It’s an easy mistake to make.
You’re writing an email to a client late at night. You’re sending them the link to their files, and you type out something quick without giving it much thought.
I mean, you created great images, and got them done on time.
That’s what should matter right? A quick email isn’t worth worrying about.
Or maybe it’s the text you’ve put up on your website. After spending days, or even weeks, meticulously choosing all the images, the template, and the colours, most photographers leave the text as an afterthought.
We’re picture makers, after all, not wordsmiths. Our clients will judge us by our photos, not our words.
As much as your images matter, your words matter as much, if not more.
While your images show what you can do, it’s your words that tell people who you are, why you do what you do, what you can give to them, and why they should trust you. Yeah, they’re maybe a bit important.
I know this can be scary, especially if you’re not one for writing (there’s a reason we tell our stories with cameras, after all!). But today I’ll share with you the biggest mistake you need to avoid, and a super simple way to ensure you’re writing to your clients in a way they’ll appreciate and connect with.
The Big Mistake
Raise your hand if you’ve ever written your bio in “fake third person”. You pretended to be someone else writing about yourself. I’ll raise my hand first, because I’ve most definitely done that.
Why do we do it? Because we think it makes us seem more important. If someone else would take time to write nice words about us, we must be a big deal right? Our clients will think so, and feel like they’ve found a real professional and be more likely to hire us.
This desire to impress clients can affect your writing even more than your third person bio. It can be as simple as using fancy words, or a formal tone, to seem more professional.
It’s not a bad thing, to want your clients to trust you and respect you as a photographer. But the way so many of us go about it is just all wrong.
The big mistake is trying to sound like a “professional photographer”.
First off, there is no such thing as “the way professional photographers sound”. If you stumbled across one in the wild, chances are they’d sound a whole lot like you do, when you’re speaking like a normal human being.
But when we’re just getting started we are scared. We think people won’t take us seriously because we don’t have much experience, so we try to prop that up with big words, and stiff language.
Unfortunately the message that actually sends is that this isn’t a real person, and if they are real, well, they just might be really boring.
Not exactly the image that will get potential clients stoked to work with you.
A Related Mistake
Along the same lines of writing too formally is failing to put enough energy into your writing.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the course of 10 years of writing online it’s this: most people greatly underestimate how much energy is required in your writing to get people excited.
The internet strips a ton of personality out of our writing. With no facial expressions or body language, no tone of voice, or even the personality of your hand writing to lend a hand, all you’re left with is completely generic letters on a screen. Letters that are probably being read quickly while the recipient is doing four other tasks. You rarely have their full attention. Your energy tells the reader “Hey! I think this is important and you should too!”.
Even if you grab their attention, your energy needs to stay high. You’re not just trying to get them in the door. You’re trying to keep them there long enough to hear your message. Do you realize how many people stop partway through your article? Or your email? The answer is usually “most”.
(High five to you if you’re still reading this, by the way! I appreciate that!)
So if you write boring, formal words, what’s the chance that that person will a) want to keep reading, and b) be actually excited about what you’re telling them?
Low. Very low.
The Simple Fix
Luckily the fix is very very simple. It’s so simple that you’re going to probably keep hunting around for the rest of it. But here it is, in it’s entirety.
Write the way you talk.
Yep, that’s it. Write to your clients, current and prospective, the way you would talk to them in real life.
Ok, I’ll give you a bit more here. To make it even better, let’s add three more words.
Write the way you talk to your friend.
Imagine your best friend – the person that brings the best out in you, that you’re comfortable around, and that you love to chat with. The way you talk with them is good representation of you at your funnest and happiest and realest, and that’s a very good image to present to clients. It instantly makes them connect to you and like you. After all, your friend connects to you and likes you for a reason!
(Now, a super quick disclaimer. These are still clients, so let’s be a wee bit more specific and say “the way you talk to your friend, politely“. :)
So when you’re writing out that email, or your bio, or the welcome blurb on your website, imagine you are sitting down with that friend for coffee. Heck, you can even use a voice recorder and talk it out if you are having trouble translating your spoken words to your writing. I promise you this will get easier and easier over time, and soon you’ll “write the way you talk” naturally!
