newlyweds at their gaynes park barn wedding

How to support your small business owner friends without spending a penny

If you have a friend or family member who is a small business owner, it can be tricky to know how to support them when you don’t want or need the product or service they’re providing. It can also be tough if you do want to buy into their product or service but aren’t in a financial position to do so. As small business owners ourselves we truly value all the support we get from loved ones, friends, clients and prospective clients in whatever form that may take. We also know that very few of them actually require the service we provide. But you don’t have to invest financially to show your support. If you would like to support a small business here are some of the ways that you can do so without having to spend a penny.

1. Keep us in mind

You may not require our services or the product that we are offering, but you may encounter someone who does. If someone you know finds themselves in need of a wedding photographer for example, why not pass along our details? Your friend or colleague is under no obligation to use us of course, but personal recommendations go a long way and it’s always nice to be thought of as helpful. In a digital age where people are wary of being scammed online, personal recommendations are generally considered to be more trustworthy.

2. If you use social media, follow their accounts or like their pages

It may not seem like much, but prospective clients do look at things like a pages following. As wedding photographers ourselves we can’t rely on repeat business. The same people aren’t generally getting married over and over again and re-booking us, so our likes can fluctuate due to couples no longer being in need of our services. It seems silly, but simply being there as a fan or follower helps. It helps keep numbers consistent. Pages with 18 likes for example look a lot less trustworthy than ones with 700.

3. If, having followed them on social media something pops up that you like- show it

If you love a particular dress, a certain venue or just that photo, giving it a like or posting a comment is all positive interaction. Social media channels like Facebook are making it harder and harder for small businesses to be seen unless they pay to promote their posts. As such “engagement” on posts is a huge thing to help pages remain visible in your feed. A “like” every so often is a digital nod to your pal. It’s also super nice for the couple! Imagine seeing lovely, positive comments on your wedding photos or seeing that lots of people like it. One click to spread some happiness is a good deal I think!

Also, it helps us establish which content is most popular and most enjoyed. If a certain type of post has far more likes than another, we can pretty safely assume that it’s preferred. No one wants to share content that people don’t want to read, or didn’t like so you’re actually helping save our time and our blushes too! When we don’t get any feedback at all we don’t know whether it’s because A) People haven’t even seen it (Facebook Algorithms are sketchy af) B) No one liked what we posted or C) People have seen and enjoyed it but haven’t engaged with the post.

Sometimes it’s just nice to know people are seeing our work to be honest! I spend SO long blogging and 99% of the time it feels like it’s just me and the tumbleweed rolling by. Yet when we speak to people in person they’ll tell us how much they loved such and such blog. Show your love online too if you can!

I’m going to try and pioneer this method of engagement that’s simple for friends and family to remember but also beneficial for the business.

On Facebook think of a Like as “i’ve seen this” a  ❤ reaction as “I’ve looked at/read/enjoyed this” and a comment as “I’ve enjoyed this and i’m a hero”.

4. If applicable, share a post

It’s not just useful in helping your friends page be more visible on social media, but increasingly these small things are starting to become a factor in SEO too. (That’s helping them also be visible on search engines.) If they’re running a competition for example or have shared some useful advice why not give it a share? You never know who it might help.

5. Celebrate their successes

When your loved one has been in business for a while it’s a bit like old news when they’ve had their work featured on another blog, in another magazine. Understandably it’s not quite as special or as much of a big deal to you several years and several features in. But I promise you, it’s still a big deal to them. When your little hobby bubbles over and becomes something more, you do pinch yourself every so often. Is this real? Do people really like what i’m doing? Is all the relentless hard work and dedication paying off? A “well done” or “congratulations” means the world.

So many small businesses report the phenomenon of having lost friends once their businesses start to take off. It’s sad, but it really happens. Occasionally the cheerleaders that had your back in the beginning drift away. Sometimes it’s life getting in the way, sometimes it’s not. Either way it’s nice to know who’s still there rooting for you.

6. Let them know you’re there, in whatever form that takes

Being self employed can be lonely. If you don’t have a spouse or children at home with you, you often spend every day on your own- editing, admin, accounts, blogging. Then for us wedding photographers, come spring and summer we don’t see a weekend, so we often miss out on plans then too. Please still invite us out and help us feel human for a while. We may not always be able to make it as our diaries fill up years in advance, but a bit of time in the outside world and time away from the business is a welcomed pick me up. It’s good for the business too. Going back in to editing fresh eyed and high on human interaction works wonders.

If you happen to cross paths with us whilst out in the big wide world, ask about the business- how things are going. If there’s anything of ours that you particularly liked or enjoyed recently it doesn’t hurt to mention it. Again, it’s nice to know that our work is being seen and enjoyed.

7. Have our backs

Unfortunately putting yourself and your work out there in the big wide world, particularly online, can mean you open yourselves up to having things stolen. It’s a sad reality that a lot of small businesses face. Whether it’s stationers having their designs stolen or photographers having their photographs stolen, if you happen upon anything fishy, please let us know. If you see our photographs in a magazine, on a social media account or website and we aren’t mentioned anywhere please let us know. You wouldn’t believe how common it is to stumble upon our work in places where it shouldn’t be. We can’t do anything about it unless we know about it. Keeping track of around 45,000 wedding images every year just isn’t possible, try as we might.

8. If you have bought from the business or used its services, please leave a review

You can’t even begin to imagine just how important this is. Reviews are like gold dust to a small business. In spite of hundreds of happy customers over the years we only have a handful of reviews. Many small businesses suffer this fate too! They’re boring to do and can be time consuming to write, but there is genuinely no better thank you. Almost unanimously, before couples book us they look at and seek out reviews. They want to know what they’re getting, what to expect. They want to know that others have had a positive experience. Rightly so!

Here’s the thing though, you’re far more likely to write a review if you’ve had a bad experience or been inconvenienced as you want to ward off others. Happy customers tend to enjoy their photographs and get on with life. That’s understandable. Only around 10% of couples leave a review, but almost 100% utilise them. If you’re so inclined and have a few minutes to spare, leave a review for the small businesses you love. It’s not only massively appreciated but can help them to win more business in future and appear higher in search results too. If you’d like to leave a review for us, please feel free! Link here.

Do you have any other tips of advice to help people support small businesses without spending anything? If so, we’d love to hear them in the comments below

If you’d like, you can also keep up with us and our work over on social media.

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Be excellent to each other