Are you sick of being a slave to your inbox yet? Are you sick of spending so much time and effort replying to inquiries when not all of them end up booking?
It can be disheartening…when a client sends you an amazing inquiry online to not book, I get it, it can be totally draining.
…but I got yo back girlfriend.
If you know me, you know I LOVE all things automation.
I tried all sorts of software and techniques to automate my booking process but I couldn’t find anything that worked perfectly until now.
So let’s dive right into my top 3 Ways to Automate Your Portrait Booking Process…
Did you know that you can automate your contact form on your website? You can do this in a number of ways ranging from easy to a bit complex.
Let’s start with easy.
The easy way to do it is to replace your contact form with an opt in form disguised as a contact form. Let me explain. With any email marketing provider (mailchimp, madmimi, ontraport, etc.) you can create a form that will allow your leads to type in their name, email, write a message, etc. In fact you can customize this form to contain any fields you’d like. So here’s the best part. When you create this opt in form you can tell your email marketing software to automatically send an email to anyone who fills out the form.
The email you auto send them could have all of your information, pricing, link to your online booking page etc.
But let’s dive a little deeper and explore the “complex option.”
The email marketing provider I use is called Ontraport. Right now it’s a pricey $300/mo but if you have a use for it, it’s SO worth it. Otherwise you can use a less expensive option such as Mailchimp.
I can use Gravity Forms for my contact form and the ontraport>gravity forms plugin to create to link it with ontraport. Why would I do this? Well, because then I have the option to send people a variety of emails instead of just one.
For example I have a list that asks them what shoot type they’re interested in and based on their answer they are sent a certain email. Boudoir inquiries are sent one email, head shot inquiries are sent another, etc.
This way I’m able to personalize the experience more.
Whichever way you do it, automating your contact form will save you LOADS of time.
2) Set up an Auto Email Sequence:
Here’s where things get fun. When somebody fills out your automated contact form you can have that person automatically go into what’s called an email “sequence”. An email sequence is a sequence of emails you write ahead of time that will then be sent out to your prospect during dates you choose in the future. Don't worry though you can still personalize them, think them through, and have lots of fun with them!
For example Somebody inquires on your contact form and they get your auto email right away. However, now you also have them set up to get any emails in that email sequence as well. So maybe you have it set up so later that day they get another email following up asking if they have questions, then 2 days later you send them another email with a link to a behind the scenes look into your studio, then 3 days later you directly invite them to click the link to book on your booking page, etc.
The possibilities are limitless. Automation is HUGE for time saving and FREEDOM in your business. Not to mention it gives you the ability to really think through your strategy instead of answering as fast as possible manually each time. You can really think through how you want to convert them from an inquiry to a booking.
3) Create a Booking Page:
Last april I traveled europe for a month, never once working. When I returned home I had a number of bookings on my calendar, paid for, and ready for me to photograph them. How did I do that without working on my trip? Automation 🙂
In order to be fully automated though you will need a page in which people can choose their shoot date/time and send you the booking fee.
A quick way to do this is to create a page that hosts a google calendar and a payment form. You can customize your google calendar to show open date/times and you can customize your payment form (Gravity forms works for this as well) for them to be able to submit which date/time they would like to book.
I know this all sounds pretty complicated but I promise you it’s not. You also have to remember how much time/money this is going to save you. So, even if this takes you a week of your time to set up this is years of time saved! Time that could be spend with your family, bettering yourself, reading a new book, learning something new, etc.
If you’re really interested in getting this done but you’re feeling a bit in over your head, I’m here to help.
For those of you needing more guidance when it comes to this stuff I created a tool for you called Set It & Forget It: Your Automation Client Booking Toolkit: You'll also get my free training, “3 Secrets for Getting Clients to See the Value in Your Photography,” free.
I have put together a NEW e-book that will help you market and book more clients without having to sit up countless hours after you've already worked all day! This book will go in depth into each step I have used in my own automation to help you put this into play easily for your photography needs!
What are you waiting for? Let's get you one more step closer to FREEDOM and more bookings!