Niche Your Business? 10 Ways People Get It Wrong

When you first thought about going into business for yourself, chances are you had a “vision”. You saw yourself doing one type of photography again and again – something that would make you happy every single day. That is the idea around niching. A niche is an activity specially suited to a person’s interests, abilities or nature. It’s a special area of demand for a product or service. And while niching may seem easy to accomplish, many people simply don’t understand the concept, and end up doing it wrong. And if you don’t niche in the right way, your chances of success aren’t high. Here are some tips to help you niche the right way.

Choose A Niche That’s Too Wide

You love people. You’ve always wanted a studio. So you decide to niche yourself as a portrait photographer. Is that a great niche? While it may sound like a great way to specialize your business, portrait photography is still broad. Think of all the different ways you can further split this niche out: baby, family, seniors, school, pets, business. Because you market each of these specialties in different ways, to different people, in different marketplaces, it still leaves you at a disadvantage when it comes to marketing. The clearer you become with who you want to photograph, the easier it is to build a business.

Become A Generalist Instead Of A Specialist

Now that you’ve seen the many ways you can split out “portrait photography”, imagine niching yourself the way some photographers do. I’ve seen over and over on websites people describe their businesses as niched in: babies, weddings, special events, glamor, commercial, model portfolios, etc. The lists go on and on. That’s not niching. Niching isn’t doing every type of photography that comes along. Niching is finding one specific thing you love to do, and doing it over and over again. The better you get at it, the more known you’ll get, the busier and more successful you’ll be.

Choose A Niche You’re Not Passionate About

You absolutely love babies. You’ve had three yourself, and now they’re all grown up and in high school and college. You would love to work with babies all day long. Anne Geddes is your hero. Yet you decide to offer wedding photography because everyone tells you that is where the money is. If you’re not passionate about what you are doing, your interest will fade, and you won’t give it 110 percent all the time.

Choose A Niche Only For The Money

I’ve spoken to people that seem to think there are certain areas of photography that are more lucrative than others. That’s simply not true. If you are passionate about something, you can find a way to bring in the money – and in some cases big money. [Just take a look at some of my One Great Idea posts.] Dig Deeper: How Can You Turn Your Passion Into A Photography Business

Choose A Niche That Nobody Is Searching For

Do you have a completely new concept that no one has ever heard of before? Have you done a thorough search, and no one is offering the type of photography you’re dreaming about? While that may seem like a good approach, it may be the wrong market. If you have to build interest for something, explain it over and over again just so people will understand what you do, you’ve probably niched too far down. You don’t want to educate people on what you do; you want them searching for you.

Choosing A Niche With Zero Funding

Maybe you love scuba diving, and have dreamt of traveling the world over, photographing the most unique underwater places on earth. You’re all set to sell your work to the several magazines out there specializing in scuba. The first question you should ask yourself is, “Do they pay for photographs?” In some cases they may not. In which case your dreams will quickly come crashing down. Open yourself up to many ideas. While you may not be able to sell your work to scuba magazines, what if you decided to produce your own coffee table books, calendars, etc, and become a renowned ocean photographer who sells fine art throughout the world? Sometimes its just a matter of digging a bit deeper to find true interest in what you do.

Afraid of Turning Away Business

In this market, do you really want to turn away business? So instead of niching and becoming a renowned baby photographer, you choose portraiture instead. The problem with not developing a clear niche is people won’t know how to refer you. You’re a generalist. When someone asks, “Do you know a great photographer?” they’ll look through their mental files at all the photographers they know. But if you’ve specialized in babies, and have portraits hanging all over town, and are known throughout the community as a baby photographer, when a friend asks, “Do you know someone that can photograph my new baby?” you’re name is instantly there. While it may seem like you’re turning away business at the beginning, but niching you’ll actually stand apart from your competition down the road.

Afraid Of Being Boxed In

What if you aren’t sure what you want to specialize in? You love working with people and portraits sound great. But you’ve enjoyed the few weddings you’ve shot with friends. And you really enjoyed the glamour session you had a few years ago – that might be something of interest, right? The best way to get started is to evaluate every niche and choose something that holds your interest. Right now, you can probably list things you love, and not so much. Do you love working in a studio with controlled lighting? Do you love having every shoot be different – different location, different circumstances? Do you like quick, easy sessions that take less than an hour of your time? Or do you prefer to work 10 hour days once per week? With just these few questions, you can start building a pattern. And you can quickly determine whether you would enjoy studio portraiture or weekend weddings, even from just a few questions. Use those answers to start building the business of your dreams.

