Every business owner focuses on building their brand for their business. It is something that cannot be ignored if one chooses to be successful. And branding your photography business can be a daunting task for beginners. I certainly wish I knew when I was first starting out, what I know now. I’m sure you’ve heard me say this a million times, but I will say it again. Being a successful photographer depends on how much time and energy you focus on the business side of your business. It takes much more than being able to take a pretty picture. You MUST be dedicated to doing what it takes to run a successful business. And your brand is one of the most important aspects of this.
Let me start by saying that branding your photography business means more than getting a fancy logo or website. I say this to you because when many photographers are starting out, that is as far as they think when creating their brand. I did this too! Yes your logo and website is extremely important in expressing your brand, but there is so much more to it than that. Your brand is what people think of when they hear your name. It is more than what you put out there for everyone to see. It is how others perceive you and your business.
When I was first starting out as a photographer I would shoot anything and everything that would come my way. Let’s face it… new photographers are eager to shoot. We are ready to get recognition and we never want to turn down money! Can I get an Amen? But you know what? This actually holds us back. Our clients want to hire an expert. They want to hire someone who specializes in what they need. So narrowing down your specialty is vital! If you love shooting Seniors, then specialize in Seniors. If you love shooting infants, then shoot infants. If you are like me, and love shooting weddings… then focus your business on weddings! If a bride goes to your website and sees a hodgepodge of various types of photography, you will more than likely get overlooked. Defining your specialty makes you a specialist. You are suddenly an expert. And this is the first step in creating your brand.
So how do you stand out? How can you create an awareness of your brand when there are so many talented photographers out there? Consumers have so many options these days. And while there are many ways to brand your business, I choose to brand based on ME. Let me explain. With a sea of talented photographers out there, the only thing I can GUARANTEE to my potential clients that I have that nobody else out there has is ME. There is only one me! When you go to my website, you will see photos of ME on the front page! I want people to see ME. I want people to connect with ME… not just my work. I have included a huge “about me” section on my website where people can go to learn more about me as a person… not just a photographer. This allows people to connect with me personally! And connecting with people personally is the backbone of my business. But even more than that, it is why I do what I do. It is why I became a wedding photographer. It is why I LOVE being a wedding photographer!
The next two steps are really easy… and fun! In order to help create brand awareness for your business it is important that you network with other industry professionals as well as stay active on social media. One way to network with other industry professionals is to visit their blog regularly. Leave comments for them. And keep going back. Also… show up to planned community events within the industry. Make friends with your local photographers and/or wedding vendors. Become someone that they can trust and depend on. Within social media, be active! Communicate with your local photographers and vendors through social media sites such Twitter and Facebook. But also remember that you ultimately want to connect with your potential clients as well.
On Social Media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, you want to keep your brand consistent. Use the same profile picture for each site. Keep your look the same across the board. You want people to recognize you. On Facebook create a business page where people can click on the Like button. Update your status several times a day, and let your personality shine. Create conversations on your Facebook page by asking questions that people will relate to and WANT to respond. Share your blog posts by copying and pasting the link into your status update.
With a little help from people and companies that know way more than me, I have been able to brand my business in a way that has taken off over the last 14 months. With the help of Showitfast, I have been able to create a unique website that allows me to be unique. And the tools that Showitfast provides me to keep everything consistent within social media is priceless. I went from spending nearly $300 a month on advertising with sites such as Wedding Wire and The Knot, to only spending $39 a month for Showit. And the number of weddings that I have booked have tripled in the 14 months that I have focused on this type of branding.
I finally ALSO decided to invest in a designer to create a look that best fits ME. When photographers are first starting out, there is not much of a budget to work with. So we always think that we can just create our own logo and be done with it. I know… I was totally one of those people who thought that exact thing. But if you are like me, you are a photographer… NOT a designer. My pathetic little logos that I was able to create in Photoshop… well I thought at the time that they were great! But I look back at them now and think, “What was I thinking?!” So I finally invested in a consistent look to help me be me! Kim with Madilu Designs specializes in creating a look especially for photographers. The work that I had her do for me is a little more custom than what she does for most photographers in the sense that I wanted something different! I wanted different pieces than the usual pieces that photographers think of because I have spent so much time branding myself through Showitfast and Social Media, and I wanted that to remain consistent in my printed material as well. You can see the welcome packet and extras that she and I have been working on for the last several months.
I totally wish I had started out three years ago knowing what I know now. It would have saved me tons of time AND money! And since many of you have sent me questions about branding, I wanted to share with you my strategy. This may not be the best way, and it is definitely not the ONLY way. But it is MY WAY, and it works for me. If you want to dig deeper into my strategy, get with me for a mentoring session.
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