Photography Spark http://photographyspark.com Business Education for Photographers Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:28:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 http://wwwphotographysparkcom-948xxgle7wck.stackpathdns.com/images/cropped-Pretty-Creative-Spark-Icon-32x32.png Photography Spark http://photographyspark.com 32 32 How to Build your Photography Brand to Attract Dream Clients http://photographyspark.com/build-your-photography-brand-attract-dream-clients/ Wed, 07 Jun 2017 11:15:53 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=6474 office desk with computer, iPhone and camera
David Bruggisser

When we hear the word ‘branding’ the first thing we think of are logos, Pantone numbers, and serif fonts. But it takes more than a beautiful website to create a brand that gets noticed and remembered. 

If you want to build a successful, sustainable photography business that fits in with your lifestyle, instead of running you ragged, you have to understand the key elements that make up a memorable brand.

So, other than a website, what does branding involve exactly?  

Let’s start with a definition of branding.  Seth Godin sums it up perfectly:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.” -Seth Godin

It’s all about the value you can provide for your client.  You don’t have to be a CPP or Master Photographer to pick up a camera and say you’re open for business.  Just about anyone can say they’re a professional photographer and start charging accordingly, which is why building a strong brand is more important than ever in an overcrowded photography market.  

Aside from having strong photography (and people) skills, your ability to create a solid brand that people can connect to (and want to spend their money on), will determine whether you stay in business for the long haul.

But how do I start building a solid brand?  

There are three key elements that you MUST know inside out before you can start building your brand.  They are:

What you do (services)

Who you do it for (clients)

How you do things differently to your competition (unique selling proposition).  

Ideally, you should know your who/what/how inside and out, before you open for business, but it is still possible to turn things around even if you’re an established business. Understanding these three crucial elements, and the subtle changes you can make to things like your copy and the way you structure your pricing will help position you for success.

How do I decide who my perfect client is?   

Start by doing your research.  No doubt you’ve heard the term “demographics”.  It’s how we group together particular types of markets based on common factors like gender, income, relationship status, and geographic location.  This gives us a general picture of where our clients live, work, and play.   

But demographics alone isn’t enough to get inside the head of our ideal client – which is where we need to be in order to craft a clear message that connects and gets them excited to work with us.  Remember, photography is an emotional buy so, in order for your ideal client to make a connection with you, you have to understand their core values and beliefs.

In my online program, Brand Brilliantly, I show photographers how to position themselves strategically and attract clients they love to work with (you know, the ones that make work feel like fun!). We start by creating an ideal client profile or avatar.  We give them a name, job, age, etc. and really dig into who this person is and what they value most when it comes to purchasing photography services.  

One of the core values of my pet photography clients is that they value those who are like-minded and don’t judge them for their relationship with their pet.

Aren’t all clients good? Money is money after all… 

No. All clients aren’t created equal.  Some will work you to the bone and beg for a bargain if you let them.  You’re in charge of YOUR business so you get to decide who you work with!

To help narrow down your ideal client conduct an audit of your past clients.  If you’ve been in business a while, or even if it’s only been a hobby up to now, then you’ve no doubt got a reasonable size pool of people you’ve already worked with.  

List the traits and characteristics of those you liked working with (and those you didn’t). This will give you a better understanding of who you want to work with and why.

How do I get my ideal clients to notice me?

Having clear, consistent messaging on everything you put out there via your website, social media platforms and emails will help build up the like, know, trust factor and allow you to connect on a deeper level with clients before they’ve ever met you.  (Note: This also works to repel the kinds of clients you don’t want to work with – which is exactly what you’re after!)   

In my own business, my USP, or unique selling proposition, is: “I’m an intimate photographer for babies with and without fur”.  Sounds simple, right?  That actually took a long time to craft, but it speaks directly to the type of client I want to draw in, while turning off the ones I don’t.

Only once you’ve honed in on your ideal client and crafted a message that resonates, can you then start to build a solid brand.  

How do I become the right photographer for the right people?

You can’t (and shouldn’t try to) be everything to everyone.  Get yourself known in the industry by first finding your niche and then putting all your energy into becoming the best.  Being fantastic in one or a few specific areas of photography is always better than being a jack-of-all-trades – and that goes for any industry!

One of the best things about becoming known as an expert in your field is that you’ll be able to command higher rates. This has the added benefit of allowing you to do fewer sessions while earning more money.  

I specialize in pet photography, so my clients want to work with me because I get incredible results and they are willing to pay more for my expertise.  Making that distinction in my business has allowed me to go from shooting 100+ sessions per year to only shooting around 50 sessions while making (a LOT) more money.

What should I focus on to build a solid brand?   

  • Your photographic style: If you have something that sets you apart, everything trickles down from there: choose products that compliment your style.
  • Product focus: your products should be a reflection of your photographic style and compliment the way you shoot.
  • Studio environment: your studio, or the way you present yourself, should be a reflection of your personality and style – even if you don’t have a studio.
  • The experience: this is such an important piece of your brand because it’s what gets clients talking about you (good or bad). In our industry, the customer service we provide is a huge aspect of how our business is perceived and valued by customers.
  • Cohesive marketing identity: every piece of marketing you put out to the world must have a similar look and feel. Use the same colors, fonts, style elements in all marketing materials including website, social media, and anything associated with your studio or services.

There are literally thousands of photographers to choose from, so it isn’t enough to be great at what you do.  If the photographer down the road is doing the same thing, for around the same prices, then people can only make their purchasing decisions based on intangible factors like trust and credibility.  Of course, these things don’t happen overnight, they take time to build.  You can start by explaining in your copy how you work and setting the expectation up front so there are no surprises.

How do I get clients to trust me before they meet me?

When we’re talking about our brand, it’s not just our business, we’re branding ourselves too.  The best way to build trust is to share who you are on your website or social media.

That doesn’t mean sharing every little detail on your Facebook page, but keeping things real, and being authentic in everything you put out will make you more relatable and likable.

 I’m a very private person, but I do share some fun facts about myself on my About Page and through social media, like my kids ‘helping’ me on shoots, or that time my little bro wore that crazy Christmas suit to a family dinner :)

Giving glimpses into who I am as a (real-life) person, allows people to connect with me on a personal level. If I only share my photographic accomplishments, talk about myself in the third person, and constantly bang on about how super passionate I am about photography, I’ll not only bore everyone silly, no one will be able to connect with me on an emotional level.

Remember, people want to work with other people (not businesses) so sharing sneak peeks and glimpses into your own life will help potential clients feel like they already know you. Just be careful not to over share – keep your underwear, marital woes, and political views, out of it!

How do I create a memorable client experience?   

I’ve already mentioned that the client experience is a vital element for building a solid brand, but it’s so important to set you and your studio apart, that it deserves some more discussion.

The experience we provide for our clients is what gets them talking about us, referring us to their friends, and keeps them coming back as happy customers.  Think about how you can go above and beyond to wow your clients.  Maybe it’s as simple as answering your phone instead of letting it go to voicemail, or writing a handwritten note thanking them for their business.  It may seem small, but it’s the small details that count the most.

Building a solid brand based on mutual respect and trust is no easy feat.  It’s something that takes time, money, and planning.  This is NOT something you can change overnight (and branding is not *just* a logo!)

If you want to build a career as a photographer and actually make a good living without burning out, or having to work a second job, then you need to focus on your branding, there’s no other way.

Spending the extra time in the startup phase of your business, or putting things on hold while you do a review of your existing brand, will mean you don’t ever have to hustle to get new clients or run endless promotions that only attracts price shoppers and deal seekers.

 Have you got a solid brand for your photography business?  Is your booking schedule waitlisted with people you can’t wait to work with?  If you answered no then it could be time to review your branding so you can position yourself for success in a busy market.

At the end of the day, I want to have more fun at work and have the freedom to spend time with my young family without having to work crazy hours just to make ends meet.  If that sounds good to you too, then I urge you to take the time to invest in yourself, your business, and start building your brilliant brand!

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Building a Profitable Photography Business from the Ground Up http://photographyspark.com/building-a-profitable-photography-business/ Thu, 25 May 2017 04:02:22 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=6458 female photographer standing at desk
Visual Art By Gajic

Have you ever had to rebuild your business from scratch in a new area?  I’ll put my hand up here, I have! Was is overwhelming?  Absolutely!  Maybe you’re just starting out!  (that’s overwhelming too), been there!

I started my entrepreneur photography journey 10 years ago, it was tough! When I started I had no idea what I was doing, to top that I was in an oversaturated market filled with photographers, yikes!

I learned a ton from all of my mistakes, (a few wins too) heck I could write a whole entire blog post on “what not to do” and how it sent me broke and did not contribute to profitability in any way shape or form! Then just 4 years ago I moved interstate where I had no connections and I had to start that business all over again! I know you can just feel my overwhelm set in at its absolute best!

In a nutshell, I was more than ever determined to make a good go of it and avoid those same mistakes I had previously made, I was determined to grow a profitable photography business in a short period of time (which I did).

photography studio renovation before after

Before and After for my Photography Studio

Needless to say, these strategies that I will go through with you in this post are tried, tested and proven! I hope these strategies help you go from struggling or from start-up to profitable as they did for me! I built my 6 figure portrait business on these strategies from the ground up within 18 months.  Let’s help you get there too!

Deciding on a Business Model 

Deciding on a business model and how you want your business to ultimately run and profit is extremely important, so you can reach those goals.  Without a plan or direction, your business kind of just floats and will fizzle out. Every sustainable business needs a direction and route to follow, (Just like an airplane if they were all just flying around in the sky with no route or destination there would be fatal crashes and no one would ever get to their destination).  After being in business 5 years previously I knew I needed to shake things up and it’s the reason why I turned my business model around completely and I am so thankful I did. 

Keeping It Small & Specific

If I was asked if I had any advice for those starting out it would be to avoid these couple of mistakes at all costs.

