Two things to realise about growing your photo business
Two important ideas about running your own photography business, if you want it to last and grow. To some extent based on actually running a photo business that has lasted 10 years… This is part of a collection of photography business articles on this site.
Number one – it’s your fault
What happens in your business is pretty much entirely your own doing – success and failure largely comes from what you yourself do, or often, don’t do.
How often have you heard photographers complaining of external problems?
These are some typical ones I hear, although you’ll often hear them couched in more reasonable terms, including the recession, or other things you can have little control over.
- The market for photography is not what it was a few years ago.
- The market for photography will vanish in a few years time.
- Everyone keeps expecting stuff for nothing.
- There are too many people trying to make a living from photography.
- Too many people are not charging enough for their work
- Too many photos from phones and the like devalue ‘good’ photography.
- It’s too easy to set up as a photographer ‘these days’,
All aimed at ‘others’.
Sure, these may well be influencing factors, but the biggest problem most photographers face is a lack of serious attention to marketing and business growth.
What’s more this is a thing you -can- do something about. It’s not some random turn of the cards…
How much of each day do you set aside to marketing your business, to maintaining and developing relationships with existing customers?
Put aside some time every day for doing this – little and often beats an annual “let’s do some marketing” week.
Every day? I hear some people asking.
If I’m out on a job, then this might include asking questions of clients, or just finding out more about what they need, or even making sure that the right people know what benefits we can provide for them.
Remember that fundamentally, every customer needs their “what’s in it for me” question answering…
Related to this, I came up with six key questions a while ago about Is your photo business any good that you might want to answer before deciding on details of your marketing plan ;-)
Number two – who do you deal with and how do you contact them
All too many photographers I’ve met are awful at keeping notes about who they have dealt with and when they last contacted them.
I’ll have to admit, that this is to me, a tedious aspect of business. Much like many photographers, I’d rather be out taking photos than sorting address lists and the like.
If I had to look at one area of our own business that could have been more efficient in the last ten years, then it would be this one.
Building a good contact database is a vital start, if like me you’re a commercial photographer looking for repeat business.
Even if you are wedding/portrait photographer, brides have friends getting married, and then they have this habit of having children – all opportunities for new work.
I’ll not go into the benefits (or otherwise) of social media or other ways of maintaining contact, but the key is to have the contact data to be able to do it in the first place – well almost … the key is making use of it!
Timeliness is important. Your interaction with a client has perhaps 90 days in their memory, and then it begins to fade. Leave contact for six months and the chances of being remembered are slipping. Leave it for a year or more and you are much less likely to be remembered. Several years and you’re starting from afresh.
Don’t get too caught up with software solutions, the greatest CRM system is of no use if you don’t keep it up to date and actually make use of what it can do. Even a good old card index is better than nothing, if it works for you (integration with email systems is still problematical in this area ;-).
Did the advice above seem obvious and a part of what you already do? If so congratulate yourself, since you’re well ahead of many working photographers. The business side is often not that difficult, you just need to remember to actually do it!
Just two brief aspects of the business side of being a photographer – I’ve many more articles listed on our main Business of Photography page.
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