Before I get started, I want to make a disclaimer. There are unlimited methods to find your first photography client. This post doesn’t cover that. This post is meant to help you prepare YOU to find your first client. Once you have your house in order, then you can open the front door and let company come over.
One of the mantras that are often drilled into new photographers is that they shouldn’t specialize. As a photographer, we’ve been told that we should be able to shoot anything and do it flawlessly. I totally disagree with that train of thought.
I feel that your percentage of success and career happiness is much higher if you are doing something that is in alignment with what you want to do and care greatly about. I think that most people would agree with that too.
Don’t get it wrong, you can be the most passionate photographer on this planet but if you don’t have your business in order, you won’t make it.
This post is meant to be used as a guideline to choosing a niche that will allow you to create work you love, how to discover what clients you want to work more with, and how to devise a plan for reaching those very same customers.
And to make things even easier, I’ve included a simple three-step plan for you to follow below. Now, let’s get started on how to bring in those first photography clients!
Step 1: Choose Your Photographic Niche
This is only my humble opinion but I believe that one of the quickest ways to fail in business is to try to do too much, too soon, and for too many people.
On the other token, we all, as photographers, have had to photograph those certain jobs that aren’t our first choice in order to keep food on the table.
The secret plan is that while you are shooting those not-so-favorite jobs, you are implementing ways to decrease the number of unwanted commissions and increase desired commissions.
The key to choosing a niche for your photography business is to find the middle point. That center point includes what you are technically good at shooting, what you love shooting the most, and what has enough market need within your geographical region to create a demand.
Follow these action steps below to get started today.
Action Step: Make a list of the top 3 photography niches that you would love to shoot as your career. Only select those that you have a genuine interest in, you are technically proficient at doing, and that have a reasonable market demand in your geographical area.
Now take a good and honest look at niches #2 and #3… do they complement #1?
If they aren’t compatible in terms of customers served, equipment needed, or skillsets needed then you will need to select your main niche again and two options. Options that don’t compliment each other will only make it more difficult to get that first customer in the door.
Step 2: Determine Your Ideal Client
Step 2 is to determine the who/what/why/when/where for your perfect client. And you want to know why? Go ahead and say it with me…WHY?
You want to zone in on who you want as a client!
By knowing these things about your perfect client, you can focus on those that you really want and enjoy working with. By eliminating those you aren’t the best fit, you can create marketing and brand experiences that speak directly to those you do fit best. It also allows you to cater your services and products which helps you provide clients with the products and services they really want.
To find those clients, be as specific about them as possible:
- Who is this person? List specifics like age, profession, family structure, etc.
- What service does this person need that I can provide better than anyone else?
- When is this person going to be most likely looking for my services i.e wedding services during wedding season?
- Where is this person located and where will they be looking for someone that provides the services I do?
- Why are they looking for this service? Once you know why, you can counter possible objections with an opportunity instead.
The more specific you can get for the 5 W’s, the easier it will be for you to find and speak to clients.
Step 3: Create Your Plan
Now that you have your photography niche defined and you know the type of client that you are looking for, you most likely fall into one of the two situations below.
Situation A: No portfolio for the area of photography you want to work as your niche.
Usually, this applies to someone that has been shooting anything just to get a paycheck. This person is usually interested in a niche that they have little to no work experience in.
For example, you want to specialize in product photography and would like to build up more clients in that niche but you have no current work to show in that area.
To fix this, grab your camera and grab anything around your house that’s small and interesting. Children’s toys, small electronics, and jewelry all make good starting subjects.
Now find some corner of your house and take a picture. Look at it, make improvements to fix what you don’t like, and take another shot. Repeat and rinse until you get something that you are happy with.
This issue is usually not finding something to shoot but it’s finding the will to get up and shoot. Once you start, the creative juices should start flowing. If you still say you have nothing to shoot, photograph yourself. Then work on becoming the best self-portrait photographer you can be.
Situation B: You have a portfolio but no clients in that niche.
If you already have portfolio images but need more clients, you have to approach the situation differently.
For example, your specialty is model headshots. Your goal should be to find a way to get in front of models and people that employ them.
When we first started our headshot and portrait studio, we worked towards getting our name where the modeling industry was going to be. This meant we judged local talent contests, modeling schools, and fashion events among other things. We also reached out to the different locations that hired models directly. This included radio stations, event promotors, model agencies, and model bookers.
The key is to think of other ways you can get in front of many new clients at once and be there. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and get your name out there!
Let’s review the three main areas to focus on:
- Pick your specific photography niche. Pick one main area and two supporting areas that are all interconnected.
- Learn who your ideal client is. Who is the best customer for your specific niche? Keep the 5 W’s in mind as you search for those clients.
- Create your plan. Think of different ways to engage your potential clients. Devise and write down a plan to get you in front of your target audience.
Now, it’s your turn to put your plan into action!