It’s January and that means that it’s time to plan, but it is also a quiet time for most photography niches which gives us the perfect opportunity to look at things to do to boost your business this year. I thought quite long and hard about what to include here because it is really hard to give a sweeping list of stuff that will help improve your business. However, the 10 things below are probably the best things I can offer in terms of general, non-specific, helpful, actionable, useful tips to boost your business in the next year.
The video on this topic, I think personally, is the best way to consume this content, that is here:
The written version starts now:
Tip 1: Check your bucket
Imagine a bucket that holds water. A mop bucket, a garden bucket, it doesn’t matter it just needs to be a bucket.
Think of your business as that bucket, think of clients and prospects as the water.
- Right now, how much water stays in your bucket?
- Do you even know?
- If you had to guess, how watertight is your bucket?
- Are you, or have you, unintentionally stabbed a load of holes into your bucket?
If it’s not perfect then there is work that you can do, and you can start that work right now. Areas that often leak for photography businesses are usually workflow/customer journey issues at specific points:
- The enquiry to booking stage
- The shoot to sale stage
- The post-sale customer retention
If you don’t know your conversion rates from one stage to the next, you have data holes that need filling first. Then, when you do know your conversion rates, you can work on identifying specific process holes and putting things in place to improve them.
Communication is the biggest hole-creator and the easiest plug. This is genuinely what Unit 2 is all about for Business Bootcamp, if you were wondering!
TL DR: Assess the current state of your bucket (business) and fix any holes.
Tip 2: Be the client
It is scary to look at websites (not just photographers!) and know almost straight away that the owner hasn’t put themselves in their prospective clients’ shoes. At all.
- How much of your marketing, website, social media or emails expect the end user/reader to fill in gaps?
- Does your website, high up on the main home page, say who you are, what you do and where you do it?
- Does your website clearly say why you do it?
- Does it walk a prospective client through exactly what happens from step to step?
- Does your session guide?
- Do your social media posts have any tips or steps in them?
- Does anything you put out answer the many, many questions a prospective client will have?
If the answer to any, or all, of those questions is no then you know what you need to be working on this week! And to add to this, the biggest clincher – does your portfolio reflect the work you produce now? Does it show the style you want to work with? Those are absolute essentials.
It’s maybe time for a refresh – get to it!
TL DR: Look at all of your assets and touchpoints as a client who knows nothing about you, fix any issues.
Tip 3: Google Maps
Do you have a Google Maps listing? If the answer is no, you need to go get one by signing up for a “location” here.
Google Maps listings are the easiest way to get to the top of the search rankings in your local area. It is WAY quicker and easier to climb to the top of Maps than it is to climb to the top of the traditional organic search listings.
If you DO already have a Google Maps listing, I need to ask you the following questions:
- Have you added a logo?
- Have you added some sample images?
- Have you added your website address and other contact information?
- Have you fleshed out the description and services with keyword specific content?
- Have you got it to look the absolute best that it can?
If no, go sort those out right now!
TL DR: Get a Google Maps listing for your business with a location pin.
Tip 4: Google Reviews
The natural extension of Tip 3 and so freaking important guys is to go and ask any and all previous clients (yes, model calls count) to go put a review of your services on that Maps listing.
On the backend of your Location, there will be a “Get Reviews” link that you can copy to send a direct form out to your clients. When they leave you a review, reply to it.
If you can, ask your clients to cover why they booked you, what the experience was like and what they thought of the images/products afterwards. The combination of those things will likely lead to them including specific keywords in their reviews. Win-win.
TL DR: Get as many 5-star Google Reviews as fast as possible.
Tip 5: Community Collaboration
Unless you live on a remote peninsula in Antarctica, you will have a local community. It may be a village, a town, a city or a county, but you will have a local community somewhere. The question is, does anyone in that community even know who you are? Do they, really?
If the answer to that is no, then you’ve got a prime opportunity right now to spend some of the slower months preparing and relationship building.
In your local community, there will be at least one business, organisation or charity that also serves your target market. That is the partner you need to have in your life so reach out with a genuine, positive proposition so that they get something from you, and in return, you need to work out a way that you can get access to their customers.
Think outside of the box – think big.
TL DR: Partner with local businesses/organisations to gain visibility.
Tip 6: Sell Smarter
Everyone knows that my life changed forever the second I completed my first in-person sales (IPS) session. It was terrifying but holy moly it completely altered the trajectory of my photographic career. If you do not do in-person sales, you are leaving a chunk of cash on the table – I have literally absolutely no doubt about that.
I can harp on about selling smarter, creating sustainable pricing and giving your customers the worlds best experience, but really that’s what Unit 4 is for in Business Bootcamp.