When you are starting out in your photography business I get it you want to be seen as an expert so you take any job and all jobs that come your way just to prove (to who I don’t know – maybe ourselves) that you can photograph and everything. Noooo don’t do this – it was a huge mistake that I did in my business in the early days. Don’t try and do everything & please above all things that are good, do NOT do the things you don’t like/love.

For me, it was mini sessions and the every month sessions for babies! Why you ask…

You are thinking if I do everything I’ll look like an expert where in fact you DON’T look like an expert at all.  Would you go to a doctor to get a filling in your teeth? No – you go to the expert right? It wasn’t until this hit me that I niched that I started getting a huge increase in my bookings! Small & specific = authority and increased bookings for what you specialize in. The thing I loved about the change as well is, I got rid of the things I was never thrilled about photographing – WIN!

Do not book and photograph the things you don’t love – the money isn’t worth it, here’s why!  Because when you are not passionate about the things you are photographing you just don’t do the job justice, no matter your skill set level!  

Wedding photographers that specialize in weddings excel at them then if they try their hand a pet photography and just don’t enjoy it the photos are ok (because at the end of the day they can still take photos) but the photos are far from amazing! It affects your word of mouth – it affects your sale – it affects how you feel about the photos you produced it’s just not worth the money or the headaches from unhappy clients!

Brand – Aesthetic

Consistency is so important… Be predictable! I see photographers go through stages from one shoot to the next – I get it they are growing as an artist but to have a profitable business you need to be – consistent, consistent, consistent. 

This includes things like:

• The feel and look of your brand

• Website appearance 

• Fonts you use 

• How you edit your photos.  Develop your own, instantly recognizable, look.  Be consistent so your clients are confident they will get that look with you.

 • Messaging and how you communicate with clients

• Social media accounts

• Content

When it comes to your brand and what people see the aesthetic of your brand is super important! I get it, in the beginning, start up costs are painful but if there was anything you should invest in I’d strongly suggest that it be your brand and your visual appearance.

Invest in your brand and your visual appearance.

Your website in your shop front most of the time, when it’s not word of mouth or referrals.  Choose a great website theme and invest in a designer to make the design look polished and professional.

The Million Dollar Mindset:

Now, this my friend is the holy grail in building a profitable business.  If you don’t think you can’t simply put you won’t!  If you don’t think people will buy that or it’s not worth that much then they won’t!  

This was a steep learning curve for me and a huge personal development stage I had to go through.  I went into a shoot excited for them connecting with them talking about their world and what was happening for them.  I did this regardless if I was desperate for clients – (no bookings) or if my world was falling apart.  

Then when they came back to choose their images, I recounted on what was happening at the time of the capture (I connected with them) and I added value to the products I sold by asking them if in the future they would rather sit together as a family and remember these amazing memories together on the couch and remember shelly so little in dad’s hands or would they prefer to look at this moment on their wall in their hallway and remember that one moment every single day.  

This is when I could proudly say and hold my head high that I had given them such a valuable experience and captured memories for them that were worth even more than any price tag I was confident to let them know the total value of what they chose.  Once I learned this skill and how vitally important it was – I sold my clients things they loved and craved EFFORTLESSLY (no sales speech here folks) This put me into the 6 figures within 18 months of moving states).

Networking:

I’m talking about actual coffee dates and introductions…

I’m not talking social media here guys!  Get out, introduce your awesomeness to the world don’t hide away behind your keyboard!  People need to know who you are so they can refer to you, so be brave and get out of your comfort zone!

Don’t stay small because you are new, you need to get out and meet people who would align with you well (I’m not talking conflict of interest – but rather other industries that align well with yours).

Example:  if you are a baby photographer; a baby shop, a midwife, an obstetrician a lactation consultant these are all industries that align with yours and you all have the same clientele mums/families and their newborns!

Another example:  if you are a wedding photographer these aligning industries could be – jewelers, wedding venues, celebrants etc.

You get the picture, spread your gold dust everywhere!  Give people you are networking with a reason to rave about you and what you do – give them gift vouchers for your services to give to their VIP clients.  That way it’s enticing their clients to use them and to top it off they can get an awesome service with you and it makes them look good and put an additional value to their service – win win.

For more examples, read our ultimate guide to photography networking.

Pro Tip:

A one up on the networking ideas above is to gift these people you are networking with, a session with you to experience your service for themselves first hand – WOW magnet gold dust right here, let me tell you…

When you do your job well and let these people experience your service and products how your clients do, they will not stop talking about your name! (literally, these are now VIP clients of yours and will be your walking marketing machines on autopilot)

You will want these people to have the best experience with you and your brand and the result of providing this service to them will come back to you over and over again!

Be Yourself ALWAYS:

Be real – don’t try to be perfect, be you!

Turns out people want to know who you are and want to be your new BFF… Let me introduce to you the new best thing you could ever do since sliced bread to build a strong profitable business brand…. Drumroll, please….

The Know, Like, Trust strategy

The Know, Like & Trust strategy, will take a prospective client from – who is this/service to I want coffee with them when I bump into them in town – I want to hang out with her… Your new BFFIt’s seriously like a magnet – by having your prospective clients ‘know” you, they will then go on to like/love & trust you, this, in turn, will cause you to be the authoritative go to figure within your area and industry/niche…

It’s seriously like a magnet – by having your prospective clients ‘know” you, they will then go on to like/love & trust you, this, in turn, will cause you to be the authoritative go to figure within your area and industry/niche.

Some things you can do to create the Know, Like, Trust for your brand:

Being entertaining, educational and shining your personality throughout your emails, blog posts and social media content (let your personality shine through in everything – just like I have in this post! Reading my experiences you are more likely to understand and trust that what I am saying is worth listening to by the experiences I have shared with you that helped me to create a profitable business. 

You might even feel like you know me a little because I’m writing this as if I was talking to you one on one, over my favorite caramel cappuccino, rather than a 5 step strategy point form post right?

Other things that help with this are LIVE social media videos.  Seriously how much more personal can you get? 

Engaging with your audience live and in the moment allows them to speak to your personally.  They can ask you anything in the comments (these questions are gold – a great way to find out how you can help your audience).

Learn more about how to stand out with Facebook Live.

Other things that create Know, Like, Trust with your clients are Instagram stories/snap chat etc.

Behind the scenes is always super magnetic.  Show  what you are up to in your day to day running of the business, put a bit of personal stuff in there too – coffee, your cute little pup or kitty, anything that isn’t work that you would love to share with the world this will help your audience to feel like they are in your world and you are sharing your world with them!

Messaging that creates value

Model calls/offers were a huge part in my early days when re-building my photography business in a new area, we will talk about those next but first of all, I want to talk about languaging!  This is something that changed the direction of my business when I understood the importance that the language I used had if I wanted to build a profitable photography business.  

I had to do a complete 360-degree mindset on this, gosh there is so much to learn before we even get the camera out isn’t there? This is definitely one area I’m passionate in sharing how effective this will be for you and your brand when you understand it too!

Mindset is EVERYTHING! Do you actually believe you are worth it? Or are you charging a random figure you’ve pulled out of a hat because that’s what everyone else is charging?

The words you use will be a huge factor in how prospective clients will perceive your services and who you want to attract. Certain words will add value to your offers/services/products and there are other words that tend to detract from the value of your services and we don’t want that!

Words like….

Complimentary, Gifted, Exclusive, Special Offer, Bonus, valued at, Fine art, wall art, Pictures, Images, Moments, Connection, Investment all make you feel like you are getting something extra or make you feel something which adds value to what you are offering (even at the very beginning of your business journey)

On the flip-side words like…

Free, Everything Included, Pics, Snaps, Buy, Cost are words that tend to cheapen a service/offer/product! Seriously, ain’t no one got time for that!

 A Word on Messaging when Advertising your Offer/Service/Products

Words like…

This amazing collection is Valued at $

instead of

This package would usually cost you $

Can you see how the first adds value and makes me feel like I’m getting all this for an amazing opportunity and If I liked everything I would be likely to purchase/invest in more?  The second makes me feel like I would usually be handing that money over and doesn’t give me the same feeling of value?

 renaming the “MODEL CALL” – effective messaging for “free offers”

This is another thing that DRASTICALLY changed the perception on my “model call offer” by changing the name “model call” to something like “Exclusive offer”, (see how exclusive offer sounds so flipping exciting and I’m going to miss out if I don’t take you up on it. I would also put a valued at $… ( a little bit of scarcity like any offer that’s ending) It added so much more value right there by doing that! Just with a few simple words that scream value. I no longer had clients that wanted everything for nothing

Pro tip:

When putting an offer out there be sure to add the dollar amount of what the offer is worth so it adds value to what you are putting out there. eg:

Model Call – Looking for a newborn under 2 weeks old to use some of our beautiful new wraps in the studio… Must be willing to sign a model release so we can use the images taken for advertising!

For your valuable time, you will receive 2 matted prints and a professional newborn photo shoot. Then add the “valued at” amount which would be (the session fee + the 2 matted prints) ie: this collection is valued at $420 for example.

This will set your special offer /model calls with clear and specific guidelines that run with your business model so there will be no confusion as to what the client will receive – this will stop questions like – “oh I thought we would be receiving all of the photos on a USB stick” *Awkward! (been there)

(hallelujah for that)

An Official Word on Model Calls

Ok, now that we’ve covered a little on messaging and how important this is to your offers to attract clients that value your work lets chat about the offer it’s self.

When I moved interstate it meant that I had no “word of mouth” marketing yet to spread the word/love around about my services and what I had to offer.  I decided I needed to get a little more proactive and show the people in my new area that I was worth every penny and show them by my work that they would regret not coming my way! 

I created a blog post on how I was new to the area a little about who I was where I came from and my expertise which I got ranking on google quite quickly.

