Are they seeking you?
Some of you know I’m on a PUG tour. The subtitle for my talk - (the main title is “Come and see the crazy guy who runs Pictage) - is Success Factors; How to find success in the world of professional photography. I knew you wouldn’t want to hear me do a talk about how to shoot events for $50K booking fees (well maybe some of you), there are plenty of folks out doing that. This is more personal; and for that we needed a personal definition of success. I racked my brain for a few days and came up with one I think we can all agree on. Here it is ...
“You Are Successful When the Clients You Seek, Seek You.”
OK. Now. Let’s break that down a little. Can you define the kind of clients you like to shoot? Can you be specific? BTW - “Anyone who wants me to shoot them” is not a good answer. Really great looking couples with lots of money is closer. Mid-30’s, folks with a little life experience who want someone who will laugh with them, honor their foibles and be very casual is much closer. If you can’t do that, then let’s call that step one. Really - now. Go. Get out a piece of paper (don’t do this on your computer) and a pen or pencil (pencil if you’re like me and you just like thinking with a pencil in your hand) and write down your favorite client type, being so specific that when you read it through you can form the image of the person in your mind. Once you’re happy with that you can come back and read the rest of this.
If you’re still reading, congratulations, you know who you want to market to. Now, are those the people who are knocking on your door? If not, why not? (Oh - and if they are, are they able to pay what you need to earn to make the living you want). Both of these questions are important (even though one is parenthetical - because we don’t really like to talk about money).
There are many reasons why the people you seek may not be the people knocking on your door. The biggest one, the most common, is because you’re not marketing to them. Think about it a little. If you take the page where you wrote down your perfect customer and then you look at all of your promotional materials, do the people in your promotional materials match the people on the page? Is the FIRST person who comes up in your online gallery your target? Do your example portraits or images feature people who you can honestly say match that criteria? Does the language in your about me, or your site in general for that matter reflect your goal of attracting that special client? If the answers to these questions are RESOUNDING yeses, then you have some work to do.
Here’s the thing: I love you all. I really do. I love you so much that every once in a while I feel like I need to kick you in the behind a little. OK? If you are showing pictures in your galleries that you took at a workshop and those pictures are of models in priceless attire, “waify” 20 something size zeroes with plastic smiles and perfect skin and your target market is real people - then you need to change the images in your gallery. Please ... now I’m begging ... make some time. Go through your images from last year. Pick the ones that most represent what you most love and make sure those are the first ones that people see! Don’t wait until your next redesign or simply put them on your blog. Most of your clients will look at your site first, and only if they like what they see will they decide to dig deeper. Too many photographers assume that people will go and look at everything if they decide to look at anything. They won’t. They will glance at one of two things on your primary web site, your gallery and your about me section, and they will decide on that basis whether it is worthwhile to look any further. Why won’t they give you more time? Because there are five other names on their list.
I think that’s enough to think about for today. Take some time and think through these things. Next week we’re going to talk about the next step and that is, getting people to want you, that’s YOU, rather than wanting a photographer. Hint, when someone wants YOU they don’t care about what the other photographers have on their sites, so long as what they find on yours makes the comfortable that the reasons they think they want you are the reasons they want you... Like I said - we’ll get to that next week.