August 28, 2023

Education, Marketing

Why Wedding Pro is Not Worth The Investment Anymore

Cropped image of bride and groom from behind
Created by Ali Coşkunfrom the Noun Project

Let me be the first to say that I never thought I would write a blog about why I’m breaking up with the Knot and Wedding Wire. I have been a faithful advertiser and advocate for them since I started partnering with them in 2015. If you’re in any Facebook group for photographers that I’m also part of, you’ve seen me sing their praises from the rooftops. But that has stopped in the last few months, because the juice is no longer worth the squeeze.

Why Wedding Pro is Not Worth The Investment Anymore

The mid to late 2000-teens feel like they were some sort of golden era for marketing in photography. The Facebook algorithm hadn’t quite decimated our reach yet and Instagram was a place just for photos. We were required to not only to have talent behind the lens and business acumen, and didn’t have to subject ourselves to the torture of content creation just for content creation’s sake.

It was glorious. We could simply pay a small(ish) ransom to powerhouse gatekeepers like the Knot and Wedding Wire and poof – the inquiries would just roll in. Just shy of six years ago, I wrote a semi-viral blog singing the praises about whether the Knot is worth the investment because it honestly used to be. Looking back over my numbers in those years, I could thank the Knot for nearly 85% of my early six-figure income while boasting that the advertising was only took away a measly 3% of my income. These numbers were during a period of time where I transitioned from Colorado to the Palm Springs market – it actually helped me when I moved to a new location. I freaking loved it.

But then, the proverbial shit hit the fan.

The Knot and Wedding Wire were bought out by XO Corp and merged into essentially a “same but different” company. They kept their respective names and perks and differences from each other, but they were the same company. To me it’s comparable to Pepsi and Coca Cola merging together and just making their company a hell of a lot richer, decimating competition and taking a stronghold on the market.

But then, the formula changed. I honestly don’t know what happened behind the scenes after the merge, but I can tell you the after effects on the wedding industry.

Suddenly, partnership rates spiked. The number of businesses partnering with the Knot and Wedding Wire increased. My guess is that it’s because we no longer had to choose between one or the other or both; now if you get one, you get the other automatically.

Companies that were not actually regionally based showed up nationwide at the top of the first page. George Street Photography shows up in every single market across the United States – what the heck!? When you do a search for wedding photographers in Lake Havasu City – over 60 photographers show up. But how many of those 60+ photographers listed actually are in Lake Havasu? Two. That means roughly 3% of photographers who show up for local searches are actually local to the location we’re looking in. How does that make sense???

The number of brides (and grooms) that ghosted people after reaching out exponentially increased. The number of fake/spam inquiries are at an all-time high. Ironically enough, once I voice a complaint to my local rep, I get an influx of ghost and spam inquiries. Coincidence? 🤨 I’ll let you make the judgment call there.

What is the return on investment paying for advertising with the Knot and Wedding Wire?

I am an emotionally driven person and I have been feeling quite disgruntled for several months. If something doesn’t feel right, I typically listen to that gut feeling.

But since I’m also a results-driven person, I wanted to put together the numbers to see if my gut reaction that something is way off was just bitterness or actually justified.

In the last calendar year, I have received a total of 67 known inquiries on the Knot and Wedding Wire. I say “known” because almost magically, any inquiry that was reported by a multitude of photographers as spam has been removed from my inbox. I had terrible numbers while in the same location for three years (Milwaukee) and when I moved to Arizona and started advertising in two regions – both Phoenix and Palm Springs – my numbers got even worse. Could me moving have something to do with my terrible ROI? Maybe, but honestly – I doubt it. I say that because when I moved regions before back in 2014 and again in 2017, I didn’t have nearly the number of ghosts and I had a much bigger ROI.

Below is my actual lead report from 17Hats (my incredible client management software that I absolutely love). It’s from August 2022 to August 2023, showing my actual lead number chart. You can see that Google is definitely my number one method for being found by leads, followed by the Knot and Wedding Wire. Looks good, right? Well, looks can be deceiving.

lead source reporting 17hats

The return on investment with the Knot and Wedding Wire is not there, and I’ll break it down exactly why for you:

Of the 67 inquiries from Wedding Pro, 29 were on the Knot and 38 were on Wedding Wire.

Of these 67 inquiries, 53 of the inquiries were total ghosts. Meaning, they messaged me and read my response, and didn’t bother to reply. That’s roughly 80% of in-app inquiries are straight up ghosts. It’s a lot of wasted time on people who were messaging dozens of photographers and just not bothering to actually respond.

Of these 67 inquiries over the last year, I have booked 3 weddings from inquiries on Wedding Pro. That’s 4% of inquiries booking. As you see below, that’s a pretty damn small slice of pie.

Inquiry vs Booking rates for Wedding Pro

Inquiries are one thing, but let’s talk about the numbers that matter: my profit.

How much did I actually make by advertising on Wedding Pro?

Of those 3 bookings, they accounted for $12,300 of my $90,825 gross income in the last calendar year. That means 13.5% of my gross income came from my partnership with the Knot and ZERO percent from Wedding Wire, because I got no actual bookings from that side of Wedding Pro.

Now, $12,300 isn’t a something to scoff at. That’s triple what I made my first year in business, albeit that was in 2010.

But once you remove the $8,160 I pay each year to Wedding Pro to advertise, my profit drops down to $4,140. And guess what? That means 4.6% of my profits comes from my partnership with Wedding Pro.

You see where I’m going here?

Wedding Pro Return on Investment

You see that huge gold chunk of pie? That’s income from sources I didn’t have to pay for, because the Knot and Wedding Wire are the only places I’ve ever actually paid for advertising. That itty bitty tiny light blue slice? That’s it. That’s the whole profit margin.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been busting my ass and learning a ton from Ben Hartley and listening to the Heart and Hustle Podcast as well as the Goal Digger Podcast … but spending thousands of dollars for a 4.6% return on investment just makes me feel foolish.

Imagine if I spent that $8,160 spoiling the shit out of my couples instead of paying Wedding Pro?

What if I invested that into targeted Facebook and Instagram ads that have been laser-focused on my target client avatar?

What if I dived into Google ads and got in front of people actually local to me?

As of September 16th, I am free of my partnership with Wedding Pro and let me tell you: I am excited for the new possibilities for marketing with my freed-up budget.

Why Wedding Pro is Not Worth The Investment Anymore

© ashley durham photography