Where Did My Clients Go?
When’s the last time that you’ve been ghosted by potential clients?
I’m guessing that it’s not too far off in your distant memory….today even? Yesterday? Or even earlier this week?
Being ghosted by potential clients has got to be up there with one of those disheartening feelings that you experience when it comes to being a business owner; especially when you really have put all that you believe, and everything that you are into what you have to offer. I know what it takes to really put yourself out on the line and even just start by taking the leap to begin your life as a creative entrepreneur, let alone then taking things one step further and actually putting what feels like a piece of who you are out there for others to decide upon. On the surface I know it can sometimes feel a little harsh, but let’s right away just try and spin this around to look at it another way: no matter where we are in our own entrepreneurial pursuits, when did we decide that it was okay to measure on own worth based on an email response, or a verbal “no”, or radio silence? It’s that funny? Like somewhere along the lines, we’ve become so attached to placing our worth and value on how we are received by other people -- who are even often times complete strangers -- when the one thing that we literally have NO control over in our lives is how people react.
Forget even being creative entrepreneurs...just simply being a HUMAN is often tied to handing over our worth and “enoughness” into the hands of other people, or society, or even ancestral ties that are embedded deep within our being.
So let’s just all agree to work on this one thing before diving in further: the only people whose opinions should hold value when it comes to who we are and what we have to offer, is and should forever be, ourselves. If you know you’re trying. If you know you’re showing up. If you know that you are proud of what you’re working on or towards. You are enough. How do you feel about yourself? How do you feel about your progress? How do you feel about your goals? How do you feel about the experience that you’re creating for your clients? Those are the questions and opinions that matter.
Up until this point, I’m assuming that you’ve done the work to really hone into your brand have really fine-tuned your belief statement (your WHY), and have been producing consistent and quality content. IF you’re reading this like: “hold up! I have done no such thing”, then I’d suggest you hit pause, head on over to grab a copy of my new branding guide “Building a Lasting Brand by Being Yourself” e-course, and then come on back here once you’ve started working through that course, as well as the workbook + bonus guides that come along with it. Obviously you can listen right on through because this info is certainly still applicable and will resonate with where you’re at right now, but I just want you to know that that resource is there for you if you’re feeling a little stuck in your business right now and are looking for something to propel you further in your own learning and growth.
The reason that I find the personal branding and this online course so beneficial, is just because there’s a chance that if you’re forging ahead without really identifying who you are and what you believe in as a PERSON, as well as a photographer, I want you to be forewarned that you might be running into more snags in your processes aside from being ghosted by potential clients. Getting ghosted by potential clients happens to EVERYONE - every level of entrepreneur or creative or photographer - BUT, it’s not the only thing that happens; because amongst the ghosting and the clients that were never ours to begin with, our schedules are filled with those bff clients who are so ideal it even makes us forget all about being ghosted to begin with.
So just keep in mind that often times, by being a generalist without true purpose behind all that you do--in life and business--you will continue to attract price shoppers and will continue to fill up your schedules with clients who don’t fully “get” you, or who don’t always value who you are and what you have to offer, which isn’t something that any of us are wanting to do.
So what does being “ghosted” mean anyway?
I feel like there are so many terms and phrases that never existed before the huge growth in creative entrepreneurs
Being ghosted feels real crappy, especially if it’s the first few times that it’s happened, or if we don’t know how to properly handle the situation. Let me just take pause here to let you know right off the start that “IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S THEM”; honestly, I know that is the cheesiest dating line, but it’s the truth in this situation. As easy as it is to take this personally, just know that you are whole, and wonderful, and talented, and needed. You aren’t doing anything wrong.
Personally, ghosting has shown up for me at a few different points in my potential client conversations:
1 - once I sent along my pricing guide.
No surprise here, so my pricing has shocked them or they’ve found someone else who’s cheaper. No big deal. Price shoppers are not my people anyway; often times, because I’ve spent years honing in on my belief statement and my why, my people often seek me out for a reason, and respect my prices. In my experience, price shoppers often don’t actually value the person behind the business, and I’ve personally always found them very hard to please, no matter how above and beyond I go in order to serve them to the best of my ability.
If you’ve found yourself stuck in a space serving the price shoppers, my best advice would be to start implementing some strict boundaries into all things life and business. You are worth what you are charging, and you shouldn’t have to compromise your worth in order to get work.
