Photographers depend on online forms in a big way. You might not think about them much when you’re collecting requirements for a session, taking payment for services, gathering legally binding signatures for model releases, or even just fielding general questions and comments about the photography services you provide. But the role they play in successful photography businesses is absolutely crucial.
The beauty is that today, compared to even several years ago, creating a form is about a simple as it gets. Drag-and-drop form building tools have become incredibly popular, not only for the fact that they allow people with no coding experience to create online forms, but also the ability to neatly store the information they collect in the cloud.
I work for a popular form builder, JotForm. The tips you’ll see below are centered around JotForm’s platform, but there are other tools you can use as well. The important thing is understanding what an online form builder is capable of, and how it can save you loads of time and money so you can focus on photography.
Get more out of your forms with instructions
The data is in: including instructions on your forms greatly increases conversions. At JotForm, we recently did a study and found that instructions included on a form increased our users’ conversion rates by a whopping 57 percent.
Authors Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney weighed in on this in Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability (affiliate), saying that “One should start by making sure that the instructions are in plain language: using words that the target users are familiar with, using simple sentences in the active voice, getting rid of big blocks of text.”
Even form fields that seem self-explanatory can use a boost with just a little extra instruction. Think of your online form as a sort of conversation that you’re having with your clients. Friendly, helpful sentences between form fields have been shown to make a big difference.
Rethink the “submit” button
Most do-it-yourself form builders include a standard “submit” button option that most people don’t think twice about keeping as is. But is it effective? Not always.
The rule of thumb here is to be descriptive to what your form responders are actually doing by pressing the button. If you’re building a simple contact form, consider a friendly “Say Hello” button; a “Send Request” button for a request-a-quote form; or an “I agree” button on a model release form. You get the idea. For the most part, using appropriate action words and being descriptive encourages conversions more than a “submit” button.
The change is simple enough. All major form building tools allow for this type of customization. Edit your submit text to say whatever you’d like.
Streamline your payment collection
If you’re looking to collect payment for a session, or even a deposit before a shoot, it’s handy to do it through one of your online forms. This is probably the best-kept secret of JotForm, and even some of other major online form building products as well. Payment integration is as simple as picking whichever secure provider you use, confirming your login, and dragging the integration into your form editing field.
The end results is a dependable, secure money-collecting machine that removes barriers between you and your hard-earned cash.
An easier way to collect signatures
In the event you’re creating a model release form or a session-agreement contract, it’s invaluable to be able to digitally collect the signatures you need. E-signature integrations save a lot of headache in this department, allowing form submitters to send along signatures right from their online form. No printers, pens, or scanners required to make a completely digital, legally binding contract for your photography business online.
The end result is a seamless way for collecting needed signatures. And all it took was dragging and dropping a widget into your form.
The power of imagery
We sifted through our users’ conversion rates and found that forms without images included on them had conversion rates around 15 percent. With images? 27 percent. That’s almost twice the number of form submissions for simply including an image on the form. Like including instructions, this is a small change that can have profound effects on the volume of information you’re able to collect. As a photographer, this shouldn’t be a huge problem to find suitable imagery, but it’s still important to know.
In less than 10 clicks, turn an undesigned contact form into a one that’s custom to your brand and personality as a photographer.
Web forms have been around for a long time. But having the capability of creating your own without needing advanced programing skills is a relatively recent phenomenon. And there might not be an industry out there reaping greater benefit from DIY online forms than professional photography.