What do you do when a potential client emails you for information?  Do you have a Client Inquiry workflow?  Do you have an email template designed to get bookings?  If not, you should.  Having a plan for handling client inquiries can be the difference between having a full calendar, and wondering if anyone is out there!

 Here's the email I send to every potential client inquiry (except it has their name instead of "bride.")

Dear Bride,

Thank you so much for your email!  I'm honored that you contacted me about your wedding day.  I am currently available for your date, and I'd love to talk to you more about your plans.  I'd love to have you and your fiancee over to my studio for coffee.  I find that's the very best way to talk through what you are looking for, and find out whether or not my studio would be a good fit for you. 

I'm available Thursday at 4:00pm, Friday at 6:00pm, or Saturday at 10am - which of these would work best for you?

In the meantime, please feel free to view our complete pricing information online at  You'll get a sense of what I offer, and what to expect.   I look forward to the chance to connect with you both soon!


You're welcome to use that email, but even better - let's walk through the steps behind it, so you can develop an email response that works for you!  Here are six things you can do to handle client email inquiries: 

1. Thank them for writing you!  Seriously.  It might seem silly, but the first five words of an email are the most important (aside from the subject line) - and they better be some version of "thank you."  I want people to know that I'd be honored to be a part of their wedding day - afterall, it's a pretty big deal for them. 

2. Let them know what comes next.  If you're available, let them know that you are - and what you want them to do.  In my case, my entire response email is about scheduling a consultation.  If you're not available, your response might contain an offer to provide a few names of people you know and trust.

3. Make it actionable.  It's not simply enough to tell a client you want to meet with them.  Instead, use what I call "act as if."    The key is to never ask a yes or no question.  Never ask "would you like to schedule a time to meet.  Act as if they intend to meet with you as well, and give them choices.  Ask a multiple choice question like "here are three times I'm available, which one works best for you?"

This helps move the conversation forward, and makes it easy for the potential client to evaluate their options.  It also makes you sound like you know exactly what you're doing because you're prepared to meet with them as soon as they're ready.

4. Make it helpful.  98% of the time, an initial inquiry includes two things - "are you available," and "what do you charge?"  Make sure you answer those questions. I know some photographers like to keep their pricing a secret until a client meets with you. Personally, I think that's a terrible choice.  I'm always about making it easy for a client to get the information they want - because it makes it easy to do business with me.

I include a link to my complete pricing information to anyone who sends me an inquiry.  If you're curious - it's (now you don't have to send me an inquiry just to see my pricing page) 

5. Make it personal. The quicker you start building a relationship, the better.  Your job, as a wedding or portrait photographer, is to help tell a deeply intimate story about your clients' lives.  The connection you build with people makes it that much easier to tell that story well.  I always close by letting them know that I can't wait to meet them, making it clear that that's what happens next - we meet!

6. Make it easy.  It's true - I'm all about making it easy for your potential clients, but this isn't about that.  This is about making it easy for YOU!  Your systems are only as good as you using them, and if you have to retype that email every time someone contacts you, your system is likely to fail. 

Instead, create email templates that you can send each time you receive an inquiry.  I use ShootQ, which makes sending email replies super simple.  It pre-populates a lot of the important info (client name, date, etc), so I don't have to type it.  All I do is simply plug in the dates/times that work for me that week.

Even if you don't use a system like ShootQ, you can still create simple email "signatures," that contain the same info.  However you choose to handle it, make sure it's easy enough for you that you'll use it - it'll make your life, and running your business, MUCH easier!

(by the way, if you're using ShootQ, and need a little help setting it up, or learning more about email templates, you need to get in touch with Leeann Marie - she's a total ShootQ guru.  Actually, she's like an official ShootQ guru, and you can check her out here.)

Your turn.... how do you handle client inquiries?  What would you add to this list?  Leave your thoughts below 


Principles and policies exist to create barriers.  Sometimes barriers are a good thing.  Sometimes they help keep bad things from happening.  For example, the nurse asks you for you name and birthdate, and confirms your wrist band before giving you medication.  The policy is designed to prevent the wrong medication from going to the wrong person - which could certainly be very bad.


In fact, in a hospital, that type of poilcy is what is known as a "red rule."  Red rules are policies that cannot be broken for any reason because someone could die.  These are the policies that, though they might be inconvenient, are important enough to stick to, no matter what.  You don't get to take a baby out of the nursery without a matching ID band, no matter what.  

On the other hand, there are "blue rules."  These are policies that are important, but if you break one, no one dies.  "Only one visitor at a time."  Sure, this policy is important, and there's a good reason it exists.  But it's a "blue rule," and breaking it isn't likely to result in an immediate crisis.

The problem with many businesses is that we have a lot of BLUE rules that we treat like RED rules.  Certainly you've experienced this somewhere:

 - There will be a $0.25 charge for extra BBQ sauce.

 - If you'd like to pay cash for your gas, you must come inside and pay first.

 - You can't return this without a receipt

I wonder how our clients feel when they hear:

 - There will be an additional $25 charge for each additional person in your portrait session.

 - If you want to contact me, you have to use the form on my website only.

 - I have a clause in my contract that if anyone else dares to take a photo at your wedding, I walk.

These policies all exist to help a photography business operate more efficiently and effectively - but none of them are RED rules.  When we treat them like they are - no one wins.  Not the client, not the business, and not us.  It doesn't mean you shouldn't have policies - you absolutely should.  It does mean that it's worth considering some policies can be bent or broken, and no one will die.

Except maybe our ego.

What do you think? When is it okay to break your own rules?

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