I’ve seen several well-established photography studios close while new, talented photographers rise up to replace them in non-conventional ways.
I’ve seen a shift in what clients are looking for and what’s important to them.
And more than anything, I’m seeing that marketing efforts that worked very well even 2-3 years ago are no longer giving people the results they once were getting.
So I wanted to share some of the trends I’ve noticed and what I think is going to be most important to focus on in 2014 and beyond in order to have a sustainable & profitable photography business in 2014. Let’s jump right in.
The Effects of Smart Phones, Mobile Devices & Tablets
Smart phones, mobile devices, and tablets are now mainstream and will affect the photography industry in 2014 in a myriad of ways.
Less people looking for a low-end photographer
First, prospective clients are carrying at least one camera on them at all times or will be by the end of the year. This means that they can “capture the moment” on their own at any time and are only going to hire someone if they really value quality. So you need to make sure that your photography quality is much higher than what they can get by themselves on their phones or they have no reason to hire you.
It also means that you need to give them a reason to hire you beyond just “capturing moments”. What can you give them that they can’t get anywhere else? Maybe it’s metal prints, wall art, or a full high-end experience. The more clearly you can define what you can give them that they can’t get on their own, the better off you’ll be when it comes to getting clients.
More clients wanting to share images using their phones, mobile devices and tablets.
This is only going to grow in 2014. They won’t care as much about buying small gift prints as they will care about being able to easily share something via their device. This makes services such as StickyAlbums that create custom apps for clients even more effective in helping to promote your business and can get you bigger sales by using them as an incentive for them to buy large prints or products from you that they do still want to have.
More apps on the market that are designed to help grow your photography business and get higher sales.
One of my favorite examples is Preveal. I predict that many of them will be an inexpensive alternative to some of the very costly (but more robust) software out there that photographers currently use such as Pro Select.
You’ll also see more businesses jumping on the app wagon and developing apps for their programs or services.
Websites MUST be mobile-compatible
Because people are so easily and quickly connected to the internet using their phones, mobile devices, and tablets, it’s absolutely imperative that your website looks great on these devices. This is only going to become more important in 2014.
When it comes to web browsing, first impressions are HUGE and if your site looks like junk (or worse doesn’t load AT ALL because it’s only flash-based) then you’re in more trouble than the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. You’re losing huge percentages of potential clients simply because you are falling behind the times. It’s not enough to JUST have a website anymore. It’s now got to look great and work great on a mobile device as well. Click here to read my ultimate website help guide if you need some help.
Photography Business Trends
The number of aspiring professional photographers will continue to grow.
As the price of professional-level dSLRs continue to decrease in price, we’ll see more people flocking to the industry with no business experience whatsoever hoping to make some extra cash or leave the soul-sucking job that they hate.
Most new or aspiring photographers are generalists with very little quality consistency and no business experience whatsoever. They’ll shoot anything that allows them to, they will undercharge, and most of them will burn out in a year or two and leave the industry with very little effect to established professionals.
However, there will be plenty of new photographers who are going to come in strong, with high-quality images, with sustainable & profitable pricing, business savvy, and who are going to quickly join the ranks of successful professional photographers. These are the types of new photographers who we need to connect with and get to know, because they are going to be an asset to the photography industry.
More professional photographers will be doing photography part-time along while working another job.
While I do not believe it is impossible to do photography full-time, it is becoming more difficult each year and many people would rather take on a second job to subsidize their income than have to put in the time, money and effort that it would take to learn how to market their business more successfully in the new online/mobile environment of 2014.
The number of people who sell products, services, and ebooks to professional photographers will continue to grow.
This is the third year I’ve run The Modern Tog, and the blogging realm has exploded as people hope to supplement their income by selling to photographers online. It will be harder to know what products are high-quality and worth the investment vs. being simply a “cash grab” that is lacking in content and value except to line the pockets of the person selling it.
The key to making the most of this growth is to make sure you follow people you trust who give free advice that gets actual results before investing in the programs and products they sell.
Online Communities for Professional Photographers will become even more prominent, replacing other paid photography associations.
Networking with other successful professional photographers through online communities and helping each other grow is going to become even more prominent as it will be harder for people to meet in person due to outside jobs and people will not see the value in paying for an association. Associations are already struggling, but I think they will become almost completely irrelevant and find it relatively impossible to add new members by the end of 2014 if not sooner.
Photography Marketing Trends
Effective marketing techniques have shifted drastically in the last few years, and 2014 is only going to bring about more changes.
People will move away from Facebook Pages as their main source of free marketing.
As Facebook continues to show your Facebook page posts to fewer and fewer people in order to encourage you to pay for exposure, people will abandon posting to their pages regularly or start paying for advertising.
The days of easily getting clients through free Facebook marketing are over. While you can still get some results from it, photographers who put all their eggs in the free Facebook marketing basket are going to be struggling to get the clients they need if they don’t start additional marketing campaigns as well.
Incorporating Google+ into your photography business will be vital for long-lasting search engine ranking.
Google is going to continue to put more weight into ranking sites and authors who are incorporating Google+ into their sites and who have a presence on Google+, so those who do not take the time to start building a presence here are going to feel the effects by the end of 2014. Here’s a post about why you can’t ignore Google+ any longer and a post sharing everything you need to know about Google+ Local pages.
Specializing will be key to long-term profit.
The days of the profitable generalist photographer are quickly dwindling. The most successful photography businesses of 2014 are going to be businesses who have a specialization that stands out amongst the sea of generalists and provides a service or product that people cannot get elsewhere. Exclusivity will sell more convincingly than lots of exposure.
Outsourcing will be a main indicator of success.
It’s going to take more work than ever before to run and market a photography business, so businesses who outsource things like photo editing, album design, and blogging are going to have more time to focus on the marketing efforts it will take to run a successful photography business and be more likely to succeed.
More photography businesses will fail than ever before
The photographers who don’t treat their photography like a business and get serious about marketing, pricing, and business are not going to make it. Anyone who buys into excuses and aren’t willing to try things such as in-person sales, email marketing, networking, and more aren’t going to make it.
New or Aspiring Pro Photographers who are super-cheap shoot-n-burners are going to be fighting for fewer clients as low-end clients will replace them with their cell phone and not be willing to pay any price for what they offer (regardless of how low). Clients who value professional photography and the experience and products they get from it will not consider them because their quality and prices are simply too low to indicate quality. So, the lowest tier of professional photographers who attract clients based on price alone is going to be the hardest hit and many will not make it unless they start to get serious about their business.
However, people who are serious about running a business and treat their photography as a business first are going to rise to the top and achieve the success they are after.
The successful photographers will be the photographers who adapt to the changing marketplace, who specialize, who stand apart, and who put in lots of hard work adapting to technological changes, marketing their business and attracting their ideal client.
If you want more information about how to effectively market your photography business and get more photography clients, check out Marketog, my 6-Week Online Photography Marketing Course.
Learn how to get more of the RIGHT kinds of clients, what makes people finally decide to buy (no more “let me get back to you later” only to hear crickets for weeks), how to turn your website into a client-generating machine, how to get repeat clients and more word-of-mouth advertising, how to network without awkwardness, and have a step-by-step marketing plan to keep the clients coming.
Enrollment is currently open, but closes on Sunday, March 9th (or when the course spots have all be taken!) Click here to learn more and enroll now! Or, click here to get access to one of the lessons and see what it is like for yourself!