"You've Got Mail"

If you find yourself lonely on a Saturday evening, browsing my website for fun, you'll notice something missing: my phone number. When it comes to fielding inquiries or messages from potential and current clients, I prefer and work almost exclusively through email. I know what some of you are thinking. "The technology age. No one wants to communicate on the phone anymore! What's happened to the world?!" Well, that's not entirely true, but it's not not true either.

I am a home based business. 

I work exclusively from home when I'm not on-location shooting. You know who also lives at home? My 5 year old and my almost 3 year old. The greatest reason I don't list my phone number as a method of contact is because of those two sweet, sweet kiddos. They know not volume control and they know that if mommy has locked herself in her bathroom on her cell phone to talk to a client, it's time to pound on the door and scream "MOMMA!" until I come out.

When I am communicating with a client, I want to be able to give them my attention, 100%. That's just not possible as I'm first and foremost a stay at home mom. My schedule is constantly changing which makes "office hours" impossible.

I am a visual person. 

When I first bought my Expodisc, it came with handy instructions about how to use it. I wanted to know how to use it with my camera specifically, so I checked YouTube and found a video that walked me through the process, step by step.

I find that I have always been a visual person and I like to see things laid out for comparison and to refer back to. I am a lover of charts, graphs, and pamphlets, oh my!

Handling inquiries over the phone involves a lot of numbers. The session fee, how many digital are included, your digital options after a session, the print sizes available, the cost of prints, the length of the session, etc. In my opinion, it's too much information to share over the phone. When I sign a contract with a client, I want them to be aware of all the costs involved and the options available to them. I'm not doing my job, in my opinion, if a client is asking me about costs and the package structure after the session has already taken place.

By sending all of my pricing and session information via email, clients can see everything laid out in print. This ensures they know all the costs involved in working together, can share it with spouses, partners, family and friends and make an informed decision.

I like security.

As I book two to three months in advance, I am working with a lot of clients at any given time. I'm not bragging - if I were bragging, I wouldn't be admitting that it can be difficult to keep everyone straight. With these clients, we're choosing locations, setting start times, talking about their family's needs and putting finishing touches on their session. With the electronic paper trail of email, I'm able to refer back to a conversation at any time. Even though we may have discussed something 3 weeks ago, I can revisit the conversation and have a fresh recollection of our ideas.

Everything being documented protects both myself and my client. "Did I say 5pm and she thought 6pm? Let's go back and take a look." Even if I do by chance field a phone call or text from a client, I'll shoot them an email confirming what we discussed on the phone so we can both have record of it and be on the same page. Through the wonder of email I am able to input my client's email and see every conversation we've had. Not possible over the phone.

Isn't it hard to develop a rapport with someone over email? It's so impersonal. 

If there's a negative to an email only business model, this would be it. A lot of clients understandably want to talk to their photographer (or any business for that matter) before they invest in a session. I know that my personality and making clients comfortable is one of my greatest qualities and advantages in my business.

I try very hard to be personable in my emails. I probably (ok, I know) use an excessive amount of exclamation points in my inquiry responses. I try to let my personality come through, be inviting and feel like we're engaged in a conversation rather than a business deal. Yes, I want to be professional but I also don't want my responses to feel like carbon copies I send off to everyone. I am building a rapport with a client the minute I receive that initial email.

If a client would feel more comfortable talking over the phone to have that connection, a "blind date" or interview with me, I am more than happy to schedule a time to do so. Understandably, when this happens, it's typically a bride and groom shopping around for their perfect wedding photographer. A photographer with a bad personality - or simply one that just doesn't mesh, good or bad - can really ruin a wedding experience.

So, do I ever give out my phone number?

Yes. Absolutely. When I work with each client, I send a confirmation email a week to a few days before our session will take place. In this email, I include my cell phone number. Living and working in the DC area, I know just how unpredictable traffic can be. I know a GPS is not always reliable. I know how much work it is to prepare for a session, so if a client needs to get ahold of me ASAP on the day of a session I want them to be able to do so.

To review, it's not that I am anti-social. It's not that I don't have people skills and hide behind a keyboard. The honest truth is that I want to give the best to my clients and for the reasons above, I choose email!

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