“The best advertising is free advertising!”
It’s true, very few things are as good for your wedding photography business as getting published. It immediately establishes credibility with potential clients. It increases your reach to new potential clients, and ups your SEO when you get published on a blog.
But how do you get your work published?
Maybe you’re starting out or you’ve just never submitted anything to publications before because you didn’t have the time. Or maybe you were afraid of rejection. I know that feeling. When I started out, I was always worried that my work wasn’t good enough to be published.
Here we are, 18 years later, and I’ve been featured nearly 200 times in publications ranging from New York Magazine to Bridal Guide to Style Me Pretty…
AND, I am going to tell you the 4 secrets that will make your chances of a successful submission MUCH higher.
1. Learn about editorial style and editorial calendars
Every publication has their own unique style. Submit weddings that match the style of the publication. For example, a rustic, DIY wedding isn’t going to be the right fit for a publication that focuses on chic, urban weddings.
Blogs and magazines get a lot of submissions, and the first thing they’re going to do to weed things out is reject anything that doesn’t fit their style!
The other thing to familiarize yourself with is the editorial calendar. Many publications are setting what they’re going to print or publish to the web months in advance (unless it’s a newer, smaller blog that doesn’t get a lot of submissions).
What that means is that you need to be submitting at the right time. Have a Halloween themed styled shoot? You should probably be sending that out in July or the beginning of August.
2. Shoot for details
You have to learn to shoot wedding details if you want to get published. Publishers are ‘selling’ the details as inspiration to their readers. You might not even deliver the images to your clients if they don’t want them, but you better take pictures of them if you want to get the wedding published.
3. Focus on what was unique about the wedding in your submission
I talk to a lot of editors and bloggers, and you will not believe the number of submissions they go through. Hundreds, even thousands a month. So, when you’re writing your submission to a publication, be sure to focus on the unique elements of the wedding – was there something out of the ordinary about the venue? The decorations? The ceremony?
Find those unique or different points about the wedding and focus on those when you’re writing – and in the photos you choose to submit – and you’ll be more likely to stand out!
4. Use a submission service to save time
There are a couple of different services that allow you to submit weddings to a variety of publishers quickly.
Two Bright Lights – visit website
The premiere submission service, now owned by The Knot (and their preferred method of receiving submissions for print and online), TBL charges a fee of $170 a year and you can submit as many weddings (or other types of shoots – maternity, lifestyle, etc.) to hundreds of different publications as you want.
The service integrates with Dropbox, ShootProof, Zenfolio, and SmugMug to create a faster submission process.
My one complaint with Two Bright Lights is that there have been several occasions where a publisher has ‘sat’ on a submission for months and won’t release it so I can submit it to someone else. Also, they’ve had issues in the past where a blog or other publication went out of business and they didn’t remove them from the submission options.
Matchology – visit website
Matchology is a similar service created by Aisle Society that allows you to create a single submission which their service then give you a percentage match as a fit to one of their member publishers. You can choose which publication to submit the wedding to at that point. If they decide not to publish, you can resubmit to another publication with one click!
Pricing for Matchology starts at $80 per year.
Choose a few publications to focus on at first
Find some blogs or magazines that REALLY fit your style, and the style of weddings you normally shoot. Check out when they normally publish. Research them. See if they have an editorial calendar that you can find on their website. If you just wildly start submitting to a hundred different blogs, you’re going to get a reputation. These people all talk to one another.
Start forming relationship with publications
You should try to connect with publications you want to publish your work. Follow them on social media. Comment, share their stories. Don’t just do it blindly, have something to say about their contact. Reach out to them via email and see if there is anything they are looking for. That way, when you do submit later on, they will recognize your name.
If they’re in your geographic area, see if you can take the editor/blogger out to lunch some time and talk about their needs.
ALWAYS be respectful of exclusivity
Most major publications have an exclusivity clause – meaning no other publications can feature the wedding. Usually it is for a period of six months. DO NOT submit a wedding you got published with an exclusive publication to other places. THAT IS BAD! You will get a bad reputation.
Be prepared for rejection
You won’t get anything published if you don’t submit. But you’re bound to get some rejections along the way. If you do get rejected, ask why (if they don’t tell you) and learn from that and use the information for your next submission!