From there I attended a baby market that was held monthly in my area.  I created raffle tickets with an offer attached which I offered for everyone to fill in at no charge to enter if they showed interest in my work with my displays.  They would fill in to win a “complimentary” (notice I didn’t say FREE) session with 2 beautiful fine art matted A4 prints ready to frame!  Valued at $…  I had so many people fill these in month after month and I was consistently at these markets. I attended without fail each month for 14 months.  After about 6 months I was noticing when people would fill in the “where did you hear about me” on my website contact form that the name of the market was coming up quite regularly so I knew this was definitely working.

I drew a WINNER each week/month I would get them to come back and choose their 2 images and 80% of the time the clients wanted more, they were going to get newborn photos anyway regardless of them winning and they were grateful to win such an amazing prize and they valued it.

By doing my model calls this way it attracted clients that valued what I offered.  It created buzz about my business and word started spreading quite quickly about what I was offering.  They could only enter at the markets so started some buzz for the markets too.  Then people started to enquire for regular sessions quite quickly the word of mouth started taking off.

Pro Tip:

The remaining entries I would post them a letter to their mailbox (everyone loves a personal note and voucher right?)  I offered them 50% credit towards the session fee (notice I said CREDIT I didn’t say 50% OFF or DISCOUNT) and I would get about 25-50% of these offers book in their session – this is valuable to me because they are investing and committing to a session and they feel valued and appreciated with an extra BONUS :)

For the first 6-12 months, this is how I SOLELY ran my business and got known in the new area quite quickly! Then after doing this and throwing my talent around like hot cakes, bonuses and special offers like my raffles at markets WORD of mouth advertising began and ran around like hot cakes – My town got a taste of my service/offer/product I had so many sessions to blog and rank on google and prospective clients were excited to book with me.

Customer Service PLUS

If you want to up your word of mouth in your business here is a tip, go the extra mile and set expectations then EXCEED them!  Offer exceptional customer service.

When I photographed a wedding the contract stated the photos would be ready in six weeks!  I would have them ready in TWO weeks and have a little extra something with the package they ordered. Depending on what their order was.

It could have been a bonus few prints for mum and dad, or it could have been a canvas wall art for my couple as a surprise of their favourite moment from their day – going the extra mile is one of the best things you can do as a service and move forward with building a profitable business.  The word of mouth from doing this will absolutely explode and your inquiries will triple from doing this alone.  

Old school marketing and it works and best of all you feel amazing in giving back!  You can only do this though when charging correctly another perk when running your business to thrive not just survive!  If you are just scraping by there is no way you would be able to afford to do this. 

Blogging Exploded my Inquiries, Bookings & Profitability

When I moved interstate and had absolutely no bookings, word of mouth referrals and nobody knew me I knew I needed to somehow get in front of people looking for newborn & baby photos. I had worked out the recipe that converts and decided to quickly put it into place in my new town. I did as many photo shoots as possible, started blogging like crazy and I started ranking on page ONE of GOOGLE on multiple search terms.  It wasn’t long after this that my inquiries started pouring in!  

Ultimately it grew my business because I was getting in front of the people that needed and was actively looking for a service like mine.  It created brand awareness and authority because I was everywhere.  People were keen to book in and secure their spot with me because of how often I was blogging I looked extremely busy and they didn’t want to miss out! By seeing me on Google, across my social media platforms and my blog it created the like, know trust they now knew who I was and my inquiries skyrocketed which meant bookings = profitability for my business.

By seeing me on Google, across my social media platforms and my blog it created the like, know trust they now knew who I was and my inquiries skyrocketed which meant bookings = profitability for my business.  Read more about SEO and optimizing your website for search engines.

So many photographers don’t blog consistently because usually, they don’t know what or how to blog.. I’m so excited to share with you the formula that helped me to convert so many of my inquiries!  Here’s an example of a blog post I did specifically on this topic.

So many photographers struggle with what to say on their blogs and how to be seen as the expert(connecting with their audience with know, like & trust content) – not anymore – can’t wait to see you in their my students are loving the content and supportive community!

Looking to convert your inquiries into clients?  I have put together a FREE e-course on creating blog content that converts.

Heart & Hustle

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Increase Your Photography Revenue with this Blog Post Formula http://photographyspark.com/increase-your-photography-revenue-with-this-blog-post-formula/ Tue, 11 Apr 2017 02:52:57 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=6376  

There are two ways to increase the revenue of your photography business: higher prices and more clients.

So which do we choose?

Why not both?

Here’s how you can not only raise your prices but also get more clients: build more trust.

If you want to build the kind of trust that gets you more clients and helps you raise your prices, you need to start writing.

3 Reasons Why Photographers Need to Write

1. Everything starts with writing

99% of this article is words.

And you’re reading them.  Lines on a page and I’m able to communicate thoughts, emotions, and stories with you.

If you think about it, everything that’s ever been sold has been sold with words, even things that don’t seem to need them.

Even before television, people were using words to communicate over the radio.

Before the radio, people used words in print.

Before print, we just spoke… with words.

Words are hard-wired into us.

Look, you’re still reading.  And as my friend Justin puts it, “that’s magical.”

2. Writing That Builds Trust

As photographers, we naturally assume that the best way to build trust with our clients is to show them our portfolio.  Once they see our work, they’ll know that we’re great photographers and naturally want to hire us.  Right?

Wrong.

Photos are fantastic for showing competency with our gear, but not for building the trust that gets us hired.

So we need to use words to sell more photos?

Yes, but no.

We have to use the RIGHT words.

There are words that you can write to achieve a sale, known as copywriting.

But there are also words you can use to build trust and provide value. This is called content marketing.

We need to have both, but before we can sell a potential client with copywriting, we have to use content marketing to provide value and build trust.

Why? Because people buy from those that they trust. When you provide value first, you earn permission to sell.

Keep reading and I’ll give you the ultimate formula to build trust with potential photography clients.

3. Writing = Google = Leads

97% of people who are going to book you are going to Google your services (or you!) first.  As a photographer, you need to be there when that search happens.

When people search for services on Google, 42% of people click one of the first three results.

For example, if you’re a wedding photographer in San Francisco, and 250 people search for that service every month, 105 of them are clicking on the first three results and 68 of them are clicking on the first result.

That’s 68 people looking to hire you coming to your website every single month.

That’s 816 NEW leads per year that could be coming to your site.

This is why writing matters for photographers.  Google does search for images and we can optimize those, but it mostly searches words to discover what a website is about and how well it covers the topic.

What’s awesome about this is that 99% of photographers are not going to write.  They like taking photos (that’s why they got into this in the first place) and don’t want to have to write as well.

And that’s great for you because you’ll instantly stand out and achieve top search rankings.

Why You Don’t Write

We’ve already established three really important reasons why you need to write, but if it were just as simple as choosing to write, you would’ve done it already.  After working with a lot of clients on marketing their photography business, I’ve found there’s really two big reasons that photographers are hesitant to write:

1. They Think They Aren’t Any Good

Think back to when you first picked up a camera.  If you were to look back at those photos today, what would you say?

They’re terrible, right?  But did the fact that you weren’t taking the world’s best photos stop you?

Nope.

Think about when you first started your photography career. When people first paid you for your work. How are those compared to your work today?

Still terrible? I bet.

Photography is a process where you grow over time and writing is the exact same way.

Doing it regularly with small tweaks over time has a huge impact.  If you aren’t willing to write poorly, you’ll never write well.

Be willing to be imperfect, at first.

2. They Don’t Think They Have Anything To Say

Lots of other photographers think they don’t have anything unique to say.  Not only will we take care of that will the blog post formula at the end of this article, but we need to realize that it’s okay not to have anything to say at first.

You write to find out what you have to say.

When I first started my podcast (now downloaded over 170,000 times), I had something to say.  But after about 20 episodes, I started to have even more to say because I was “in it.”

I was doing the work.

Just like podcasting, people prefer to read in a conversational tone.  If you can talk, you can write.

Everything I write is very similar to how I speak.

You’re reading this, so I know you get it.

Here’s another example of a wedding photographer that does that really well:

What To Write About

We start to think about crafting our message; we have to make sure we’re firmly established in their mind as the go-to expert in our field.

Establishing ourselves as the expert requires that we think about a few things:

First, why would somebody want to work with us instead of our competition? With so many amateur photographers turning “pro” every day, why would somebody book you instead of one of them?

Second, what benefits does working with you have that they won’t get anywhere else?  This isn’t talking about the features of working with you (those are things that are focused on you), but the benefits of working with you (what they get from your features).

For example, a Kindle Paperwhite has the feature of battery life that lasts for weeks.  The benefit of that feature is that you can spend time reading and not charging it.

We have to make sure that our writing sets us up at the expert.  Most people who hire us can tell how we may differ stylistically from our competition, but may not be able to tell the fine technical details that make us the obvious choice.

“Always be premium, Brendan.” – Chase Jarvis  

One of the coolest parts of the internet is that you can get in touch with the people who inspire you.  I’ve gotten a few messages back from Chase on Snapchat and when I asked him about how much to charge, that was his response.

Being premium means you need to do great work, but it also means you need to build a lot more trust.

A CEO has to trust you a lot more to pay $10k for photos than she does to pay your competition $900.

Here’s how to build that trust…

The Photography Blog Post Formula

Remember, the goal of writing blog posts about our work is to be found in a search, position you as the expert, and to build trust, not to make a sale.  This section literally breaks down the way that I teach my clients to write and how I write for them.  It also includes the most important parts of seo for photographers.

1. Title – In our title, we want to use the keywords that we’re targeting (portrait photography, wedding photography, etc.) and the location.  This lets Google know what kind of photography session you’ve done and where you did it.  Google is fantastic at context so don’t be robotic about it.  

Bad: “Brad and Misha’s Wedding”

Better: “Wedding Photography – Navy Pier, Chicago”

Best: “Stunning Sunset Wedding Photography at Navy Pier”

Rookie Mistake: I still see a lot of photographers using their client’s names in the titles. Unless you’re trying to rank in Google for their first names (i.e. “Tina and Tim’s Wedding”), we’re far better served focusing on keywords and location.

