I’ve been waiting for this.
In fact, I’m surprised it took so long.
And now it’s here, I can’t WAIT to discuss it!
What am I talking about? Let me explain…
You know, if you read this blog regularly, why it is essential that you get personal if you want to stand out in a crowded industry, right?
You know. Personal with your words. Your blogs. Your newsletters. Your website pages. Etc. Every part of your branding and communication with the world has YOU in it. In fact, it’s the EASIEST and most EFFECTIVE way to market your photography business (if done in the right way).
Just maybe- You have a little (or big) suspicion, this sneaky thought that creeps in and shouts every so often –
but this is total BS! After all, X,Y,Z are KILLING it in this industry, and there isn’t a single personal blog post in sight on their pages! So I don’t GET this stuff, and I don’t even know if I BELIEVE it! After all, Jose Villa seems to be doing particularly well without ever getting personal!
And that generally leads into this –
I don’t believe my clients truly care if I am personal or not! They’re not even thinking about that! They just want gorgeous images.
So that’s the question that I had today. I wanted to answer it, as I know there are lots of you thinking the same thing.
So my answer to this might surprise you.
I’m going to tell you that you are absolutely right.
Your client DOES just want gorgeous images. Absolutely. 100%. No question about that.
So let me ask you something now. My turn, right? Let’s play fair 😉
If your client wants gorgeous images, and your gorgeous images are very similar or even slightly similar in style to 1001 other photographers out there- what makes you think they are going to book YOU???
Perhaps you’re going to tell me that your style is unique in which case – unless you’re in some weird niche I’ve never heard of – I’m going to tell you that you’re deluded.
I don’t apologise for that because –come on! Do you know how many photographers there were even in my own FAMILY at one point? FOUR! Four photographers, all working to gain bookings and clients in one small area!!! That’s just within my FAMILY!!!
Do you get it yet?
There isn’t even an industry anymore!! the industry is dying because EVERYONE is a photographer now, and it only takes a short time to pick up on the exact same actions the exact same colouring the exact same presets and processes as everyone else, and OH MY GOSH ALL OF A SUDDEN EVERYONE LOOKS REMARKABLY SIMILAR EVEN IF YOU’RE IN A NICHE- how did that happen? Probably around the advent of digital photography, but I digress.
Even fine-art and fine-art film photography, which was ‘rare’ around 3 years ago- UNIQUE, now? Really???
Almost everybody knows that pretty much all you need to do to create the standard fine art look is to shoot pretty much wide open for most of the time, throw up some beautifully styled shoots with opulent flowers and tablescapes, shoot without any weird angles and preferably at a certain time of day, with model in *whimsical pose of choice and OH LOOK NOW EVERYBODY IS A FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER TOO. This formula isn’t SECRET is it!!! AND EVERYONE IS DOING IT!!! IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME!!!
So I will ask you again – in a sea of sameness- what is going to make YOUR WORK stand out to your clients?!?!
I know, I know.
But Jose Villa…. he isn’t personal… he doesn’t blog personally…. heck, the guy is a walking ENIGMA! –
And you’re right.
He doesn’t get up close and personal on his site/s.
But he also started out in the industry over ten years ago and has openly said if he started now he wouldn’t have the success he has had. The world is a very different place from how it was ten years ago and clients shop, browse, consume and connect entirely differently now – I think I was still on MySpace ten years ago!!
He also has the added advantage of having studied fine art photography at University which gives you time and space to be able to develop a truly unique vision, based on more classical / documentary style photographers, which he became known for and gained a client base for, way before anyone was trying to be the next Jose Villa! So if you have studied photography to this level, like I did too, you will have a SLIGHT advantage – but now the way in which we exist and communicate is so vastly different to be honest, it really doesn’t make TOO much of a difference, which is why Villa himself as said he probably wouldn’t be as successful as he has been!
Well, what about other photographers? THEY are successful and THEY don’t blog personally.
Ohhh this is such a good one! yep, my geeky little marketing heart is jumping up and down with excitement.
Firstly – let’s have a little pause here and think about what SUCCESS really, actually is.
Is it industry success that you are looking for? Because trust me, industry fame and recognition and all of the awards in the world don’t automatically bring you an endless stream of clients. Because unless you’re intentionally targeting the industry, most of the time, your clients aren’t even aware of ‘the industry’!!!
Which is why you can be an incredibly decorated and published photographer, and still not make the levels of success you want and gain the number of client bookings you want – even if judging by APPEARANCES was anything to go by, you might seem ridiculously successful!
So if it’s not industry success, fame + recognition that you want, then I’m guessing you want what most of us want???
The financial abundance you need to live the life that makes you happy, working with clients who value you as a person, who admire respect and LIKE you…
Those photographers that you THINK are successful – are they ACTUALLY, truly, authentically successful in this way???
Have you seen their bank accounts? Know exactly how many weddings/shoots they have booked, and at exactly what rate they were charging, and THEN seen their profit and loss accounts???
and then even after all of that it really is irrelevant anyway!! because you still would have no idea of their cost of living and so how much of that money is actually creating that life they desire!
Perhaps the business they have created and the income they earn all vanishes monthly on paying a gigantic mortgage they can’t really afford and buying luxury cars and basically keeping up with the Joneses –
I’m exaggerating here but you get my point- the point is how do you KNOW???
