Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Client Guide

The foundation of great marketing begins with understanding where your clients are at in their knowledge of what you do and how you can transform their lives with your products and services. In the F&F community, we know the majority of non-photographer potential clients still don’t quite understand what a documentary session even is. The problem is that we showcase our amazing images on our photography blogs + social and then pivot into “let me document your lives/story.” There is a missing link between these two points: showing the clients how your photos can add something of value (specifically to them) to their lives or eliminate a problem. Using a Client Guide can help.

Let’s Do Better at Educating Potential Clients with Their Current Knowledge in Mind

Only YOU can determine exactly what your typical potential client understands and believes about your sessions when they come to you. After working with almost 50 Mastery Moment-Seeker’s Course students, I’ve learned there are two primary categories we currently need to educate potential clients on:

1. The value in a documentary session – specifically how it can change their lives (in some cases, it’s as simple as what it is & how it can help them)

2. All of the business stuff (your process, policies, expectations, etc.)

But how do you effectively share all of the information without leaving them with a feeling of more to think about through information-overlead?

How do you be informative AND hit on their emotions at the same time?

It’s time to up level your pre-booking workflow. I know what you’re thinking. “I’ve got all of my policies, what to expect, packages, and FAQ’s right on my website and I’ve blogged a handful of times about how special and important a documentary session can be. It’s not working.” Most clients are not going to spend time going through page after page on your website. They are definitely not going back 12 blog posts to look for that emotion-driven post about documentary photography (that they don’t even know exists).

However, all of this information presented in an easy-to-read, visually appealing way can keep them ENGAGED.

Think of a Client Guide as a one-stop-shop for everything they need to know from compelling stories to make their hearts throb and the important business info we need them to have.

This post will talk about what to include in your Client Guide, why, and how you can use this guide to your advantage. It’s probably a great idea to pin this so you can easily reference back: 

client guide for photographers

What to Include in Your Client Guide as a Storytelling, Documentary Photographer:

Ok, this list is going to be a little long. To help out, we have a checklist to summarize all of this for you. Grab it here:

Your Story

I’m not talking about, “Hi! So glad you’re reading. My name is Marie Masse and I’m a Documentary Photographer. I live in Michigan with my husband and 2 kids….” Nope! Little facts about you are great and can definitely be included, but you need is to write a story that makes your client feel like she knows you. More specifically, like you get HER. This can be done in a few paragraphs that includes the following:

1. Makes a bold statement in exactly what you do for your clients and how you change your clients’ lives.

2. A compelling story that reveals or reminds them of a problem (specific to your dream client) and how doing what you do has solved that problem – something they can mentally step into your shoes and relate to.

Why? This gives lets them get to know you, but also proves that YOU are the person that can help them with their need… because you get them.

 

Your Photography 

We’re selling the idea of photographing a STORY, yet in so much of our marketing we’re only showing stand-alone images. Choose images that both represent your brand and also are relatable to your dream client. Having a spread or two dedicated to a full story is a great idea to help them fully understand what to expect!

As you choose your images, ask yourself if the image represents the kinds of sessions you consistently want to take on? Then, ask yourself if your dream clients will find the image familiar? Example, if you’re creating a Client Guide for a potential maternity client, think about what they are going through in this experience right now. What kinds of things are they feeling? Seeing? This will help trigger some of the things they’ll likely want to remember from this season in life + help them to visualize what to expect with imagery.

Why? Having an all-in-one Client Guide that shows a wide variety of shooting subjects will make it harder for clients to picture what you will deliver for them. Don’t be afraid to create multiple guides for different shooting subjects if you take on a variety of subjects. 

 

Custom, Strategic Articles

Let’s not assume these potential clients are reading your blog. Let’s not assume they even know what documentary photography is. Let’s not assume that the potential clients looking through this are already seriously shopping for a session (more on this later). You need to dig deep and think about the potential clients you want to work with. Are these families? Couples? Get specific. Make it your mission to know:

 

What piece(s) of information will really hit home and reveal how a documentary session can benefit them?

In my personal guide, I include an article in the beginning that talks about the impact a photo can make on our lives, highlighting changes in my life I think they can relate to (like grandparents passing away, sounds of childhood I no longer hear, etc.).

In another article deeper in my guide, I talk about my life before having babies in a conversational way. Why this topic? I want to connect with more couples in telling the story of their life today through photos. By walking them through my experience of the same season of life they are in now, I’m speaking a language they can fully understand. This type of article also works as an informal case study. It talks about the things I miss about that season of life and the aftermath of time moving us away from that season. I speak about how I don’t have any photos of our first home together or anything to represent how our love story really began – these things would be super special to have today. I know my clients are looking to the future, which makes it hard for them to savor today, so this article is to help them be aware of this.

