For any wedding photography business, there’s always that balancing act of doing the work while also hustling to bring in new business.
Cole and Jakob of Nordica Photography are wedding photographers in Sweden that specialize in destination weddings, and also have a background in marketing.
Nordica Photography have not only grown a successful wedding photography business, but have also launched a very successful biannual wedding photography conference – Way Up North. Way Up North is Europe’s wedding photography conference that happens twice a year – in April and October– and brings together over 500 wedding photographers world-wide to share their passion for photography while learning about growing their business and brand.
We interviewed Nordica Photography to learn about the successful methods and techniques they’ve experimented with to help grow their business, and how they manage a conference on top of it all.
How have you marketed your wedding photography business?
Nordica Photography: In the first years of our business – so 2009 – 2011, let’s say – we blogged in high volume. Something like 300 posts per year was average, and we did this to spread our keyword goals out as much as possible to have a variety of search engine results. So that was a concrete tactic we consciously did, and by doing that we strengthened our page ranking.
That isn’t the case now. These days, our marketing is stripped down considerably and we focus on relationships with other photographers, customer service, and social media. All serve different rolls in our marketing mix, but combined, generate a healthy amount of inquiries and bookings.
Tracking this is straightforward when using Daylite. We can see every point of contact we’ve ever had with any email that’s landed in our inbox, so if we’re to use referrals as an example, we know exactly what has been shared with a fellow photographer.
How have you leveraged social media to market your wedding photography business?
Nordica Photography: Our feeling is we do not use social media any differently than most other photographers. We have a pulse online, and think of our own story as the content.
One adjustment we’ve made is accepting that Facebook ads are an expense now, and that’s a reality we’re totally fine with. Facebook Dark Posts have shown results (which we measure by inquiries), so the return far outweighs the cost of placing an ad. In retrospect, the cost of a Facebook ad is ridiculously cheap compared with other mediums, so we’re completely fine budgeting for this.
Other than that, we have no tricks up our sleeve, and we’re not sure there are any out there. Continuously sharing quality content and managing the tone of our brand voice is what we think about, and aside from that, just go for it.
What marketing tactics have you found that definitely do NOT work?
Nordica Photography: High frequency of posts will not move your brand ahead. It’s best to moderate what you show and restrain yourself from showing too much work. Less is more.
That comes to mind, and also using the mediums in the context they should be used. Give your audience a reason to follow you on the different channels so you’re not wasting anyones time by sharing the same content across all platforms.
What inspired you guys to start your own conference? And how has the conference affected your business as a whole?
Nordica Photography: We were ready for a new challenge, and the idea of creating Europe’s wedding photography conference appealed to us. Our vision in the beginning was to create an intimidating presentation environment so that those who were on stage would need to prepare accordingly, and the result would be quality, practical insights delivered to the audience. That, wrapped in a tightly run show felt like a great challenge, so we went for it.
Way Up North and Nordica have intentionally been disconnected throughout the entire process, and we never want the two brand voices to overlap. We do not want Way Up North to be a “Nordica” thing, nor do we want couples considering us for their wedding to look at Nordica as “event guys”. This has been important to us, and while we get it that we can’t disappear entirely from either brand, we do our best to maintain consistent brand voices with both and not overlap the two.
Way Up North has affected us the most recently in how we view our industry. There are three groups we work with when putting on the event: Attendees, sponsors and presenters. So balancing a healthy relationship with each has been a new experience for us, and one we’re completely enjoying. If we can keep all three of those groups feeling positive about Way Up North, we can continue to grow the brand which is quite exciting.
How have you marketed the conference to grow an audience?
Nordica Photography: This is an interesting question, because our perspective has changed since we first started the event. When we launched the first event, we sold around 500 tickets in a couple weeks, and sold out right away. It must have looked easy to other entrepreneurial photographers out there, because almost over night conferences sprouted up all over the place. There was increased competition so there were far more events for photographers to choose between.
So the change in perspective was in the essence of community. When we launched Way Up North, we incorrectly viewed community as a secondary benefit of attending the event, where the main benefit would be bettering yourself as an entrepreneur and artist. Now we realise that the rising tide lifts all boats analogy certainly applies to the community element of the event because attendees are the soul of what Way Up North is. When attendees see one another move forward and prosper, that is a massive motivation for them to get involved.
Aside from that realisation, we want to win without pitching with Way Up North. We will not push the event more than necessary, because we believe the quality of the brand’s reputation will speak for itself. It is a tight show, affordable to all photographers, and we believe the collection of talent who hit the stage will benefit any artistic entrepreneur who listens in.
How do you separate your time and resources for your wedding photography business and the conference?
Nordica Photography: The first, and most important point perhaps, is inbox management. We need the inbox to be empty so we never fall behind, so in terms of allotting time, it starts there. It’s challenging to move forward if you’re playing catchup.
Once that is sorted, we then know Nordica inquiries and bookings have been addressed and then move forward with Way Up North. With the event, we have a fantastic team working with us, so it is not only the two of us. If we know the tasks are in motion which need to be, then come time for the event itself, we will be ready and can watch the months of planning unfold accordingly.
So it’s about balance partly, but more so about having a plan and acting on the plan. We work well when we have a roadmap in front of us that guides us towards our purpose, where each step of the way or tactic we act on is a piece of the puzzle that achieves that purpose.