By Jen Basford of Seniors Ignite
‘The senior portrait industry is dead.’ ‘You can’t make a living doing senior pictures.’ ‘Everyone has a camera now and I can’t compete with their low prices – they are putting me out of business.’ And so on.
Maybe you’re even one of the ones who feel this way.
I’ve cringed every time I heard this for so long, simply because I know it’s not true. It’s actually not the case at all.
The key to failure
What I’ve found in reality is that many photographers are just looking for that ‘easy’ button (you can get one at Staples, BTW, but I have to let you in on a little secret – they’re purely for entertainment purposes). They don’t want to hear – or more importantly do – what it takes to run a successful senior business.
They want quick answers that will solve all their problems, and think many times that if they just get a new marketing idea it will change everything. But they don’t always want to do the work it takes to follow through with that idea.
Well here is the actual secret: If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. And everyone would be successful.
The senior portrait industry is changing, will continue to change, and will keep changing forever. Evolution is what drives successful industries. Staying the same and not growing is the key to failure.
How to be a successful senior portrait photographer
Success in the senior business requires a combination of things. You must have solid branding for your business. It must speak to your target client (not just ‘every senior’). You must have something of value to offer them that they want. Once you do, money is no longer a deciding factor. When people value things, and desire them, they will find a way to pay for them. Maybe they have an enormous disposable income to begin with. But more often than not they have to make choices for where and how to spend their money. If they value and desire something, they will spend the money on those things and do without others.
I had a senior client the other day spend over $12,000 on her senior order. And my senior average has consistently been over $2,000 since my second year in business. My cost of sales is currently at 13%, and often my sales average is between $2,500-$3,000 per senior. I photograph over 100 seniors each year as the only photographer in my business, and I hit almost 100% of my goals that I set.
I also personally know and have mentored dozens of photographers who are currently averaging over $2,000 per senior each year, and who run highly successful and profitable senior businesses (meaning over 50% of their business comes from seniors).
Do you want it?
So what’s my point? Not only is it possible to have a successful senior portrait business, but there are photographers all around you doing it right now. You just have to make sure that you want to be successful and are willing to do what it takes. You have to invest in yourself, your business, and your education. You have to make sure all aspects of your business line up correctly. Your branding and marketing have to attract the type of client that you want for your business. Your shooting skills need to be at a level where clients are willing to pay more for them.
And you absolutely must set yourself apart from the competition and be able to answer the most important question of all: WHY should your senior clients come to you? What do you have that they want?
A Senior Model Program that gets results: A Free Call
For me, I set out right from the beginning to be successful. I knew that I wanted to be a senior portrait photographer, and I knew the fastest way to do that was through genuine personal relationships with my target market. So I created a senior model program that not only brings me over $20,000 in cash each spring during my slow season but that also ensures my seniors gush over me and send me more of the right senior clients for my business all year long.
My model program isn’t your ‘traditional’ program where your models are required to pimp out your studio to all of their friends. Rather it is a legitimate and real way for my seniors to work for me, and grow my senior business all year long no matter what they do.
It’s also a big part of what sets me apart in my market and makes me different. If you want to find out more about it I’d love to invite you to join me on a FREE call this Wednesday, December 18th, at Noon CST (10am PST, 1pm EST), where I go over the critical details that you must have in your senior model program in order for it to be successful. Click here now to get more information and to register.
Because more than anything I want to help you grow and succeed in your photography business. I hope to see you on Wednesday at noon CST.
Jen Basford, owner of 3 Girls Photography and contributor to Seniors Ignite, is one of the top senior portrait photographers in the Midwest largely due to her out-of-the-box approach to marketing and client relationships. She owns a 3,500-square-foot, custom-designed studio in Edmond, OK, and markets to a high-end boutique clientele.