Especially in creative industries, having a clear line of communication with the client is extremely important. If you’re a photographer, this is something you already know. The more sensitive, important, and personal the assignment, the more honest and precise your communication should be. But, what’s the best approach?
Communicating with clients is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned. In this article, we’ll look at nine questions you should ask photography clients before, during, and after a project. We’ll wrap up with a discussion about using your photography website to promote your business and ensure that you get paid for your photos.
Questions to Ask Photography Clients Before the Project
Most of the questions you have for your client should come at the being of the project. Let’s look at some of the first things to ask.
Question 1: How did you find me and what made you contact me?
Be sure to ask the client why they chose to work with you. If they found you through an ad or a Google search, or if they were referred by a friend, that’s valuable information that will help you gauge their familiarity with your portfolio and allow you to guide the discussion.
The client’s answer will probably give you some early insight into their tastes and needs, and it will tell you which of your marketing efforts got their attention.
Question 2: What’s your contact info?
Ask for an email address and phone number early. Whether they’ve contacted you via email, phone, or any other way, the first thing you should ask your clients is which communication channel they prefer. Accommodating their preferences from the start is vital to winning them as a client.
Question 3: For this project, what are your aesthetic preferences?
It’s key to ask your clients about their aesthetic preferences so you can prepare your eye and equipment accordingly. Find out what kind of photos the client wants; see if any of the photos in your portfolio are a match. Talk to the client about whether they have a favorite photographer whose style they’d like you to emulate.
Question 4: How will you use the photos?
If it’s not already obvious, ask the client what they will use the pictures for. If you’re photographing an event, you should also ask which moments or elements are essential for you to capture. You can show your portfolio to your client to guide them in this process, and by doing so, you’ll also increase their confidence in your work.
Question 5: What’s the deadline for this project?
When scheduling the project, it’s wise to ask about a deadline. Is there a specific date when the work must be delivered?
This will have a lot to do with what the picture will be used for. As you know, the editing process can take some time, and if the project involves analog photography, you’ll also need time to develop the photos. Some clients will insist on a very short deadline, and you can use that information to decide if you should accept or not the job.
By openly discussing the project deadline, you can also set up payment dates, and, if applicable, agree that your rate will be partially paid upfront.
Question 6: What’s the budget for this project?
When you’re starting out, this can be tricky—what’s the client’s budget? Not asking about this could lead the client to assume that you’re a hobbyist, or that you’ll be satisfied being “paid in exposure.” Though some advertising can boost your public image and get you more clients, lasting photography businesses aren’t built on exposure alone. Often, the exposure that an individual client can offer won’t be suitable compensation for your work.
Being upfront and asking the client the estimated budget is one of the first things you should do. Covering a wedding will be less expensive than a shooting session for a world-class brand, so the type of client and the planned use for the pictures should affect your fee.
Depending on the client’s needs, there may be a lot of specific questions to ask during the project, but in many cases, you’ll simply want to elicit some mid-project feedback. It’s a good way to verify that you’re both still on the same page.
Question 7: Is this what you’re looking for?
After working on the project, show the client one or two photos that you believe are good examples of what they have requested. Making a mid-project correction is better than having an unhappy client at the end.
Pose this question openly, trying to foster a sense of artistic exploration and honesty. Let the client know that you’re willing to reshoot as needed so they’ll have a variety of options to choose from later. By doing this, you’ll ensure that there will be no complaints once the job it’s finished.
Being a good communicator isn’t necessarily about talking a lot, but about knowing what to say and how to listen.
Questions to ask Photography Clients After the Project
When the project is over, seize the opportunity to have the client endorse your business.
Question 8: Are you happy with the photos?
If the client is not satisfied, this is when you’ll find out; in that case, view it as an opportunity to improve your service. The far more likely scenario is that the client is happy. You’ll probably hear a resounding “Yes, I love the pictures”—that’s your queue to ask the next question.
Question 9: Will you refer me to anyone you know who needs a photographer?
You should ask your client to share your contact information with their friends and family. Getting word-of-mouth advertising can be very beneficial for your business. If the client says they’ll refer people to you and they seem enthusiastic about your work, you can take the final step and ask the client to write a testimonial for you. A handful of statements from happy clients, posted prominently on your website, will serve as proof that you do great work.
Speaking of your photography website, that’s what we’ll discuss in the next and final section of this post.
How to Protect Your Photography Online & Promote Your Business
Your photography website can boost your business by streamlining the process of contacting customers, showing your portfolio, accepting payments, and delivering your work. It can also be the key to protecting your photography online.
With a WordPress website, you can use themes, templates, and plugins that were designed specifically for photography websites. Most of these plugins are free or have a free tier. You can easily showcase your portfolio, prompt feedback with a client satisfaction survey, and protect your photography online. For instance, Envira Gallery helps you build a responsive website and adds a watermark to your photos that brands them as your property.
When it comes to delivering your work through your website, you can do that with a plugin like Content Control or WP Private Content Plus. These plugins make it possible for you to create content that’s only accessible to specific users. For instance, you could create a page linking to a Google Drive or Dropbox folder with deliverables, add notes about the project, and thank the client for choosing your business.
The incredible versatility of WordPress is only available to those who have a WordPress hosting plan with WordPress installed. WordPress hosting that you control is the most affordable and efficient way to get your photography site up and running.
Aside from your photographic talent, skill, and equipment, you can set yourself apart from your competitors by going the extra mile to offer your clients a carefully prepared and memorable experience.
In this post, we shared nine questions to ask photography clients. Being a good communicator and staying focused on your client’s needs are essential when you’re expanding your photography business. Establishing good business practices from the beginning will give you a solid foundation on which to grow your photography business.