Afraid of Being In The Wrong Niche

What if you choose weddings and its not right? You’ve just met a great business photographer that is traveling the world over, photographing presidents, kings and queens. Maybe you should have chosen that route instead? There’s definitely more money there, and you’re not doing as well as you had hoped. Yep, we all have concerns like that once in awhile. And its easy to do when you find someone that has “found their niche” and doing very well at it. But they faced the same hurdles and had the same questions nagging in their minds once upon a time. The key is to focus, focus, focus, and concentrate on how you can become better at what you truly want to do.

I Have No Idea How To Find My Niche

Maybe you are starting to think all of this makes sense, but you still have no idea how to find your niche. It all sounds good, and for right now, you’re shooting on the side after you finish your full time job. Why limit yourself now? Niching allows you to be creative, and focus your energy on one thing. With all of your energy in one area, you become better at what you do. You search for your competition more online an learn from them. You attend classes based on your specialty. You begin finding clients that love what you do. Your marketing becomes better because you are targeting specific people and interests. And you enjoy what you do much more because success finds you. It really works. You just have to take the first step towards finding your niche.

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clientexperience@todaysgrowthconsultant.com' About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • http://www.somerset-wedding-photographer.co.uk Belinda McCarthy

    Good advice. It’s scary to ‘niche’ yourself at first, and hard sometimes to make the leap (and decide what to specialise in), but if you shoot what you love, you’ll be a whole lot better at it than something you’re just OK with doing. Steve Jobs had a lot to say on doing what you love, and it didn’t do him any harm…

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    I couldn’t agree more. I just found this quote, and it says it all.

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Steve Jobs

  • http://www.karenskellyphoto.com Photographer Glenwood Springs CO

    This concept probably works great in a large metropolitan area, but here in the boonies, I do weddings, portraits, and events and just barely have enough work to keep me busy (especially during the winter).

  • PixelPeeper

    One time I saw someone saying on his site that he specialized in “freestyle” wedding photography… and a long list of around 20 different kinds of photography… I just had to laugh

  • http://www.wix.com/escottphoto/wix Evan Scott

    I am a part-time photographer who specializes in family portraiture, but also photograph weddings. I’d love to find a niche, but not really sure what to focus on. Since I live on the coast & enjoy photographing on the beach, I was thinking maybe beach portraiture & beach weddings. Is that a niche? Thanks!

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    Hi Evan

    Yes, beach portraiture can be very profitable, especially if you get into a niche market where people visit you when they are in second homes. For those of us that are landlocked, having a beach portrait is a wonderful thing – we’ve had our own beach portraits taken when we’ve headed to California.
    Lori

  • http://www.kenwilliamsphotography.com Ken Williams

    This is the BEST photography advice website I have ever seen. There is a wealth of information on here. I am going through it one page at a time. I understand the idea of finding a niche and believe it is the way to go. I am reading through your articles on niching (is that a word?). At this point I don’t know what my niche would be or just how to determine my niche and be able to make money at it. I know that I don’t really like wedding or product photography so I can scratch them off my list. But, what DO I like to do that will earn me a living? Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Somehow, the “how to” of niche finding escapes me. :o)

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    Hi Ken
    Thanks so much for your words! Glad you’re finding everything useful. You have a good start – knowing what you don’t want is sometimes just as helpful as knowing what you do want. If you’re just starting out, its important to realize that you may switch multiple times over the next few years. But chances are you have something in mind now, you’re just not sure how to proceed. Lets say you really love traveling and are wanting to do stock or maybe fine art portraiture. Take those ideas and Google them. Find others out there that are currently successful doing that type of photography. Then you can use these as your models.

    Too many people try to find the “Nobody out there is doing what I want to do” model, yet that is the wrong approach. Instead, you want to be able to find people that are doing something similar, because that will confirm you are on the right track and you can make money with it.

    Do your research. Find model businesses to imitate. And move forward. The rest will come.
    Lori