Alright photogs, today I want to chat all things vendor relationships because it’s always the perfect time to build connections with other vendors in the industry. Vendor relationships can be a key component to growing a photography business if you take the time to create solid relationships. Since we work alongside various vendors at each wedding, it can be easy to overlook how we can help each other within the industry. Let’s chat about how vendor relationships can help grow your business, why you should be leveraging them, and how to connect with like minded vendors.
HOW VENDOR RELATIONSHIPS CAN HELP YOU GROW YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS
If you can land your name on a venue or wedding/event planner’s preferred vendor list, you’re that much more likely to book another wedding or event simply because it’s one more (trusted) place that potential clients are seeing your name. The fact is, I’m constantly booking without running any type of ads and a large part of that is because of the relationships I have with awesome vendors. And who doesn’t want to save money on ad costs?
Even if you’re not on someone’s vendor list, having a good relationship with them could mean your name just comes up in conversation. Or that they’ll re-share your work on social media (more on that later). Again, these are all ways of organically getting your name shared which is the goal. Word-of-mouth for the win!
HOW TO BUILD SOLID VENDOR RELATIONSHIPS
So now you’re like “that all makes sense, but how the heck do I make these connections and build these relationships?” There are so many ways to start building these relationships. Some will add 30 seconds on to a task you already had to do (the perfect way to dip your toes in, especially if you’re in a busy season) and others will require dedicating some extra time, but they’re all super effective.
Before I dive into all of the tips, the most important thing to remember is that the common theme is to help them. Yes, you’re building these relationships to help your business in the end, but it’s a two way street. If you show them how you can help their business and give them exposure, they’ll likely return the favor. Just asking to be put on their vendor list without offering them anything… well, honestly it’s not very enticing. Think of what would and wouldn’t impress you if another vendor was initiating the relationship. A good rule is to start by giving.
1. Tag vendors in your photos – This is a really simple way to give other vendors exposure and show them how you can connect them with new clients. You’re going to be posting photos to social media anyway, so take the extra millisecond to tag them. How does this help you? They’re likely to re-share your post which is exposure for you.
A helpful hint: in your questionnaires, ask clients what vendors they are using. This way you’ll always know you’re tagging the right people.
2. Re-share their posts – On the flipside, if a vendor tags you in a post, take a few seconds to re-share it to your Instagram stories with a quick blurb about what it was like to work with them. It doesn’t have to be deep or lengthy. Something as simple as “Always love getting to photograph at the beautiful @xyzvenue” or “@xyzflorist’s arrangements are the dreamiest!” is more than enough!
3. Sharing galleries– This will help with that reshare tip. You want them to tag you on social media? What better way than to give them photos to share?! You’re already culling, editing, and making galleries and, believe me, I know this is time consuming. But taking a little extra time to create a gallery for vendors is pure gold. Vendors feel like they have to pry photographers for photos, so make it easy for them by sending out an email right before the event announcing that you’ll share a gallery with them in X weeks after the event. Be sure to pick a timeline that feels realistic for you. If they know photos are coming their way, that alone is a relieving breath of fresh air.
4. Shout outs – This is another easy social media trick. Feature 2-3 non competing vendors in your Instagram stories on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be daily or even weekly. One way I remember to do this is by clicking the bell icon my favorite vendor’s Instagram profiles to be notified when they post. It’s a great reminder to share a beautiful venue’s features or a planner’s top tips.
5. Write articles or blog posts tagging vendors and then email them a link to the post – This might take a little more time than some of the things above, but if you blog your weddings and events, make sure to mention the vendors in your blog post or article along with a link to their website and/or social media. The finishing touch is to email the vendors a link the post or article. They will love this!
Bonus: If your clients are still looking for certain vendors, they’ll appreciate this too because they may find a cake decorator or DJ through your blog post. We love making clients’ lives easier and it’s such a great way to serve them.
6. Don’t treat other photographers like competition – When it comes to building vendor relationships, you even want to make those connections within your own profession. This is a great way to get hired as a second shooter or find a second shooter to hire for yourself. It’s also great for referrals (yesssss bring the referrals). If a photographer is booked up on a date that a potential client is asking about, they will send that client your way if you’ve built a good relationship with them. And of course it’s always a good idea to do the same in return.
7. Connect in person, not just online – This is where you have to dedicate a little extra time, but it’s always good to connect beyond social media. You’re almost always more likely to remember someone you’ve met and vibed with in person than someone you’ve DM’d a few times. And the same is true for them. If there are networking events for vendors in your area, I highly recommend taking the time to be a part of them when you can.
8. Join or start communities – There is nothing better than a tight knit community where you can bounce ideas off of each other, ask for advice or referrals, or just level with people who get it. This is also such a good way to get to know others on a deeper level and make sure that you’re connecting and building relationships with vendors that are like minded. This may seem small, but recommending vendors to your clients is a reflection of your business and your values, so it’s important to make sure you feel good about who you point them towards. It’s also important to just feel like you’re staying true to you.
Seriously, do not sleep on making these connections and building these relationships. They’re beneficial for everyone and… sometimes ya might get a friend out of it too!
If vendor relationships are new to you or you’re looking to take those connections to the next level, I highly recommend signing up for my newsletter if you’re not already. Soon, there will be a way for you to get access to ready-to-go email templates to send out to vendors! These will be for sale in my Etsy Shop in a couple of weeks.