The wedding industry is changing – especially with the challenges of the coronavirus and social distancing measures. More and more couples are realising that they either can’t have or don’t want a big, traditional wedding, and many are choosing to do things differently. If you’ve ever wanted to book more elopements, now is the best time to do it. With more couples considering eloping than ever before, your audience will be looking to you for inspiration and advice for how to plan a wedding day in the current situation. They are ready for you to guide them and teach them all about how awesome it is to elope.
How To Pivot Your Business & Book More Elopements
I photographed my first elopement in 2016, and I absolutely loved it. But it wasn’t until 2017 when I decided to change direction with my business and focus solely on adventurous weddings & elopements. Since then, I’ve photographed intimate weddings and elopements across Europe in some of the most incredible places. And I put my success down to hard work and having a clear strategy. And today I’m going to share the outlines that strategy with you.
Whilst my strategy was to only shoot weddings that fell in my niche, I understand that not everyone wants to narrow down their business to such a specific niche. The great news is, now is the perfect time to test the water with elopements. Couples who may have wanted to plan a big wedding aren’t able to, but they still want to get married, so you can easily pivot your business to cater to their needs. And because of that you don’t need to find a completely new audience. You’ve worked hard to build the one you’ve got, and now you’re going to learn how to pivot it towards elopements in a way that is in alignment with your brand.
This blog post is for those of you out there who want to shoot more elopements in addition to the awesome weddings you already do and love.
Your 3 Step Plan To Book More Elopements
Step 1 – Adapt Your Messaging
Elopements aren’t just couples standing on a mountain. And not all elopements are destination elopements. If you are well known for what you do already, don’t feel like you have to scrap all of the work you’ve done to build your existing brand if you want to start targeting elopements. If you aren’t looking to do a complete 180, but rather, add higher-value elopements to your current services, then you don’t need to change everything on your website. You’ll just want to go in and adapt a few things.
If you want to book more elopements, you need to empower couples to elope and show that you value their decision to elope just as much as if it was a big wedding. With the added challenges of social distancing, couples may be choosing to elope because they don’t want to wait to get married, but it might not have been their first choice. Let your audience know that you understand their struggles and that you truly believe that their elopement day will be unforgettable.
Start by looking at your existing copy & images. Does this empower couples for any type of wedding, small or large? If talking about elopements on your homepage doesn’t feel like it matches up with your brand, create a separate page on your website about eloping. Just make sure it’s easy to find by having it visible in your top menu, as a couple who is eloping might not want to scroll through pages about big wedding celebrations on the off-chance that they’ll find something relevant to them.
On social media, start to add in posts that talk about eloping. Lead with empathy & authority. Let your audience know that you understand how hard it is planning a wedding right now, but that you believe they can still have an amazing wedding day. Introduce the idea of elopements, educate your audience on the common myths about elopements (read this post if you want to know more), and talk about why eloping might be the right choice for some them. Challenge them into a different way of thinking and invite them to re-imagine their wedding day.
Step 2 – Create A Content Strategy For Elopements
If you’ve done some ideal client work, it’s great to go back to your ideal client avatar. How has their life and their wedding plans changed with Covid-19? Perhaps they were planning a big wedding but now their plans have changed. What new questions are they now searching to answers for?
Blog posts are an excellent way to start, as these can be found by anyone who is on your website, and can add value and demonstrate your expertise. Start by creating content that answers the questions that your clients are asking. To keep things on-brand for your business, start by creating elopement resources based on your areas of expertise.
If you’re a ninja at urban weddings, create a post about urban elopements. Blog about how to elope in your city or your local area. Create content with sample timelines and inspiration to show couples that an elopement can be so much more than what they had previously thought. As you create all this helpful content, share it across your social media. For location-specific blog posts, you’ll also want to SEO optimize the shit out of it so that you’ve got a higher chance of being found organically in a Google search. Think of a “How to elope in X” type guide that answers all your clients’ questions about eloping in their chosen location.
Especially with travel being a challenge right now, I recommend starting your focus on local elopements and making sure you are dominating those search queries before trying to target destination elopements. But once you’ve got your local stuff done, targeting destination elopements is a very similar strategy.
Create content and resources for the destinations you want to target. Research how to elope in these destinations and create guides for couples that you can use to target SEO. These guides can be blog posts or orphan pages on your website if you prefer.
Build An Elopement Portfolio
To start with, try to work with what you already have. Couple portraits are a great resource to use at the start, as when it’s just a couple on their own, it could easily be a wedding or an elopement.
When it’s safe to do so, do some portfolio building shoots in locations you want to target. Do model calls and go out there and create. The awesome thing about most real elopements (not the styled ones you see on wedding blogs) is that they are pretty fuss-free, which means a portfolio building shoot is pretty easy to organise. All you need is a couple in wedding gear and you are good to go. Pretty much everything else is optional.
Step 3 – Adapt Your Pricing
I recently wrote a more in-depth article here on how to price elopements, so I’ll keep this section short.
If you want to book more high-value elopements, then you’ll need to show pricing that reflects that.
Whether you have packages or starting prices on your website, look at the wording you are using. Even if you are listing elopements with a cheaper starting price (which may be the case if you only offer full-day coverage for big weddings), make sure you are still making it clear that you over a variety of coverage options for elopements too.
One of the biggest mistakes I see a lot of photographers making is offering a big “all-singing, all-dancing” package for wedding photography that sounds amazing, and underneath they mention elopements as a side-note with a cheap 2-hour coverage package. Many eloping couples request short coverage because it’s all they have seen a lot of people offering. If you want to book longer coverage for elopements, let couples know that you offer that too, and why they should absolutely consider booking more hours, even when it’s just the two of them.
Depending on how you send out your pricing guide, and what you offer in your wedding packages, you might want to consider creating a separate pricing guide for elopements, so that couples aren’t trying to understand how your wedding prices would work for their elopement.
ARE YOU READY TO PIVOT YOUR BUSINESS AND BOOK MORE ELOPEMENTS, BUT AREN’T SURE WHERE TO START?
Let me help you! Book a 30-minute “Kickstart Your Elopement Business Session” with me and get my help to create a custom strategy for taking your existing photography business and launching into the exploding & lucrative elopement market.