5 things you need to set up a wedding business
In 2019, after finishing uni and feeling a bit lost as to what I wanted to do, I decided to take a bit of a risk and start my own wedding videography business. I have to be honest - I had absolutely no idea what I was doing! I've had a camera in my hand since I was little, and gained lots of experience filming things during my TV production degree (watch one of my African wildlife documentaries from uni here, if you fancy a peak!) and so I thought, why not give it a go? I have found the wedding industry to be warm, welcoming and full of creative, talented people! I am not an expert, and still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be, but hopefully these things can help others get going! Here are 5 things you need to start!
This may sound obvious, but you need to have something to sell, and this might be a skill that you already have! Whether you use a skill from your current job and transition into the wedding industry or pick up something new, there are plenty of jobs to choose from! So get the equipment you need if any, and get started!
Photographer, videographer, cake maker, stationary designer, HMUA, planner, caterer, musician, dress designer, jewellery maker, celebrant, and the list goes on!
Your potential clients need to be able to find you! Initially, you should consider thinking of a business name (often in the wedding industry this could just be your name, as client's like to invest in people and not just services) and an email address, so that you look professional and you can be contacted. Setting up a social media page is often the next step so that you can start to present a portfolio. Ask your friends and family to share your new venture as you never know where your next client may come from! And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there if you believe in what you are doing! And use hashtags! Although it can seem a bit cringey, hashtags are a fab and easy way for potential clients to find you. Look at the types of hashtags others in the industry are using and try those! Try to be quite specific, for example don’t use #photographer as your post will get lost in the millions and millions of people using that, but instead try something location specific like #kentweddingvideographer -as these are things that potential clients will be searching.
Tip: search the hashtags you are using yourself and see what comes up, and how many posts!
You may then wish to set up a website. You can start simple with just a couple of pages which detail your services and provide a means of getting in touch with you. Then, over time, you can work on the design a bit more, and creating a clear brand identity. I have changed my website countless times as my services, body of work and style change! You can also work on improving your SEO and getting yourself higher in the Google rankings so that you appear when your clients are searching! You business name, logo, branding, website, etc. can all be improved over time, so don't worry if it isn't perfect yet - just get yourself out there!
Client's are more likely to book you if they can visualise exactly what they are getting from you and know what to expect. This obviously is difficult when you are starting out but you just have to try and create a portfolio in any way you can. You could start with free or discounted services for friends and family, or attending workshops or taking part in styled shoots. This allows you to practice your skill, whilst developing your style. You may hear a lot that consistency is key in terms of your style, particularly for photographers and videographers. Whilst it is true that clients often like to see someone with a specific style so they know what to expect, when you start out, don’t be afraid to experiment to find your feet. We can’t be perfect straight away and we won’t know what we like until we try it! You can always delete posts later that perhaps don’t reflect your style or your business anymore! Plus it’s fun to try something new some times! Remember, you are going to improve, so be patient and learn from every job you do!
As well as examples of your work, try to ask for reviews and comments, even if that’s just from your friends and family! This can help client's feel confident when booking you, but also help you improve! Word of mouth is the best free advertising there is, so make sure you provide the absolute best service possible to all of your clients!
One thing you definitely need to think about is having a basic pricing strategy so that when people enquire, you can give them a quick answer. Do your market research online or speak to other professionals in the industry to find out what the going rates are for your services, baring in mind different levels of experience and quality. Decide where you want to place yourself, whether you want to cater to people on a tight budget or a larger budget. Not everyone wants to charge as much as possible! Remember, you can increase your prices over time with skill and experience, if you like. When starting out, in order to build your portfolio, you may wish to offer substantial discounts.
Once you know how much you want to charge, work out the finer details, like if you are going to require a deposit, if the client can pay in instalments or when you are expecting the full payment, and how they are going to pay you. Make sure you fully outline what is included for the price so that both you and your clients are on the same page. You may wish to draw up some templates for invoices and receipts, or use software such as Xero for this. Perhaps you could consider setting up a business bank account to help you keep track of your finances? Check out this article I wrote for HelloGrads on this subject. You may also wish to join a CRM company - I recently joined Studio Ninja - use my discount code AZJT4010CMJECH for money off!
Now, this sounds a bit scary if you have no experience with it, but a contract is essential for every job you do, no matter how big or small, to protect you and your client. This has proven to be quite important during the pandemic, with weddings being moved and cancelled all over the place! If writing your own contract, a few things to include are: your business name, your clients names, the date that the contract will start, and an outline of the services you are providing. Everyone involved should also sign and date the contract. Ensure you have a cancellation or postponement policy that is clear. You might also want to think about including a clause that says whether you can share the content you produce on social media if you are a photographer, for example. Your contract protects both you and your client, and although we’d all like to hope that we won’t come across any issues, unfortunately it does happen. Please do your research, or use a professional service if you would feel more confident.
And that's it! Once you have these five things in place - and not necessarily complete and finalised - then you can start booking clients! Starting a business is never easy, and requires a lot of your time - potentially with no pay out at first, but all the hard work will be worth it! You don't need to have everything in place straight away - new things will always come up and you will learn and develop as your business grows! But don't wait around to get started!
Pretty much everything you need to know can be found on Google or YouTube, or from chatting to other people! The wedding industry is a friendly one, so don’t be afraid to reach out and make some friends! We all need a little support at times!
Keep your eye out for future posts about how to continue to grow your wedding business!
Photo by Russel Kent Nichols