How to Discover Your Ideal Photography Client

How to Discover Your Ideal Photography Client

You’ve honed your craft and brushed up on lighting and editing techniques. You’ve built a beautiful website and opened your door as a bonafide professional photographer. You’re ready for those client inquiries to start streaming in, and they do. Then you realize that some of your clients are a nightmare to deal with, while others become like new best friends. You may not know who your ideal client is, and you may not be marketing to them.

The idea of figuring out who your ideal client is maybe a silly one at first. Or you may think of trying to identify a client you haven’t met yet as an impossible task, but it isn’t. The idea of identifying who your ideal client is in order to market directly to them has been around for years in the business world. But as photographers, our first love being the arts and photography and maybe not business, some of the foundational steps we should be taking in our businesses, like identifying who our ideal client is, can take a backseat to perfecting our art. Make no mistake though, identifying who your ideal client is can be one of the most empowering things you do in business.

Marketing In Business

It can absolutely be an overwhelming thought, trying to identify who your ideal client is - particularly if you’ve never considered building an ideal client avatar as something necessary to having a successful business. Knowing who your ideal client is, by building a thorough client avatar, can help answer so many of the “what if’s” you may have when thinking about your business. A few weeks ago I wrote about brand building in photography. One of the most important aspects of building a strong brand is knowing who that brand is appealing to.

When we start a business and begin marketing it's easy to fall into the trap of copying what everyone else is doing. And while that may be ok to do at first, it definitely isn’t a marketing plan that will sustain you. When I talk about marketing, I’m talking about any client-facing aspect of your photography business. Essentially, everything you do to try to get your name out to the masses. Marketing can also be a daunting thought, and as business owners we all know very well that we already have a ton on our plate every day, what with the technical, administrative, and managerial side of our job the marketing we choose to do needs to be effective because we simply won’t have the time and energy to try several different marketing techniques until we find one that works.

Building Your Ideal Client Avatar

That's where having a strong ideal client avatar comes into play. Having a detailed and thorough ideal client avatar will help you know exactly the right ways to market, where to market, and when. Chances are you have a general idea as to who your ideal client is. As a wedding photographer, I know my ideal client is going to be a just-engaged woman planning her wedding. Even with that small bit of information, and general picture of who my ideal client is, I know that it wouldn’t be beneficial for me to advertise myself on a site like Model Mayhem because that's not where my ideal client is hanging out trying to plan her wedding. Instead, I’d probably have a better chance of being found by my ideal client on a website like Pinterest or Instagram, where I know future brides go to discover inspiration for their own wedding day.

The more specifically you can visualize your ideal client, the better. 

Who are they? 

What do they do for a living? 

How old are they?

What websites to they browse daily?

What are their hobbies?

What are their dislikes?

These questions just skim the surface, but by answering just a few of these, I have a much clearer idea as to who my ideal bride would be. It may seem silly to ask questions about a theoretical person like, “What are their dislikes?” but knowing what your clients don’t like, will help you hone your marketing skills to cater to your client much more thoughtfully. A thorough ideal client avatar should cover age, location, likes, dislikes, careers, hobbies, favorite places to shop, favorite tv shows, movies, etc. It can even include where your client went to school, what they studied, their fears, and where they hope to see themselves in the future.

By building my ideal client avatar, I was able to completely rebrand my business from a typical and general wedding photography business to a unique brand that specializes in elopements and caters to couples wanting an entire Las Vegas experience on their wedding day (which sounds a lot more exciting to me).

If you feel like you’re getting clients that are hit or miss, one of the steps you can take to improving your business would be to build an ideal client avatar. Not only will it help you dial in and strengthen your brand, ultimately it's going to improve the experience your clients have with you, and as importantly, will improve the experience you’re having with your business. After all, we got into business to live for ourselves and it does us a disservice if we aren’t fully enjoying what we do. If this is you, it may be because you’re not serving your ideal client. Spend some time building a complete avatar, rebrand yourself and change your marketing habits, and watch your experience improve. Foundationally, its one of the best things you’ll be doing for yourself, and your business in the new year.

Lead image by via Pexels

Danette Chappell's picture

Danette is a Las Vegas-based wedding and elopement photographer who's photographed over 1,500 weddings and elopements in 14 different states. She has a passion for teaching business and helping other creative entrepreneurs succeed. She also loves cats, Harry Potter, and the occasional video game.

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Excellent article as always. Thanks Danette!

For those of you who would like to deepen your knowledge about "client avatars" go and google "marketing persona" - it's a standard marketing term for creating ideal client profile and you will find numerous ways and templates that will help you do just that.