2 - further down the line after we’ve been talking for a couple of weeks.
This one seriously still stuns me sometimes. I’ve even had scenarios in the past couple of years where I’ve met up with couples, had an incredible hour + long conversation with them, have been asked to send over a contract, and then heard nothing but crickets for days until i followed up, and was met with a one-liner: “yeah, sorry we’ve actually decided to go with someone else”...TOTAL gut punch.
I’d be lying if I said that these scenarios still didn’t baffle me, because they do, to this day; I even had this exact scenario happen to me again a couple of months ago. Usually, I end up just re-reading the email a couple of times, explaining my confusion to Mark, and then kinda shrugging it off and continuing on.
In the first couple of years my thought process went something along the lines of:
“I must have been too expensive,
maybe I should email back and take money off of my collection cost.
Maybe I should offer them something extra?
Maybe they don’t like me.
Maybe my work isn’t as good as I thought it was.
Maybe they asked a friend or family member to shoot their wedding; they’ll regret that decision. Ugh what’s wrong with me”.
The hardest part--aside from believing me when I say that “It’s not you”--is that we may never know the reason as to why they changed their mind, or went with someone else, or refused to email you back altogether. But sometimes, that’s just what we have to do.
We are worth more than having to grovel in order to regain a little bit of income that obviously wasn’t ours to begin with.
If you’re not already prompting your inquiries with a call-to-action, then let’s jump into that, as well as my top three ways to follow-up or get some more conversation going:
1 - If this is the first time that you’re responding to their inquiry, then leave your email open-ended and invite them into more dialogue. How? Ask them some questions about something they mentioned in their initial email (and I’m not talking wedding-related...get personal! Ask them some genuine questions about who they are/what they like, none of that copy and paste crap).
2 - Maybe try sending a little less info; give them a good amount of information regarding what they’ve inquired about, but let them know that you have even MORE goodness to share if they meet up with you, etc. This can look like a tangible pricing guide, info magazine (that’s what I do!), little welcome gift, or whatever else you can think of. It can even be something as simple as a little wedding/elopement guide, or engagement session outfit guide, or even just all of your pricing info instead of just bits and pieces; totally your choice!
3 - Don’t be afraid to follow-up after a reasonable amount of time.
I used to be so scared of following up; for whatever reason, I felt as though I was inconveniencing them, and I often would then feel anxious at the thought of even emailing them. Nowadays, if it’s been 10-14 days after I’ve last talked with them, I’ll send them a really simple, friendly, and to the point email just to follow up (because let’s be honest, some people straight up forget to check their emails). I like to say something like “I just wanted to check in and see if there was anything else I could help you with or any additional questions that might have popped up since we last spoke that I could answer for you”.
Just be you.
Make it honest, personal, brief, and helpful.
Of course you might continue to hear crickets, they might let you know that they booked someone else, OR you might just end up continuing your conversation and booking them. You won’t know until you try.
If they did come back with a “we’ve moved forward with someone else”, then here are my top three things to do to get yourself back on track and feeling better:
1 - Get up, away from your computer, and just occupy your mind with something else for the next 5-10 minutes. Sit outside, go get a snack, drink a glass of water, put your feet on the Earth, watch a dog video on youtube; just anything that isn’t going to allow your mind to stew over the initial feeling that you felt when reading their email response or from getting ignored completely. Get up, come on. Just walk away.
2 - Take a second and flip through some other emails that will lift you up (I actually have a folder for this). Whenever you have a bomb client who writes something so kind, or inspiring, or just good for the soul, then pop it in that folder and come back to it when you need a pick-me-up. We get so wrapped up in wanting more, more, more, that we often neglect to acknowledge and cherish the incredible humans who are already committed to us/right in front of our eyes.
3 - Plan a little “styled shoot” for yourself. Creep a couple on instagram and ask if they would like to shoot with you. Put together a simple elopement session and go spend some time outside shooting it. Whatever “shooting for you” means to who you are, get away from the screens and get out there and shoot. Keep putting out good quality and consistent content, and you will draw in those who are meant to be a part of your work and life.
At the end of the day, ghosting happens to all of us, and we may never ever know why things didn’t work out how we had wanted them to; but like a lot of things in life, we can’t force everyone else’s soul journey into the mould of our own expectations.