After being bombarded with ads on Facebook for a free photography webinar, I was curious about what kind of business advice they would give. The "5 Ways to Kickstart Your Photography Business" webinar is by Dave Seeram, an editor in chief at PhotographyBB + Clarity (mag) and Corwin Hiebert, owner of Tandem Agency. Lately, my university has scheduled business sessions with a photographer to enhance our business practice in photography for the long run. After hearing some business advice firsthand, I eventually decided to sit down and watch this webinar and see what it had to offer.
The Five Ways:
- Present an Exciting Approach
- Take the Mystery Out of Pricing
- Leverage a Personal Project
Chose Clients Like You
- Ask for Referrals
- Present an Exciting Approach:
- What sets you apart from other photographers? Your style, what you do and how you do it. What differentiates you from the rest of the crowd.
- Hone your vision and aesthetic, practice your style, and aim to create with your strengths. Your work should act as your brand, being driven by the same forces, morals, beliefs, and style. Think about what issues/subject matter I tend to focus on.
- Create additional value. In other words, the finishing touches, the extra mile. Make the consumer feel special . Ways to do this include sending handwritten thank you cards, wrapping their prints in quality and stylish packaging, etc.
- Make memories with your clients, make your shoots personal, memorable, and awesome. Ways I like to do this include having playlists set for my shoots, being friendly with my clients (24/7!!) and generally being more than just a device for creating photos.
- Take the Mystery out of Pricing:
- Approach pricing for Client’s needs will increase earning potential. Packages on your website cut out useless pricing stress once established.
- Always price up from your base price. Also, define low and high service levels, prices that are flexible. (photo!) (photo: service levels)
- Being less mysterious will make your relationships with clients better
I understand the concept of pricing issues and how having established prices set up publicly can be convenient. Though, many of the visiting professional photographers that have come to speak at Bath Spa University have all said that this can be detrimental to a photographers financial growth. Most importantly, not all projects are the same. Shoots like senior portraits will have a pretty consistent rate. It’s self explanatory and explicit in the results. But for other projects that are dealing with several different factors, you need to start from your base rate and go up depending on those factors. Those factors could include the speed of production, the location, the subject matter, etc. When you work with a client, it is true that you need to ask above your base rate, this creates a safety net, knowing that if an important client won’t budge on pricing, you can go lower without going below your base rate. One should always consider creating custom rates depending on specific project factors. Most of these visiting photographers also warn that if you work for someone with a really low rate, they will expect that same rate the 2nd and 3rd time they work with you. So be wary and don’t let them push your rates down too far.
- Leverage a Personal Project
- Most clients are going to be looking at your personal work to see if they want to work with you. Find the gaps in your portfolio. Make sure your portfolio doesn’t house empty feeling projects, show work with meaning and passion. Also, including “behind the scenes” style portions to your portfolio can be extremely beneficial. It shows potential clients what your workflow looks like. Photographers seem to be really mysterious in the ways they work, so share the process with your audience, they will appreciate the transparency.
- Start working on/share collaboration projects. Collaboration projects show that you like to get involved with others and work well within a team. Working with others also gives you a bigger network of people that will endorse you for your skills. They will also hopefully endorse you within their own personal networks if you presented yourself as a great team player. These projects will also push you to demonstrate your leadership qualities and professionalism.
- Share the story through different mediums, like blogs, within the local community, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Lately, not only should you be carrying business cards, but you should be making them personal and they should be engaging with your work and style. No plain jane stuff.
- Choose Clients Like You:
- Pursue the types of buyers that you understand, people you share a common ground with or are familiar with. Define the market you’re suited to serve. Even personally. With whom do you share a common language. Describe your target audience so that you can explicitly define your target market. Do your homework and look at the demographics. This is very important. (Try out Nutshell for this..)
- Serve, don’t sell. Engage and lead conversations, serve to your audience and/or referrals. Be involved.
- Ask for Referrals
- Make it easy for others to generate referrals and find ways to get people interested in the work you do. Always give credit where credit is due. Recognize and support others within your industry.
- Instead of emailing people to try and connect, ask for someone to introduce you. Your email is likely to sit at rock bottom of their priority list. But if you have a mutual connection, use it. It will climb that priority list that way.
- Turn others’ compliments into your requests. When someone compliments your work, that opens a door for you to appropriately ask for them to refer you if they ever cross the opportunity. Talk about referrals upfront, because it’s how freelancers work. They often depend on referrals. So don’t be afraid to ask for personal recommendations.
Questions from the Webinar Audience:
- How do I get more/better clients?
- Use your Social/Personal network. You are selling to humans, how many do you know? How many more could you know? To meet new people, attend events and activities within your realm. But know that networking events are absolutely pointless, the only people who go are sellers, not buyers. Start tapping people’s shoulders, “pop in”, be with people, suggest your services. Take more time to meet people and create opportunities than hide behind the machines we operate. Listen to people, remember names, be engaged.
- Do I have to pick a niche?
- No, but the more general of a photographer you come off as, the harder it is to get high pay. Generalized photographers are basic button pushers. It is harder for them to find work, they get pushed around, and have a hard time getting paid well. Essentially they are technicians.
- How do I stand out in a crowded market?
- It’s about how you attract. Get people hooked on what you are doing. Pull clients in by having creative projects that connect with people. Focus on being you through your own creativity. You are the only person on the planet who can be you, so take advantage of that, be passionate and be expressive. Share your work, print it, gift it, hang it up, get it out there.