What Is A Photographer’s True Competitive Edge?

Digital cameras of today are sophisticated, easy to use … and everywhere. Whether you use an iPhone and an app, or your Canon EOS 5D with a full array of lenses, anyone with a digital camera and a computer can establish themselves as a photographer willing to be hired to shoot for a fee.

Yes, these wannabes may lack classical training in lighting and posing, but clients trying to stretch their budgets often see them as a viable option.

And so the pricing wars begin.

The reality of it is photography isn’t a product based industry; it is and always will be a service based industry.

Someone may tell you a photograph is a photograph – and the pricing should be comparable from place to place. But if you hear that from a potential customer, they don’t understand the nuances of photography. That isn’t his or her fault. It’s ours as photographers. And in order to create a full fledged, full time, six figure business, you must understand this and build your business into the service business it should be.

What Is A Photographer’s True Competitive Edge

Start with your photography

The problem does arise from the photography itself. What makes you different from the wannabes? Does your work stand apart? Or is it easy to confuse your work with everyone else out there?

If you want to make this your true profession and you are wanting to grow into a six figure photography business, your work has to stand apart. You have to understand posing and lighting. You must create truly professional images. Practice, practice, practice. Attend seminars by people that are already making six figures in their prospective fields. Head to judging contests to learn what master photographers are looking for in images.

Then use this to make your photography stand apart from the competition. You can also use your knowledge to make others aware of what they should be looking for. Point to an image with a telephone pole coming out of a clients head once, and a potential client will know exactly how to look for composition as she heads off to visit other prospective photographers.

Change your marketing and sales

A potential client doesn’t know what to look for until you tell her. Arm her with questions.

  • Does the photographer have liability insurance?
  • Does the photographer have backup equipment?
  • How many images does the photographer take at the wedding?

Whatever questions you present, explain your answers in detail and why it matters to her. If she’s armed with the knowledge you have something that other photographers don’t, chances are she’ll be back with a check in hand when she can’t find the customer service level anywhere else out there.

Use stories to teach

Doesn’t the idea of a general photographer sound great? You can visit them for your wedding, have your baby’s portrait created, and have them photograph the new earrings you’ve fashioned for the brochure you’re designing for your new business.

That’s how many people view the photography world. Flip that around and make them think differently.

Would you really want a cardiologist answering a question about a mole on your back? Or a plastic surgeon helping you with a sore throat?

People specialize to become good at what they do. And as a photographer, there is an extreme difference between shooting a pair of earrings for a brochure, and following a bride and groom around for the day of their wedding.

Yet many consumers don’t understand that. Use a story – just like the one I described about the medical field – to get your prospects to understand the differences.

Maintain your pricing

Finally, don’t be seduced into lowering your pricing in order to get jobs. If something isn’t in your arena, or a client wants you but “can’t” afford you, the decision should be on them – not you. Your time is too valuable to spend accommodating the penny pinchers that don’t realize your true potential.

Let them head out and go with the wannabes to save money. Let them be disappointed in the overall service they received. And allow them to help you by providing stories to their friends – stories that will push them towards you with the lessons they learned.

How To Get Clients With Viddy

I know what you’re thinking. Viddy? What’s Viddy? There is something else out there I need to know about?

Yes.

Viddy is a social video editing and sharing app that just surpassed the 26 million user mark.

Where Instagram and other photo apps allow you to play with still images, Viddy gives you the tools to turn any 15 second video footage into something truly unique and shareable. You can add filters and music, and give it a true “movie trailer” look and feel.

And then you share it – that’s what today’s technology is all about.

Start by downloading Viddy to your iPhone and sign up using Facebook or Twitter – you can use an email instead if you choose.

When you’ve signed in, it will pull a list of your friends already on Viddy (providing you’ve used your Facebook/Twitter account), which will give you a few people to follow and see what they are doing. Following works in a similar manner to other social sites – just hit the follow button and they are added to your profile.

Create your profile by adding a photograph, and start videoing. [Read more…]

The One-Two Punch For Finding Photography Clients

Its sad to see a photographer who is really good at photography, yet knows nothing about business.

When we were first starting to climb the ladder of success within the photography industry, we met a couple who were several years older and had several more years of experience. We looked at their work and instantly knew they were one of the best photography studios in our area. Until we got to know them and started learning more about how they ran their business.

When we would get together for dinner, they would proceed to list out several things they were currently working on. And those several things seemed to change every few months. Then they confided the real truth.

“As much as we love photography, we just can’t rely on it for a full time income. We have never been able to figure out how to push it to the point of creating a secure and profitable income.”

These people had some “major player” clients. They were written up in local media. They won awards and were recognized within the photographic industry. Looking at them, they were the people to model. They looked like they had it all together.

