Mentioned in this episode
Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones and this is episode 128 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.
This episode has been bouncing around in my head for the last month.
Facebook group member Suzanne Hawken posted an experience she had with another photographer.
He was a long-time pro and well-known in the Napa-Valley area. Suzanne reached out to him on a social platform to “commend him on his stunning work and how she would love to hear about his journey and learn from him”. He responded with, “Copy what others are doing”.
Then she was at an event he was shooting. When the event was over she introduced herself and he remembered her. They shook hands, and he said “Good luck” and walked away.
After reading her post I thought what a nimrod, all he had to do was chat for 5 minutes and give some advice.
Instead, he has created a competitor.
So Suzanne’s story had me racking my brain for the last month, trying to remember a podcast interview with Bernie Griffiths. Bernie is a Brit who lives in Australia and has had a very successful photography career. He now coaches photographers worldwide on how to run a profitable business.
Anyway, I found it. He was talking about pricing and said every market has someone who produces great work and charges more than everyone else. The interviewer agreed and said it was the same in his city. So, Bernie said, “Why not you?” Why doesn’t the interviewer put his prices up to the same or higher than the expensive photographer?
The interviewer gave some mumbled reasons and it was a little awkward. Bernie said if you want to be successful you should aim at being at the top of your market.
That question has been stuck in my head for 5½ years, “Why not you?”
Now Suzanne is a really good photographer. She is shooting for money and for fun at the moment. The more she shoots the more problems and mistakes she will have to deal with, and that will speed up her learning process.
The photographer who gave her the cold shoulder is going to lose a lot of bookings to her, in fact, it has already started.
Three weeks after he was rude to her, Suzanne posted a follow-up, and I quote …
I mentioned a few weeks ago an interaction I had with THE event photographer of Napa Valley. Like, the one that does all of the famous actors and grand openings of their wineries, etc..
Well, this week, I was asked to photograph the Yountville Chamber of Commerce event at the grand opening of Chandon Winery, and not him 😁 and they loved them.
I am of the mindset that there is enough work to go around for everyone. I think that’s the right mindset to have, don’t you?￼ I am excited to see what new doors open from this success story!
Now that is a happy ending.
So it’s a mindset problem. If you think you can do it, you are correct. If you don’t think you can do it, you are also correct. Suzanne knows that and is going to be a very successful photographer.
The rude photographer was worried that Suzanne was going to take his work if he talked to her. That wasn’t her intention but now it is, she’s going to take over part of his market, guaranteed.
So why not you?
I can hear a few excuses I’ve heard before … I’m still working on my portfolio … I need better equipment … My website isn’t perfect … and the big one, I need to cut my toenails.
Don’t hide behind excuses, get out there a take lots of photos. Offer free shoots to start your portfolio. After two or three free sessions start charging.
Try to get out and shoot twice a week. If you can’t get someone to stand in front of your camera, go and shoot some landscapes or stuff around your garden. You need to train yourself to get results with your camera.
Make as many mistakes as you can and then figure out why the mistakes happened. If you don’t know why it happened you are going to repeat yourself. So ask why it happened in our Facebook group and get some help.
The faster you do this the faster you will be able to challenge the top photographers in your area.
So now you know your success is only limited by your mindset. If you don’t think you can be a success you won’t be.
The Competition Box
So in the Bernie Griffiths interview, he mentioned how he used to get customers. He called it the Competition Box, now this was pre-internet and mobile phones. Back when everything was Black and White.
He would put a poster up in a mall or trade show offering a chance to win a free photo shoot and framed print. So people would write their name, address, and phone number on a piece of paper and drop it in a box. He said one time he did it he got over 900 entrants.
So the first person drawn out won the photo shoot and print, and all the rest were offered a discounted session and a free 5×7 print. Now I can only imagine how many sessions that generated. All done with pen and paper and mailed out.
Now a modern version could be done at a trade show or even a local grocery store. No box is needed today, just a poster with competition details and a QR code to a website form where they can put their name and email address. In fact, you can run the competition for one or two weeks and put posters all over your area. Just think about how many people you could get to enter.
Those names and email addresses will be stored on your email list because you already have an email list right?
Okay, if you don’t I’ll put a link to ConvertKit in the show notes and on the transcript page over at PhotographySideHustle.com/128 They have a free plan for up to 1000 emails, and they give you a code to put on your website that brings up a form for people to fill in. Plus you can make the form look the way you want it.
So, why not you?
If you shoot portraits and only have two or three portraits in your portfolio, use them for your poster. Find as many places as you can to put your posters up. If you have to, offer to take some free photos of the store owner.
Whatever it takes, get those posters up around town and run the competition for two weeks. This can be the easiest way to get potential customer emails. Pick one winner and offer everyone else a special offer to get more bookings. Remember to put a time limit on the special offer, you don’t want people asking for the offer three years later. Something like if booked in the next 2 weeks. Then you can send them emails saying only 2 days before your offer expires.
It’s a pretty simple way to get bookings time and time again. You can do it every month if you like.
Again, why not you?
The photographers that charge the most, didn’t ask for permission to raise their prices. They just decided they were worth it.
Photographers who are at the cheaper end of the market decide that price point themselves because they think that’s all they are worth.
There are no photo police, to check the quality of your photos and tell you where you stand in the marketplace.
You decide where you want to be. Change your mindset and go for it.
If your work is above average you can put yourself in the high-price bracket. Now I know you just thought, “Well maybe not the highest, maybe halfway” and that is your mindset kicking in.
If you like the idea of charging more and working less, then do it. Why not you?
Okay, I think I got my point across.
If you want to know how to make your own posters in Photoshop, my course is available at PhotographySideHustle.com
Join the Facebook group if you have any questions or contact me through Messenger.
I’ll be back next week with a 1970’s competition box overflowing with waffle.
Talk to you soon, bye.