Several years ago I was talking to a high school friend. He had just been turned down for a teaching job. Turns out, one of his references as saying some negative things about him. I’m not sure how many jobs my friend missed out on because of that person, but once he stopped using him as a reference, he was able to get a job.
Get Good Photography Reviews While Avoiding the Bad Ones
What people say about you can either positively or negatively affect your business. It can either help you get a lot of work or lose a lot of work. In the photography world, we don’t usually send people references, but people will look at our reviews. Reviews are important to build trust but also for SEO, so it is extremely important for photographers to get good photography reviews while avoiding the bad ones.
Who should you ask for a review?
There are a few different ways photographers go about getting reviews. Some will do nothing and just hope that clients leave a review. This way you’ll get a few reviews here and there, but for the most part, clients will not leave a review and go on with their lives. Others will only ask the clients that they know will leave a good review. I think most photographers go about things this way, and it is a safe way, but I still think there is a better way.
The first problem with only asking certain people for a review is you still might get a bad review. Just because you think they are happy doesn’t mean they really are. The second problem is that some of those clients who you think are unhappy might actually be happy. The third problem is that if you know someone is upset and don’t actively do something to fix it, they are more likely to leave a negative review on their own.
A Better Way of Getting Good Photography Reviews
I know all of that sounds very confusing and like there is no way to get reviews safely, but there is. I learned about this process several months ago from a webinar with Benjamin Turner. Her runs an SEO business (Turner Web Services), so he knows how important reviews are to SEO. The idea is to screen all of your clients. Basically, you send out a quick review to everyone where they just rank you on a scale. It could be out 5 or 10 or whatever you want. The point is you are getting a quick feel for their satisfaction. From there, you can reach out to the people that ranked you highly and ask for a real review. Then, you can talk to the other people as well and see if there’s anything you can do to make them happy. Most likely you won’t send them to a real review page, but hopefully, talking to them and caring will keep them from posting a negative review on their own.
Again, all of this sounds like a lot of work and emails and confusion. I agree. There is a faster, simpler way to do all of those things I just talked about. You can create a program that runs people through all of those steps without you having to really do anything.
Benjamin Turner created a service that has streamlined it all called Photographer Grade. It will do everything we talked about. You send a message to a client with the basic number review. Depending on how they respond, they will be sent to something different either to write a real review or tell you why they are upset. You can get this service starting at $29 a month.
I think Photographer Grade is an amazing product and very helpful, but it’s not really for me. I only work with about 40 clients a year, so I’d be paying $29 a month for about 3 to 4 uses a month. If you’re a family or portrait photographer and you do high volumes, then Photographer Grade is for you. It will help you get tons of good reviews and keep up with all of it. Again, that’s not me, so I decided to create something on my own that does something similar.
DIY Review Machine
I knew what I wanted to create, but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I turned to my best friend Google and looked for interactive rating templates or emails and a few other things. I ended up landing on Jotform. Jotform is an online form builder that has a bunch of templates but also allows you to ceate your own forms. It took a few minutes to figure everything out, but I was able to make a review form that did exactly what I wanted. Let me run you through the whole process.
Creating a JotForm Account and Your First Form
The first step is pretty obvious. You need to create a free account with Jotform. It’s only a few questions, so it is really quick to get started.
Start off by clicking “Create Form” in the upper left corner. You’re then given two layout options. The first shows all the questions on one page. We don’t want this one because then the client could see that there are different options depending on the ranking. Instead, choose the “Single Question Per Page” option on the right.
On the next page, you choose how you want to start. You can start with it blank, use a template, or upload something someone has already made. I didn’t look into the templates too much. I ended up going with a blank form and that’s what I’m going to show you, so you’ll understand how the whole process works. A little secret, though, if you read to the end, I’ll tell you how to get my template, so you can skip most of the work.
Click on the blank form and then give it a name. Now you are where all the work happens. If you look around, you can see Build, Settings, and Publish at the top. To the left, you have “Add Form Elements.” Then, in the middle, you have space for your questions.
Editing the Welcome Page
Let’s start with the welcome page. Click the “Edit Welcome Page” at the top. The welcome page is a place for you to leave instructions or a brief note. I think it’s a good idea to thank them for doing the review here and remind them it will be short. To change the logo, just click on the beaker image and upload your own logo.