Why include articles? Stories tap into the emotional side. 

People buy through emotion. It’s more than what kind of product they are going to get. It’s also about how this will benefit their life. Through experiences you or past clients share, you can reveal how documentary photography will make an impact on their lives without simply telling them…. you’re showing them.

 

Photo Session Ideas

If you’re one of the hundreds of photographers that owns Session Sparks, now is the time to rock those ideas! Draw your favorite ideas out of the guide, pair with your photos, and reveal the big WHY behind the session and you’ll have an inspirational feature to your Client Guide. This will help trigger some ideas from their own life… and get them thinking about their session before booking!

Why? If you are a photographer that strives to preserve the beauty in the everyday, for example, this section will give clients a visual example of how beautiful various scenes can be. 

Remember, they are (likely) not photographers and may have trouble seeing how extraordinary a scene can be in photos… they think it may be boring or not pretty enough sometimes. It’s up to us to give them more confidence in the photos they are going to get by showing off your work set to different storylines.

 

Session & Product Info 

This goes without saying. The key thing here is to keep it visually appealing – avoid big blocks of text. Keep your options minimum so picking a package is simple. For me, there are 2 packages. A shorter session and a full day (8 hour) session. That’s it. Then, I have pages with photos of products.

 

Testimonials

Potential clients want to hear what everyone else is saying about you. Either include a page or spread dedicated to testimonials or sprinkle them throughout. The secret there: include testimonials that will answer questions on your potential client’s mind. I’ve got a great podcast recommendation for you to listen to on this specific topic: The Who, What, When, Where, and How of Testimonials (Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast)

 

Your Process Spread 

It’s important you don’t assume that your clients get how a session works…. especially a session with someone they’ve never worked with. From the committed booking to the product delivery, make your entire process clear and easy. Again, no long blocks of text. When clients feel unsure of what’s ahead or what their role is during a session, it’s an insecure feeling. You do not need to go super in-depth here, but fill them in on the different phases of the experience.

Why? When clients feel confident in what to expect in the timeline, they are more likely to feel comfortable in booking. 

Once booked, you should still be taking great client care to ensure they are in-the-know of what to expect next, but this is an excellent starting point that also shows them that this isn’t like a fast-food order. It’s a visual way to show clients that we do more than just show up and shoot.

 

FAQ Spread

I have a love/hate feeling towards FAQs. By adding certain FAQs, you could potentially OPEN the thought of a problem they may otherwise never would think of. I suggest to truly keep this short & sweet to cover the very most common questions you get.

For my guide, I try to cover the common booking insecurities and objections from my clients. For example, my couple clients often think they’re boring or don’t do anything cute or exciting enough for a session. So this is something I like to address.

Most couples don’t ask me questions like, “Do I get a disc?” (because there is a page about Digital Products)  or “What happens if I’m late?” (Who is going to ask this before booking? No one plans to be late….)

Why include FAQ’s? You can address concern before they completely say, “no thanks.” You’re more likely to get their mindset back to the positive side!

 

Value Trigger 

There is this book called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die about making an idea truly hit home. In our case, we need to add a serious punch in our marketing that helps potential clients reach this epiphany or ah-ha in their thought process. Why? Because many of our potential clients, especially non-photographers, aren’t aware of what a documentary session is yet. Do I sound like a broken record? We tell them about how one day they will miss today, but this concept is so hard for us as humans to grasp. The secret: get them thinking about some of their most valuable PAST experiences.

I do this in my Client Guide through a quiz called the Real is the New Perfect Photo Challenge (more on this below). The goal is to help your clients think about their real life + past experiences and connect that with the session you’re offering.

Why? This is the difference in telling potential clients how great a documentary session is and teaching them in a way they arrive at this conclusion on their own.

Powerful stuff, right?

 

How Do I Make a Client Guide?

If you’re a design-guru, doing this in InDesign is the way to go. Please do not try to create something like this in Photoshop – that is a beast of separate pages. In InDesign, you can make this in one document and easily export as a pdf.

If you’re NOT a design-guru, like me, let me introduce you to Fearless and Framed’s Client Guide Template for Documentary Photographers. Our Client Guide Template includes ALL of the items listed to include above… including the Real is the New Perfect Photo Challenge on a beautiful quiz spread. How cool is that? It’s clean and professionally designed, yet customizable and ready for you to add your logo/branding. Choosing the latter will help you get this done quickly. Learn more about our template by clicking here.

