Today I want to share with you one thing that completely transformed my business.
If you listened to my first episode I mentioned this for a brief moment but I really want to take the time to expound on it some more and talk about why it was such a pivotal moment for my business and why I believe a can transform your business as well
6 years ago I was shooting anything and everything. I knew that I wanted to make a change, but I didn’t know how to. Families and portraits were my "bread and butter". I honestly didn’t want to specialize as a family photographer. There is nothing wrong with being a family photographer, I personally just wasn’t passionate about it. But that’s 80% of the work I was doing.
I honestly thought it would be cool to be a wedding photographer. At this time though, I had only photographed a handful of weddings. I definitely wasn’t considered a wedding photographer. But I knew one day that would be what I would want to do.
I didn’t think there was any way that I could jump all into weddings at that time though because well... I wasn’t shooting them enough. I knew I wanted to get there though.
I remember going to lunch with a friend and she told me that I just needed to go for it and I thought that that was great for you but there’s no way that I can do that.
I went to a photography retreat over the Summer. This was the first thing that I went to like this. I told y’all that I didn’t invest in education in the beginning days. And to be honest, I didn’t even invest in this retreat. Someone dropped out of the retreat last minute, and the leader randomly offered me her ticket. I was blown away. I know that God wanted me there. That retreat shaped me and my business, and I look back at that retreat as a pivotal moment for me.
For a few reasons. Because it gave me an appetite for community and education. I wanted more after attending. It also is the one thing that highly encouraged to make a huge shift in my business.
One of the things we spoke on was goals, and where we saw our business going, and where we wanted it to go.
I told everyone that I eventually wanted to be a wedding photographer, but I didn’t see that happening for a few years. Long story short, after the retreat was over I was so motivated and encouraged by everyone there to take the plunge.
That is just what I did.
I came home and completely reworked my website. I only showcased wedding related images. I changed my branding, and I started speaking to brides, and to my ideal client.
I still photographed the other, but I was showing the majority of my work as wedding-related images. This was the thing that was the hardest for me when making the switch. I still wanted to photograph families/portraits because that was my source of income at the time, but I also wanted to market myself as a wedding photographer. I think it was a game-changer for me when I realized that I could still work with my current portrait clients. I want to take you through things that I did to “market” myself as a wedding photographer.
I changed my website. It was 100% geared towards weddings, engagements, and couples. My hero images, the main ones on my site, were all wedding-related images.
I had probably only photographed 6 weddings total at this point. I reused images that I have previously taken and began to use them on social media, etc.
Facebook was huge at the time, so I tried to post something wedding related every few days.
I stopped sharing as much about portraits, family sessions, etc. I thought that might slow down my portrait bookings, but it honestly didn’t much. I still was booking about the same rate I was before, and this helped me through the transition.
I set up a styled shoot with some local vendors in my area. This helped me create a relationship with some vendors as well as having some more images to use in my portfolio. Through that shoot, I was contacted by a magazine to do a wedding editorial, and I began to book more weddings.
If you would be interested in me ever sharing an episode on putting together a styled shoot, and the benefits of it, send me a dm @jentewell, and I will work on putting something together.
If you are marketing to everyone, it will be wasted time.
If you can get incredibly clear about what you do (and don’t do) and what your customers can expect along the way, then you’re going to be able to serve the people who very specifically need exactly what you offer.
You must articulate what you do and who it is for
Go through your content and everything that you’ve been writing, including all of your emails and blog posts. Read them from the perspective of the person you want to target. You might find that you do not have a clear and defined target.
I didn’t see real growth until I niched down.
The more you niche down the more you will earn. Who is your ideal client?
I heard this quote and it made me laugh, but it is so true. "The riches are in the niches." Meaning that your business will begin to see financial growth when you niche it down Begin speaking to a specific audience. It doesn’t have to be weddings. I think this would work for any type of photography.
It took me 4 years in business before I decided to do this. Before I made the switch to shoot weddings that year I did 4 weddings. The year after, I did 12, and the year following that I did 28. Do you see the growth?
I guarantee that wouldn’t have happened though had I not decided to niche down.
Sometimes we need to take a step of faith towards our dreams, what we love, and what we feel called to.
If your efforts are to serve everyone, you will actually end up serving no one.
There are people out there who genuinely need and value what you offer and are ready to buy from you now.
You must be an expert to your ideal client. They must see you as an expert in your field.
5 steps to niche down right now.
1. Figure out who you want to target. Is it weddings, families, newborns, school portraits, etc?
There is a company in our area that owns the school portrait market. I know why they are successful in taking pictures of school portraits. That is their primary focus. Do you know why I think they
I also have a friend in the area that is a newborn photographer. Again, she is KILLING It. But she has found her ideal client and is speaking directly to them.
2. Change your website. It needs to be 90% focused on what your niche is. I had a very small page on my website about portrait work, but everything thing else was wedding related. Every image, the copy, all of it was focused on weddings.
3. Educate yourself on what your clients need, and how you can serve them. My clients want me to be an expert on all things wedding. How to create a perfect timeline, how to photograph completely dark receptions, how to have a system in place to protect their images. Those things are very important to my client.
If you are a newborn photographer, your clients will probably want to make sure you know how to keep their baby safe, how old the baby needs to be to capture the best photos, do you come to them or they to you, what they need to do before the session to prepare. This is all info your client needs and wants to know. Educate yourself, and then educate your clients that you are the expert in that area.
4. You have to be confident in yourself.
5. Start sharing images on your social Imelda related to your nice. For example, if you look at an Instagram grid, there are nine photos. I think at least one of those nine photos needs to be an image of you. Something behind the scenes of you working, a headshot, or something so people can identify you as the owner, and they can begin to get to know you personally. This we will discuss more, but for now, I think one photo is the bare minimum.
Next, one-two of those photos can be something not related to your niche, but the other 6 photos need to ALL be speaking to your ideal clients. For me, that means they need to be wedding related. When someone scrolls to my Instagram, I think it is easy to determine that I’m a wedding photographer.
I knew very few photographers that are super successful that photograph multiple different things. That’s not to say that you can’t be successful but I think the proof is in the pudding and if you look at the most successful photographers you know they are typically known for something. What do you want to be known by? When I think of Julie Paisley I think of an excellent them photographer when I think of Katelyn James, I think of a wedding photographer when I think of Rachel Vanoven, I think of a newborn photographer. None of those names I mentioned did I mention more than one thing that they are known for. Do they do other things? Yes, but what is the thing that sets them apart?
In order to be able to scale your business, you first have to decide what direction you want to take your business.