You showed them the images, and, as you were flipping through your beautiful work, they told you they were on a tight budget. At the end of the meeting, they decided to purchase a few 8X10’s totaling $100.
You thought to yourself, “I’m never going to make money in photography.”
Here’s why you thought wrong, my friend.
Making money in photography is something every single new photographer lies in bed thinking about. It baffles us, limits us and keeps us from breaking out of a fear-laden state destined for failure.
So I’ve put together a few pointers on how to make money in photography.
1. Figure Out Your Target Market
In the scenario described above, a few things may have gone wrong right from the get-go. If the client is truly on a tight budget, and you were expecting them to spend more than they ever possibly could afford to spend, then you did a really bad job at two things:
1. Establishing the typical investment a client spends
Note the word “investment” not fee, price, or other word that dumbs-down what you do for a living. Make sure they know this up front so that the client can remove themselves from the process on their own before you spend more than 5 minutes with them and waste your time.
Again, establishing your value begins as soon as a client connects with you (either online or via the phone). Ensure you help them understand the average investment required. If you wait too long to talk with them about this, you’ll regret it.
2. Creating value for the photography (more on this in a minute)
If you have clients who had spent money on cars they couldn’t afford, computers that cost more than theirs, hairdo’s, nails, clothes, and other such non-essentials, then there is no reason (I repeat NO REASON) why that client cannot afford photography.
In this case they’re the right target market, so the it’s important that you…
2. Establish Your Value From The Very Start
Okay, so this is worth (pun intended) talking about a little more.
In order to make money in photography, your potential clients have to perceive your business as having a lot of value. Your brand and what you do for your clients has to be ridiculously clear.
If it’s not clear to your clients, they will be establishing the value of your work in their own minds. That’s dangerous for any photographer trying to make money in photography.
How do you establish value right from the onset? The list of possibilities is never-ending, but I’ve jotted ten ways down here to get you started:
1. Your website is clean and professional.
2. You articulate your prices and what clients spend with you (on average) on your website, or provide it immediately upon a client requesting it.
3. You include past client testimonials on your website (if you are just starting out and don’t have testimonials, do 2-3 shoots for free in exchange for some; it will help build your portfolio, too).
4. You have been mentioned in the media or on industry blogs.
5. The “about page” on your website talks more about why you started this business and less about your husband, dog and three cats (it’s relevant for personal connections, so keep small mentions of family and hobbies… just don’t make it the content of the entire page).
6. You connect with local business and potential partners who also serve the same clientele you’re looking to attract.
7. Your photography is shared on social media by others, including clients and/or friends, not by just you.
8. Speaking of social media, you’re really active on three social media platforms (experts recommend no more than three, unless you’re a social media rock star, and no less than three for fear that people will not be able to find you).
9. You make a concerted effort to educate your customers on your website, in social media and in emails you send. In other words, you don’t just try to sell, sell, sell.
10. Your coupons, discounts and offers are kept to a strict minimum (maybe once or twice a year, tops). It goes without saying that you don’t market yourself on Groupon or CraigsList.
3. Measure Your Marketing
Gut instinct and “feel” is a terrible way to measure the success of your marketing. Call me a marketing nerd, but I check my web stats and where my leads come from every single day. I don’t expect anyone else to do it that regularly (unless you’re also a marketing nerd, in which case, nerds unite!). Once a week is fine.
How to measure and shift marketing dollars as you go:
I firmly believe that the words “I just need to get my name out there” are only said because the person saying them doesn’t know what else to say or do. You do not need to “get your name out there.” Repeat after me: you need your marketing dollars to work for you and to help you make money in photography. Can I get an amen?
Here are the basics on how to measure your marketing:
1. Create a list of each marketing item you plan on doing, along with the cost of that item next to it (if it’s free, put $0).
2. Any time a potential client inquires either via email, web form or a call, ensure you know where they heard of you. Was it a referral, an ad you placed, or a web search? Note it next to each marketing effort (a tally mark in pencil is fine!).
3. Measure clients, too: don’t just record if you received an inquiry, record if they became a client, as well.
4. Every month, figure out the math (it’s simple, I promise) to determine your cost per inquiry and cost per client from each marketing effort. For example:
Ad On Local Wedding Blog Cost: $250
This cost you $50 per inquiry and $250 per client so far
Direct Mail To Local List Cost: $1,500
This cost you $150 per inquiry and $750 per client so far
5. Compare the expensive marketing against the inexpensive marketing and eliminate the ones that cost you the most per client.
In the case of the example above, this photographer should be considering doing less direct mail and should research more local blogs that might be equally successful as the one they already tried, instead. Don’t just assume other blogs will be as successful as the first. Also, don’t assume that all direct mail is immediately bad for your business. Perhaps the list wasn’t as targeted as it should be, or, perhaps the mailer you sent was too costly to print.
The same exercise must be repeated continually.
6. Never stop measuring and never stop marketing. When you do start really earning healthy money in photography, you have to continue measuring it and marketing your business (after you send me a note so I can congratulate you, of course!).
Want More Ideas On How To Make Money In Photography?
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