What does a day in the life of your dream photography business look like? How about…
You wake up feeling refreshed after a restful night’s sleep. After spending some time snuggling under the covers with your kids, you get ready for the day.
You drop the kids off at school and then head out for a fun shoot with some new clients who are super excited about working with you and eager to let you do your thing.
They’re a referral from one of your previous clients who were also a dream to work with and now enthusiastically refer you to everyone they know.
In fact, this is the third session you’ve done with friends of your original client. They’ve all been lovely to work with, and have spent really well with you afterward, so you know these latest clients will be just the same.
The shoot goes well – the clients were great at taking your advice and direction and you know you’ve got some wonderful images for them. You can’t wait to see their reaction during their viewing session. After hugging your clients goodbye, you head back home to catch up on a little admin work and touch base with your followers via email and social media.
While you’ve been out you’ve had 3 new inquiries come in from people wanting to schedule consultations with you. You check your diary and see that you’re fully booked up with sessions for the next 3 months, so you can now start opening up availability for the following quarter.
Suddenly you realize it’s time to pick up the kids from school. You love being your own boss and having the flexibility to be there for your children whenever they need you.
Later that evening you have a viewing session scheduled. You enjoy spending some time chatting with your clients and hearing what they’ve been up to before sharing the pictures from their session with them.
You can see that they love their images, and it makes you so happy and proud that you were able to capture these memories for them. They cry, and then they buy your signature collection (as you knew they would).
You go to bed feeling happy and fulfilled that you get to make a good living from doing something you love, that brings so much pleasure to your clients.
That’s the dream, isn’t it? But how do you get there?
How do you create the photography business you want? One where you can wake up in the morning with a smile on your face, excited about working with dream clients and doing what you love to do best. A business that brings you fulfillment and freedom, both in terms of lifestyle and financially.
Read on to find out my 5 steps to building the photography business of your dreams.
1. Get clear on what it is you love to do
A dream business will never really be that unless you’re doing something you enjoy and love to do.
It’s easy to feel like you need to shoot a bit of everything, especially when you’re first getting started, or when you’re struggling to get enough bookings. You feel like it would be irresponsible to turn away any type of photography work.
But the problem is that when you’re not intentional about what you shoot and show, it becomes increasingly harder to attract what it is that you actually want to be shooting. Your message gets diluted and confused.
“Building your dream photography business starts with knowing what you love to shoot”.
When you decide to specialize and only shoot the type of photography that you enjoy the most, you create a clear message and style. And that ultimately leads to you booking more and more of that kind of work.
Specializing also means you become really good at what you do. Helping you to become known as the go-to photographer in your field.
2. Get clear on who you want to work with
If you’ve been in business for a little while you might already be specialized in the type of photography you offer. Perhaps you’re a wedding photographer and you only show weddings on your website and target your marketing exclusively to brides-to-be.
But being a wedding photographer doesn’t mean you have to work with every bride who wants to book you. You still get to have a say in who you work with.
And having a dream photography business means that it shouldn’t only be about the clients choosing you, but also about you being very clear on the specific type of client you want to book.
“Being a wedding photographer doesn’t mean you have to work with every bride who wants to book you.”
In his bestselling book ‘Book Yourself Solid’, Michael Port calls it having a ‘red velvet rope policy’. The idea is that you only open your red velvet rope up for your dream clients: the people that make you feel good and help you to do your best work.
This policy also means you start turning away the dud clients. You know, the ones who drain the life out of you, don’t value what you do and are generally just a pain to work with, but you do it cos you need the cash.
There’s no place for those type of clients in your dream photography business.
Once you get super clear on the kind of people you love to work with and focus on attracting your dream clients you’ll get more bookings AND more referrals. Because your clients will love what you do for them so much they’ll become your biggest fans.
3. Create a compelling signature service
Once you know what you love to do and who you want to do it for, to build the photography business of your dreams, you need to create a compelling offer that combines both these things.
The key thing to understand here is that people do not want to pay for a photographer. Or even a wedding photographer, newborn photographer, pet photographer, or whatever your specialty is. They want solutions to their problems and desires.
“People don’t want photography, they want solutions to their problems and desires.”
So you need to find a way to solve a problem or desire that your dream client has (and is willing to pay for) with the thing that you love to do (and are good at).
To do this you need to get deep inside the mind of your dream clients and try and understand what their problems and desires are, so you can offer a solution to it by doing the thing you love to do.
4. Create a brand that resonates with your dream clients
I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘branding’ before, but maybe you’re not entirely sure what it means, other than having a nice logo and pretty packaging? Or maybe you think it’s something that only big names like Coca-Cola or Starbucks need to do, not solo-photography business owners like you?
Well, you might be surprised to learn that branding is fundamental to achieving the photography business of your dreams.
So what, exactly, is branding?
Branding is the experience people have with your photography business. It’s what people say, think and feel about it.
Branding is essential for your photography business because it:
- Gives your business direction and clarity: it helps you establish what you stand for and want to achieve with your business, as well as your values and purpose.
- Helps you differentiate your business from the competition: it shows people why you are uniquely placed to serve them, and makes it easy for them to know why they should book you, instead of another photographer.
- Builds trust and credibility: having a solid brand shows that you are committed and take your business seriously. It makes people feel that you are trustworthy and capable of solving their problems or helping them achieve their desires. And when people trust you, they are more likely to book you.
- Makes you recognizable: having a consistent brand, both in terms of how it looks and the message you communicate, means people are more likely to notice your business when they encounter it and remember it in the future.
The bottom line is that having a solid brand will help you book more (and better) clients and get paid more money. Which is pretty much what you’re after, right?
5. Take action
Now you know the steps to put in place to build the photography business of your dreams. It’s not that difficult really: you figure out what it is you want to do that will make you happy; who you want to do it for; how you’re going to do it in a way aligns with what those people want and are willing to pay for; and how to make sure your message is being communicated clearly and consistently.
But it’s this final step, more than any other, that will determine whether you’ll have the photography business you want.
You need to take action.
Get clear in your mind WHY you want this. Remember the ideal day in your life of your dream photography business at the start of this post? That could be you. Or maybe your WHY looks a little different.
Whatever your WHY is, use it to spur you on to take action and build a business (and life) that you love.