Several of the Business of Boudoir Contributors met for lunch during WPPI (Guys. I had a peanut butter crunch burger. It was effing amazing and deserves a mention!) and did a little brainstorming on what expertise each of us has to offer. It was pretty clear that my specialty, over anything else, is delivering a kick-ass client experience.
I will be sharing a six part series on doing just that.
Topics will include website (that’s today, dahhling!), inquiry + booking communications, shoot preparations, the shoot itself, ordering, and delivering the finished product.
Before you jump the gun and worry about what to do with a client once you’ve got them on the hook … you absolutely must consider your website your first impression and possibly your last shot. You’ve got one chance to keep them, knock ’em dead … err … wait … don’t do that. You need them alive.
There are several things that your website must be/have in order to assist your potential clients in finding out what they need to know, and getting in touch with you with ease.
1. Keep it simple.
You need to keep it clean and simple. Especially the home page. Do not pack your website full of clutter, advertisements, unnecessary buttons, backgrounds, funky formatting, or the like. I am a huge fan of Squarespace for simple website building (I am not sponsored by SS, just having a love affair with their product after trying so many others!). Squarespace is template based, but those templates are expertly created to draw the viewer’s eyes into the most important parts, and to direct them through a naturally flowing site.
Your website should have a simple photo gallery, either displaying one image at a time that can be advanced to the next with ease, or a clean-looking collage.
2. It must be mobile friendly.
Seriously. If I’m researching something on my phone, which is about 75% of the time, I am absolutely baffled by the number of websites that I come across that are not mobile friendly. The formatting is whack, the images don’t display properly or at all, and sometimes I’ll even get the dreaded “For the best viewing experience, please view this website from a FLASH enabled device.”. Are you KIDDING me!?
Your site needs to be as easy to navigate on a phone, laptop, or tablet as it is on a desktop. Period.
3. It should have an easy-to-navigate menu.
Home. About. Galleries. Reviews. Investment. Contact. FAQ’s.
Your menu bar should be highly visible and the names of your menu items should be self-explanatory. Listen, I know we’re creatives but try not to get cutesy on this. Calling your “Investment” page “Show Me The Money” is in bad taste.
4. Put the most thought into your ABOUT page.
The boudoir business is so insanely personal. A client will not want to be photographed naked by someone that they wouldn’t want to go our to dinner and drinks with. Think of it like a date. You need to show your client that you can be trusted, that you respect and appreciate them, that you understand why they may be nervous about this, and that they can rest assured you will take excellent care of them.
Make yourself approachable. Don’t act like you’re perfect. Share your insecurities or something silly about yourself that makes you real. Be vulnerable for her so she can be vulnerable for you. Include photos. MORE THAN ONE. Bonus points for videos.
The ABOUT page of my website is the one I invested the most time and thought into, and it shows when my inquiries start off with “I read your about page and knew that YOU had to be the one to shoot my boudoir photos!”. It may seem strange because I paint myself as a spastic dork (truth), but that resonates with people … MY kind of people. It’s the most strategic advertisement there is. Feel free to pay a visit to my About Page to read through ALL the nonsense that clients seem to respond so well to.
It is important to show your clients that you value their time as much as your own by preemptively answering all of their questions. Address things that your clients as you about often (what to wear, how long before their anniversary do they need to book, how much can they expect to spend, etc.), as well as things that they may not think to ask but you want them to know (what the most popular products are, your retouching philosophy, your posing techniques, etc.).
Don’t forget to include your email address at the bottom of the FAQ’s page so they can easily ask you anything that you might have missed.
6. You should show a realistic representation of your work.
This topic will probably spark the most debate. Here’s the thing: A potential client wants to be able to envision themselves in your photos. If your portfolio is jam-packed full of models and size zeros, you can expect to book mostly models and size zeros. If that is your target demographic, then no problem … except that it will seriously shrink the client pool you have to pull from. Setting unrealistic expectations for your clients will hurt everyone.
When I first started shooting boudoir, my portfolio was OH-SO-OBVIOUSLY full of models. Instead of getting inquiries from confident women who trusted me, I got emails that said “I would totally do this but I need to lose 50 lbs to be pretty enough to be photographed by you.” That is obviously NOT the appropriate message to send.
Be sure to showcase different body types and ages within your target demographic. In addition, don’t put a bunch of really stylized images or heavily retouched ones into your portfolio if that isn’t what every client gets with your packages. A portfolio full of styled shoots with professional models is setting your ladies up for disappointment.
7. Make it easy to contact you.
Multiple contact forms are key. Put them everywhere! I’ve got one on my investment page, my about page, my FAQ page, AND, of course my contact page. Also, be sure to type out your email address (and phone number if you take phone calls) in multiple places. Some people are anti-contact form and prefer to store your email address.
8. Share your reviews!
Even if it’s just an anonymous photo, pair a photo with reviews from your clients. If you are bad about asking for reviews, set it up in your workflow to automatically email your clients after their experience to submit their review. One time, I had a client book me without even looking through my portfolio! She just looked at reviews. While that is obviously an extreme case, it goes to show you just how important words from past clients are. This is a really personal experience that 99.9% of women are extremely nervous about. It will put them at ease to hear how nervous your other clients were and how awesome you handled it!
This advice comes from years and years of getting it wrong. I watched my bounce rate drop when I began to study the changes in my website. The percentage of clients that I got that were PERFECT for me skyrocketed when I started speaking conversationally on my website and way less polished. My previous websites have been massive fails, y’all. So I come to you from a place of growth and not from a pedestal.
Applying these principles to your website and creating an online presence that is authentic to your brand will demonstrate your professionalism and show your clients that you are all about making things smooth and easy for them. Your website is your first chance to provide them with outstanding customer service, before they are even a customer.
Next month, for part II of this series, I will discuss how to further the kick-ass client experience by handling your inquiries and bookings like a pro!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your website stories! What has worked for you and what hasn’t? What questions can I answer for you! Leave them in the comments!