2. URL – In our URL, we can be a lot more robotic.

Bad: randomphotographer.com/rustic-golden-gate-park-san-francisco-wedding-photography

Better: randomphotographer.com/san-francisco-golden-gate-wedding

Best: randomphotographer.com/golden-gate-wedding (Google will know it’s in SF).

Rookie Mistake: Trying to cram everything into the URL.  You don’t need adjectives or details in the URL.  The more succinct it is, the better.

3. Content – This is the most important part of the post, so we’ll further break the content down into a few sub-areas.

Subject – Briefly talk about the subject of the session and your relationship with them.  It lets your reader know that your relationship with clients is extremely important to you and you’ll be fun to work with.

Obstacles – I’ve never met a photographer who didn’t have something go wrong the day of a shoot.  

Highlights – You can feel free to include these before and after the ‘Obstacle’ in order to sandwich it a bit, but finishing your article on a high note is important. We want to share some of the most amazing parts of the session/day with the reader, so they start to imagine themselves in that same successful position.

Link – Once your site visitor has finished reading your content, they may want to learn more about you so including a link to do that is super convenient for them.  This link might be to sign up for your mailing list, a link to your contact page, or your phone number.  On mobile devices (where most people will be seeing your site), the phone number will be clickable making it super simple for them to get in touch with you.

Photos – I always advise photographers to only include their five best photos from the session.  If you aren’t able to convince them to hire you in five photos, including all 70 of them isn’t going to change their mind.  If you’re using WordPress (which you should be), then inserting a gallery here works perfectly.

Link –  But, Brendan, didn’t we already include a link to get in touch?  Yes, we did. But the combined effect of your writing and your photos is going to be a one-two punch that will leave your reader wanting to get in touch or learn more about you.  Make sure that you’re phrasing things differently than the first link in the post (don’t copy & paste, now isn’t the time to get lazy), but link to similar destinations (phone, services page, contact page, list signup, etc.).

Here’s what that looks like:

How It Works

You’re a surf photographer based in California, and for every session, you follow the formula above.  When you’ve photographed 30+ surf events, and hundreds of surfers, who do you think is going to be found in Google when a major publication wants to license a photo?  Who is going to be found when a startup surf brand is looking for somebody to shoot their next look book?

You.

Remember that organic traffic from Google is driven by authority.  Showing Google you’re the authority on a topic and then using content marketing to turn those leads into clients is the best way to increase your revenue this year.  Learn more about Search Engine Optimization in the PhotographySpark SEO Cookbook.

Bonus: Because your post is much more optimized for conversion, you can use Facebook ads to drive traffic to it. Target your demographic that lives in the location or likes the venue you were at, and you’ve got a great start to an overall marketing plan.

I’d love to see the Photography Spark community take action and start converting that valuable website traffic into clients!

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5 Marketing Tips to Help Your Photography Business Stand Out http://photographyspark.com/photography-business-marketing-5-tips/ Mon, 20 Mar 2017 02:37:17 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=6304 man standing in grand central station
Thomas Lefebvre

Have you ever done a Google search on the number of professional photographers in your local area?

I have. There are nearly a dozen professional photographers within just a three-mile radius of me. And that doesn’t even include the photographers that don’t show up in Google’s results.

Needless to say, we’re multiplying like rabbits. With the barriers to entry lower than ever for new folks to step into the photography game, you will have to put forth a conscious effort to distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd.

Fortunately, there are some very practical strategies you can use to help your business both stand out and attract the clients that are a perfect fit for you. We’ll cover those best practices in this post.

1. Let your personality shine in your online presence

If you remember nothing else, remember this: people are buying into you as much as your photography skills, so make it a point to let your personality shine in your online presence. Nowadays, people want to be able to identify with your character, your quirks, and your values. They want to be inspired by you. This is especially true if you are a portrait or wedding photographer, where buying is as much an emotional decision as it is a practical one.

So how do you do this?

Add fun details to your website. Particularly, your About Page is an area that must absolutely reflect who you are. Include some details about yourself that make you unique, even if it is not directly related to photography. For example, mention some of your personal values that drive you, along with some quirky hobbies you do for fun. Even feel free to briefly mention the type of beverage you like to consume in the morning. This will go a long way towards folks resonating with you as a real person. In their minds, you become more than just a “service provider” or “vendor.”

Also, offer behind-the-scenes peeks into your business. Social media is particularly useful for this. Post photos and short video outtakes, as well as in-process content that shows off the making of your photos. During a photo session, have your assistant take some Facebook Live footage to engage your audience (with your client’s permission, of course). You are essentially entertaining and educating your audience, as opposed to constantly trying to make a hard sell. 

2. Hone in on your photographic specialty

When you are first starting out, it is understandable to take any and every type of client that comes your way. We have bills to pay, after all. I’ve seen single photographers take everything from wedding photography, to family portraits, to pet portraits, to product photography, to architectural photography, along with a bit of wildlife photography thrown in for good measure. It’s not uncommon to see the equivalent of the words “I’ll do anything you can think of” as a banner on a photographer’s website.

However, this can be harmful to your business in the long run. In most cases, the more general a photographer is, the more they are seen as a replaceable commodity. On the flip side, more specialized a photographer is, the more they are respected and paid for their expertise.

So while you may have to initially take everything in the beginning in order to survive, my suggestion is this: after about a year of being in business, step back and analyze your portfolio and client list. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of work did you enjoy creating the most?
  • Which types of clients did you most enjoy working with?
  • Which clients had similar values to your own?
  • Which clients were able (and happy to) pay you what you are worth?

The purpose of this exercise is to help you identify which type(s) of photography and clients you should focus on. You are beginning to identify your area of expertise.

I fully acknowledge how terrifying it can be to move away from the “jack-of-all-trades” model to one that focuses on only a core handful of specialties. However, knowing who your ideal clients are will help you refine your marketing message because you will be able to speak directly to them on your website and social media. Additionally, you can identify where they are in person and go to networking events or shows where you can interact with them.

Once you have done this exercise for yourself, take it a step further: add a link to your website menu called “specialties”, and publish a handful of quality case studies from your past favorite clients, along with testimonials from them. Also, publish these case studies on social media, with a link back to your website. It will help you attract future clients who are a great fit for you.

Keep in mind that this can be a gradual transition process. While you will most likely still get requests for various types of photography, you will be able to identify the specific gigs that will move your business forward. Focusing on the right type of clients can catapult your photography business to the next level.

Read about developing your photographic style on the Contrastly blog.

3. Use video to show off your talent

Video can be a powerful tool to help your audience get to know you. It’s also convenient because, being a photographer, you most likely already have suitable equipment for it. I firmly believe every photographer should be using video to market themselves.

46% of users take some sort of action after viewing a video ad, according to Online publishers association

Source:  Insivia

Short, interesting videos are a great way to engage your audience. In many cases, viewers no longer require every video you publish to be overly-polished. Especially with the arrival of Facebook Live, viewers tend to equate non-polished video with raw authenticity. As I briefly mentioned earlier, it seriously helps to have an assistant record the video footage during your actual photo sessions. I’ve even handed my assistant my own cell phone and had her go Live on Facebook for me while I work with clients.  Read more about using Facebook Live in your photography business.

Once you have these digital assets, you can post them on your website, on your Facebook business page, Instagram, and wherever else you can think of. They will work for you over and over again with every view they receive.

Of course, if your footage is blurry, overly shaky, or just generally crappy to the point of distraction, it can discourage the viewer from watching, so keep that in mind.

Learn more about video marketing for photographers

4. Treat your clients like the rock stars they are

It’s a hard truth: if you simply meet the expectations of your clients, you will quickly become forgettable. Replaceable even. Being “good enough” is simply not enough these days. You have to go above and beyond. This applies to every aspect of your customer service practices.

Give your clients a great experience during the photo session using these suggestions:

Offer them coffee, and make sure they are comfortable. After the session, keep in touch with them with updates about when they will have their photo products. Take pride in your packaging and photo delivery.

After you have delivered their photos, let them know you haven’t forgotten about them. Send them a thank you card or small token of your appreciation as a thank you for being so awesome. A simple gift can go a long way. Clients will remember their entire experience with you, from the very first conversation on the phone to that thank you card afterward.

5. A long-term strategy: keep in touch with your past clients with an entertaining, personable newsletter

The very first time I sent out an email newsletter blast to my past business clients, my fingers were literally shaking as I hit the send button. Needless to say, it was a nerve-wracking experience. However, imagine my surprise when I immediately received a reply thanking me for sending out the entertaining updates. They had thoroughly enjoyed reading about the happenings within their local business community. Within that same day, I later received another email from another newsletter recipient enquiring about a future photo session. Slowly, the dots began to connect for me. People liked this stuff when it was done well.

Keeping in touch with your past clients is crucial, and newsletters are an easy way to do that. They have spent money on you, after all, and studies have shown that people who have spent money on you in the past are more likely to spend money on you again, as opposed to trying to recruit a cold lead. These past clients can also send you referrals, which any photographer will tell you makes up a huge part of their business.

By the way, your email list doesn’t have to be huge, and your newsletter doesn’t have to be long. Just make it relevant to your community, and make it fun. Tell inspiring stories. Highlight happy clients and local places. Write short educational pieces. And for the love of all that is tasteful and decent, do not try to make a hard sell in every newsletter. There’s no faster way to turn people off then trying to sell them something every time they hear from you.

As far as email newsletter services, there are a number of them out there to get you started. PhotographySpark recommends MailerLite which is free to for less than 1000 subscribers.  It has drag and drop tools to make it easy to put together a tasteful newsletter. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Aweber are other popular choices.

Concluding Thoughts

As crowded as the photography industry seems to be today, there are still sensible, simple ways you can use to help your business stand out from the crowd.