But while they were very good at photography, they had never taken the time to learn about the business world.

They created their pricing structure for the low end because:

They felt guilty about charging “too much”, even though it was their belief system that created what “too much” meant, not what others were willing to pay

They let the low end structure their pricing – and their high end was more than happy to pay it, knowing they got a “deal”

For all of these reasons and more, their marketing, pricing, and financial tasks struggled. [Read more…]

The Photography Sales Funnel Part Four: How To Put Your Sales Funnel Into Action

In the final chapter of this series on the photography sales funnel we look at how you can begin putting what you’ve learned into action for setting up your own sales funnel. If you haven’t read the first three parts of this series please do so now:

The Photographers Sales Funnel
Generating Leads At The Front Of Your Sales Funnel
Long Term Profits Through Referrals

The Potential Is Larger With A Niche

Once you realize the potential of a sales funnel, which I hope you do by now after following along in this series, you should consider implementing one for your own business.

When you first get started, don’t look at your business as a whole. Instead, look at it in individual pieces, or in niches. Maybe you photograph weddings, events and family portraits. In this case you could look at your business in three distinct ways through all three of your niches.

Each niche will be considered unique because you will be approaching customers and referral sources in different ways using different materials and tools. While they may all require you to have a website, how you move them through the site will take on different approaches for each of the different niches. For example as mother looking to book a family sitting may love looking through wedding images, but she won’t be able to “see” herself in your work. She wants to see other families and how you pose, choose your backgrounds, create packages, etc.

Planning Your Sales Funnel

Once your niches are determined and you are confident you want to bring in a lot of clients in those niches, you can begin work on your sales funnel.

Your main focus should always be on the needs of your customer. When I begin planning out my sales tools, instead of thinking of my niche as a whole, I think of one customer in particular. Don’t think of a “generic” customer. Instead, think of the best client you’ve ever had, the one you would love to have in your studio all the time. Then ask yourself a series of questions.

  • What did you do to attract her? How could you improve on that process?
  • What did she buy? What more could you have sold her?
  • How did you communicate with her during the entire process, including in the present? How could you communicate with her now and into the future?
  • What more could you sell her?

I’m sure just by reading these questions, ideas are popping up. Don’t stop the flow of ideas. Let them come and write them all down. This is how you will build your sales funnel for the future. [Read more…]

How To Be Unique

The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.
~ Walt Disney

Have you ever thought about what it takes to be unique? We throw the word around all the time. You can hear it in many different advertising campaigns. When you’re out networking, people say they have a unique product or a unique idea. But do they really? What does it really take to be unique?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Unique means:

1. being the only one
2. being without a like or equal
3. unusual

And while it sounds easy to be unique, in fact it’s actually quite difficult. Each one of us was born unique. But something happened along the way. We were molded and shaped by the things around us – parents, peers, culture, school, society – creating who we are today.

You can’t be unique by heading out and copying everyone else. If you are using another photographer as a model, you’ll never be unique. Stating you’re a generalist – a wedding, baby, family, senior, commercial – photographer will lump you into the pile with everyone else.

But if you can’t use someone else as your role model, how do you do it? How do you create that new path for your business?

Remain True To Yourself

What makes you happy? What would you love doing more than anything else? Take that and create a path for your photography. If you really want to specialize in babies, don’t take on wedding just to pay the bills. It will take away from your true path. [Read more…]

Get Clients: How Photographers Are Using Facebook and Twitter

In early December 2009, I went out and asked photographers to contribute their best Facebook and Twitter tips and advice on how you can use these tools to help grow your photography business.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I accepted tips from photographers all over the world, and deeply enjoyed hearing how some of you are using these new tools to help grow your businesses. The questions were:Getting Clients How Photographers Are Using Facebook and Twitter

Question 1 – What’s the right way to use Twitter to promote your business?
Question 2 – What’s your best tip for getting followers on Twitter?
Question 3 – How do you manage your time on Twitter?

Question 4– What’s the right way to use Facebook to promote your business?
Question 5 – What’s your best tip for getting followers on Facebook?
Question 6 – How do you manage your time on Facebook?

My goal was twofold. First, I wanted to find out you are doing with social, and how its impacting your business. Second, I wanted to provide a resource for you as a photographer to grow your business using these top free technologies.

Using those two strategies as my guideline, I welcome you to dive into this downloadable document, learn new ideas and strategies along the way, and discover how you can make 2010 your best year yet using Facebook and Twitter to market your photography.

Feel free to share this PDF document with your friends and fellow photographers, link to it, or post it to your website or blog.  I invite you to use it and benefit from it.

Download Getting Clients with Facebook and Twitter [PDF]