Several years ago I had an epiphany... I realized that even though my business was photography, my real job was marketing. This was really scary at first. I have no business background and I really didn't know what I was doing but I was determined to figure it out! So I studied. And over time I began to really enjoy the business side of my business! Now I'm at a place where I can honestly say that I LOVE marketing!! Really! And honestly, I love it almost as much as I love photography. For reals!
So today I'm going to share three things that turned my business from something I was bumbling my way through to something that I absolutely love AND make a great living doing!
Here we go!
To be good at marketing there a three things you must know:
1. Know what you do. This seems pretty straight forward but the reality is many of us are not clear on what we do or why we do it. Instead of figuring out our style and our voice we look around and try to do what others are doing, or what is popular, or what we think our clients want. But here's the thing. You can't sell what you don't believe in. You just can't.
At the beginning of my career I shot "photo journalistic" style weddings. Why? Because that style was popular at the time and I thought shooting weddings in that style was the only way I would make money. But guess what? I hated shooting weddings. And, I'm not a fan of "photo journalism". I love shooting simple no-frills portraits of babies and families in studio. Was that style super popular? No. Was that what every one else was doing? No. Is that even what potential clients wanted? I had no idea. But guess what? As soon as I quit weddings (pulled them all off of my website) and focused on shooting what I love my business started to really grow... and I was MUCH happier!
2. Know who your people are. I start every single mentoring session I do by asking "who are your people?" I usually get answers like "women" or "people with babies" or even (my favorite answer to date) "anyone who will give me money". All a little vague. I think when you run a small business it feels scary to try to narrow down "your people". Don't you want everyone? The answer is no you don't! There are a lot of people with babies... but is every person with a baby your perfect client? Of course not! When you spend the time and do the work to really get to know who your people are everything else will fall into place. When you know who your people are you know what images to share, what your website should look like, where your pricing should be, what social media platforms you should be active on... all of it. Because you know what your people want to see, what they can afford and where they "hang out" online.
3. Know how to communicate what you do to your people. This sounds simple, but many photographers have a hard time showing their work, or interacting with their followers on Facebook or with a newsletter. I hear over and over again "but Sandra, I don't want to feel like I'm spamming my clients!" Many people are uncomfortable marketing themselves. They think it's too pushy.
But now think of what you do when you find an amazing restaurant or see a really inspiring movie or find the perfect, most comfortable boots in all the world. When you find something you love you tell your friends about it! You don't just sit around hoping that other people discover it too! You don't agonize about if you should share the info with them. You say "Hey! I found these amazing boots and they are rocking my feet off! You should totally get some too!!" And your friends appreciate it.
That is all marketing is. Taking something you are excited about (what you do) and telling your friends (your people) about it! That's it.
Now... we could spend days talking about the ins and outs of how to communicate with your people! But for now, sit down with a cup of coffee and a plate a Christmas cookies and spend some time writing about what you do and who your people are. It's the best place to start!
photo by Sandra Coan
Hasselblad, Acros, Strobes
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