currently reviewing the value of ALL monthly subscriptions I have for my photography business. Based on my experience, I’ve concluded that WeddingWire is basically NOT worth any paid membership – at least as far as valuable  lead generation is  concerned. I’m as certain as I can be that I’ve NEVER booked a lead that I’ve received from WeddingWire.

    When speaking with a sales rep they claimed to have data showing that a couple that DID book with me found me on WeddingWire – but there is ultimately no way of knowing that WW wasn’t simply one of the sites where they found my information somewhere/sometime during their research into a photographer.

    I too have a required field on my contact form asking potential clients how/where they found me and to date, WeddingWire hasn’t been the response of any clients that I’ve booked.

    All of that being said, the sales rep was able to plant a seed of doubt in my mind regarding the SEO value of the the 60+ reviews I have on WeddingWire, claiming something like each review WW review links to my own website thereby increasing my SEO ranking.

    I would LOVE to know if anyone here can speak to the SEO value of WeddingWire and it’s reviews – because if there isn’t one I’m certainly not going to go continue on with them.

    Any input is appreciated!

    Thank you!

    Kiel

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  3. Michael Feltner

    FYI- the following is based solely on my experience.

    I have been a paying client of theknot, weddingwire, snapknot, & mywedding. I am currently only a client of theknot. I feel that the others skew their numbers by not removing bot and spam crawlers, so their numbers of visits to your page are very much skewed.  To confirm this I have my contact form require them to mark how they found us – I get a lot of google search, facebook, and theknot. Never has any client mentioned in conversation or checked that they found me from the other sources. You can also look to see how much traffic these sites actually get and theknot is by far the most visited of them all.

    I only continue to use the knot because I can verify that some of my clients actually come from theknot. We do 20-25 weddings a year and about a third of them come from theknot.

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    • Christopher Lin

      Great insight!  I have noticed similar results with the knot with just our free account (not too many mentions of weddingwire)

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  4. Andy Stonier

    Very good, clear and concise read on the oft neglected marketing side of our business :-)

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  5. Alyssa Smirnov

    Good read

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  6. Griffin Conway

    Really enjoyed reading this article. I would be curious if there would be a similar result for actual leads for an individual photographer compared to a large studio like Lin and Jirsa.  I have a feeling most clients would probably look at your website and reviews on other sites as well before submitting their information, so my guess is that there would probably be significantly less leads for a small studio or individual that chooses to utilize sites like wedding wire.com

    Either way, really enjoyed the read and information, thanks for sharing!

    -Griffin

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    • Shivani Reddy

      That’s an interesting thought for sure Griffin Conway . I’ve seen plenty of individual photographers create and thrive from a WeddingWire profile. I think Yelp/Facebook might be more beneficial to a photographer starting off.

      There is no harm in creating it and prompting clients from there but most referrals, as you can see from the stats above, come from social media & google search.  

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