Are you feeling overworked and underpaid? Has your photography business got you singing the blues? Here is a reminder of do's and don'ts for your business.
1.) Don't chase the money.
When you are first starting out you may not know exactly what type of photography you want to focus on, but you should definitely avoid taking any and every opportunity just because of the money.
When I first started I thought I wanted to build a wedding photography business. After several years of doing that and everything else under the sun I realized it just wasn't fun for me. I was good at it too. I still get asked to do weddings, but I happily am able to decline because I learned a long time ago to stop chasing the money.
Instead I focuses on the clients and the type of photography I enjoy the most. The more you do that, the more creativity and determination you'll have for the days when you need it most!
2.) Don't do it just because you are good at it.
This is kind of like the previous point, but is worthy of a second mention. So many times we see and consult photographers who are taking all kinds of work just because they are good at it.
Unless you are the only photographer in a mall town, I suggest you specialize rather than generalize. Physicians who specialize earn more, and the same applies to photographers.
Think about it. If you are looking to hire a wedding photographer, do you want the person who only does weddings, or do you want the person who does weddings, children, new born, families, seniors, pet photographer, artsy fartsy stuff and so on?
You need to decide what type of photography truly gets you jazzed and lights you up and focus on that. Go to your website and portfolio and delete everything that doesn't have a laser focus on that category.
I know it is hard to say no to a paying gig, but the sooner you specialize the sooner you will become an expert in your specific niche. You'll also get better referrals and garner a payday worthy of your expertise!
3.) Don't try to be everywhere on social media.
I laugh when I think about this. We used to have emails that would go out with 30+ social media icons in the footer of the email because we thought we had to be everywhere.
Well you can't do everything well at the same time, so focus on one or two tops. When you have built an audience and crushing it on those, then move along to more if you like.
Be where your clients are and focus on bringing value to the that audienc.
4.) Don't compete on price.
You shouldn't compete on price unless you are Walmart. If the idea of being the Walmart of photography appeals to you then you are likely reading the wrong blog. I suggest you set your prices according to what you want to earn for your work.
People buy quality but they buy from people they like even more so. If you honestly do your best to treat your clients like family then you won't have any problems getting paid well for your time.
Do your best to be the best and do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. That alone can make your business stand out in todays market. It can also justify a premium price.
Trust me if people want to haggle on price then they are not the type of clients you want to have as repeat customers. If you don't know this already, the clients who pay the least will complain the most, and give you the most grief.
5.) Do the little things that can "WOW" your clients.
When my clients order prints here is what I do. I pick extra prints from the session and have a few of those printed and put them in as an unexpected extra with their order. I wrap those prints and package them in special packaging so the delivery says "premium" and not just "here are the prints you ordered."
If it fits their personality I'll throw in a Starbucks gift card, or a special frame. Sometimes for repeat clients I'll send them a Christmas card with a photo or collage from their previous sessions.
Because I build relationships with my clients I often am privy to what is going on as well. I do what I can to bless them if the opportunity presents itself. Maybe they can't afford photos this year. I still come thru for them because the more you give, the more fun this game of life is.
6.) Have a personal touch with your clients.
Email is easier, text message is fast, but picking up the phone is best. Pick up the phone and talk to your clients in person.
Take control of the process also. If you don't aunty will show up with her camera and want to run half the session. Sometimes clients need help choosing the right outfits for the session. Trust me you want to avoid the shoots where everyone shows up in jeans and matching shirts haha.
Seriously though whether you are working with models, seniors, families or what have you, take the time to get to know your clients. Talk to them throughout the session and be sincere. You'll get sincere eyes, warmer smiles and a happier client.
Build a connection, ask questions and get them talking. Most people, my husband included, hate getting their pictures taken. So make it easy on them and just have fun.
My clients always walk away from a session amazed at how painless and fun the session actually was. Do that and deliver great images and you're clients will come back again and again.
I know what my clients like, what activities they enjoy. I bring all that information to bear on session planning and on maintaining a connection with my clients.
With kids and teens, don't be a stiff or a silent creepy person with a camera. Don't be the drill sergeant who barks out poses and nothing else. Don't be a perfectionist either. I was never any of those, but I was overly shy and quiet. I even use to bring my husband to the shoot so he could do all the talking. He has the gift of gab. Since then I have grown a lot and now I have a blast at my shoots. I love connecting with my clients and models.
7.) This post has turned out to be way longer than I intended so I'll try to wrap it up here. Whether you are just starting out, or have built a successful business, always keep learning. Always search out photographers who challenge you, who make you aim for a higher level in every aspect of your business.
Work hard to always up your game. Dedicate a certain amount of time each week to learning. My husband and I follow a good rule he learned a long time ago. We take 10% or more of our income and give it away to charities and no profits. Life gives to the givers and takes from the takers. Focus on how you can give and contribute and your days of lack will be a thing of the past.
Also take 3% of your income every month and reinvest it in yourself. Buy books, take classes, attend seminars, hire a business or personal coach. Commit to that and I can promise you that your income will grow. As it grows don't hesitate to keep spending that 3% on bigger and better ways to keep learning.
I never want to reach my full potential, because if I am constantly learning till the day I die, my potential will always be increasing. Life gets pretty boring when you are not growing and not being challenged.
Find a cause greater than yourself, your bills and your comfort to contribute to. This will keep you from becoming blind to the things that really matter. Family, friends and helping others while leaving your mark of beauty on this world.
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