When professional photography is your primary source of income, we're always concerned about sales. Which is usually not the reason we got into photography to begin with.
I think it's safe to say most photographers would rather be shooting than marketing. After all, we only make money when we shoot. If there was just a way we could put our marketing on auto-pilot and not worry about it. If we could just buy a solution and then make it go away.
Well, today, you can't. So just stop whining about it. Get over it. Accept the fact that today marketing is what we do most of the time and shooting is the reward we get to do sometimes.
It wasn't always like that. I remember the easy years. Those old days when you just opened a studio and magically people just fell through the door and spent money. Lots of it.
I also remember all the marketing I did to make that happen. The trouble is almost nothing that worked back then will work now.
Things have changed. We all know the reasons why. We don't need to rehash them here. Tons of photographers have failed to adapt to new realities and have left the business or simply gone out of business.
Others spend each day wondering and worrying about how to turn things around.
The trouble is the very thing that brings clients in the door is usually the same thing that we really really don't want to do. So we find ways to avoid doing it or excuses for not doing it.
But, here's the deal. Marketing and selling today is easier than it's ever been. And way more fun. And most of all allows us to be in touch with only the people who want us to be in touch with them.
A couple of my first jobs out of school were in sales. One was for a business machines company. I had to dress up, go door to door cold calling businesses and meet with people eyeball to eyeball. People that were busy and didn't want to be disturbed. It was not a pleasant experience. My next job was in telemarketing. Wow...and I thought cold calling in person was nasty.
All of that's gone today. Making contacts and sales with people is better than it's ever been before. Why? Because we're only talking to people who are already interested and we don't even need to get out of our chairs.
So, how do we do that? The lead magnet. We only attract the people that want to talk to us. How great is that?
I can't imagine a better way of attracting new clients. If I had the tools back in my first couple of jobs that we have today I'd go nuts 🙂
So, the first thing is to get over the fact that we have to do marketing all the time. Once we've accepted that, it's simply a matter of training ourselves how to think. Specifically, how to think as a client.
You're probably thinking right now that this is all about social marketing. And yes, that's a part of it. But only a part. Let me explain.
Years ago I developed a marketing plan for myself I called the 5x5 plan. It was based on what I'd learned as a photographer. I felt that people needed to see me and my business in five different ways 5 times in order for my message to be heard. I never tried to teach the 5x5 plan, this was just something I used to keep myself on track.
So I - 1) Went to trade shows 2) Took out expensive magazine advertising 3) Had a nice yellow pages ad 4) Sent emails to lists of targeting brides that I got from the magazine company. 5) Held draws and gave away tons of free sessions.
And with that I built a solid multi 6 figure photography business working out of my apartment. My business grew so fast I felt like I was on easy street. Then boom - one day it stopped working. I tweaked and tweaked and updated and revised over and over again but still it was dead in the water.
It took me years of frustrating trial and error to try and get back on track. It seemed like nothing worked. Many times I thought about packing it in. The market was dead I said. There are too many photographers. Cameras are too cheap. Cell phones are killing the business. Everybody in the world is a photographer. What the hell am I doing here.
It's a terrible feeling you know. Anxiety, worry, fear. Not a great way to live. I would talk to my photographer friends and they'd always tell me things were great. I was convinced the problem was with me.
But it wasn't. One lesson I learned about talking to photographers is NEVER - NEVER believe what they say about business until they show you their tax returns. There's a lot of BS in this world.
Slowly, over the years I began to refine my marketing. And one day I realized that the number one thing I had to change was the way I thought about the marketplace. Then it was like a flash going off - Poof - eureka, I've found it.
I've used this new marketing plan for years now, and again proved that photography can be and is a good way to make a living. I proved this by actually testing. By starting a brand new company in a new area and building it up from scratch. I documented every step of the way and ever marketing move I made. So this is not hyperbole. These are facts!
So yes. I have an actual plan on how to get 100 new paying clients in the door.
This can actually change your life and show you that you can achieve success in today's photographic market.
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