It’s not uncommon for photographers to come into the industry with a burning passion for an area of the market, only to find that their early enthusiasm and drive gets worn away over time. This month I’ve been working with a photographer to help her move away from weddings and into pet photography. We’ve been talking about how to make that transition, and how to move from a moderately successful wedding photography business into a very successful pet photography business. Based on those discussions here are 5 tips for taking your photography business in a new direction.
Tip #1 – Don’t Let Past Performance Define your Future Success
My observation is that most photographers who are changing direction in their photography business are not doing that because they’ve had too much success! While that’s possible, I’ve found that most are changing direction because they’ve lost the passion and drive for the area of the market they initially targeted, and that’s also reflected in the performance of their business.
In the case of the photographer I’ve been helping lately, she has grown tired of long days shooting weddings, managing wedding guests, driving to different locations, working with a wide variety of second shooters, and spending hours editing images. As a result her wedding business is not particularly strong. That is impacting her finances and her self-esteem.
So tip number one – don’t let that current circumstance affect your mental health or your confidence. Take it as feedback that you need to refine your business and refocus – not that success is beyond you.
I wrote this post about an important principle – it’s about progress not perfection. I believe that’s the case for every small business, regardless of the industry you are operating in. If you can adopt the outlook that it is about making progress in your business every day, then success will come your way.
Tip #2 – Be Very Clear on Your Target Market and Commit to It
When you are changing direction in your photography business it is very important to be clear on your target market and commit to it. In the case of the photographer I’ve been helping, she should try to avoid shooting any more weddings if she sees her future in shooting family’s pets.
As she moves into the world of pet photography she needs to clearly define who her potential clients will be. The more detailed she can be, the better. Consider these questions about your ideal client:
- Where do they live?
- What types of occupations do they have?
- What family structure do they have?
- What socio economic profile are they? What income levels?
- What is important to them?
- What type of photographic products do you expect to provide them with?
- How much do you expect them to spend with you?
- What do they do in their spare time?
Tip #3 – Show appropriate work on your Website and Social Media profiles
Now that you are pushing forward and re-energised we need to make sure that the work we are showing to the world reflects the type of work we want to do, and the type of clients we want to attract.
The photographer I have been working with wants to do studio pet photography. So it’s important that she shows studio based pet photography on her marketing materials. The easiest and arguably the most important are your website and your social media profiles. Resist the temptation to share old wedding work if you see your future in pet photography. Share studio pet images if this is the type of image you are going to build your business on.
Tip #4 – Network in Your New Space
If you want to accelerate your move into a new market, network in that new space. The rewards will justify the effort. Get to know people who share your passion.
Start with making a list of possible networking contacts – for the pet photographer this could be pet stores, dog training schools, vets, animal hospitals, or animal care organisations. Then research which ones are local to you. Visit them. Get to know the people. Ask how your business could support their business or organisation. See if you can refer your clients to them, and ask if they will refer clients to you.
Effectively networking in the new area will accelerate the development of your business.
Tip #5 – Leverage Your Previous Clients
I’m known for preaching that the key to a successful photography business is a growing number of happy clients. Don’t complicate things. Ask yourself – today, do I have more happy clients than I had last month?
When you are looking to move your photography business into a different area, leverage those strong client relationships. Get in touch with the couple whose wedding you shot last September and explain that you are moving into pet photography and ask if they know people who’d appreciate your style of images. People like to make referrals to their friends. Use this to your advantage and ask them to help you establish a new direction for your business. Those strong client relationships you’ve built up are an asset to you and your business. Use them as you move your business in a new direction.
I’m a regular reader of Cole’s Classroom. It is an online resource covering a wide variety of photography topics. They recently had an interesting post about when you are trying to grow your photography business in a new geographic location. Check out 5 Tips For Growing Your Photography Business in a New Area.
If you are considering repositioning your photography business I hope that Taking Your Photography Business in a New Direction has been useful for you. Happy shooting!