We’re in the middle of a series for photographers and aspiring entrepreneurs called “Making the Leap” where we’re sharing our ten practical steps for going from part-time photographers to full-time. Or, as author Jon Acuff puts it, going from your day job to your dream job without it becoming a nightmare. If you’re just joining us, you can catch up here:
Making the Leap
Step 1: Get Debt Free
Step 2: Get a Mentor
Step 3: Get Educated
Step 4: Get the Necessities
Step 5: Get a Team
Step 6: Get Branded (Part 1)
Step 6: Get Branded (Part 2)
Step 7: Get Busy Loving Clients
Step 8: Get in Community
Step 9: Get a Fresh Perspective
Step 10: Get to Praying
In Part 1, we talked about the first step to branding yourself and your business: identifying why you’re in business. Today, we’re going to talk about how you turn your whys into hows.
1. Identify Your Ideal Client
Now that you’ve identified your whys, take some time to dream up your ideal client, the one who you would work with every day for the rest of your life if you could. Have you ever had a client who just made your heart flutter? Where everything just clicked? Where it felt like you had been friends for years when you had just met? That is your ideal client. Imagine a business where you love every client who comes through the door as much as that one. That is the goal! If you wouldn’t be friends with your client after their wedding, then you’re not the right photographer for them, and they’re not the right client for you.
Once you identify your ideal client, your job is to do everything you can to attract more incredible clients just like them. Nobody can be the right photographer for everybody, so the more you narrow your focus, the better. Dig deep and dissect your ideal client to figure out why they’re the peanut butter to your jelly. What does your client value? What is their style? Where do they shop? What do they care about? What does their day-to-day life look like? What is important to them? Once you figure out the answers to these questions, you now have something concrete to build your brand around. When you’re developing a brand, you can never lose sight of your ideal client. Every decision you make in your branding should speak directly to them and be honest about you. You’re either going to repel or attract people based on what you put out there, so make sure you’re putting out the real you, so you can attract the people that make you want to dance a happy dance, sing joyfully from the rooftops, and shout from the mountains! Too much? Maybe, but you get the point.
2. Translate Visually
One of the biggest mistakes we made early on when designing our logo, our website, our business cards, our everything, is we looked around at what other photographers were doing, and tried to create our own little version of that, without giving enough thought into our whys. The next time around, we did everything differently. We identified our ideal client and funneled all of our decisions through what would appeal most to them and bring us people that we instantly clicked with and liked. Instead of browsing around other photographer’s websites, we scoured magazines, created Pinterest boards and paid attention to the things that actually mattered to our clients. We looked at successful, well-known brands they love and we love (like Chanel, J. Crew or Anthropologie, for example) and paid attention to font types, sizes, colors, layout, and how they represented their brands visually. We chose images that convey what we love hoping to speak to happy couples who want their love captured in a fresh, sweet, emotion-filled way. You’re not going to see a lot of dark, dramatic, moody images in our portfolio because that just isn’t who we are and that’s not who our clients are, either. We appreciate and even envy photographers with that style from time to time, but it’s just not us, and it’s not our client. Every image, color, font and design element communicates who we are and represents us visually.
3. Show Consistency
Whether it was our blog, our Facebook page, our handwritten cards or even our email signatures, it was important to us that everything was cohesive and consistent, so once we had our inspiration boards complete, we sent them to Julie from Champagne Press, a brilliant graphic designer, who listened to our vision and helped us translate it visually into a logo that fit, then worked with Ilana from Sugar & Type, another fabulous graphic designer, who brought our business cards to life. When we designed our website, we had a true vision for what we wanted, and when it was finished, we finally had something that felt like us. Something that spoke to our ideal client. Something that brought us people who we love so much that we actually have to remind ourselves from time to time that this is “work.” Establishing our whys, figuring out our hows, and then executing them consistently in every area of our business was a lot of work, but it has paid off in spades.
Go through the above three steps. Take pen to paper and describe your ideal client. Then, ignore what everyone else in your industry is doing. Draw inspiration from the brands that your ideal client already loves (that you love, too) and choose imagery that will bring you more just like them. Finally, consult with professionals (it is so worth the money… even when you barely have any) to help you bring a unique brand to life.
Here’s What’s Next…
Next, we’ll talk about Step 7: Get Busy Loving Clients. We’ll give you some practical ways to give your clients what they deserve: an unforgettable experience.
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Thanks for checking in, friends! Have a great week and serve on!