Tips to help your business stand out:

  1. Let your unique personality attract the right clients
  2. Focus on your area of photography expertise
  3. Use video to promote your business
  4. Treat your clients like rockstars
  5. Build a mailing list and publish a newsletter

By following these tips you will be well on your way to building a solid, strong business that will last for years to come.

And as an added bonus, you will have fun doing it!

For a bonus marketing tip, check out our blog post on hosting a portrait party as a way to grow your business attract potential clients 

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5 Ways to Help Your Photography Business Stand Out With Facebook Live http://photographyspark.com/5-ways-to-help-your-photography-business-stand-out-with-facebook-live/ Mon, 13 Feb 2017 04:12:50 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=6114 Video camera Facebook Live
Sticker Mule

I don’t know if you have noticed, but Facebook is starting to get a lot more. . . live!

Business videos are starting to pop up, everywhere. People who you used to only “know” through their pictures and written posts are starting to become a lot more three-dimensional, with your being able actually watch, and listen to them. 

As photography business owners, this is a trend that you need to pay attention to. After all, we are a visual arts community, and videos are – wait for it- visual. 

I don’t know about you, but I love seeing my favorite people in action! When I can actually see them, and listen to them, they feel so much more real, and accessible. 

I actually like them more. They seem human, and it almost feels as if you are sitting across from these people at a coffee shop, soaking in their knowledge. It’s a pretty cool concept. 

Have you ever thought about being the one watching the “3..2…1….” click down and go live, on video, with Facebook? 

You should! 

Why is going live, and posting videos for your photography business, so important? Here are my top 5 tips about how video will set your photography business apart: 

1. Be real

(This is especially important for us introverts out there. You don’t have to be perfect. Your clients just want you.)

Clients don’t want to just look at your images before they hire you. They want to know you. They want to know whether you will “click” with them. They want to know what you sound like, and what it will be like to meet you in person. 

They want to feel like you could be their friend. 

They want connection. 

Video gives your clients a virtual peek into who you really are. The person behind the images. They may see your gorgeous images on social media, but they want to know what are you (the real you) are like. Are you sweet and shy? Funny and quirky? Clean-cut? Do you have bright-colored hair? Why do you capture images the way you do? Video allows them to connect with you, before they ever shake your hand. 

It’s okay to not be a polished public speaker. In fact, if you are not perfect, people tend to connect with you even more. You are human, just like they are! Let your guard down, and connect. 

2. Present something of value (as opposed to just “taking”)

Have you ever heard of a “giving” site, versus a “taking” site? 

A “giving” site gives a lot of information. These sites become “go-tos” for people, becoming trusted sources (hint: most photography sites are NOT “giving” sites, aside from “giving” people gorgeous images to look at).  

Giving sites are wellsprings of information, and not just one-time visits. 

Why is this so important? 

“Taking” sites are what most sites are. They take your comments, your page clicks, or even your email addresses, with little or nothing in return. They are often sites that you visit one time, to accomplish a “task”, and then never go back to it again. 

You don’t want your site to be like that; yet, most photography sites ARE like that. You go to view your friend’s portrait or wedding images, “ooh and aah” for a few minutes, and leave. The images are beautiful, but nothing else makes your site memorable to where you want to go back and revisit. 

Which sites, and businesses, end up being more profitable over time? You guessed it- “giving” sites. 

If you offered videos for tutorials on things like: how to dress, when to cut your hair before sessions, or how to organize your iPhone images, your clients will thank you in dividends. You will be seen as a “giving”, trusted source. 

Some ideals, for photographers: 

  • What to Wear tips and tricks
  • Photography day run-throughs and tips
  • Free tips on how to hang your portraits (with inspiration templates you can send them when they opt-in to your website mailing list)

Pro Tip:  if you want to post videos to your blog posts, for things like behind-the-scenes outtakes from your client sessions, you can record them with your smart phone, and then upload to YouTube, and “live link” from there.

3. Keep it short 

Unless you are teaching a mini class on Facebook Live, keep it short. 

Most people have a short attention span, and busy lives. They don’t want to hear rambling- if they are on social media, short, sweet, and simple is best! 

How short? 

I say keep it to about 2 minutes. This is long enough for you to get your point across, but not so long to where you get nervous or rambling. 

By only offering shorter bits of information (try not to let it be super short- get to at least one minute!), you keep them wanting MORE. They will keep coming back, and you will establish yourself as an expert. Short, simple videos will also keep you at the front of your viewers’ brains when someone asks for a suggestion or referral. 

4. Be consistent

Just like with most anything else with business, consistency is key. If you offer behind-the-scenes videos with a handful of clients, you better be sure to offer these videos for all of your clients (people will notice, and will eventually ask you, which can make it awkward. If you need to, appoint someone at your session to be your “videographer” for Facebook Live. They will love it!).

Fun bonus to consider: record your video on your smart phone, upload to YouTube, and include the behind-the-scenes video on your client’s blog post! How cool would that be?  

Video will allow people to connect with you in ways you haven’t been able to do before, so be consistent! On my photography business coaching Facebook page, I offer “coffee chats” every Friday at 9 a.m. My followers can ask questions ahead of time, and either watch me live as I answer them, or they can watch the replay. Regardless of how they view the video, I get more responses and interactions with my “coffee chats” than any email I’ve ever sent, or image I’ve ever posted. Your words are powerful, and can help! Try it! 

For a portrait photography business, you can offer videos on Tuesdays on how to look great for your portraits, or even offer tips on how to shop for outfits. The number of possibilities are endless! Just try it. The compound interest you will gain on videos is mind-blowing. Add it to your calendar, and stick to it. After a few live sessions, your clients will start to look forward to seeing your face. 

5. Be educated on speaking 

If you are on video, it’s awfully hard to hide if you mess up, which is why a lot of introverts are anxious to click “go live”. 

If you are going to go live, please be prepared by either memorizing bullet points (don’t memorize the speech- you can tend to look too robotic. Keep a card with bullet points right off camera, if you need help staying on track). Keep eye contact with the camera, because if you keep looking off-screen, viewers will either get distracted or think that you are trying to “pull one over” on them. 

I usually do a run-through of my speech about 10 minutes out from going “live”. That way, I sound prepared, but not too polished. I also (personally) don’t like to practice in front of a mirror, because I want to be authentic and connected. I don’t want to be theatrical- I just want to be me! 

If the thought of public speaking truly scares you, consider joining a local Toastmasters International Club! Toastmasters is focused on helping you grown your public speaking and leadership skills, and is worldwide. I have been a Toastmaster for over a year now, and let me tell you: the things I have learned in Toastmasters has changed EVERYTHING in my business, from my public speaking to my marketing messaging. I am an introvert who shied away from public speaking before, but now I know that I have important things to teach others. After working my speaking muscles for a year, I am nowhere near as scared to put myself out there. 

And my business has thanked me for it! 

Remember:  you are your own brand.

People need to not only connect with your visual imaging, but also YOU.

YOU are who your clients want to know, like, and trust.

If you want to set your photography business apart, try video! Whether Facebook Live, or links to YouTube (see the video at the end of this post), be YOU, and be helpful to your clients. The more you love on your clients through unique business moves like posting videos, the more you will get word-of-mouth referrals. Your business, and your checking account, will thank you!! 

Want to go a step further with putting your face on camera? Worried that in-person selling won’t fit into your busy schedule, but you still want to make your clients sing your praises with your incredible service? Try VIRTUAL in-person selling, where you offer high-touch services to your clients in the convenience of your home office (or anywhere you have WiFi.). I am offering my ebook for a sale price of $12 for my fabulous Photography Spark readers (offer only good until March 1st!). 

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Grow Your Photography Business With A Strategic Portrait Party http://photographyspark.com/grow-your-photography-business-with-a-strategic-portrait-party/ Thu, 26 Jan 2017 13:18:41 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=6038

It was early 2016, and I was attempting to jump-start my portrait photography business after moving to a brand new town. On top of that, I’d had the brilliant idea to switch from family photography to corporate photography, and consequently lacked a relevant portfolio to show prospective clients.

I quickly discovered that no one knew or trusted me enough to book a session, especially with all of the other photographers already in the area. It was the perfect recipe for large, round tumbleweeds in my bank account and long, sleepless nights.

After months of religiously attending networking events and handing out my business cards, I knew I had to do something different, and soon.

With a flash of inspiration, I decided to throw a portrait party…with pizzazz.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to tell you how this story ends right now. The decision to throw a portrait party was a game changer for my photography business.

It was instrumental in gaining momentum, clients, income, a strong portfolio, credibility, testimonials, reviews, referrals, and even a persistent buzz around town. It was all practically overnight.

That’s why I’m convinced a portrait party can be a wonderful tool to help you grow your photography business.

First thing’s first: What is a portrait party, and why should you care?

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page here.

First of all, what is a portrait party? The short answer is that it is a lively event where you gather a bunch of people together and take their portraits. It can range from simple business headshots to full body family portraits.

And why should you care? Glad you asked. Simply put, a strategic, well-planned portrait party can kickstart and transform your photography business.

Whether you are trying to get your new portrait business off the ground, or you’ve been in business for years and need to give your business a solid kick in the pants, it can be an extremely effective strategy when done well.

Now let’s go over the benefits, along with some practical tips.

The Benefits of a Portrait Party: Let Me Count the Ways

Let’s go over the specific ways a portrait party can help grow your business, along with some actionable tips to help you throw your own.

Benefit 1: A Strategic Portrait Party Can Bring You Immediate Clients

Let’s be frank. The immediate cash from your portrait party probably comes to mind first. You get to work with a fairly large amount of people at one event, and because you will essentially be doing a mini session with each person, you are able to offer their sitting fee at a promotional price.

This reduces the barrier to entry for the folks who would otherwise be on the fence about spending money on a photographer they have never worked with before, but it still adds up to a healthy profit for you at the end of the day.

In addition, working with a group of people at one event is great practice as you develop your craft. It can be a great confidence booster if you are still getting accustomed to interacting with clients.

