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Quit Wasting Your Testimonials With This One Easy Fix

Let’s say you have to go to an office to fill out some paperwork. 

(This post gets more exciting, I promise.)

You’re led to a room with a table.  As you’re sitting there checking boxes and scribbling answers, you start to feel like something is off.  You look up, and think you see some smoke trailing out of a vent in the ceiling.  You lean over closer and yes, that’s definitely smoke.

What would you do?

Your first thought would be to get the heck out of the room, find an office manager, and say:

“Hey, something’s on FIRE!!” – right?

Yeah, probably.

But as you look around, you see two other people sitting there, filling out their own paperwork in silence.  When you see the smoke trailing out of the wall, you look around.  The other two people notice the smoke, but carry on with their work, looking supremely unconcerned.

What do you do now?

90% of people will sit there and not report the smoke.

At least, that’s what Latane and Darley found when they pumped smoke into rooms where undergraduates were filling out paperwork.  (Clearly, being a scientist can be fun.)

When a study participant went into the room and two other people (who were in on the experiment) sat there looking unconcerned, only 10% of them did anything about it.

So, 9 out of 10 would just sit there while the building was presumably on fire, simply because the other people present didn’t look worried.

That’s pretty powerful stuff. 

What does it have to do with your photography business though?

We look to others to gauge what the best course of action is.  Particularly when we’re not sure about something, looking around at other people gives us useful clues about what is “right.”

(Psychologists call this ‘social proof,’ and we’ve talked about it on this blog before.)

Social proof is one reason why testimonials are so effective.

Testimonials aren’t purely about convincing prospective clients that you’re great, though that helps.

They’re also about showing people that they are comfortably surrounded by a group of people who are doing the same thing they’re about to do.

If someone isn’t sure about hiring you, they get tremendous reassurance that someone else has done it already.

Bonus points if they can read about how much people loved you, but even just seeing that 1,000 people “liked” your facebook page, or that 15 people commented on your most recent post, reassures them that they’re in good company if they decide to hire you.

People are more likely to do something when they see others doing it right at the moment of decision.

Now, most photographers have all their testimonials neatly displayed on a single, tidy “raves” page. 

This is a waste.

Don’t get me wrong – have a raves page, by all means.  It’s powerful to flood people with a group of words and faces.

BUT – if you sequester all that juicy social proof to a single page, then you’re losing out on most of its power.

Because they might have forgotten all about them by the time they’re ready to make a decision.

You ALSO need people to see that they’re not alone right when the “moment of truth” comes – when they actually have to take the next step.

Thus, try including at least one testimonial ANY PLACE that you are trying to get people to take action.

Put one on your contact page.  Your booking page (if you have one).  Any page that contains a promotion.  And absolutely next to the sign-up form for your email list.

Any place that asks people to take action, to enter an email, to click a button, to commit to anything – include a testimonial on that page.  Preferably right above the box, button, or other action item.

For example:

If I want you to go check out my How To Build An Absolutely Irresistible Photography Website e-book, simply writing this:


Click here to check it out —>


will be less effective and reassuring than:

Click here to check it out —>

Which would you be more likely to click?

Even if you didn’t read everything this person wrote, it’s still reassuring to see an actual name and a face of a fellow buyer, right when you need that reassurance most (meaning:  when you’re deciding whether it’s worth your time to learn more).  And reassurance is good.  Because:

Using social proof isn’t just about getting more bookings from your photography website (which is a sweet bonus, of course).  It’s about taking good care of prospective clients.

Because buying or booking – especially online – is scary.

You’re committing time and money to the unknown.  You’ve probably had bad experiences in the past.  Testimonials are tangible evidence that you aren’t alone.  It becomes far easier to make a decision when you see that others have made it too, and you worry less about it.

And we definitely want to provide a scary-free, worry-free experience for people who want to hire us.

So if you believe what you are offering will really help people, that it will make their lives better, and that they’ll be glad they did it – make it less scary for them to take the leap.  Offer reassurance, and offer it from more sources than just yourself.

Let them look around and see what others are doing, too.

Go dig in, see where testimonials can be added on YOUR site, and let me know how it goes in the comments!

P.S.  And seriously, go check out Irresistible Website 😉

Check it out now –>


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  1. Allison on September 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I need to think more like a buyer and less like a seller sometimes. Because I ALWAYS look for reviews before I purchase something. Doesn’t matter what it is, but especially if it’s a service (which can’t be returned or refunded). Another “duh” moment!

  2. Denver Photographer on September 18, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    More great info. Time to add reviews…

    This is a great site. Not sure how I stumbled on it, but it’s bookmarked now. 🙂

  3. Paula on September 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

    This is genius! Will do!

  4. Tiffany on September 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Wow. Definitely didn’t think of this before!

  5. Brooke Snow on September 25, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Jenika, you’re amazing. As always 🙂 Quick question regarding testimonials…I see you have several facebook thread testimonials posted (which are awesome…especially since they include a profile pic to make them feel like real people). So do you ask permission to post those threads? I have a bajillion threads like that, but have never found the courage to ask someone if I could post it publicly on one of my pages for others to see. How do you approach tht?

    • Jenika on September 25, 2012 at 4:10 am

      In almost all cases, I ask permission. If it’s public (i.e. it was on the public P4P facebook wall) then I assume it’s OK for public consumption, since obviously they posted it in a public place. But if it’s somewhere privately accessed (a closed facebook group, an email) then I ask permission.

      Re: asking – my test is, “would I be weirded out if someone asked me the same thing?” If I posted something on someone’s wall that was positive, of course I’d want them to show it to other people if it’d help them. So with that in mind, I just ask people if it’s okay, since what other people say about my work is far more valuable than anything I can say about myself. 🙂 I get what you’re saying about getting up the gumption to do it, but when you consider that they’re probably happy to help you just as you would be happy to help someone else, it takes less “courage,” if you know what I mean. 🙂

      • Brooke Snow on September 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

        thanks a million for answering 🙂 Looks like I have a delightful change to make to my interactions and workflow 🙂

  6. Carrie on September 28, 2012 at 3:07 am

    What an excellent article! I love visiting your blog!

  7. Megan DiPiero on October 3, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Now that you mention it, I’ve seen this in action on a bunch of sites. Time to make it happen on mine. Great stuff! Thank you!

  8. Mike on October 18, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Do you think putting a short sentence or two from a couple’s testimonial as a caption from an image in my portfolio would be a good idea? Or is it overkill? It certainly wouldn’t be for every image. Just an idea I had coming after reading your blog. I just discovered this blog yesterday and it’s been helpful already–thanks!

    • Jenika on October 18, 2012 at 12:27 am

      I don’t think it’s overkill. If the person has just read all the testimonials they might ignore them, but it’s a good reminder. I’m actually sending out an email to my inbox high-fives list (the sign up is in the sidebar) about using captions right now. Coincidence! 🙂

  9. Judy on October 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I don’t know how to copy a FB comment to post on my Blog, can someone tell me? Thanks.

    • Jenika on October 27, 2012 at 3:43 am

      Just take a screenshot! On a mac, command + shift + 4 turns your cursor in a screen capture tool. If you’re on PC, google what’s the best option for you, or just do print screen to get the whole screen and crop it down.

  10. nicole on December 25, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Do you think you should add one to your homepage?

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