You have your camera, have perfected your skills, and now you want to take the leap and start a business. The amount of work involved can be overwhelming, but there are some steps you can take to help speed up the process.
Cindy Reeves from Magazine Mama is an expert at creating short-cuts to help photographers be effective and efficient whether you are just starting out or need a refresh.
1) Have E-Mail Templates:
Building and growing an e-mail list for your photography business is one of the best things you can do to grow your photography business. E-mail marketing is a powerful way of reaching your prospects when you need to. Despite the efforts focused around social media marketing, these platforms and audiences can change easily from day to day but your email list remains rock solid.
When someone new signs up to your list, a brilliant way to keep them engaged and nurtured is to create a welcome series of autoresponder emails. Mailchimp and Mad Mimi both have an easy to use autoresponder series. Create between 3 - 5 welcome emails and automate them to send out every few days after a new subscriber joins. The content included can be a welcome promotion or your best tips and valuable free content. The key is to welcome this new subscriber into your community and make them feel looked after. Write your own or check out pre-written e-mail autoresponders for photographers here. It's important to plan your approach to email marketing from the start and get strategic with how you'll use your list.
2) Use welcome guides and magazines.
Use welcome guides as part of the experience. Custom guides or magazines are an excellent way to walk clients through the entire session experience from booking through delivery or to let clients know what to wear to look their best. A professional looking magazine can help you stand out from the competition. With the average magazine costing under $5 to print, you now have the opportunity to offer your clients something different and at a cost effective price. And if you use a customizable magazine template you'll save time as well! They provide that wow factor that can help you stand out from your competition and seal the deal. Maybe you like the thought of offering a booking incentive but are looking for something even more cost effective... I've got you covered! Convert your custom magazine into a .pdf. Then you still have the novelty of offering a custom product but you don't have the printing cost. It's really simple to create a .pdf from your custom magazine with these instructions. Once you have the hang of creating magazines, they can be used as a unique offering to clients weather you help brides create custom magazines to distribute at their wedding, create a lookbook for seniors, or a family magazine for parents to give to loved ones at the holidays or just because.
3) Why it's important to have regular blog posts.
By blogging on a regular basis, you will give existing and prospective clients a great reason to visit your website. You will establish trust with your readers, educate your clients, and boost your expertise and credibility. Not only will you position yourself as an industry expert but you will increase the chances of new clients booking you. A blog that is updated regularly also gives you the opportunity to inform clients about any upcoming offers or discounts that you might be running. What's more, it's also great for search engines because having more of your pages indexed increases the chances of potential clients finding your website. Don't have time to blog? Pre-written blog posts for photographers are available to help speed the process and can be customized to suit your genre and style.
4) Know your ideal client.
This question seems straightforward, but it is actually loaded with many other smaller questions. Your ideal client is someone you should know very well - you need to know what they are looking for, their motivations and their personal taste or brand. Knowing this also helps to define who you are as a business and the type of service you want to provide. Profiling your ideal client will be helpful to your business. Like many personal services, photography is one where a lot of trust needs to be developed between photographer and client. The more you know about your client the better you can tailor your service and possibly establish a connection more efficiently. Perhaps you are a wedding photographer trying to get more wedding photography clients. You want to reach women between the ages of 28 and 39, who are in long term relationships or are engaged and have a certain level of income. How do these women spend their social or recreational time? Where do they shop? Where do they hang out? What kind of research do they do when they're looking for a wedding photographer? Maybe they frequent certain salons or yoga studios. All these details are important to find out when creating a profile of your ideal client. Design Flatcards yourself or find a template you like, print them, and set them out where your ideal client spends her time. Look into cross promoting services. For example, if you're doing a mini session event cross promote with hair and makeup or a clothing store and include their name and contact info on the 5x7 card and place in all participating businesses.
Want to learn more? There are several good resources available for anyone wanting to get their business on the right track. CreativeLive offers a few options for on-demand learning including Content Marketing for Photographers with Jared Bauman to help you identify your ideal client, set-up a blogging and marketing system, and get referrals and Photography Brand Makeover with Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck. If you want to learn in an active online class, check out Beth Wade's Internet Marketing, SEO, and Online Presence class or Kristy Dooley's Set For Success class from Click Photo School where you can follow along or fully join in and ask the instructors questions. The Professional Photographers of America also has good resources available for setting up your business.
Go ahead and take the leap - you don't need to do it all on your own!