Finding the right vendor partners to work with can be a challenge, but can be the most rewarding part of the job as well. As a photographer, my vendor partners are critical. I keep a list of my go-to people in cities across the world who can partner with me, my brides, my couples and my seniors to provide a world class experience for my photo shoots.First, for those wondering, what is a vendor? A vendor is anyone who can provide an additional service for our client. A florist, a venue, videographer, bakery, stationary and invitation creation, wedding gown shops, caterers, etc etc etc. I could go on for hours.
Why are vendor partnership important? Well, many reasons. For one, referrals. Some of my closest vendors who have worked with me for years are the first to send me referrals and refer my services to their own clients. I do the same in return as much as possible.
A lot of this just takes time and networking over the years. A lot of it is being open to conversation and trading resources, and a lot of it is just old fashioned give and take. However you go about it, treat it like the most important process you can undertake for your business.
How do I go about finding the right vendors? And what is a “right vendor”?
Great questions. When I first started, I only interacted moderately with those I was working with. There is the florist, she does the flowers, and here I am, the photographer, doing the photos. But as the years have gone on, I have forged relationships across these industries to help compliment my business. And it has made a world of difference.
The ‘right vendor’ partnerships can be different for everyone. For me, the right vendor partner is a few things:
1. Small. I prefer small business all the time. I try to find someone local who knows the location and the local culture of where I am shooting.
2. I also like to find people who are like me – creative small business owners. People who want to collaborate and try new things and create beautiful art. People who are not afraid to experiment and try something new.
3. Similar in style. What this means to me is that I want someone whose work I would want in my work. So, for florals, I want someone who creates pieces that I would want in my photographs. I shoot in a brighter tone with color and a lesser saturation. So, I want a florist who creates pieces that will look good in that style.
Working to find these partner vendors has been trial and error over the years. Some have become great friends and are always there to help me with my work. Some are just vendors that I use every so often. I am also always up for trying a new partnership and seeing if I can expand my horizons.
Some of my tips to finding vendors include:
* Use Social Media. Play around on instagram and facebook and see who is popular in your area. Know the popular hashtags in your area, like #Denverflorist or #LasVegasweddingphotographer that can lead you to gold mines of talent!
* Ask fellow creatives. There is a ton of untapped taste but there that people know about. If I am in a rut, I often ask a fellow photographer for a recommendation.
* Keep a list or a spreadsheet, etc. I keep a list of partners throughout different areas, so I can easily reach out depending on where I am at.
* Local magazines. Rocky Mountain Bride, Southern Bride, etc. Some of these are larger publications, but there are small publications as well that feature local talent.
* Use your social media presence to create relationships. When you work with vendors, make sure you give them shoutouts on your platforms. Also, make sure they are properly credited on social media and in blogs. This goes a long way to building a relationship that does not already exist.
Working partnerships with vendors is so rewarding and the value cannot be overstated. These relationships create amazing results for our clients and continue to create a culture of inclusiveness and cooperation in creativity.
Tell me your thoughts ! Do you have partnerships that you love? How did you go about creating those?