Recently, I've seen so many photographers posting about how they’ve tried everything to expand - like run FB ads, discount their products, do giveaways...but still, nada. Nothing. Zip. Crickets.
I get it - it's an incredibly frustrating feeling when you've thrown everything you have at something, but it all just feels like it's hitting a brick wall. However, do not despair! There's always more we can do as business owners and creatives to generate more income and opportunities. So let's get creative and jumpstart our businesses once again!
I have a few tricks up my sleeve. These are just a couple of them:
1. UP YOUR GAME
Nothing coming in? When last did you truly assess your level of work? Or attend an online class to up your skill set? Have you asked for constructive feedback from a mentor or colleague?
Anyone in any creative field (or any industry at all, for that matter) will know that they need to keep improving and growing endlessly in order to keep up with changing trends, offer a better and better services to clients, and keep expanding their own skills and offerings.
So when last did you do just that?
This doesn't just apply to you as an individual creative. You need to keep learning as a business owner as well. There is so much out there in terms of free resources, from 'brandologists' to experts in FB marketing, to financial gurus and business coaches.
I have so often heard photographers say, “oh but I have a creative brain, I just don’t have the head for the business side of things”.
Well, you’re wrong - that creative/critical brain divide has been so completely and utterly debunked. We all have the ability to access those alternate sides! We just need to get some practice. Read some business books, attend some accounting workshops for small business owners, sign up for webinars. You got this!
Do some research into the stuff that will make running your business easier, like apps/software to streamline and simplify your daily admin needs, from invoicing and client management to file sharing.
Always keep in mind that as a photographer, your reputation is a crucial part of how you run your business, and a fantastic client experience must therefore be at the forefront of everything you do. Treat your clients like gold, because they are!
2. GET FRESH
This one always surprises me, and maybe some of you too - but I am BLOWN AWAY by how often I end up on a website or Instagram profile for a professional business, and I can’t tell which continent they’re operating on, never mind which city. They have beautiful service offerings, but if I feel like I have to DIG to find out where they are, I’m instantly bored, and would rather find a service provider that I know is operating in the area that I’m looking to hire in.
And saying, “oh, I can travel anywhere,” - well yes, sure you used to be able to, but that is a lot harder these days, and your closest target market is the one you need to be tapping into, right here, right now.
And if you’re going through a quiet season, then it’s a GREAT time to take a few days and REFRESH.
Make sure your social media and website bios are:
recent and relevant
authentic and accurate
clear and concise
Some of the best advice I got when starting out is that you're only as strong as your worst photograph - but this also applies to any creative in any industry. You're only as strong as your weakest piece of work, so make sure all of it is a great reflection of you and what you can offer!
Another important thing to remember is to keep updating your body of work - there's a steep learning curve in many creative industries (including photography), so the more you learn, and the faster you do, the quicker you'll want to keep refreshing what work you display on your online platforms.
Just remember - clients are likely to judge you by the "worst" photo or prouct in the collection, so keep it fresh, keep it new, and keep learning!
3. GET PERSONAL
Now more than ever we’re all craving connection, authenticity, and human-ness - show up on your page, share some fun facts, let your viewer in.
You’ll hear a lot of naysayers going on about how oversaturated the market is, but I don’t believe that at all. I think the market for any service grows and grows. The photography industry is certainly expanding daily - more and more people wanting gorgeous photos for the ‘Gram, more cute babies being born daily, more people prioritising high quality images for their businesses and brands.
Stop worrying about what your competition is doing, and instead focus on what YOU’RE doing - are you putting your best possible foot forward? Are you showing who YOU are as a creative, and why your approach/vision/style is the one your clients should choose? Are you telling a unique story?
"Success is not a one trick pony and you can't reach it with a get rich quick scheme. Success is a slow journey that starts with putting one foot in front of the other and doing the dang work. Success is following through on your promises. It's being a kind person.
It's going above and beyond what people expect of you. It's failing soooo many times before getting it right. And yes, its being strategic, crafty, and smart and those are not bad things. When your heart is aligned right, and you are doing hard work with intentionality, you will be successful.
But that success NEVER happens overnight."
- words of wisdom by another amazing photographer, Lindsey Roman.
Want more tips? I shared a whole series last year on quick things business owners can do right now, and a lot of them are still relevant. Part one is here.
Robyn Davie is the CEO of the Robyn Davie Creative Studio brand, based in Johannesburg. Her all-female team offers lifestyle photography, graphic and digital design.
The brand has proudly partnered with the iStore in 2020, and won multiple awards through Admired in Africa. Innovation is at the forefront of what they do - always adapting their product offerings, and aiming to stand out from the crowd with fresh, bold and bright photography.
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