As a small business wedding photographer who is still early in his professional photography career, I often have to work extra hard to get a couple to choose me. One of the ways I have attempted to get couples to notice me is to sign up for platforms that will promote my business, such as Wedding Wire, The Knot, Thumbtack, Google Business, Yelp, and a list that goes on and on.
After being on some of these platforms for a few years now, I’ve come to realize that many of them are a waste of time, money and are a blight on the wedding industry and small businesses. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should not use these platforms when booking your wedding vendors.
Some of the platforms, such as Wedding Wire, The Knot, and Thumbtack, are often free to couples who are planning their wedding and allows you to contact multiple vendors quickly. These platforms are companies that exist to make money, so what a lot of couples don’t realize is that the vendors end up paying either a fee each time a couple contacts us or a flat monthly fee.
While this may not seem like a big deal to a couple, as a vendor, this causes us to have to raise our prices to cover these costs. On average last year, I paid an average of 7% of the estimated total package cost to these platforms.
When I calculate the prices of my package, which account for my time, equipment, and skillset, I also have to increase the price of the package, not just by 7%, but sometimes multiples of that. This is because I might have to pay each time a couple contacts me, whether or not I actually book the wedding. When you contact multiple vendors at the same time on these platforms you are actually hurting the small businesses you do not select causing wedding prices to go up.
When you look at these platforms, it might be hard to tell the difference between one vendor or the other because their profiles look very similar. Some of the platforms even have professional writers that will complete the profiles with templated biographies.
The platforms limit small businesses from showing their personality. We can’t show everything we have to offer because of the limitations of these templates and profiles. This lack of personality makes it difficult for couples to choose a vendor that matches their personality because they all seem the same.
I have spent many, many days working on my website to make sure it represents me and my small business. My hope is that a couple will look at my site be able to determine if I’m a great fit for them without the hassle of creating a profile, entering a bunch of information, and then sifting through a long list of vendors. Always visit a business's website to truly understand their work and personality.
Often the platforms have a specific messaging system that is required for you to make contact with your vendors. This is often because they need to know who you contact so they can charge the vendor. Communication is also hindered because these messaging systems are often slow, buggy, and inconvenient, requiring you to install another app or to continuously log in.
When contacted directly, I ask the couple how they best like to communicate. Most chose over text message, email, or video call, but have also done it over the phone and even Facebook. This allows the couple to communicate with the vendor that is convenient for them and not some limited messaging platform.
If you are looking to book wedding vendors or any small business services, consider contacting them directly through their website or by calling them directly. This small change can keep small businesses from having to raise their prices, enables them to give you the best service they can, and allows you to communicate the way that best fits your lifestyle.
While you might see my wedding photography business on a few of these platforms today, as I continue to grow and showcase my photography, I will be moving away from the paid platforms to keep my package prices down and to serve my customers the best I can.