Changing the text is easy as well. Just click on the text area and start typing. We will talk about changing the color scheme later. I also remove the number of questions because I don’t want them seeing that. Depending on what they choose, the whole form might only be 3 questions. If you don’t want a welcome page, just click “Remove Welcome Page.”
Adding Questions and Elements
Now we can start adding questions. Click “Add Form Element” on the left. For most people, the first thing you want to do is add an Email question. This way, you’ll know who filled out the review. You can skip it, but then you’re left with no idea who filled it out.
Under Basic, scroll all the way to the bottom to find “Star Rating.” Click or drag and to put it in your form. Now, change the text to some kind of question or instructions. After this, we will be creating the different pages people will see depending on their responses.
Let’s start with a bad rating. What will you do with these people? My suggestion is to apologize and then find out why they aren’t happy. Add a “Long Text Entry” box and then the text. That’s really it for the form as far as a bad ranking goes. We don’t want to send them anywhere else. We will get their response and then we can respond and try to fix things.
Next, we can deal with what we really want, positive reviews! There are multiple ways to proceed from here. You can make a page that asks them if they are willing to write a review or you can send them directly to the review links. If you want to ask them first, just use a “Yes/No Question.”
Adding Review Options
The next few questions need to direct them to the actual review page. I have two spots that I send people for reviews: Wedding Wire and Google. The next question lets them choose which they prefer. I do this with a simple “Multiple Choice” question.
After that, create two “Image” elements. One will be for Wedding Wire and one will be for Google. A side panel will pop out where you can upload your image and write instructions. Then, click on the Advanced section and turn on the Link Image and put the web address for the review.
The last page is the Thank You page. You can edit the text and image or when they are done, you can send them to an external link. That’s it for the questions and slides. Now we have to do the hard part.
Coding the Form
The last part is to code all of this. To be honest, this took me several tries to figure out, but I’ll try to make it as clear as possible. Go to the Settings tab at the top and then to the Conditions on the left side. Now you can see all the coding options. We are going to start with Skip To/Hide a Page and then use Show/Hide Field.
We are first setting up the Star Ranking. This will send the user to the right page. Click Skip To/Hide a Page. On the If section, choose the Star Ranking page. Then we will go to the State and set it to Greater than. Now, the Value can be whatever you want. I chose 3. This means if they pick 4 or 5 the same thing will happen, which is in the Field section and sends them to the positive review slide.
Do this again, but the State to Less Than and the Value to 4. Then, change the Field to the bad review slide. Everything should be working now with the Star page.
So this gets our Star Ranking going to the correct page, but we still have an issue. If they go to the bad review page and fill out why they aren’t happy, it will take them to the next page, which is the good review page.
To fix this, create a Show/Hide Field. We are going to make it where if they set a low score, we hide basically everything except the bad review page. Set the State and Value the same as before. In the Do, put Hide Multiple and in the Field pick the pages to hide.
The last thing to do is to make the Yes or No review page work and set up the review choice page. Again, we can do this with the same settings. The fastest way to do this is with Hiding pages.
I’ve attached an image showing all the coding, so you can go back and check to make sure you have it all.
When you think you’re all done, click the Preview Form button in the top right to try it out. Go through it, click back a few times and select different things to make sure it is all working.
At this point, you can change up how it looks. Back under the Build section, there is a paintbrush icon. You can change the color scheme or add an image or video as the background.
I also go to the Settings tab, click Show More and I turn off showing the progress. This is similar to turning off the number of questions.
The last step is to publish it. From there, you can copy the link or share it through a few different options.
I know that’s a lot of work to create a form, but using this form will help you weed out negative reviews and even make those people feel better. Once the form is made, you can use it again and again. Since using this form, I have caught two customers that weren’t happy before they left a negative review and was able to fix the problem.
As promised, I will give you my form. If you go to Import form, choose from website and use this link: https://form.jotform.com/81766380184160. You will need to change the images and add the links to your reviews, but that’s about it. Also, remember, if you don’t like the way this form looks or you don’t want to spend the time messing with it, you can always use Photographer Grade. You don’t have to create anything, it looks great, and has some tracking options that our form doesn’t. Either way, I really believe this is the best way to get reviews.