As photographers, we just want to photograph. But if you want to make a living in the world of photography, you need to know how to work the business side of things as well. This often means dealing with clients, understanding marketing concepts, and learning how to create and optimize websites.
Today, I'll be revealing three tips I learned from my time as an Enterprise SEO Consultant working with multi-million dollar companies such as Allstate and Bill.com.
In fact, these exact tips have been pivotal throughout my career as both an SEO consultant and photographer, consistently earning the trust and loyalty of clients and coworkers alike.
Let's dive right in.
3 Photography Business Tips
Here are three tips you can apply to your own photography business:
1. Settings Expectations: The Early Delivery Advantage
Have you ever ordered something online that you really wanted, and it was expected to arrive on a certain date, but it arrived earlier by a few days? You know that surprise and joy you feel when it arrives early? That's the early delivery advantage. It's a concept rooted in expectation management and customer satisfaction.
You see, people act based on their expected outcomes. If you have a client that expects a certain delivery date and they receive their product or service earlier, their positive outcome is exceeded, leading to increased satisfaction, and a positive perception of you and your business.
As a consultant, we used this trick all the time. My boss once told me: "What is offered as a surprise doesn't have to be very much. It just has to be unexpected."
If I had a report or audit I needed to complete that I knew would only take me seven days to finish, I would tell the client it takes 14 days to complete. After seven days, I would tell the client I finished early. This surprise element enhanced client satisfaction and loyalty. I have used this exact same technique in my photography business as well.
Do you have a lot of photos you need to retouch and send to a client? Figure out how long it would take you to retouch them and tell the client it will take 3-5 days longer than it will actually take. Do you have a photo package that states you only take a certain number of photos on the shoot? Take a few more photos over the limit and tell the client they can have them free of charge. These are just a couple examples.
It's the little positive surprises and impact of exceeding expectations that will reaffirm your client's decision to choose your service, gain your trust, and lead to positive word of mouth referrals. Now, there are two things I wanted to note on this tactic:
- The product or service still has to deliver value and be of high quality.
- This will not work if you do it all the time. Sprinkle this tactic out throughout the lifespan of your client relationships. If you do this all the time, the client will come to expect that you deliver early all the time.
2. Craft Your One-Liners: Clarifying Your Market and Niche
The second photography business tip I learned from consulting is to craft your one-liners. And no, I'm not talking about jokes. I'm talking about one-liners in terms of how you can succinctly communicate your product and service for effective market positioning.
Working with multi-million dollar companies, they had refined and reworked their one-liners numerous times. Everything these businesses do and offer, from sales, to marketing, to accounting, to HR, revolves around that one-liner.
You might be thinking: "what's the big deal with having a one-liner?" Listen, if you don't know what you offer in terms of value, how can you expect potential clients to know? Crafting a one-liner will allow you to succinctly communicate what your photography business specializes in, your approach to the business, and what your clients can expect from you. The clarity will make it easier for potential clients to understand and remember what you offer, making it easier for both your marketing efforts and client communication.
How to Craft a One-Liner for Your Photography Business
I've found there are three steps you can follow that will help you craft your one-liner:
1. Identify Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Marketing lingo. Gross. I know, just bear with me. The first step is to identify your Unique Value Proposition, or UVP if you want to sound like a fancy marketing exec. You start with identifying the core service or product that you offer. Think about what makes your service or product unique. It could be your approach, style, or particular benefit that sets you apart from your competition.
2. Focus on the Benefit or Outcome for Your Client
The second step is to put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. Think about what they would be looking for or what problem they need to be solved. Why would they be coming to you to solve that problem? Figure out what that is and highlight the positive outcome or benefit your clients would experience from using your service or product.
3. Combine These Elements Into a Concise, Memorable Sentence
The third step is to combine these elements and make your one-liner.
A formula I like to follow is: What You Do + Unique Aspect + Client Benefit
[Photography Service] + [Unique Approach] + [Emotional Benefit/Outcome for Client]
Here are a couple examples in real-life:
For a Family Portrait Studio:
- What You Do: "Family Portrait Photography"
- Unique Aspect: "using natural light to create warm, candid moments"
- Client Benefit: "capturing your family's love and bond in every photo"
- One-Liner: "Capturing Your Family's Warmth in Candid Moments with Natural Light Photography"
Here's my one-liner as a photographer focusing primarily on providing SEO and marketing tips:
- What I Do: "Provide SEO education and services for photographers"
- Unique Aspect: "Full-time experience as Enterprise SEO Consultant"
- Client Benefit: "Grow business and brand through SEO"
- One-Liner: "Providing Enterprise-Level SEO Expertise to Accelerate Photography Business & Brand Growth."
Try using this formula to craft a one-liner for yourself. Start with the service or product you offer, then try to think of a unique benefit you have over your competition. If you can't think of a unique benefit, use these points to help you brainstorm:
- Specialized Industry Knowledge
- Professional Background
- Personal Approach
- Innovative Techniques
- Comprehensive Services
- Educational Component
3. Discoverability: The Power of a Website
The third photography business tip I learned from consulting is the importance of discoverability and the power of your website. Throughout my career as an SEO consultant, I've always had a mantra I told my clients: "You can have the best product or service in the world, but if no one can find it, is it really the best?" This quote revolves around the power and importance of discoverability in our digital-first world.
So how do you become discoverable? Well there are many ways, such as through social media, paid ads, speaking events, referrals, radio, TV, billboards, existing platforms like Reddit, Quora, and Pinterest, and through search engine optimization.
I've always been a strong believer that as photographers, our website is our home base and foundation within the digital world. Our website allows us to create a photography portfolio, list our pricing, create a personal brand, list our contact info, display our products and services, and allow us to create thought leadership content.
While you can make a living as a photographer on social media or through other platforms, you have to remember that your profiles on these platforms are owned by another company. At any moment, they can decide to shadowban you, change their algorithms, or remove you. And all that hard work you built on that platform is gone. With a website, however, it is yours. Your little home on the internet.
Now, the strongest way to drive traffic to your website, is through search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, around 70% of online experiences begin with a search engine. While new platforms have come and gone, search engines like Google and Bing have stood strong. It's why multi-million dollar companies are willing to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars each month to up their SEO game.
I could spend hours talking about what SEO is and the different strategies, but I'll save that for later posts on Fstoppers. For now, you need to know that SEO revolves around ranking for certain keywords and optimizing your photography website to have the best possible chance of ranking for those keywords.
Why should you care about keywords as a photographer? Let's do a little math exercise. Let’s say you are a portrait photographer in Manhattan and you rank #1 on Google for “portrait photographer in Manhattan.” To keep it simple, let’s say that keyword has a monthly search volume of 100 searches a month. You need to know that the first ranking spot on Google receives about roughly 30% of all the clicks.
Doing the math, that would mean about 30 people are finding your page every month organically (for free). This means that by effectively optimizing and ranking for that specific keyword, you could potentially secure bookings from these 30 people for your photography services every month. And the best part is that traffic would be only from one page. Imagine you had multiple pages targeting multiple different “money” keywords.
There is a lot of mystery and confusion around SEO for photographers that we hope to demystify and clarify. For right now, just know that if you have a photography website, you need to be prioritizing SEO, or else your competition will. If you have a specific question you need answered or have any questions, feel free to write us at Fstoppers or send me an email.
Those are my three photography business tips I learned from consulting $1,000,000 companies. I hope you took something valuable away from this guide. If you have any questions or comments regarding any of the tips, drop a comment down below! Or, if there is a certain tip you'll be using in your own photography business, let us know in the comments!