Want to get paid for what you’re worth, but don’t know how?
Narrow your focus and watch the opportunities explode!
Encouragement from a self taught entrepreneur.
Like many, photography became more than a hobby for me when I became a mom. I wanted great pictures, so I researched every tip because I was capturing EVERY.SINGLE.THING my kids did. Because – cuteness! The more I learned, the more friends asked me to photograph them. I’d say yes, and learn more. Yet, I was doing it for nearly nothing. It felt awkward to say, “Sure, I’ll take those pics, but it will cost you!”
My husband, supportive though he is, grew tired of me spending weekends on nearly freebie shoots, and encouraged me to start a legit business. I did think that calling it “a business” might help me to command a decent rate. This first step had people paying me actual money for the pictures I took! Wow!
I knew nothing – ZERO – about running a business. I just wanted to take beautiful pictures – the end. You’ve heard that it takes money to make money….Yep, it’s true. We all wish it wasn’t, but there aren’t many of shortcuts. I took the risk because I wanted success. I submerged myself in learning the business. It worked! In just one short (though tiring) year, I moved from a $150 shoot and burn to $2,000 average sale photographer!
I credit much of my success to a strong suggestion to focus on one niche only. This is where all of it changed. I mean ALL OF IT. If you have not chosen a niche – do it! It’s scary at first to feel like you’ll be turning away business, but the opposite is actually true. This new focus required hours of study and 4am wake-up calls. It was A LOT of hours. Did I mention it took a lot of time? But, I know any of you who want to see your dream realized are willing to do the heavy lifting just like I was.
A quick example of why narrowing your focus makes all the difference: If you want to go out for an exquisite Italian meal, you do not go to Chili’s. You go to a fine Italian restaurant that specializes in authentic Italian fare. Same for photographers. If someone needs newborn photos, they don’t go to a “We shoot anything” photographer. It’s so simple, it’s ridiculous. From the point of narrowing your target client, your marketing becomes a cinch because you no longer market to everyone for everything. Ah-mazing. But, once you figure out who your target is, you have to figure out how much to charge those lovelies, and this is where the real work begins.
We all lament over pricing, and think, “No one will ever pay that,” and we change our prices 500 times. We doubt our gifts and training by whispering things to ourselves like, “I’m good, but am I worth that much??” Yep, you are. I can’t pick that number for you, but you can once you determine how much you want to earn. Don’t copy someone else’s pricing. There are sooooo many pricing resources out there. You have to take the time to sit down and look at everything you are spending money on – software, camera maintenance, domain, website, hosting, LLC acquisition. (This list is not comprehensive, and it’s long already!) We haven’t even talked about the investment of your time, and we all know that’s your most valuable offering.
Since I had ZERO knowledge about optimizing my website (SEO – What???). The simple equation that many of us have done: “An 8×10 only costs me $2.00, so when I charge $10.00, I just made a quick eight bucks,” no longer applies. You just spent $127 on that 8×10 photo! Your expenses really do add up, and you have to factor that into your pricing if you want to be profitable – which, of course we all do.
Everything doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Be creative! I bartered a portrait session for my first logo, and that worked for quite a while! It wasn’t until I was well into the business that I plunked down the bigger money for a custom logo. If you brand yourself right off the bat, you’ll keep paying to change. So, wait until you’ve settled in a bit to do this.
Lastly, I encourage each of you to stay true to yourself and your style. It is sooooo easy to get caught up in how everyone else is shooting or editing. You have to create a brand that is unique to you and is consistent. Your clients need to know what they are getting when they hire you.
Becoming successful at photography has honestly been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I feel like “I DID IT! And I did it all on my own!” You can do this, too! It really isn’t complicated, but it does take hard work, dedication, and a sleepless night or two!
Feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions or feedback you may have!
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