You’re slumped over your desk, a cursor blinking unforgivingly on your screen.
You’re here – again – burning time trying to figure out what to say.
You love photography and communicating through images. The words alongside your images are usually a second thought, though. The swiftly-typed icing on the post before you publish.
But sometimes, you really need your words to do something besides be the pretty, swirly frosting.
You need them to be all lined up like a little marketing army, finding clients and persuading them to book you without you lifting another finger. You want the writing to just be done already, so you can feel satisfied your message is getting across – and so you can get back to shooting.
Here are three tricks to help make your writing do just that.
Take the words right out of your client’s mouth
You might find yourself creating a marketing flyer, unsure what to say. You find yourself typing – then deleting – the same phrases you’ve seen everyone else use:
“Book now! Capture precious memories today! Have gorgeous images for your home!”
Your client ignores a few thousand messages just like that every day. So let’s sit in their computer chair for a moment.
What goes on in their head when they’re deciding whether or not to hire a photographer? Maybe:
- My husband will hate every second. There’s no way he’d support this.
- My kids won’t cooperate – they don’t even let me take pictures of them, for crying out loud.
- I think my business needs to hire a social media strategist – there won’t be room in the budget for a photographer.
Look at your client’s internal dialogue – then steal from it, word for word, when you’re writing headlines for your marketing pieces.
Call out exactly what they’re worried about, right in the headline, and show them how you’re actually poised to solve those problems. For example:
- “The photo session even your husband will want to do again.”
- “Happy Toddlers Photography: Cheerio-proof, meltdown-resistant, and 100% organic fun.”
- “Photos get 53% more likes and 104% more comments on Facebook. Still think a photographer can’t do anything for your business?”
To that client, with those concerns? These words will spring off the page.
People are highly concerned with their own problems. Concerns, objections and “what-ifs” are at the forefront of their minds when they’re making decisions, because they’re trying to avoid losses at all costs.
So meet that concern head on. Speak it out loud. They’ll feel like you’re reading their mind – like you really get where they’re coming from.
The trouble is, when you sit there trying to make your photos sound beautiful enough to pay for, you sometimes spend a lot of time trying to convince people of something on grounds they’re not even concerned about. They probably already love your photos – it’s the hubby/toddler/business strategy they’re worried about.
So stop them in their tracks. Don’t try to pull words from the air – take the words out of their mouth and put them at the top of the page. Address the grumpy husband. Talk about the worries with kids. Prove the business case for hiring you.
Slash out the word “fun” and replace it with “pinwheel picnic.”
The advantage you have as a photographer is that you’re selling emotion. The big things in life. Relationships, memories, connection – reflections of the only things that truly matter.
So you might be tempted to use words like “fun and memorable!” to describe your session.
But just because it will BE fun and memorable does not mean you should use those words to explain it to someone else.
The fact is, “fun and memorable” can sound kind of ho-hum and vague.
Different things are “fun and memorable” to different people. Skydiving. A Superbowl party. A quiet afternoon in the library with a friend. Painting a new house. Brushing your fingertips across the down-soft hair of a sleeping newborn.
“Fun and memorable” can cover any number of dissimilar things. How are they supposed to know what kind of “fun and memorable” you’re referring to, and whether or not that would actually be fun and memorable for them?
Here you are trying to sell them on a $1500 “fun and memorable experience” when they still don’t know anything about what it’ll be like.
So don’t just slap on the emotional labels – describe what actually happens, then let them draw the “fun and memorable!” conclusion.
How do you do this?
Cross out “fun” and give them an example of fun, instead. Like pinwheel picnics. Face painting. An hour with a glam hair and makeup artist, followed by an hour under flashing lights with their friends. Running on the beach. Tackling mommy and daddy from behind. Whatever concrete event your client can imagine themselves relishing.
If something truly is fun and memorable, that will be self-evident if you describe it well enough. Don’t force the emotional label upon them – let the emotion and anticipation fill them up by simply showing them what, concretely, they’ll experience.
But don’t pretend you’re foolproof if you’re not.
One thing that kills persuasion right out of the gate? Distrust.
No one on this planet has a product that is ideal for everyone, everywhere, all the time. And anyone who claims their service is flawless will be met with some level of suspicion. We know no one is perfect. If they pretend to be? We’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Acknowledging imperfection or circumstances beyond your control does not necessarily cast doubts on your professionalism. When done delicately, it increases trust by showing that you’re being completely up front with them:
“We’re not the right photographers for every business – we don’t produce traditional portraits for suits in front of bookcases. We’re too busy showing off everything else you do.”
“Independence Day mini sessions, July 3rd in the park! And if it quite literally rains on our parade? Well, we’ll reschedule for July 11th. Hey, we’ll still be Independent then, won’t we?”
Having a sense of humor about potential problems or areas where you can’t serve a client does more than just “manage expectations.”
By pre-emptively mentioning concerns a client might have (“what if we want a traditional portrait? what if it rains?) and redirecting their attention back to what you CAN do (create awesome environmental portraits, keep a reserved rainy-day date), you relieve them of the pressure of searching for the potential problems.
They drop their guard a little. “Whew, they got it covered. They thought about that already.”
By admitting you’re not bulletproof or that you can’t do everything, the client feels like they can trust you to give it to them straight. You’re not just a marketing huckster – you’re truly prioritizing their interests.
Use their own words to show them how you’ll solve their problems. Add concrete examples in lieu of vague words. Concede non-omnipotence to build trust.
Learn how to write more effectively
Did you enjoy these tips? You’d probably love Irresistible Words – a new course from Psychology for Photographers.
Irresistible Words is dedicated to ending head-banging among photographers everywhere by teaching them how to write more effectively.
Good writing makes marketing, blogging, website-making, Facebooking, emailing, networking, and nearly every other business task faster and easier.
The right words, when laid on the table with confidence, can do the heavy lifting for you – so you can focus on what you really want to be doing.
The first half of Irresistible Words shows you how to connect more deeply with your audience, enriching the trust and connection they feel with you. (Oh, and did I mention it shows you how to write a blog post in 20 minutes flat?)
The second half of Irresistible Words teaches you the nuts and bolts of persuasive writing, showing you exactly how to build information pages and pricing pages from scratch – without making you feel like you just swallowed an infomercial.
Wait… there’s more. Jenika, the author, has mentored dozens of photographers with their writing. She has coached successful job, grant, and Ivy League university applicants through high-stakes writing situations where standing out was a must. Irresistible Words basically hands you her toolbox so you can use it to achieve whatever you need with your business.
“How can I even start to sum up how amazing this course was – thank to you I have completely rewritten and renovated my website. Since then every single one of my inquiries has turned in to a booking.
Learn more at Psychology for Photographers.
Photo credit: Spencer Lum