The client journey
From the first interaction to sending their final gallery...how to create a personal and special experience for your people.
I would argue that your client journey is the most important part of this entire process. Yes your clients want pretty pictures but a friendly, loving experience is what they'll remember about you the most. It's what they'll tell their friends about and it's the reason they'll choose to come back to you years on from now.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Your first interaction with them will go one of two ways. It will either be someone who has followed you for a while and who feels like they already know you - I get a lot of messages from lovely lovely ladies who have followed me for days, weeks, months, years waiting for their time to come when they can book a shoot. They will have watched every single one of my chatty stories and liked pretty much every photo. To me, they are the absolute DREAM client. They see me, they appreciate me - that's the goal.
Or you'll have a more typical interaction via email from someone who has found you online or been recommended to you by a friend or family member.
Now, these are two very different interactions, one probably starts with "Oh my god I have followed you for such a long time, I am obsessed with your work. Please can I find out more info?" and the other more formal "Hello, please can I have more information about shoots?".
I play each interaction by ear and will change my tone depending on their first message. I am a very informal person so eventually I will be saying things like "Hi lovely" etc. but for the first message I keep it very short and sweet, I will thank them for their email and send over my Pre Booking Guide - I try not to get too attached or excited until they have seen my guide as it contains all of the info they'll need to know, including prices.
Your first interaction with someone is HUGE and they will remember it, so keep it professional yet friendly, make your messages sound like you! If you typically don't compliment people, do not say things like "hello gorgeous" etc. Keep it true to you! My love language is words of affirmation so you will always catch me calling you gorge, beaut, lovely etc. But don't do that if you wouldn't say those kinds of things in person, keep it true to you!
I include a Pre Booking Guide in every initial email, this is a guide I have made on Canva with my brand colours, my logo and my images so my clients know first off what my style is and the standard of my work. My brand colours are creams and browns to reflect my editing style.
Included in my Pre Booking Guide is an initial introduction so my clients can get an idea of me and my work, and information including: choosing a time and date depending on the season, picking a session type, picking a location, what if the weather is bad, and then my packages and prices. This is all of the information clients will need to know on first interaction, this means they won't have to ask me any extra questions as everything is in the guide - which saves so much time.
The reason I do not include prices on my website is because this first interaction gives you a chance to sell yourself to your potential client before they find out pricing. This way, they judge it on you and your intro, rather than initial scary pricing.
Here is an example email;
Hey (clients name), thanks so much for your email!
I hope both you & your family are doing good!
I have attached my Pre Booking Handbook to this email which includes all of the information you will need to know before booking: pricing, packages, locations, in studio or outdoor, date advice etc.
If you would like to go ahead and book your session, please let me know.
After completion, we will discuss dates to suit you & your family best, and then we will go from there!
Thank you so much & I can’t wait to hear back from you,
The onboarding process...
If you don't use an onboarding system already, please look into them, they will save you so much time! I currently use Dubsado, but I know there are other options so it is all about finding a system that you love. I've got to admit it took me a long time to even understand Dubsado.
I will then onboard my clients, this is the booking process which is pretty simple. My current onboarding process was created by a Virtual Assistant that I hired last year, she is truly amazing, I will leave her link here so you can get in touch if you ever want to - www.lindseygarvey.com. I would highly recommend investing in a professional onboarding process, however it is not essential. It took me 2 years to do so, but when I did, it saved me so much time as everything is now automatic.
As long as you make sure to send over their booking including date, time and location and then invoice, questionnaire (not essential, but I do this so I can get to know them better) and a contract. A contract is SO important! If you've sent all of these, you are all good!
I also send them a link to my Photoshoot Handbook - this includes things like choosing what to wear, hair and makeup, props, what to bring with you and what to expect. This helps calm clients nerves and is a one stop shop for all the info they need! It also saves time for me as it stops any extra questions that have already been answered in the guide.
Also please make sure to check up on them a few days prior to the shoot as they are bound to have lingering questions and feel the nerves!
Then it's time for the session!
I have nothing to say about this, except, work your magic!
After the session make sure to message or email them telling them how amazing it was and that I'm so excited to start working on their gallery, which I always am!
I personally send a preview within 48 hours, but that isn't essential, just gets them all excited. Make sure to tell them how long your turnaround time is so they know what to expect, I usually say around 3 weeks as it allows time for life to get in the way, then if it is sooner than 3 weeks, that's just a bonus.
I send my galleries via Pixieset - pixieset.com. However there are many many platforms to send galleries on, and again, just like Dubsado, it is all about finding a system that works best for you in terms of the layout, pricing plan etc.
PSA, the waiting time between sending a gallery and hearing back from your clients to hear what they think is THE most nerve-wracking thing ever & that never changes!
After you've sent your galleries, make sure to check up on your clients asking if there's anything else you can do to help, maybe ask them for a review if they have a spare moment, and always make sure to tell them you're looking forward to hopefully seeing them soon!
And that's it! I could go into a lot more depth but it would take me DAYS to write it all out, plus, I want to make sure you have your own process that is personal to you, as keeping your personality present throughout your business is so so vital. I've made the mistake of copying emails because I thought they sounded professional and it did not work, I sounded like a robot, because really, it was someone else talking! So keep it personal, people love to talk to people, and especially you if they have chosen to invest in you...remember that.
One last thing, I always follow my clients back on Instagram if they allow it, it allows me to keep up with them because I honestly take a massive interest in my clients lives, they become friends in my eyes! Most of the time I know more intimate details abut my clients that I do my friends anyway! So keep up to date, give them a like or a comment and keep them coming back for more.