“I know I should choose a niche – I read your advice and it really makes sense to me. But I don’t know how to do it. I’ve been photographing for two years, and so far
I’ve taken portraits – babies, families, seniors, business – weddings, a little commercial work, and a few events, like bar/bat mitzvahs and corporate events. I love
the weddings, but they don’t give me enough income. I like portraits, especially
the babies and seniors. And I’ve even had some fun with corporate shoots – I did
one for a catalog that was a lot of fun. Should I limit myself and “niche” or
should I keep going the way I’m going?”
When you first get into the photography business, shooting a little bit of everything comes natural. Someone calls for a portrait, so you shoot that. They call for a wedding, so you shoot that. Commercial work? Sure, why not?
The problem lies in who you are as a business, how you brand yourself, and how you come across to your clientele.
If you are a generalist, and you take pretty much anything that comes through your door, the people you are out networking with will think of you as a generalist. And as such, you are easily forgettable.
But if you specialize – niche – your business to do one thing, everyone around you learns about that one thing in great detail.
Imagine a generalist at a lead networking group. Over six weeks, the people around her would hear:
1. I’m looking for new parents that would love a baby portrait.
2. I’m looking for a new bride who wants her wedding photographed.
3. I’m looking for a family that would like an outdoor portrait.
4. I’m looking for a businessperson in need of a new head shot.
5. I’m looking for a 12 year old ready to celebrate his bar mitzvah.
6. I’m looking for a business creating their annual catalog.
By week six, there is no way a person would remember what this photographer said back on week one. Compare that to a person that specializes in baby portraits.
1. Who do you know that’s pregnant? We do incredible maternity images in the final weeks of pregnancy.
2. Do you know how fast babies grow? They lose their baby look in a few weeks – that’s what I capture.
3. Who do you know that spent months, even years trying to get pregnant?
4. My baby plan gives new parents precious images at birth, 3 months, 6 months 9 months and their first birthday.
5. Babies change so fast – I capture everything from their toes to their fingertips.
6. I’m looking for someone in the fertility industry – I’d love to get my baby images into their clinic.
Will this networking group remember this photographer shoots baby portraits? You bet. Will they think of this photographer every time they meet a pregnant woman or brand new parent? You bet.
That’s why its important to niche. But even if you know it, how do you make that choice? When you currently shoot a lot of different things, and you may even enjoy several of the things you’re “specializing” in, how do you make that choice?
1. Listen to your heart. Even if you currently shoot in several fields, and enjoy everything you do, you’ll probably find yourself leaning towards one thing. What does a perfect day look like to you? Would it spending a Saturday at an elegant wedding, or working 9 to 5 Monday through Friday with corporate clients?
2. One thing doesn’t have to be forever. If you decide that weddings are your calling, specializing in them today doesn’t mean you have to stick with it for the next 25 years. I’ve met many photographers who transition from one niche to another over their careers.
3. Get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you love weddings, but you aren’t sure if you can make a full time income at it. You have questions about its possibilities. Put your fears aside. In every niche, there are mentors who have made it before you. It can be done. You just have to focus in on it and put it into place.
4. It’s all about focus. When we specialized in weddings, it’s all we marketed for. But once a client was married, they would call us back in a year for their baby portraits or family portraits. If they had a special corporate event, they would call us because they trusted us. Just because you market exclusively for one thing doesn’t mean you can work your current client base for a lot more.
5. Face your fears. What’s preventing you from choosing a niche? Are you worried the money won’t come it? Are you concerned you may not be the best? What’s holding you back is a fear. Figure out what that fear is and work through it. Increase your prices. Take a class or two. There are always ways of working beyond your fears.
6. Live in the present. It’s easy to say “in the past” or “in the future” instead of focusing on what you’re doing right now. What opportunities are presenting themselves to you right now? Maybe you’ve just learned about a niche networking group. Or a chance to advertise at a reduced rate in a niched guide. Sometimes what’s happening around you can lead you in the right direction.
7. Take the leap. In some cases you might not have all the answers. You may be a little unsure – and that won’t change. Instead of concentrating on the “what if’s”, just do it. Choose something “just because”. Have the courage to leap into something and trust that you’re making the right choice. In most cases, that one act alone will change everything for the better.
“Courage is the first of all human qualities
because it is the one that guarantees all others.”