From quitting to becoming a successful wedding photographer, JenniMarie’s story will encourage you to keep going after your dreams, even if it seems like it will never work out. Today’s case study is how a marketing tweak re-launched JenniMarie’s business.
Photos courtesy of JenniMarie Photography
A recent-ish transplant to the Fraser Valley (British Columbia, Canada, where I live), Jennifer was stumped on how to find clients in her new city/country/life. For the better part of a decade she had worked as a successful wedding photographer and yet none of the client-finding tactics she had always used worked in this new land. What was going on?
Five months passed without booking a wedding. This was five months longer than she had ever gone between bookings. “I kept getting overlooked, I was feeling like a failure,” she said.
Feeling frustrated, insecure, and defeated, Jennifer began announcing to friends and family that she was quitting photography.
So how did we get here?
I asked Jennifer why she didn’t end up quitting. She said she realized she was at rock bottom and then thought…what can I do? It was here she began wondering about getting back on the horse; giving her business one last hail Mary.
Because she had this idea. It was an idea for a wedding-planning magazine. She hadn’t thought about it in any depth but it was something she had toyed with in her mind for a while. What if she put the remaining money in her business account towards the magazine? If it worked, wonderful! If not, then she would quit.
When Jennifer approached me about reframing her business I didn’t know any of her struggle
On the surface, Jennifer exuded confidence and direction. In fact, I was surprised she was asking for help as I never saw her as someone who needed anything. With my curiosity engaged (and my ego flattered beyond comprehension), we set up a coffee meeting and I gave her homework.
At our meeting I wanted to discuss these six points.
- Target audience/customer
- Budget (what do you need to make?)
- MVP—paid offer
- Content calendar (blog/email)
- Sales funnel
- Email blitz (freebie? Lead magnet? Coupon?)
Before our meeting she sent me a five-page brain dump. It. Was. Amazing. Sure, her ideas were scattered and pointing in 10 different directions, but I could see a thread and was excited to follow it and see where it led.
Over the next month or two we worked on building a marketing strategy. She had all the pieces for her business to thrive but it looked like what was missing was for all the pieces to point back at her as the Fraser Valley Wedding Photographer. In order to reframe her business for her new context we took a few pieces of her existing strategy and pointed them all in the same direction.
I challenged Jennifer to make some important, yet difficult, changes.
- First, I wanted her to not only brand herself as a wedding photographer (rather than a general photographer) but I wanted her to stop all non-wedding related posting, including on her website, blog, and public social channels
- Second, I wanted her to create cornerstone content—this was a departure from her usual approach, which was more in the moment. These posts were meant to represent the core of who she is and what her business is about. Not easy!
- Third, I wanted her to rewrite her about page. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, in fact her about page matched all the other photographer about pages I read while doing my market research. However, I noticed all these sites focused on the photographer rather than the client. What if, I challenged, we reverse the focus and see what happens?
Jennifer said these suggestions were a huge mental shift—the cornerstone content idea caused a light bulb moment for her. She found posting only about weddings was the hardest adjustment as she did so many other wonderful and interesting things, but once she began down the path she saw so much good come out of it she knew she had to keep going.
Other adjustments? She went back and stripped down her Instagram portfolio to wedding-only photos and tried to stop fixating on vanity metrics. “Instead, I focused on having the right followers and the right content,” she said.
This was a smart move because focusing on what you can control is the best way to move forward. Concentrating on how many followers you have or how many shares your content receives isn’t something you can control so it doesn’t help anything to focus on it.
Reworking the About Page
Like I said before, there was nothing “wrong” with Jennifer’s about page. But she let me rework it anyway. After I knew her ideal bride I took Jennifer’s brain dump, interviewed recently engaged women in my area, and gathered up a bunch of keywords to use. I love what we came up with.
Jennifer said she realized the things she’s proud of may not be what potential clients care about.
She saw results of this tweak right away. One of the main comments she gets from potential brides is how she knew Jennifer was the right photographer for her because she described her so perfectly on her about page.
What About the Magazine?
“It revolutionized my business.”
The big idea behind the magazine was creative collaborations. Jennifer wanted to work with local vendors and venues and produce beautiful wedding scenes brides could see themselves in.
Over the course of a few months she worked at shooting all the images for her magazine. It helped her in three main ways:
- Provided updated portfolio with Fraser Valley weddings on display
- Helped her create cornerstone content for her website (it also went in the magazine and her onboarding email series)
- Connected her with the wedding scene in the Fraser Valley
With the magazine now acting as an opt-in for potential clients, she is seeing the fruit of her labours. She also learned some important lessons along the way about weddings in the Fraser Valley and ways she can improve her magazine the next time around.
So What Happened?
Jennifer launched her magazine in December…to crickets. But she persevered. She kept working her launch and marketing strategy and kept her self-talk positive. January and February came and she experienced positive feedback to her magazine and inquiries coming in at record pace.
But no bookings.
Still, she kept working the plan.
March came, and summer bookings started. April came, and she started booking for 2018 weddings. June arrived now Jennifer actually believes she could go full time on wedding photography.
“I did the math and see that it’s possible,” she said.
Now that’s a transformation!
Most important takeaways
Jennifer said the biggest thing she’s learned is that everyone needs help along the way. She had wanted to do everything on her own, but was at rock bottom and so reached out to people she could trust.
She also had to embrace strategies that she figured she didn’t need, such as planning ahead, hashtag strategies, and content marketing.
Watching Jennifer’s business explode I’m overjoyed to have had the opportunity to help in this small way. I love when marketing theory becomes reality and you can see the power of a well-crafted idea take on a life of its own. I’m also thrilled to see such a talent be discovered by so many people who will benefit from working with her.
All the best Jennifer!