It is difficult to bring life into a picture without professional photographers, as photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Photography business owners (such as yourself), through their imagination and artistry eye, perpetuate special events.
The resourcefulness of high definition photographs helps companies sell their products and services and evoke emotion through soul-moving images to create an emotional connection with consumers, and hence, plays a vital role in telling the story of a brand.
And we know it’s tough. There is a ton of competition out there and you may be intimidated by all the things that you need to do in order to grow your photography business in South Africa. Here’s our first tip… get ready to work. As much as we’d love to make it overnight, it simply isn’t going to happen – so, if you’re up for the challenge, then let’s get started.
01. MAKE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS & BRAND WORK TOGETHER
Growing your photography business is no small venture. Perhaps you know the content you need, but you just can’t make it all fit together in one, cohesive package. Crafting a stand-out business you’re proud of can be difficult, but luckily, you’ve come to the right place to make things super easy for yourself from now on.
What’s in a brand? – That by which any other brand would be jealous of yours
You’ve heard it a thousand times. You are your brand and your brand is you. But what does that mean?
Your brand is the story you want your business to tell. It’s the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image of yourself to your target audience, clients, etc. Establishing a strong brand is essential to be successful and to grow your photography business. You want your work to be so recognizable and unique that someone seeing your work would know it’s yours from a kilometer away.
So, what is step one?
Establish who you are as an artist.
Are you a romantic storyteller? Or do you shoot bold, iconic imagery? Maybe you’re more of a modern minimalist with fresh, clean edits. Is your photography daring and colourful? Whatever it is that you do best, your brand communicates who you are to potential clients before you actually say a word.
You’ll want to create a brand that speaks for itself – that is strong visually, and that really showcases who you are.
How do I create my brand?
The best way to create a brand that stands out is to be so cohesive across all of your touch points. This means your website, printed collateral, social media channels and any other points of communication all align flawlessly. You should use the same themes, colour stories, fonts, and profile photos so you are easy to find and instantly recognizable
02. CLIENTS – LOVE OR HATE THEM, THEY CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS
Happy client, happy life
That’s how the saying goes, right?
No matter what kind of creative business you run, chances are you have customers or clients who you are catering to. When you’re looking to grow your photography business, your clients are your number one priority – they’re who keeps you booked and refers you, so you want to make sure to keep them happy and satisfied.
And don’t worry – it’s a lot easier than you think!
Where do I start?
Timely responses to emails, a user-friendly website, and active social media profiles are all facets of running a business that clients respond well to. Prospective clients will review all of these things when looking to book a photographer for their wedding, engagement session or family portraits.
However, online interaction only goes so far. If you really want to win your next client and grow your photography business, it’s all about those personal, face-to-face interactions.
Act like a professional.
Professionals follow through on their allegiance and deliver their products and services on time. They show up on time and always deliver great customer experiences. You should answer your phone on time, return calls and are easily accessible.
Another good incentive is to monitor young people and provide internships with professionalism – this is the only way to generate good reviews and grow your photography business.
Design unique business cards
You need creative and professionally designed business cards for your photography business in order to stand out from competitors and grow your photography business in South Africa.
You might be wondering why this is so useful for your business? Business cards are very important when you go out in the community or social events and you start explaining about your business. Your potential clients will know exactly what your niche is and can instantly have access to you.
Make that money, honey
The most challenging question for every photographer is “how much will you charge for your services?”, especially when you’re looking to grow your photography business. Simply put – figure out the worth of one hour of your time. For every hour you spend while shooting, you’ll spend about three hours editing the photographs. You need to include all the factors in your pricing – of course your pricing pattern is your own, this is just a way to come up with a starting point.
Now you’ve won the client; the shoot is scheduled and you’re ready to go. But you’re not done yet. The best way to ensure strong sales after you’ve booked is to sell physical products. Whether it’s framed prints, photo albums or keepsake portfolio boxes, you’ll want to offer your clients something they can fall in love with and treasure forever.
03. CREATE PARTNERSHIPS WITH LOCAL BUSINESSES IN YOUR MARKET
Plan a collaboration shoot
Partnerships are really based on relationships, so you should create a list of businesses you think you could line up with a brand. Offer how you can give value to them before you expect from them to give value to you – therefore your partnership should be mutually beneficial.
