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In addition to requests for a home tour and a guide to exploring Charleston, this topic has been the MOST requested since I moved from VA to SC! I began my business a little over 6 years ago in Fredericksburg, Virginia…and my business stayed in that area the entire time. I traveled for weddings and destination work, but my business was always centrally located in VA. Now that I’ve moved to SC, it’s been a fun challenge to learn to market myself in a brand new area – something I’ve never had to do before!
I’ve found that there’s a very common misconception people have had since I moved here. They think that because I have a large social media following, somehow bookings are just going to instantly come my way in a new place. Wrong! Having a succesful business in one place does NOT automatically mean my business will be succesful anywhere. I have had to do LOTS of networking and hard work since moving to a new location…just like anybody else would! Having a large audience that I’ve built over the last 6+ years is definitely helpful…but it by no means automatically earns me wedding or client bookings in South Carolina.
So, I wanted to write a quick blog post today to give you THREE tips on marketing your business in a new place! This obviously applies to people who are moving to a new area (like me!), but it can also apply to someone who is wanting to book weddings in a market that they don’t currently live in (i.e. wanting to book destination work outside of your hometown). These are things that I am still actively doing to build my name and credibility here in Charleston!
1. START THE MARKETING AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
For me, this part was tough – we had a few month period where we knew we wanted to move to Charleston, but we didn’t know if it was going to actually happen. So, I wanted to start marketing my business in a new place…but didn’t want to confuse my current market or waste my time if we didn’t end up moving. The SECOND we knew the move was officially, I sprang into action to start marketing my biz in a new place online! Here’s a few ways to do that:
Instagram Hashtags: This one may seem obvious, but it’s important! Research hashtags that your ideal client uses in your new market, and hashtags the succesful vendors in that market are currently using. Start using them as often as possible in your posts. You can also use a resource like Display Purposes to find hashtags relevant to your new market!
SEO: This one is huge! I hired a team to change all of my website and blog SEO (search engine optimization) from Virginia-related keywords to Charleston. They also gave me tips for how to write content related to my new area that would continue to boost my SEO in the moving process!
Reviews: If you can create content in your new market (like a styled shoot) before you move to the area, that is a bonus! But, even better? Ask the people you’ve worked with in that area to leave you reviews with the name of the place that you photographed them. For example, I ask all of my Charleston clients to leave me Google reviews and include the world “Charleston” in it. This tells Google that you are located in Charleston, and works with your SEO strategies to boost your Google searches!
2. GET OUT AND ABOUT – THEN SHARE IT!
One of the BEST ways to get your name out there in a new location? Get shared by popular local businesses! This may seem silly…but anytime I go out to eat, shop or explore somewhere in Charleston, I am taking TONS of photos and videos on my iPhone. Then, I do an Instagram story recap of my day and tag all of the locations I’ve been. Ideally, those accounts or businesses will repost my images to share with their audiences! But, even if they don’t, it can create connections and relationships with established businesses in your area to bring you eventual clients! You can even go a step further and take professional images on your camera and send a full gallery to the vendors you visited. I always do this with NO expectation, because I truly just want to serve the businesses in my area WELL and share about the places that I love…but there is also strategy in this!!
3. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
When I talk about networking…I don’t just mean photographing styled shoots and going to lunch with vendors in your new market. I’m talking about SERVING. If there is anything I have learned in my 6 years of business, it’s that people’s intentions come through loud and clear when they are only in it for themselves. I don’t want to photograph styled shoots or take people to happy hour just to hopefully book a bride off of them. I want to do it to serve them and love them well, build friendships and create genuine connections in my new market. If a booking or two comes from those relationships…that’s amazing! But my GOAL is not to only serve and love the people who get me something in return. I think this is where networking and styled shoots go very wrong. If you are only doing something in hopes of earning a booking (and feel resentful or frustrated if it doesn’t lead to that), then do a heart check and try going into it with a different perspective! Strategy and marketing are great things that can go a long way…but I’d argue that genuine relationships will always go farther.
(Example: instead of reaching out to a local wedding planner and asking to take them to coffee, offer to photograph their team and gift them new head shots at no cost! This serves and adds value to them in a genuine, practical way – and hopefully a connection can be built from there!)
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