© JAYD GARDINA
Before New York-based Jayd Gardina jumped into photographing weddings full-time in 2007, she handled marketing for a nonprofit for two years, and skills she honed there have helped her business flourish.
At the heart of Gardina’s marketing efforts is a strong online presence, and a two-pronged Facebook strategy of buying targeted ads and exploiting the network’s viral capabilities has proven particularly effective. “I started using Facebook really early and it has been the number one source of hits to my Web site,” says Gardina, 27. “I just can’t stress enough how much it’s changed my business.”
Gardina is able to target a Facebook ad to exactly the kind of clientele she seeks—engaged New Yorkers between the ages of 25 and 50. Her ad has a reach of around 8,000 people each day and garners an average click-through rate of 20 percent. She determines her daily budget—which usually runs between $15 and $20—and pays only for the ads that are clicked through. The photographer, who brands herself as a wedding photojournalist, also regularly posts albums with about 150 photos of recent weddings and a link to her Web site. The way Gardina sees it, posting pictures that are sure to go viral is a way to have some control over the word-of-mouth about her work. People can actually see her photos, after all, rather than just hearing about them.
Gardina also benefits from the personal nature of social networking. “When you have a friend who is talking about you online and saying, ‘This woman was great, look at her pictures, this is my favorite picture,’ it’s just so much more real for people and you’re more accessible to them,” she says.
The photos Gardina picks for the Facebook albums may not be the best of the event—some may be too dark, for instance—but what’s key for her is posting a lot of group shots in which numerous people can be “tagged.” That helps spread her photos even further throughout the network, and traffic to her site often triples on the days she posts albums. (Gardina has a professional Facebook page and a personal one, and her clients must “friend” her on the latter before she can tag them. Others in the shots either tag themselves or are tagged by the clients.)
She’s never yet had a couple ask her not to post their pictures, and Gardina’s not too worried about the possibility that people will abuse her copyright. The pictures are low resolution and have a watermark, and anyway, she says she’s ultimately embracing the future. “The trade off is maybe I lose a little bit of money on print sales, but I spend a hell of a lot less money on advertising,” Gardina says. Previous efforts, like advertising in a wedding magazine for a year and optimizing an older Web site with a search engine optimization company were costly and yet didn’t yield her clients.
But in contrast to her Facebook photos, which may be “a little rough around the edges because not every picture is a masterpiece,” she says her Web site is “the polished coin.” She would like potential clients to see both. “They get the full idea of my artistic voice but also what they’re going to get for the whole day, and I’m proud of both things,” she says.
Gardina also writes a blog that she ties into Facebook and Twitter. In addition, she has hired the Chicago-based publicity platform Two Bright Lights to help her network with vendors and get published in wedding blogs. And last spring she launched a mobile version of her site using a template designed and hosted by Blu Domain (bludomain.com). The site has become more important than she initially imagined. Previous clients have said they like being able to look at her images on their mobile devices. “I found it encouraging that past couples were still following my work and trying to show people when they are in social situations away from their computer,” she says.
Meanwhile, keeping her branding unified across channels is important to the young shooter. She says, “Right now I’m trying to send the message that my photographs are elegant, ‘unposed poses,’ photojournalistic, and hands off but also with a focus on being tasteful because I don’t want to brand myself in a way that’s overly quirky.”
To see more work by Gardina visit jaydgardinaphotography.com, jaydgardinablog.com or follow her on Twitter, @jaydgardina.
For more information on advertising with Facebook visit facebook.com/advertising