A man getting his headshot taken

You may be wondering how to get people to come to your party in the first place. A few tips including passing out flyers, spreading the word to family and friends, and creating a Facebook event.

If you really want to up your marketing game, seek to form a strategic alliance with your local Chamber of Commerce or related organization that shares your target audience.

If you are a member, there is a solid chance they will put your event in their email newsletter if you request it. This was very effective for me, as I was offering business headshots.

You can also partner up with a charity or organization of your choosing and offer to donate a portion of the event’s proceeds back to them. This will give them an incentive to help spread the word to their contacts.

Between handing out flyers, spreading the word on Facebook, and having the Chamber of Commerce helping me promote, we were able to reach my available 12 portrait slots quickly. As icing on the cake, we even had to put together a wait list for my next party!

Benefit 2. Your Party Can Bring You a List of Contacts to Market to in the Future

As wonderful as it is that you get a bunch of clients, it is just as important that you get their contact information. Furthermore, to really maximize on the opportunity, I suggest you invite people to come even if they’re not getting a portrait.

Require them to register online, or sign in upon arrival. Even though these folks may not trust you enough to pay you for a portrait, they may still be curious enough to show up, and that’s half the battle. It’s a prime opportunity for them to come check you out without the commitment of getting a portrait.

View your portrait party is an info-gathering event. Afterwards, you have a list of clients and prospects that you can further build a relationship with in the future through newsletters and phone calls. This list is an absolute asset to your business.

Benefit 3. It’s a Great Portfolio Builder

Another result of your party is that it helps you fill your portfolio. Having more work to show will go a long way towards getting you clients in the future. Put the resulting images on your website and in future printed marketing material to get more clients. In the weeks following your event, drip the images out on social media.

If you want go a step beyond simply posting images on your site, write short case studies on each of your portrait participants. When you have them register for the event, include a short survey about how they plan to use the photos.

Then, after your party, write a series of short blog posts about each client, using the info from their registration survey, along with the casual conversation you had with your subjects during their photo session.

Benefit 4. It’s a Prime Opportunity to Gather Testimonials, Reviews, and Referrals

Following up with your participants after the party is crucial. I suggest you schedule a series of automatic emails to go out afterwards so that you don’t chicken out or get too busy. Ask for testimonials. Ask for reviews of their experience. Ask for referrals.

By the way, if you want the reviews and testimonials to be positive, make sure everyone has a great time. In particular, if your room layout is open (like mine was), be aware that the prospect of having other people around during their photo session may make some clients nervous.

You will have to put in extra effort to put them at ease. However, I also find that my clients get the “deer in headlights” look whether they are at private session with just me, or at a portrait party with a small crowd watching, so it will be your job to make them feel comfortable either way.

Make sure you engage them in light conversation. Get them talking about themselves. Dare I say crack a corny joke or two. And remember to keep a warm smile on your face as much as you can, because it helps them reflect that warmth back to you. Use those ninja photographer skills!

Benefit 5. It Helps Create a Lasting Buzz About Your Business After the Event

It was this benefit that surprised me the most after my event. Throwing my portrait party changed the way people perceived me, and this new “street cred” followed me around for months.

Literally six months after my party, I had the CEO of a magazine invite me out for coffee. Almost as soon as we settled down with our steaming cups, he looked me right in the eye and began with the question, “So aren’t you that photographer that threw that portrait party networking event?” Apparently, that occurrence held weight in his mind.

Photographer taking a headshot

So how do you create buzz? The key is to capture the essence of your party through thorough proper documentation. Have an assistant take photo and video footage at the party, and make sure YOU are also in the footage, interacting with people.

Afterwards, you can turn it into a short, impactful marketing video to create buzz in your local area. It doesn’t have to be long. Mine was all of about 76 seconds, and was comprised of still photos, video, and music.

Post it on social media, and also on your website. This infinitely maximizes your exposure by allowing people to see how cool you are, even though they may not have been at your party.

It’s amazing the way a little video with music can change the way people view you as a photographer. I can’t stress enough how it helps you build credibility in your community.

A Pro Tip: Step Up Your Game and Give It Pizzazz

Ever get a flyer for a Tupperware, makeup, or (insert commodity here) party at someone’s house, and think to yourself, “Oh look, another one of these parties.”? Safe to say, you may have some preconceived notions about the countless product parties that seem to happen on a daily basis in people’s homes.

Infographic about Growing Your Business With A Strategic Portrait Party
Grow Your Business Infographic

Holding your party in a home lumps your service with Tupperware. Do you really want that? (For the record, I do like Tupperware). Needless to say, I suggest not having it in a residential home.

Your portrait party needs to stand out. The power is in the planning. I suggest holding your party in a professional space, such as a hotel, conference center, or coworking space. If you have your own studio space, that works as well. This simple decision will be vital in differentiating your party from the fray.

In addition, set the stage and make it festive. Having fun, tasteful background music and simple refreshments will make it more of a classy affair. I also recommend setting up extra lighting equipment in addition to the lights you actually plan to use.

Think of them as strategic props. In an age where everyone seems to have an uncle or cousin with a DSLR that never seems to budge from the auto setting, your guests need to see how professional you are. Having command of external lighting helps communicate that you take yourself seriously…and therefore they should too.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, when done strategically, a well-planned portrait party can help de-commoditize your business from the rest of your local market and help you stand out as a local thought leader.

It can bring you clients in the short term, but also a list of contacts to build a relationship with in the long term. It can fill your portfolio with high quality, relevant images, and supply you with client testimonials and reviews.

With one event, it can take you from having virtually no client list, portfolio, or social proof, to be being viewed as that “cool” photographer with a healthy dose of buzz surrounding them.

Consider the possibilities for your own business.

Kickstart Your Own Party

Due to the number of requests from fellow photographers wanting guidance on the process of throwing their own portrait party, I created a kit that does exactly that. It’s called the Portrait Party Success Kit, and contains a detailed step-by- step guide, along with checklists, pre-designed flyers and forms, and even email scripts to get your portrait party on its way.  Affiliate link:  Learn more about the Portrait Party Success Kit at prophotographerjourney.com.  35% discount for PhotographySpark readers.

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10 Free Photography Resources You Shouldn’t Miss http://photographyspark.com/10-free-photography-resources-you-shouldnt-miss/ Thu, 15 Dec 2016 17:16:24 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=5878 Gift package with free photo resources
David Strickler
As a photographer, I don’t have a lot of time at hand. But when I’m traveling for a shoot, or when I’m done for the day, I make sure I browse through the internet to find some interesting stuff to improve my photography.

Also, I read a lot, so there are hundreds of photography guides that I have read and what amazes me the most is that a few free ones are way better than the books I paid for.

So, I thought I’ll filter out a few free photography resources for you that I found useful. Let me tell you there is a lot of junk out there, so finding the right thing to spend your time with is also a challenge.

From eBooks to Lightroom presets, here are top-quality free photography resources from the world’s most trusted photographers and photography brands. Hope you like them all!

1. Portrait Guide To Posing Women’s Hands

Portrait Guide

This 14-page guide will teach you ways to handle your model’s hands in a portrait session. It’s an ebook made for photographers who have overlooked the importance of positioning hands naturally.

2. 30 Free PS Actions For Family Portraits:

Photoshop actions of families

Holiday season is here, and it’s going to be filled with a lot of family time and family pictures. To add an extra punch to these pictures use this set of actions which are specially customized for family portraits.

3. Techniques For Nude Photography Poses (20 Case Studies)+ Bonus

Free ebook resource

This is a cheatsheet of 20 nude photography poses in the glamor and nude photography business. With this eBook, you’ll learn how to create fine art nudes, learn how to use golden hour light, and even learn a bit about shooting sculptural nudes. Plus you also get a BONUS – A Rolodex of Erotic Online Resources.

Free Movie Poster Templates For Your Next Shoot

Free movie poster

Take the best photos of your shoot and turn them into beautiful-looking movie posters featuring your models, make-up artists, and other production staff. It’s completely free. Download it now.

DSLR Guide By Ryan Koo

DSLR resource

Are you making use of all the features of your DSLR? If you’re thinking about it, make sure you read this guide. In this DSLR Guide Ryan Koo teaches you how to circumvent the common problems you’ll have while shooting video on your DSLR. You’ll learn about the crucial gear you need to make your DSLR function as a pro video camera plus fantastic tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your camera.

6. Street Photography Presets By Contrastly

Street Photography Presets By Contrastly

Want to make your street photography stand out without spending a ton of time in the editing lab? These preset by Contrastly will come in handy. They have been specially created for street and outdoor photographers.

The Heart Of Portraiture By Don Giannatti

The Heart Of Portraiture By Don Giannatti

There’s no better way to improve your photography than to learn from a professional with decades of experience. Don Giannatti has put together this excellent, but very concise e-book to help you take unique and beautiful portraits.

8. Street Faces: How To Shoot Street Photography Portraiture

How To Shoot Street Photography Portraiture

This free ebook will answer some of the most important questions that you might have about shooting portraits on the street.

9. Alister Benn’s Introduction To Night Photography Ideas

Introduction To Night Photography Ideas

Are Night Photography Ideas Difficult to come by? Don’t worry if you thought it was hard. Shooting at night is a completely different approach than regular shooting. This freebie will teach you how to create stunning night photographs.

10. Free Photoshop Actions From Symufa

Free Photoshop Actions

Wish to have a strong, vivid look for your photos in a jiffy? This set of Photoshop actions can give you instant results.

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A Photography Sales Formula that Works http://photographyspark.com/photography-sales-formula/ http://photographyspark.com/photography-sales-formula/#comments Wed, 07 Dec 2016 12:00:00 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=1086 Photography Sales Formula that Works
Redd Angelo
I had just finished moving our business from low-price online sales to in-person sales, incorporating a drastic shift in our product pricing.

