There are many things that you need to consider when starting a photography business, such as what you want to photograph, a name for your business, etc. In some ways, those are the easy parts, since we have full control over building our portfolio and our website, or even getting a logo perfectly designed to suit our tastes. However, what about the people that want to work with? Where do you go to look for clients? How do you create a solid brand with repeat customers? These are the tough parts of business that you need in order to be successful. I thought these through, and came up with five useful tips that you may want to consider in order to successfully grow your photograph business.
1. Find your audience. The very first thing you need to establish when starting your business is to figure out who you want your audience to be. Do you want to sell stock photos to advertisers? Educate and train other photographers? Photograph newborn portraits for parents? Once you have this figured out, then everything you do from that point will be to attract these people as potential clients. Find out where they are and get on their radar. This may be in Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. Oftentimes you may even find that you have different groups of an audience hanging out in different places, so be sure to branch out and do your research to discover where they may be hiding.
2. Be authentic. Nobody likes someone who is trying so hard that they compromise who they are to sell something. I know I sure don’t. When you are true to yourself in everything you do, then you are more likely to attract the right people to be your customers, and, even better, you will probably keep them as future customers. The best part about being authentic is that it doesn’t take very much effort! I make it a priority to always be myself when I post anything online. Granted, I’m usually showing the best parts of myself, but it’s always going to be “100% pure me”! Adding your voice to your everyday posts and interactions is the best way to humanize your business and organically attract more customers.
3. Post regularly. We all have our own places where we prefer to post. Maybe this is a blog, or something on Facebook. Whatever it is, do it regularly! The amount of time in-between posts is really up to you, and there’s no “right way” to do it. But by posting regularly you are showing your readers that yes! You are still around. I lose interest when I find a website or blog where the last post was several months ago, especially if it is an online store or a blog I am considering subscribing to. I want to be a part of something that I know is up-to-date and relevant, and when the newest post is 6 months old (or older) old that usually is an indication that the website is either obsolete or the person running it is too busy to care. By posting regularly you are doing the opposite; readers know you are around, doing more stuff, and staying busy. And that’s a good thing!
4. Start a newsletter. The best way to promote and ultimately sell a product or service is to advertise to the people who want to listen, and a newsletter allows you to do just that. When someone subscribes to your newsletter, they are inviting you into their inbox. Granted, people will unsubscribe from time to time, typically after you send out an email campaign, and that’s completely normal. In my own personal experience, I have found that a newsletter email campaign gets more traffic and clicks that lead to sales than any other platform, including Google+ (where I have over 2-million followers). If you want to start one today, you can usually set up an initial free account, and then you will pay monthly once your newsletter subscribers reach a certain number. Some of the popular newsletter websites to work with are MailChimp and AWeber, but a quick online search will help you find more to look into as well.
(Note: If you are interested in setting up a newsletter, be sure to read the fine print, particularly the information contained in the CAN-SPAM Act. It’s important to follow the guidelines for bulk-sending emails; not abiding by the rules can lead to losing your newsletter account.)
5. Establish your brand. Creating a successful brand involves so many elements, it’s difficult to put your finger on the one thing that makes a particular brand really work well. Is it the name of the product or company? Nope. How about the logo? Again, no way. Having a catchy name and fancy logo are great, but the details become less important in the grand scheme of things. The best way to build your brand and help it grow is to create a great product, consistently instill quality in everything you do, and have excellent customer service. For example, the Apple® logo tells an uninformed person nothing about what the company does or the types of products it sells. However, to someone who knows and loves Apple products, having that icon on one of their computers or tablets tells them more than the name of a computer company. Apple’s brand, and many other brands like it, is a promise of quality, which is represented by their logo. Try to live by that same standard of quality in everything you do and people will begin to see your services and products in their best light possible.
Nicole S. Young is a professional photographer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of several print books and eBooks, and runs her own online store for photographers, the “Nicolesy Store“.
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