‘Success’ is subjective, and you can never really tell who has it anyway and who doesn’t!!!
Perhaps that photographer is struggling as much as you are? Perhaps they are undercutting with their prices and taking on less than desireable clients in order to appear ‘busy’? Who knows?
The industry is full of hyper-inflated egos pretending to have expert knowledge that is only obtainable via them, and they cultivate this air of mystery and ‘I know something you don’t’ in order to sell their books, workshops etc. (REALITY- you can find out everything you need to know online. NOTHING is secret.
THERE IS NO SECRET and nobody’s success has a secret formula that you need in order to succeed. (Which is why I try to give away everything I know and have ever learned from my ten years in business as a photographer and in the marketing industry and from my incredible successful business coaches- because I’m tired of the bloody faux-show that is SUCCESS)!!!!
Finally – success isn’t a marker of happiness anyway!
Listen, I get it.
Blogging personally is scary.
It makes you feel vulnerable – and there are very definitely ways to go about writing for your clients and ways to get personal that actually – TURN OFF- your clients. It does need to be done carefully- kind of. More on this later.
But THIS is what you need to understand about getting PERSONAL with your clients + prospective clients. I’m not just talking in your blogs here – being personal spreads across ALL forms of your communication- from your newsletters to your website pages.
What you need to know is that BUYING DECISIONS– I’m talking major buying decisions here, not like whether you buy a latte or an espresso (though Lord knows that decision takes me way too long – surely I’m not alone here)-
I’m talking investments-
I’m talking about the major investment a client makes when they select a photographer, which is a major investment because-
It’s not just a financial investment. It’s an EMOTIONAL one!!!! because what we are photographing is an emotional occasion- which is why we were hired to begin with!
And WE BUY WITH OUR EMOTIONS FIRST!!! – in fact your client has already subconsciously decided whether or not to book you long before they even meet you!
BUYING DECISIONS ARE BASED ON EMOTION AND SUBCONSCIOUS THOUGHT.
So when you understand THAT- which you can find in any good sales psychology book I am sure but more than that you can see being played out EVERYDAY, ONLINE, in the online marketing world which is – WHERE YOU ARE, because the majority of your business is now carried out ONLINE-
so when you understand that-
You can understand that there are hugely powerful ways to persuade and influence that choice- and it starts with the WORDS that we use to convey our MESSAGE to our clients.
Unless of course, every single one of your images not only promotes and invokes huge human connection, and are they deliberately selected to persuade and influence subconscious thought?
Hmm. I’m guessing not.
But to a degree- completely, you’re right. 100%. Clients don’t give a monkeys about any of this.
That’s because they don’t even know about it.
Because the best marketing? Doesn’t ever look like marketing at all.
It’s seamless. Based on values that we as a species share.
Which is why our message is never, ever JUST our work.
It’s our purpose. It’s our WHY we are in business in the first place. And if you want to stand out in a sea of sameness, you’d better make damn sure you know EXACTLY what your purpose is, and above all HOW TO COMMUNICATE THAT MESSAGE TO YOUR CLIENTS, if you want to truly achieve the level of success that you want, and not just showboat around the industry flaunting a list of publication credits that mask a less than desireable bank balance or life.
One of the EASIEST ways to truly transform your business AND do it rapidly, is to understand that
-the industry has changed,
-new ways of doing business must be embraced if you don’t want to be left behind
– the power and the impact that YOU and YOUR WORDS have on your business.
So make them count.
Make them stand for something.
MAKE your words CREATE that CONNECTION, that feeling that rises up in the heart and throat of your buyer and has them reaching for their credit card before they even know what they are doing.
Make them remember you.
Make them LOVE you (or hate you. Both are good).
And do it boldly and without fear or consideration of what anyone else in the industry might think.
Because it’s not about them, is it?
This is about YOU.
YOU and the business YOU want and the clients YOU want and it’s about being in business AUTHENTICALLY and if you don’t give a monkeys about that, stop reading this blog.
Go and create some more superficiality and be proud of that and carry on doing whatever it is that you do.
But for everyone else.
For those who actually give a crap about their business and about how the industry is changing FAST and about how to actually go above and beyond the standard pat on the head and the – good! you’re doing this RIGHT!-
and create a business that actually WORKS but not only WORKS one that FLOURISHES and actually builds you a name and a business that’s visible far far more quickly than churning out your own version of generic fluff
When’t it going to be? How many more failures or quiet weeks / months / seasons is it going to take for you to realise HOLY CRAP I NEED TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT? How many more client trickles do you need instead of client floods? HOW MUCH MORE WAITING DO YOU NEED TO DO????
In short –
When is it going to be your time to stop pussyfooting around, stop writing about the generic, and just get on and share the reason why you are in business at all- the message that you were born to share?
There is never a better time to begin than now.
Love + Light x
If you know that you have barriers holding you + your words back, that stops you getting your message out to the world (you won’t believe how often I receive emails about this)! I’ve created a BIG free training for you, and it goes live this Friday.
But don’t miss it – this training is going to be LIVE and you will ONLY be able to access it if you are signed up – and places are strictly limited! Sign up here to reserve your seat.
image by Maxeen Kim Photography