We were happy with the new direction we were headed in, but we were still a little nervous about the change. Then I came across this forum thread: What Would You Pay for Custom Photography. I discovered there are an endless number of threads about photography clients who want to pay practically nothing for digital negatives and stories about photographers who charge $75 per session, including prints. Our print prices started at $65, so I was more than a little nervous.

Finally I saw something familiar. One of my clients posted this:

“We did an OpLove session, so I had no session fee and my darling husband got something sent to him overseas. I paid more than $65 per print and $5,000 total [despite other photographers who offered budget photos from $25.] They do not even give CDs, but I would gladly pay that for their work.”

What justified this higher price for her? Was it our work? I’ll be the first to admit that wasn’t the case. My boyish good looks or inappropriate sense of humor? No.

It was the entirety of our sales process, which is designed to give our clients exactly what they want from their session — nothing more, nothing less. That’s when it finally clicked for me: This is what our clients want. This is what they expect. And this is what they deserve.

So let’s dig in to the details of what such a sales process looks like. By the time you’re finished reading this article, you will have clear and actionable steps to take that should increase your sales and thrill your clients.

Oh, and by the way… the client I’ve been talking about? She was the first person who went through this sales process with us.

Let’s do this.

The Ultimate Sales Secret

Ask your client what they want. Then create it for them.

As trite as this sounds, take a second to think about it. What we’re talking about now isn’t sales.

Collaborate with your client and work as a team to create the best products possible for them.

Removing all of that stress around the idea of sales will free you up to provide great service to your clients. They’ll be much happier and you’ll make a lot more money.

First Thing First: Setting Expectations

Throughout the sales process, we are constantly setting and reinforcing the expectations we have for our clients. These expectations include the types of products we sell and the price our typical client spends. It’s absolutely critical you do this. If you don’t, it won’t be until the sales meeting when you find out you and your client aren’t on the same page. You could end up with a much lower sale price than anticipated, and your client could walk away feeling, at best, underserved — and at worst, embarrassed. You don’t want to waste each other’s time.

There are a few places you should be setting expectations.

On your website

Show what you sell. If you sell wall art, blog about the art pieces you’re creating. Shameless plug: If you haven’t sold any wall art but want to start, sign up for a Swift Galleries free trial (affiliate) and use some of our free stock rooms to create custom wall art pieces with some of your favorite portfolio images. Blog those images to show that you intend to create wall art pieces for your clients.

Give them a price range. Let your clients know how much they should expect to spend on you by including a simple message, such as “our typical client spends between $xxx and $xxxx on photography” or “custom wall art begins at $xxx.”

In Person

When you meet with your clients, ask them questions that make it clear what you intend for them to purchase.

This is as simple as asking, “Where in your home would you like to display your images on your walls?” or saying, “Tell me about your design style so we can start talking about what type of album would fit it best.”

Through Past Clients

If your client is referred to you by someone who has your images displayed on their wall, your new client’s expectations for wall art are already set. Conversely, if the client only sees your images on Facebook, there’s a good chance he or she only will expect to receive digital files from you.

The goal here is not to convince people to buy what you want them to buy. Instead, your aim should be to attract people who already want what you offer. If they want what you want to give them — and they have a general idea of how much that’s going to cost them — then you’re both well on the way to a great experience. If any of these things aren’t a fit, happily refer them to someone who is a great fit for them.

Step One – The Planning Meeting

After our client has looked at our website; reviewed our prices, products and process; and decided to move forward with us, the first step is a planning meeting.

The Purpose of the Planning Meeting

  • Continue to reinforce expectations.
  • “The Funnel” — Start with all of the products you offer, session location options, wardrobe options, etc. Ask open-ended questions about your clients, their style and their desired products. Narrow them down to only the things that are relevant for that client.
  • Planting the seed for a sale — Start discussing specific products your client might want and get into detail about what those products might look like and what they will cost.
  • Nail down logistics and session details — Decide on the session date, time and location, sales meeting date and time, and wardrobe options.
  • Get room images to use in Swift Galleries (affiliate).
  • Collect the session fee.

In our best planning meetings, we’re able to take our client from saying “I want some pictures of my family” to “I want a 30×45 canvas of my whole family looking at the camera to go over the couch in the living room, The Starry Eyed Canvas Collection with candids of each of my kids individually, and one of them together to go on the wall next to my bathroom as well as a formal family portrait for the front of our holiday card and a goofy picture of our dog for the back of the card.”

If we can get this specific (which is not always possible, but happens fairly often) then I know exactly what I’m going to shoot when I get to a session — all the way down to the aspect ratio I need to shoot for. It’s awesome.

Step Two – The Session

The session is an integral part of the sales process because it’s when you build excitement for the products your client wants. We do this by showing images on the back of the camera when we know we’ve nailed one of the photos they want, and saying things like, “This is perfect for that canvas we talked about over your couch” and “This is going to look great in that collection we talked about for your master bedroom.”

This strategy for building anticipation is more powerful than you think. Yes, your client will be more excited about their images. But even more importantly, during the time between the session and sales meeting your client will be able to visualize the image every time she walks past her couch. She’s selling that product to herself! Better yet (another shameless plug), use Swift Galleries during your planning meeting to show her what those photographs will look like at the correct size.

Step Three – The Sales Meeting

We’ve found that a set progression through our sales meeting helps us to be sure we cover all of our bases.  And it’s just plain easier. Here’s how we work through the sales meeting (and how the Swift Galleries IPS Mode is set up):

1. A slideshow, twice —  The first time through, we tell them to sit back and enjoy the images and not to try to decide which ones are their favorites. The second time through, we ask that they start thinking about which ones are their favorites.

2. Sort the images into “yes” and “no” — If it’s a “maybe”, just put it in with the “yes” pile. Better to have these to draw from if we need them.

3. Choose large portraits or collections — We start with the “statement” pieces first when choosing our clients’ wall art images. We often have these layouts pre-designed and saved as Suggestions in Swift Galleries with the products they said they wanted during the planning meeting and also fill with the images we were excited about during the session. We’ll tweak these with different images if they love something else. We use Swift Galleries for this (surprise!) so that we can show them exactly what these images will look like on their wall, at the right size.

4. Albums and miscellaneous products — Our clients are consistently surprised at how many images they love from their session. Even after choosing five or six wall art pieces, often a client wants to find a home for all of the other images too. So we’ll sell them albums or other products that fit more than one image. It’s a good idea to come up with some products that will allow your client to purchase more than one image but won’t take up a huge amount of space in their home. We sell an Easel Collection (a small easel with eight 8×8 mounted prints) for this very reason, so that our client has a way to display more of the images they love. In Swift Galleries IPS Mode, we’ll just add these non wall art products to their order as “Add-Ons” during the checkout process.

5. Gift prints — We offer a discount on any image in 4×6, 5×7 or 8×12 that our client has ordered elsewhere (i.e., a discounted 4×6 on an image that appears in an album or in a wall art collection). We then combine that “sale” mentality with suggestions on for whom or why they should buy some gift prints. For example, “Father’s Day is coming up. Do you need any images for Grandpa? If you want a small print of one of your wall images, it’s discounted off of the regular price since you already ordered it there.” As with everything else in our process, this is not pushy salesman stuff; it’s simply asking your client what they want and giving it to them. These get added as “Add-Ons” in Swift Galleries, as well.

6. Take their payment — Tally everything up, and take their payment manually or automatically through Swift Galleries. We offer payment plans on anything over $1,000. Half down and half due one month later.

If you use something like PayKit.io, you can set this up to automatically charge the card on the date due, which saves everyone the hassle of arranging the second payment.

We’ve taught this sales process to photographers for years. We consistently hear from those who’ve made the switch that they are seeing giant increases in their sales and getting referrals from happy clients. The photographers who put off making the switch always mention that they wish they had switched sooner.

So there you have it. It looks like a giant process when it’s all written out, but it’s really not. You are simply asking your client what they want and creating it for them. By doing this, you’re providing your clients with a service they couldn’t get from most of your competitors, and they’ll pay you a premium for it. In the end, you’ll have higher sales averages, and your clients will be much happier with their experience than if you had simply delivered the images on a disc and sent them on their way to figure out what to do with those images on their own. So get out there and start making more money while making your clients happier!

The Perfect In-Person Sales Tool

Come see how simple wall art sales should be with Swift Galleries.

Wall display of photos on a computer

Swift Galleries makes In-Person Sales simple by helping clients visualize exactly what their images will look like on their own walls, at exactly the right size. And because Swift Galleries was built around the exact process you just learned, you can be up and running with it in mere minutes.

  • Swift Galleries works across all devices and operating systems – so design on your iMac, sell on your Android tablet and even check your sales stats from your Windows phone.
  • As a web-based app, there’s nothing to install and no need to ever worry about running the latest version. When we release an update, it’s available immediately as soon as you log in.
  • Swift Galleries was built to fit seamlessly into your business, without you having to change things for us. So sell the products you love, from the labs you use, online or in-person, on any device.

Click here to try it absolutely free for 14 days

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The Psychology Behind Photographers’ Brand Names http://photographyspark.com/the-psychology-behind-photographers-brand-names/ Fri, 04 Nov 2016 15:26:46 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=5635 the-psychology-behind-photographers-brand-names
Pavel Fertikh

Choosing a brand name is not a piece of cake as it’s one of the first things that creates an image of a company in clients’ minds.

And as it was confirmed in recent research – brand names do have a unique impact on our brains, even if we like to believe that we can “tune them out” or at least remain uninfluenced by them.

However, research has now confirmed that brand names affect us differently than other words, causing associations and connecting with the “emotional” right side of the brain.

Old-fashioned camera

A pretty good example here is ‘Kodak’. This brand name associates with two quick clicking sounds (made by cameras at that time) when the shutter was pressed.

What’s more, when the brand name ends on the consonant, like in ‘Kodak’, our brain perceives it as a complete name. This way, choosing to end your brand name with a vowel is much riskier as it can be subconsciously seen like something was missing in such name.