How do I effectively Use a Client Guide?

Use your Client Guide to grow your email list

If you have articles inside that are NOT on your blog, this is a great way to offer to email them the exclusive content. It works like this: you’ll have an image or call to action (or both) that directs them to sign up to get _________. The enter their email address, confirm, and your email service provider automatically sends the Client Guide. For my photography business + Fearless and Framed, I use ConvertKit (referral link) for this.

The secret is to keep the content you are promising something that is valuable and juicy to them. For example, include an article on How To Make Your Family Photos Fun & Meaningful. You’ll want to choose an article that speaks directly to your dream clients’ needs.

The quiz included in our Client Guide Template for Documentary Photographers will generate buzz too and you can even change the quiz title (currently What Kind of Session is Best For Us?) to something more specific to your clients.

Bottom line, instead of your 247th “Now booking for summer!” posts, start spreading value by creating posts on social media like:

10 Ways to Get Your Husband on Board For Your Next Family Photo Session – click here to get this free little guide to help you get your husband to agree to hiring the photographer you really want to work with.

12 Empty-Nesters Fill in the Blank: I Wish I Had More Photos of {This} of My Kids – sign up to receive this exclusive case study and avoid making the same mistake they did!

Get it? Great!

 

Screen Your Inquiries

Those 3 words make me cringe a little, but I didn’t know a better way to say it. It’s always best to get people on the phone! However, over the last 6 months I’ve sent my Client Guide to my potential clients upon inquiring. I mean, if they’ve found my email address, most likely they were on my website and already saw my rates. So, this is no news to them. I want them to see the articles, ideas, and quiz inside.

I ALWAYS respond to inquires asking for more information about why they want a photo session (just a little more about their story) to keep the conversation flowing and I invite them to a phone call. I tell them there’s a fun little quiz in the back I want them to complete before calling (it takes less than 5 minutes). Right there, that quiz helps you stand out from anyone else they’ve inquired with! Genius right?!

Let’s face it, not everyone that is shopping for a session wants a phone call right away. Your Client Guide is the ultimate {almost} first impression for your business aside from your website.

Warning: To work, it must be crafted professionally. They should close it feeling like you just gave them a TON of value and ah-has… beyond just what your rates and packages are.

There are always going to be people that truly cannot afford you right now and people that prefer a traditional, posed session. Sending your Client Guide can help save you time by establishing your style and rates right off the bat.

 

Different Versions for Different Clients

In theory, it would be nice to create one, general Client Guide for everyone. The thing is, you want to make your Client Guide sound like it was made specifically for that very potential client reading it.

I’ve found that having separate client guides for couples, families and weddings (for example) can be powerful. Your stories in each will be tailored to each type of client. Of course, some pages will likely overlap and save you time (like the Process page). As your client goes through their journey from an engaged client, to a wedding client, to a maternity client, to a family session client, by having client guides specific to the season of life they’re in, you have a quick + easy way to reach out to them and help trigger the need for their next session. You can send out the next Client Guide level to them with a personalized note, “Hey, thinking of you and what our next project together could be!”

 

“What Do You Do?”

How often have you been asked that quesiton and your words don’t feel like they communicate what you do with justice? Immediately followed by pulling up your site or Facebook to show them some of your work? I’ve so been there! Let me tell you, it’s incredibly convenient and delightfully surprising when you can pull a copy of your Client Guide out of your bag or grab one from the back seat of your car. Again, those first impressions!

Hint: You can print F&F’s Client Guide Template through MagCloud.

 

What NOT to do with your Client Guide

Finally, the last piece of this whole thing is one of the most vital pieces of it all: DO NOT replace conversation with your clients with your client guide. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard, “My policies are on my website or in my client guide!” when issues arise at some point during the workflow with a client. The thing is, clients probably aren’t going to read this like a manual from start to finish. Rather than using a Client Guide to automate your business, use this as a way to over-deliver on your services. Conversation is always queen when it comes to communicating your practices and policies inside of your business.

Well friend, nearly 3,000 words later (OMG this is a record blog post in length!), I think it’s time we wrap this conversation up. Remember, if you don’t have a client guide, you can do it the long way (create your own) or you can grab ours… specifically designed for documentary photographers… and rock that beauty out!

Click here to learn more about the Client Guide Template from F&F

To help you remember everything you want to put into your Client Guide, grab this free checklist:

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *