Knowing how to get feedback for your photography is essential whether you’re a hobbyist or a pro. However, a lot of photographers don’t bother to ask for feedback or don’t know where to get it.
If you’re running a photography business, your client feedback is even more important. Their honest feedback will give you a quick snapshot of the health of your business and make you more aware of your customers and their behaviors.
Knowing your client’s opinion can help you optimize your services and products. Creating more value for your customers using their feedback is the key to photography business success. In this post you’re going to get to know ways to collect feedback as a photographer, and what to do with it.
Fear of Collecting Feedback
A lot of beginner photographers struggle with collecting feedback due to fear of failure. After all, who wants to hear their clients weren’t completely satisfied or the overall experience was bad? You might also think collecting feedback can affect your payment!
Most of these fears are just in our heads. If your clients really had such a poor time working with you, they’d already complain about it without being asked. More often, feedback will reveal subtle things you can improve; your products and services, your behavior while conducting business, or constructive criticism.
There is nothing to be afraid of. Most importantly, you can make sure the same mistakes will not happen with your next client. Having this in mind, there are no excuses for not collecting client feedback.
Methods of Collecting Photography Feedback
As a photography business owner, you have a million things to work on. Who has time for client feedback after payment when you’re already struggling with bookings, delivery, and post processing? In this section, I’m going to talk about how you can easily get client feedback without spending so much time on it or even automate some of the work for you!
Surveys are one of the best ways to get feedback. By regularly surveying your clients, you’ll keep your finger on the pulse all the time.
Don’t create too long surveys, respect your clients time. From 3 to 5 questions would be enough. You can also make the survey anonymous by adding it to the menu of your site. Since the survey was not sent directly, the client will know the feedback is anonymous. You should also mention the word “Anonymous” in the survey title. This will prompt clients to be more honest in their feedback. Here’s an example of an anonymous survey on a photography website.
When to Use Surveys
There are a few types of surveys you can implement on your website.
- Client service feedback. After a photo session, ask your clients how much they’re satisfied with the overall experience. Even if something went wrong during the photo session, your desire to find it and fix it will be appreciated by your clients.
- Redesigning your brand. If you’re going to change your website design, logo, packaging, etc., you can create a survey with examples and ask your clients what they think about it.
- Reviewing your products and services. Here you can collect feedback about your current offerings and test some new ideas about your business.
- Get to know your customers. Here you can ask your clients about their age, birthdays, likes and expectations. The more information you know about your target audience, the more ways to satisfy their needs with your services.
- Planning a photo session. The more information you know about the client’s expectations for the session and it’s outcome the better. This will give you an idea about what type of photos the client is expecting from the final result. Feel free to ask them about their favorite photos or poses and why they like those. The idea is to get a sense of their expectations.
- Keep in touch. Your client’s lifetime value or CLV is much higher than you think it is. CLV is a term mostly used in the software business, but equally applicable to photography. It tells you how much business, on average, a client will do during the lifetime. You may think the newborn shoot you did was limited to that transaction. However, your customer’s lifetime value is just starting at that point. That newborn will start school, graduate a few times, get engaged, get married, buy/sell houses, and so on. All these events are opportunities for you to add value. So it is imperative you keep a list of all your past clients in a place where you can easily reach out to them. This way you can reach out to them with surveys or updates to keep in touch.
- Newsletter Subscribers: You probably have a regularly updated blog if you are serious about your photography business (if not, start a free photoblog). When people subscribe to your blog newsletter that’s a good point to initiate feedback. They’re joining your list assuming they will get value from it. So you should find out what kind of value they expect. Ask them what type of articles they enjoy the most, what their interests are, where they’re located, how did they find the blog…etc.
Tools for Creating a Survey
You might be thinking your schedule is already full between bookings, editing, and delivery. Who has time to survey? However, most of these surveys only take a few minutes of your time to setup. Most importantly, once the survey is online, you will keep getting valuable data and insights without much effort.
Automation is your friend when it comes to feedback collection.
Now that you know the importance of feedback surveys, here are a few free and paid tools which can help you run a survey on your photography website.
Their free plan gives you 10 questions, 100 responders, 15 quotation types, and plenty of design customizations. Free plan comes with SurveyMonekey logo but unless you are a large corporation with strict brand rules, I do not see the need to upgrade. In fact, it is a good way to disclose to your clients the survey is handled by a third party software.
They are 100% free to use. After signing up you’ll get an unlimited number of surveys, 15 survey questions, 150 responders, over 50 theme templates, and integration with MailChimp. It has most of the advanced features of SurveyMonkey but there is no way to target the survey pop-up to just a fraction of your visitors. All other options such as embed, pop-up, password secure surveys, MailChimp integration, and exporting to Google Docs are there.
You’ll get an unlimited number of surveys, questions, and responders, over 90 pre-written surveys, support in 20 languages, and an opportunity to embed a survey anywhere you want.
Sign up for one of these survey tools to test their features and choose which one will work for your needs the best. For more info on creating surveys have a look at How to Create a Survey.
2. Social Media Feedback
Social media is a great place to ask for feedback. You can use Facebook, Flickr, 500px, or 1x.com and request other photographers (or your clients) for constructive criticism. Especially if you’re starting out and want to improve your photography skills and business skills. Our own platform PhotoBlog.com comes with a comment section that you can utilize for this purpose. Turn all your photography sessions into blog posts by posting your photos and asking your audience for feedback, critique, and positive thoughts. If you need an example, take a look at the 20+ comments I got for my post, Backcountry camping in Algonquin park.
Don’t feel as though your clients may hesitate to give honest feedback because they know you personally. In the social web, people are not afraid to speak their mind. This can be really valuable when you’re after honest feedback. Photography forum’s like our own PhotoBlog Community are great places to not just start a critique request, but also get advice from professionals about your business, pricing, delivery methods, photo printing…etc
You can also use social media to validate an idea and find out how many people are interested. Take a look at this example from NW photography works, this probably took less than a minute to post!
Make a quick poll on your Facebook page and ask your followers what they think of your photography and services. Facebook also has numerous groups dedicated to different genres of photography. You can submit your photos to relevant groups and ask members for their feedback and critique.
3. Drip Emails
It’s no question emailing every client personally is an impossible task when you’re also juggling the responsibilities of a photography business and a family life. Not to worry, technology can really help with automation in this aspect. To do any kind of automation, good record keeping is the key. Make sure your client/subscriber contact info/email is properly inserted into a CRM or a list management software.
Most list management companies allow you to send your contacts a welcome email. Use this email to ask valuable questions and feedback from your contacts. You can even send them a link to your survey through this initial email.
Quick tip: Divide your email subscribers into groups (like new clients, wedding, boudoir, etc) and target your emails to a particular group of subscribers. For example, if you have a group of clients under ‘family’ category, you can send them a very tempting back-to-school session with a discount code.
When you’re starting out, list categorization might sound like an annoyance, but as you grow, it will be a useful resource at your disposal. It certainly beats searching Gmail for past clients! It is as important as adding keywords in your Lightroom workflow. (You do that, right?)
4. Pick up the Phone
Social media is quick and easy. However, the good old phone is still the king of client relationships! Ease of access to social media and email has really diluted the value of communications through them. That’s why survey completion rates are usually between 10-15%.
Make sure to prepare a few questions before the conversation. This will help you avoid awkward silence. Outline your questions, stay polite, and let your client know that you’re ready for any feedback.
As Kendra Swalls explains in her article, How to Plan A Photo Session & Create an Unforgettable Client Experience, phone follow-ups are also great for continued business. If you pick up the phone and wished one of your client a happy anniversary or a birthday, I bet they’ll be thinking about how to give you more business the minute you hang up the phone. Even if they can’t spend money on a session, they’ll think of others in their life who might need your services. Voice communications have that effect because your clients appreciate the effort and personal connection.
Let technology help you with this task by adding your client’s important dates to your calendar software along with their contact info. You sure will make the husband look bad when you’re the one to wish a happy anniversary first!
5. Get Feedback While You Sleep!
Sure, to get personal feedback you need to be awake and alert. Duh. However, there is feedback you can collect even while you’re asleep. You can use Google Analytics and Kissmetrics to give you an understanding which of your products and services people like the most. These services can also tell you which photo they like the most, which pages they view the most, and which blog posts are the most popular to keep an eye on.
When a website is broken or hard to navigate, users move onto your competitors without ever giving you feedback. That’s why you need to be collecting data to as feedback. Your web visitors might not tell you that your website is hard to navigate, but your Google Analytics bounce rate will. Track things like the number of visitors, bounce rate, order completion funnels, and referrals. These subtle clues in user behaviors will help you improve your online user experience. For example, if you’re struggling to manage few social accounts and your data shows only one of them provide results, just focus on that for now.
Also, there is a great tool from Google called Google Alerts. It can help you to track mentions of your brand, name, or some particular words over the web and get you notified about it via email. So, each time someone writes something about you, you’ll get to know. It’s easy to set up and free.
Not All Feedback Is Equal
Sure, there are a lot of social media and photo sharing sites that give you V+F (Voted and Favorited) type feedback. However, these are not really valuable to your growth as a photographer. You should aim to get informative and in-depth feedback that allows your clients to be completely honest with you, without them worrying about how not to hurt your feelings.
Similarly, when you ask your clients to give you a testimonial for your service, make sure to guide them with few pointers. If you don’t guide them, you will get “good service”, or “liked the results” type of testimonials but that doesn’t sway your future clients. A good testimonial should include why they liked your services. Be sure to ask them few questions such as what they liked about the photos, shooting experience…etc. If you do that, their testimonials will reflect your strong points and uniqueness. For example, if the feedback reflects you’re great with small kids and guiding them to posing, that will have a big impact on your future clients.
A good testimonial should include why they liked your services. Be sure to ask them few questions such as what they liked about the photos, shooting experience…etc. If you do that, their testimonials will reflect your strong points and uniqueness. For example, if the feedback reflects you’re great with small kids and guiding them to posing, that will have a big impact on your future clients.
In this testimonial, a client mentioned the photographer was able to work with bad lighting and energetic children which made this feedback really worthy.
What To Do With Unhappy Clients
If you find out some of your clients are not completely satisfied with your services, try to learn as much as you can from the feedback.
You can’t always please all your clients, but if there’s a lesson to be learned, that’s an opportunity for your to grow and improve. Always, thank them for their feedback and tell them you’ll be a better business for it. If at all possible, you can offer to make up for your shortcomings. This could be a free re-edit or a discount on their next event. More often than not, your offer will lighten the situation and you can turn negative feedback into a repeat business!
As with getting feedback, calling or visiting is the best method to handle negative feedback. You may be prompted to deal with it via email or social media because that is the easy thing to do. However, a situation can be easily resolved without lingering harsh feelings if you take responsibility and make a personal effort to correct it. No matter what you do, don’t get into an online argument with your clients. As a business, professionalism is much more important than a single negative feedback.
Go and Get Your Feedback
We have listed 5 great methods of collecting client feedback above. If you setup even half of them in your photography business, you’re in a good position to answer the following question, “How is my business/photography doing?”. Not only can you improve yourself, but you can also build stronger client relationships by collecting and acting upon feedback.
Please tell us your favorite method of collecting feedback. Have you received negative feedback, how has it changed your business?
p.s. If you ever want to get your photo critiqued or build an audience for your work, check out PhotoBlog.com’s free blogging platform for photographers.
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