However, the most important aim for the founder of Kodak, George Eastman, was to stay outstanding from the others – he wanted to create an unusual brand name that corresponded to the kind of services he offered. Fortunately, he managed to combine all the aspects – idealistically and psychologically – of a perfect brand name.

Woman drinking coffee working at a desk

Trigger Emotions and Use Fonts

According to psychologist Possidonia Gontijo of UCLA, ‘Our brain perceives brand names as a different category than words in everyday speech – brand names hold a “distinct categorical status,” and the recognition process uses special strategies. Even if reading is a very recent phenomenon in human history, the brain uses its existing machinery to set up special categories of words.”

That means, the difference between brand name and a common noun is driven by the associations. And those are even stronger when caused by emotions.

So your aim should be that your brand name brings concrete associations and (if possible) triggers emotions, as this way people will subconsciously identify the name with what you do.

For example, the name for a wedding studio ‘ “I do” Photography’ immediately associates with the happy event, so it brings more emotional connections than just ‘Anne Simpson Wedding Photography’.

Close-up of ink on a page

Finding that perfect name is not an easy task. We have to be aware of what we’re doing and what impact it will have on our business. If we fail in creating a name for our brand it can do the opposite of what it should and we’ll stay unnoticed.

Here are a few rules you should follow to create a perfect name for your brand.

  • Make sure that your brand name is a representation of you and your work. Keep it short and simple though. There is nothing worse than snake-like 5 words name. Nobody will be able to remember it. We are surrounded by brand names all the time and it’s a matter of seconds if the name will stick with us or not.
  • Try to keep it unique and relevant at all times. What’s popular now, doesn’t have to be popular next month. You’ll lose the power of your name and nobody will care. If you think that some words or catchphrases will stick forever, you’re wrong. Think for a second what words were popular when you were child and how many of them are still in use today. You get the idea.
  • Give yourself and your brand name a bit flexibility. Your business might grow in the future and it’s probably best to keep your existing brand name at the same time. So, don’t make it too specific, e.g. Tom – Dogs photography. By doing that you limit your possible business expansion.

While following the above, try to avoid the below:

  • Don’t try to create similar name to an already existing one. Even if it’s hugely popular, it won’t have the same effect on you. You’ll be perceived as a copycat and that’s simply bad. Get creative, brainstorm with friends or even get help from random name generators. You have to stand out from the crowd, not imitate it. The advice here is, be very careful with getting inspiration from other brands. In fact, don’t even try to do it.
  • As mentioned before, don’t limit yourself to one photography field. You can never know where your business might go. Your skill set is developing constantly and so do your interests. You probably already have at least two kinds of photography you enjoy, don’t you? Right now you may think that taking photos of pets is all you want to do, but maybe in the future, humans will also appeal to you :)
  • Don’t change your name after a few years on the market. It’ll confuse your customers and force you to build your brand and authenticity all over again. By doing that you give people a reason to doubt in your business. Is the quality of the service at the same level? Can I still expect same approach towards me as client? Did the working staff change? It may seem irrational, because it’s just a name, but that’s how our brain works. We get used to things and brand names are no exception. Once you’ve granted yourself a safe place in customers’ minds it’s best to keep it.

A simple solution to avoid all those traps and having a brand name unique for you is….to use your own name. It’s not a revolutionary approach, yet it’s effective. You don’t have to sweat your brain too much or spend couple of hours brainstorming the brilliant idea.

However, since names are not always simple or short, you have to make sure that fonts and design you’ve chosen is uncommon and eye-catching. Otherwise, nobody will bother to remember it.

One last thing to remember are the visuals of it all. Try to make something up and create a unique brand name, according to the motto:

Descriptive names are easier to remember, but creative names are harder to Forget.

The visual side of your brand name is nonetheless important than its verbal side. As marketers say, ‘it should create an associatively consistent image’.

So, think like one and take care of the way your brand name looks. Make it unique by using characteristic fonts (find out why choosing fonts does matter on Design School), shapes and colors (here you can find some helpful websites that match colors e.g. Material Palette).

Do you think that McDonalds logo is yellow by accident? Or the shape of the letter “M” was randomly chosen? There is a whole science behind how we’re affected by colors and shapes. Look into that and use it for your advantage.

It’s also worth knowing that the human brain recognizes particular names even more easily when they are in capital letters. Be careful with it though; nobody wants to be shouted at!

Coffee, cell phone, and blank pad of paper

How Can You Improve Your Brand Name?

Having your brand name already chosen is just the beginning, and you can always improve upon it too. Below we’ll show you how we successfully improved our brand name and how a relatively small change brought us a huge difference.

Our company, Photler, is quite new on the market so it’s no surprise that a lot of people haven’t heard about it yet. So we decided that we needed to present briefly to people what are we all about.

That’s why we’ve created a description to our brand name – ‘creating your personal brand as a photographer’ – in order to make our message completed.

Thanks to this, people unfamiliar with Photler could get the idea behind it. That resulted in 700% followers’ boost per week on our Facebook page.

Chart tracking new followers per week

We’re not a big company yet, so the sudden increase of 70 new followers per week instead of 10, made a huge difference for us.

As you can see, we haven’t changed anything – our promotion intensity stayed at the same level – and the only thing we’ve added was a brief description under the brand name of what we do.

Such action provides the knowledge of a service and further, the trust that it represents valuable content. So, make a difference in your photography brand name by enriching it with a short description presenting what kind of business you have.

And even if your brand name doesn’t need any explanation, why not use an underneath description to make your followers more active or just to make them laugh?

Messy desk strewn with paper and pens

As you can see, some theory combined with practice can do a lot of good. And now, with the power of psychology by your side you can make a perfect brand name.

Also, keep in mind that companies which don’t have a logo are perceived as 38% less professional. So don’t wait any longer and use this knowledge to see on your own that it really works. Have fun and good luck!

 

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10 Must-Haves Items for Starting a Career in Newborn Photography http://photographyspark.com/10-must-haves-items-for-starting-a-career-in-newborn-photography/ Wed, 26 Oct 2016 15:33:36 +0000 http://photographyspark.com/?p=5603 Tips for starting a career in newborn photography
Tawny Nina
Welcoming a precious new baby into the family is one of the most beautiful and amazing moments in any parent’s life—and getting to capture and immortalize that moment for them can be one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

If you’ve been looking to get into newborn photography, here are the must-have items you will need to get started:

Professional DSLR Camera

Let’s start with the first and most obvious must-have item: a professional DSLR camera. Any camera you feel comfortable with will suffice, but preferably something that falls somewhere between the midrange to high-end spectrum, with a bigger sensor that can capture clean, high-quality images without needing to use a flash.

Lenses: Prime and Macro

A standard lens is fine, but if you want to have a few extra options on hand, a prime lens is ideal for newborn photography, as it usually has larger apertures (which is helpful, again, in avoiding the use of flash) while still remaining fairly compact in size. With the prime lens, you get sharper, higher-quality images with less visible aberrations.

Apart from the prime lens, a macro is also a must-have in every newborn photographer’s kit. It is essential for taking extremely close, high-quality shots of the baby’s fingers, toes, eyelashes, lips, and all the other tiny details that parents would want to have captured during their newborn’s session.

Newborn baby toes and feet

Reflector

There has been much debate on whether it is safe to use flashes and full studio lights on infants, so most photographers prefer to err on the side of caution and use natural light. Due to this, you will need a pop-up reflector and an optional light stand and reflector holder if you cannot get an assistant to hold it up for you.

Soft Box

If natural light is unavailable and artificial studio lighting is your only option, soft boxes are your next best option. They can help create the kind of soft, diffused lighting that can more closely mimic natural light.

Backdrops and Backdrop Stand

For newborn sessions, having a backdrop (and of course, a backdrop stand) is essential. You can start with a few different backdrops, using a mix of solids and patterns. You can also use soft blankets, which you can attach to the stand using clamps.

Bed, Beanbag, Couch, etc.

Clearly, you will need to have somewhere to put your tiny subjects while you photograph them. This can be anything soft, where the baby will be comfortable and safe. You can use a small bed, a couch, an armchair, beanbag, ottoman, or whatever will work best for your needs.

Props

When it comes to newborn sessions, props are a great way to add some interesting elements to your photos—particularly since your model won’t be doing much posing! Make sure to have some of the usual newborn props such as fluffy blankets, baskets, stuffed animals, adorable hats, baby-sized angel wings, and other cute costumes.

Newborn wrapped in a blanket that looks like lettuce

White Noise Machine

Photographing a sleeping baby is a breeze. But what about when it starts to cry? Babies can be quite unpredictable, and being a newborn photographer means knowing how to deal with a fussy, crying baby. You will need something that can help calm them, and many photographers advise using a white noise machine for this. However, those can be expensive, so if you are on a budget, you can also download a white noise app on your smartphone.

And if that doesn’t work, just play some calming music!

Space Heater / Heating Pads

Because babies don’t usually wear anything during these sessions, you will need something to keep them warm. Instead of turning up the heat in the entire room, invest in a small space heater or some heating pads (or both) to help keep your little model warm in its posing area.

Basic Cleaning Items

If you will be photographing the baby without any clothes or a diaper on, expect to encounter some accidents (of the messy kind) during your session! Prepare for the inevitable by stocking up on baby wipes, paper towels, or any other baby-safe cleaning items. You may also want to stock up on puppy potty pads, which you can place under the mom or dad while they pose with their baby to catch any poop or pee. The pads can help make clean-up quicker and easier!

Once you have all the important items and equipment that you need, it’s all a matter of educating yourself about the proper ways to handle newborn infants and how to ensure a safe and comfortable experience and environment for them (and their parents) during their session.

Learn more about everything you need to get started:  studio setup, marketing, props and more in the Newborn Photography Bootcamp Class at CreativeLive.

Also, check out this helpful infographic for some helpful, basic tips on newborn photography beginners:

Beginner's Guide to Newborn Photography Infographic
Adorama | Pishposh Baby

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