Are photographer booking apps good for the photography industry?
The internet changed almost every market we have. As technology advanced, the way we purchase and consume products has changed with it. Uber changed the way we book a cab. Tinder changed the way we date. And now, apps are changing the way photographers find gigs. The likes of Uber and Tinder have come under great criticism for the way they operate. Do photographer bookings apps need the same level of scrutiny?
What Are Photographer Booking Apps?
Apps like Snappr and Ographr work very much in the same as Uber does. Need a photographer? You open the app and make a booking. Unlike Uber, you get more control over whose services you pay for. But the premise remains similar.
After entering your details, requirements, and budget, these apps match you with the best photographers. From there, you select who best suits your needs, make the booking, and show up on the day. For a consumer, it’s effortless. But is it good for the photographer?
The Problem With Photographer Booking Apps
The first and most obvious problem is the cut photographer booking apps take. Snappr, for example, can take up to 35% of the overall booking fee. Ographr takes 20% of every booking made. That’s a good chunk of cash that could be going in the photographers pocket. Giving up 10% of each gig is manageable. But photographer booking apps taking up 35% is disgraceful.
The second issue is you have no control of whether or not potential clients see you. You’re essentially putting your name into a hat and must hope the apps shows you to consumers. And then from there, hope that clients select you. You’re entering a lottery.
Giving up both a slice of your income and your marketing isn’t wise. You want to maximise everything when you’re running a photography business.
Another issue, which I feel is overlooked is the photographer and client relationship. Such apps do all the middle ground and both parties show up on the day. It may sound good to some, but it’s not. Part of building a client base isn’t only about the photos you make. It’s the experience you provide from the moment someone contacts you.
How you listen to needs, options you give, and flexibility all stick in the consumer’s mind. Get that right, and they’ll recommend you to everyone. Having an app do it for you removes the emotion and full experience that photographers can give to their clients. That’s sad to say the least.
I appreciate they’re benefits to photographer booking apps. But they only exist because of your shortfalls. For example, if you suck at marketing and have no clue how to get gigs, then throwing your name into a booking app is a good option.
It also takes away any upfront costs like paid ads. At least with these apps, you only pay a cut when you get a job. If you’re starting your photography business, then this is a good option, especially if you’re starting up with little to no capital.
The Happy Medium
I’m totally against the percentage taken by these apps, but I’m not totally against the concept. I think it’s good that the photo industry is trying to keep up with modern times. I also see certain photographers have had a nice amount of gigs from them.
My advice is not to throw all your eggs into one basket. Keep promoting yourself in your local area. Use old school tactics like word of mouth and make sure everyone knows about your service. Learn basic SEO practices and focus on building your website. Blog regularly and ensure your site, work, and service is ranking in Google and Bing.
If you have the money, don’t be afraid to do some paid ads or to hire someone who is more experienced in SEO. A little investment can lead to great financial rewards in the long run. And, of course, there’s the free promotion that you can do on social media. It’s still a great way to get gigs.
Keep photographer booking apps as a side option. See at a place where you can get a little extra income, even if you have to pay hefty fees. That way, you have best of all worlds, and you’re not just relying on an app to run your business. It’s your business, and you need to have full control.