I will say this though – Instead of thinking about why you can’t, won’t or don’t want to do something, maybe think about looking into what life might be like if you could, would, did want to do it. #justsaying
PS. IPS isn’t hard sales, it’s smart sales and great customer service.
TL DR: Make every client worth more by selling smarter.
Tip 7: Business from Business
At first, I was like WTF is this crazy idea, but then I spoke to Michael and it all made so much sense. Essentially, Michael Puck has spent his life working in big businesses and he spotted a huge gap in an untapped market. A market that any photographer can tap into to generate a totally new revenue stream and yes, it pays really well.
Michael set about creating a resource that can help you, the community, sell your photographs to non-photography, non-niche related businesses. He explains it so much better than I can so I’ll let him take you from here inside his completely free mini-course.
- A word-for-word script for reaching out to businesses
- The best kind of businesses to approach
- How to sniff out ideal customers in your local area
- Potential pitfalls to avoid
- And the single most powerful tool for closing your sales
To get that and a lot more, for FREE (no guys, there isn’t a catch), then head here:
There is an additional set of resources for MTogs, and you can find it inside the MTog Vault.
TL DR: Sell your work to businesses by following some free steps from Michael Puck.
Tip 8: Socially Specific
I’ve mentioned this before in our Instagram for Photographers video that covers this in way more detail than I’m going to go into here. It involves changing your perception of where social media actually sits in the lifecycle of a customer (how they get into your bucket) because Facebook may be how they find you but Instagram is usually always how they check you’re legit. Go look at that post.
I’ll pop a paragraph from it here that looks at social specificity:
So post regularly, at least once per week, with a super hot bit of content that will get the engagement flowing – tag people, locations and use location hashtags over general hashtags. Stay away from #photography and #photographer hashtags because your target market is unlikely to be following those. They’re more likely to be following #dogsofinstagram (HUGE hashtag, not a great choice!) and #dogsofyorkshire than a photographer tag.
TL DR: Use hashtag and location tags that your target market will actually look at.
Tip 9: Upskill Yourself
Deep down, we all kind of know that the better someone is at something, the more they tend to be paid for that thing. I mean, if I was one of the best people in the world at playing tiddlywinks, I could probably make some serious cash doing that. If I was a talented coder, I could probably earn hundreds of thousands by channeling that into a project that takes off.
As photographers, it goes without saying that we should always be working on our primary skill (taking killer photographs, duh), but there is SO MUCH MORE to running a successful business than that. Photography itself is such a tiny part of a successful photography business that you have a vast pool of skills that you can learn this year to put yourself ahead of the rest.
Some ideas include upskilling yourself in:
- A new niche to photograph in
- Google Ads
- Facebook Ads
- Project planning
- Public speaking
- Stress management (legit a skill, promise)
- Conversion rate optimisation
- Copy writing
- UI / UX
- Graphic design
- The list, literally, goes on.
TL DR: People with awesome skills earn more, so develop and improve your skills.
Tip 10: Be Original
I’m going to start this with some “don’t”s because man, the photography groups have been LIT UP by this recently:
- Don’t try to take another photographers customers by imitating them
- Don’t copy someones locations like-for-like to “psych them out” (what?!)
- Don’t copy another businesses name but change it just a teeny bit to confuse the market (technically, this is legally enforceable under Passing Off law)
- Don’t be a boring, unimaginative potato and forget to use your own brain
If you get struck by lightning or kicked in the head by a cow and DO do some of those things, remember that nobody ever wants a crappy knock-off of someone else. Literally never. Nobody came to my YouTube channel and was like, “Hey, this is a clone of another person that I already know, doing all the same things, in the same way, let’s subscribe” (not that I know of, anyway – was that you?). Just like that, nobody in their right mind is going to see what you are doing (usually the newbie in this situation) and think, “Wow, I know someone just like this so I’m going to use this new person that nobody knows about instead”. I mean, just think about how ridiculous all that sounded.
Ok, so with that out of the way, what DO you do?
- Create work that speaks to you personally, and that is you wholly
- Create experiences that you would absolutely adore yourself – you’ll find your tribe!
- Write from your heart when you are working on your communication assets (website, guides etc)
- Make your own path through the weeds of life, don’t just blindly walk behind someone else
- Do things that your mentor, your parents or some other morally awesome person, would thank you for
- Give back – always, always give back (work with a charity!)
Is it harder to find your own path? Yes.
Is it worth it? Absolutely!
Will it boost your business? Definitely.
TL DR: Don’t be a poor knock-off version of someone else: be yourself, develop your own voice and they will come.
That’s my 10 for 2022. Thoughts?!
Helpful? Please share and say so 🙏