A collaboration shoot would be a great way to create new connections, share and tag each other so their audience can be your audience and your audience can be their audience.
Team up with charity
Teaming up with charity plays a vital role in photography business branding and to ultimately grow your photography business. This is the perfect time to get back into your community by engaging yourself with some charity so your brand can stand behind and photograph their event for free.
Not only will your photograph be shared in local news outlets, but you will also meet other vendors. Hence, it’s a great opportunity for you to have content to blog about or to share about that tell your community that you are still active as a photographer.
Expand your network
Expand your network of customers, experienced photographers, and other people engaged in the field of photography to grow your photography business. They offer indispensable help in the form of knowledge, constructive advice, referrals, and much more. You can expand your network by attending valuable seminars, joining photography networking events and photo shoots.
04. BUILD A SUSTAINABLE PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS
If you want to be a professional photographer and get paid to sell photos, it’s time to strategize. Here are a few ways to make sure your photography business is as profitable as possible, from attracting new clients to ensuring your existing client base keeps coming back, time and time again.
Tip 1: Offer smaller “mini-sessions”
Plenty of clients will hire a photographer for a large event – such as a wedding – but might not consider hiring one for a smaller session, which they might think would be too expensive or take too much time to make it worth their while.
By offering shorter, less expensive “mini-sessions”, where you might charge a lot less for a quick 30-minute shoot, you can maximize your client base, as well as your time.
Mini sessions can be a great way to get new clients in the door, and for shooting either less popular holidays, smaller events, or even fun themes.
Tip 2: Offer discount for order volume or number of shoots per year
A tried-and-true method: Offer your clients a discount for larger print order volumes or give them a discount if they book a certain number of photo shoots with you per year.
For example, offer a 10% discount if they buy a certain number of prints from you (the exact number will vary from photographer to photographer), or allow them to use your services at a discounted rate if they book with you four times in one year.
You could also consider offering discounts for shoots booked at certain times of the year, such as a spring shoot when the weather begins to change (which is a nice tie-in with other themed photo shoots).
Tip 3: Sell large-scale prints or offer unique materials
While standard prints will always be there to help your clients remember their special day, consider offering a stunning wrapped canvas print that they can display proudly.
In addition to large, wrapped canvas prints, consider offering prints on non-traditional materials, such as metal, wooden or acrylic prints.
Tip 4: Start a referral program
Offering clients a discount for referring friends and family works on multiple levels: It encourages clients to return – especially if you choose to offer the discount on their next session – and it brings in new clients.
There are many ways you can set a referral program up. You can offer a discount on a future session, or you can offer a discount on prints. However, make sure you only offer this once the friend or family member that your client has referred actually books your services.
Tip 5: Offer themed photo shoots
In addition to the standard themed photo shoots for major holidays, graduations, and weddings – consider offering some fun themed packages for your clients to choose from.
Many photographers offer boudoir-themed photo shoots, which can also be a great chance to build a relationship with a local hair and makeup salon and hair services before the shoot.
Tip 6: Collaborate with business where your target client spends time & money
As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to build solid relationships within your community. While your brides, for example, may have their own makeup artists and hairstylists who they would like to work with, it’s a good idea to make sure you have your own relationships in place as well.
Consider the boudoir themed photo shoot: You’ll want to offer a package that includes hair and makeup, so you’ll need to partner up with a local stylist or salon.
You can take this partnership one step further by offering a discount to new clients referred by the salon. Create some eye-catching flyers or small cards to leave at the salon, showcasing your photography work, with a small discount for new clients.
You could also expand your reach by shooting promotional photos of the stylist’s hair and makeup work, with the stipulation that they refer clients to you or mention your services on all their social profiles.
Tip 7: Have a contest for a free photo shoot
This is a great way to grow your email list. When they give you their email to win a free photography contest, add them to your email newsletter. To sweeten the deal, maybe offer those who don’t win the contest a small discount on your services.
To grow your photography business in South Africa, you don’t have to incorporate every single suggestion mentioned above into your business strategy. Pick what you know will work for you and add them to your repertoire. Not only will you be offering a more diverse selection of services to your clients, but you’ll pull ahead of the pack and set yourself apart as a professional.
So, now that you have all the tools necessary to run a great photography business, get out there and win those clients.