The elusive fall busy season.  When I was starting out I would start to feel pretty down on myself as I see that all of these photographers are booked for the remainder of the year by mid-October.  There would be message after message of “only 3 sessions left for 2011”.  When your own calendar isn’t booked it’s really easy to get down in the dumps and start thinking that you are a terrible photographer.   Stop.  Don’t.

I noticed that there was one thing that almost all of these people that were booked had in common, they had been in business for at least 3 years.  It takes time to build a business and it will not happen overnight.  Even though the market is saturated with photographers there is still demand for great images, unique products, and killer customer service.

We should be marketing our businesses ALL OF THE TIME.  That is what will help you be one of the photographers with a booked fall (or yearly) schedule!  There is no marketing magic bullet, nothing that I know of that if you do it you will have customers knocking down your door.  Most marketing doesn’t produce instant results, which is why many people give up on marketing so easily.  You must be patient and continue with your nose to the grindstone marketing your business at every opportunity…and creating some opportunity.  If you missed marketing week, check it out now.  It is full of pet photography marketing ideas that will bring you qualified customers over time.

I have been in business for over 2 years now and this fall has been my busiest yet.  I know that it is because of the marketing that I have diligently been working on since I started my business and my commitment to working on the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of my website.  While this uptick in business has been very exciting, it didn’t come without some growing pains.  One of the biggest problems that I was having was keeping track of the inquiries and following up with them.  I started writing them down in a list on a pad of paper but that quickly became a nightmare.

Enter the phone message book.  These can be purchased through any office supply store, or even better through if you are a Costco member!  When a new person contacts me through phone, website contact form, or email I write their name, general session inquiry and date on one of the forms.  I can then write notes as I follow up.

Since the phone message book sheets are carbon copies I can rip out the top copy of anyone that books, or anyone that I followed up with and is most likely not going to book with me.  That way I can have a snapshot of people that I need to reach out to at my fingertips in an organized manner!  I love organization, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at my desk right now.  *shameful head tilt

Don’t underestimate the power of following up with someone.  We are all incredibly busy and often times people want to get back in touch with you but they just don’t get around to it.  Not following up with your leads is costing you money, so I encourage you to find a system that fits with your workflow and start reaching out.

One last note, those photographers that say “only 3 sessions left for 2011” may actually have more then 3 sessions left for the year!  A tried and true marketing tactic to create urgency and more demand for your product is to let people know that it is a limited opportunity.  That is why I recently bought all 4 half-gallons of Turkey Hill’s Whoopie Pie ice cream when I saw it at the store a few weeks ago.  It is the best flavor I’ve ever had, and also a Limited Edition.