I reckon an example might make this all easier to wrap your brain around. Let’s take a look at that “file delivery email” and see how we can make it more friendly and add in that energy that’s so important.
The Boring Way
Dear [Client],Enclosed please find the link to your images. You will receive 50 photos in two different sizes: 50 are prepared for web use (Facebook, email, etc.) and 50 are prepared for print use.http://www.yourcoolphotosarehere.comThe file size is 3.6 GB so it may take a considerable amount of time to download. Please ensure your computer’s “energy saving” preferences are set so that it does not power off during the download.If you have any additional questions about your images, please feel free to contact me.Sincerely,Boring Photographer
Wow, doesn’t that just get you SO pumped up to check out your photos?? I know I’m excited!
Yeah not so much.
Now, this is an essential email for the client to read, and they will get all the important details. But think for a second about how they feel when they read it. Ambivalent at best. Nervous at worst.
Our clients are totally freaked out at this moment when they get to see their files for the first time.
Was their huge investment worth it? Do they look good? Or did they just waste a ton of money and had something in their teeth the whole time? Scary.
Your email at this point can do so much more than convey the facts. It can get them excited to see the photos, and it can even reassure them that the photos were, in fact, awesome. It can connect them to us further, and make them more likely to be repeat clients (and referring ones at that).
Do you see just how incredibly important our words are? They are powerful, powerful things!
So let’s see how we can rewrite that!
The Enjoyable Way
Hey there [Client]!Hope you’re having an awesome evening! I sure am because I just wrapped up working on your photos, and are they are fantastic! I am so excited for you to see these, you’re going to love them. There’s a shot of your kids all together that just melted my heart, I hope you have some Kleenex around ;)Ok enough talking, let’s get you those files because I bet you’re just itching to see them!Here’s the link to grab them. Just click on it and they’ll start downloading right away. Easy.http://www.yourcoolphotosarehere.comNow I’ll take a second to explain what you’ll be getting. You’ll be getting 50 beautiful photos, and I’ve gone ahead and given them to you in two sizes. There are web sized files that you can use to share with all your friends and family on sites like Facebook or in emails. And then there are the print sized files. These are the high quality files so make sure to use these ones when making prints!
And just a little heads up, the file size is actually pretty big (3.6GB of gorgeous images), so it might take a while to download. You’ll want to make sure to change your computer settings so that it doesn’t go to sleep while downloading. It should be easy to do, but if you have any troubles just let me know and I’ll help you out!
Well, that’s everything, so I’ll leave you to it, and let you go check out those photos. Once again, I had such a wonderful time with your family, and am so happy with the photos we created together. Can’t wait to hear what you think!
Ok, so that’s how I’d write it.
I’ve been know to grossly overuse the exclamation point, but it’s not because I yell all the time.
It’s because I want to really put a ton of energy into my emails, in the hopes that it transfers over to the recipient. I imagine you felt quite differently after you read that one than after you read the first one. You might have actually been eager to click on the link and see those gorgeous photos!
Here’s the trick though…
The way I wrote that? It might not be the way you should write it. Why? Because I’m not you. My photographer personality is enthusiastic, energetic, and upbeat. I use words like “super”, “awesome”, and “stoked” all the time, especially when I’m shooting.
And that might not be you. You might have read my email and cringed.
And that’s ok!
The key is simply that you recognize that you need to write in your own voice.
Not pretending to be a “professional photographer”. Not pretending to be a “super cool photographer”. But being yourself.
That example was how I talk to my friends. So how do you talk to yours?
The best part of all of this is that the more you work on developing your authentic writing voice, the more your own personality will shine through everything you do with your clients.
This will help you to find the right clients who will appreciate your own style.
From the moment they check out your site, through all interactions with you, up to that final email, they’ll be getting to know you and connecting to you like a friend.
Don’t believe me that this can happen, just by writing like yourself?
Well, Rob and I developed a word while we were wedding photographers: flient. It meant friend/client, and was how we described our clients who became our friends.
They were many, and some of our closest friends to this date started as clients. It just goes to show how authenticity in your business can translate to meaningful relationships with your clients. Or flients!
So go and check the writing on your website. Your marketing materials. Your emails to your clients.
Does it sound the way you do when you talk?
If not get to changing it up. Add your unique voice. Your clients will be all the happier for it.