How to stand out from the competition
There are a few things you need to do to stand out against your competition.
- STYLE – Be Distinctive
- PRODUCTS – Wall Art, Books, Poster
- SERVICE – Be prompt, polite, and attentive. Exceed the customer’s expectations.
- GIVE BACK – Coach other photographers, Fund-raise for local charities.
- DON’T COMPETE ON PRICE – It’s a race to the bottom.
Be distinctive and develop your own style.
If you gave 10 photographers the same subject to capture, you would get 10 totally different-looking images. Then, if you took the 10 images and asked random people which was their favorite, you would get lots of different answers.
We don’t all like the same things, so don’t try to please everyone with your photography.
Take some time
and check out other photographers’ work. Identify what you like and try to replicate that style. Now you probably won’t be able to copy it exactly, but you are on your way to developing your own style. If it pleases you, you’ll be happy working as a photographer.
When potential customers are looking for a photographer, they are looking for a style that pleases them. No one else, just them. So your customers will like the same style of photography as you.
Don’t do what I did when I started out and sell the digital files. Most people that get just the digital files will post a few on social media and then leave them on a computer never to be seen again.
There are lots of professional photo processing labs that offer photographers a massive range of products. Products that customers want and are willing to pay lots of money for them. Sell your customers, Wall Art. OK, let me rephrase that. Let your customers choose which professionally prepared piece of your art will go on the wall in their home.
You’re not selling. They chose you because they like your style of photography and like that you offer different products that they can hang on their wall. Not digital files.
If you’re a sports or pet photographer, offer large posters, magazine covers, and collages.
Here’s an example of why.
Back in February 2020, before COVID-19 disrupted the world, I went to watch my Grandson play in a hockey tournament. I took a camera with me to get a few shots. Normally there is a photographer covering these events, but there wasn’t. When I looked around every parent had a phone or pad with a very capable camera. If you’re a pro photographer that only offers regular photos, then there really isn’t a market there to make money.
Anyway, I took lots of photos and when I got home I put together an 8×10 magazine cover and a huge 24×36 poster for him. One week later his older sister had a hockey game so I went along with a camera plus the magazine cover and poster for him.
Now if you want to get attention, unroll a 2ft x 3ft poster and hold it up for all to see. My Grandson and his friends had a meltdown. All the parents standing near us were pointing and staring at it. I rolled it up and gave it to his mom and set about taking pics of his sister. While I was shooting I had 6 parents approach me. I took their email and the kid’s shirt number and took lots of extra photos. I sold 6 posters at $100 each.
The week after was the last week of the hockey season and I was going to see how many posters I could sell in a weekend. Unfortunately, COVID-19 took control of everything.
This worked because I had a product no one else was offering. I think I could easily make $1000+ in a weekend.
Don’t underestimate good service.
- When someone contacts you, get back to them as soon as possible.
- When you receive a booking, send out a confirmation email with all the details, including directions to the shoot, where to park, etc.
- 24 hours before the shoot contact them again to confirm everything is still good to go.
- After the shoot, set out a timeline so they know when they get to see their images.
- When the order is placed make sure you give a little extra time to deliver the products.
- If you blog, mention that you worked with a great family recently. Maybe get permission and post some of their images.
- Contact them by email on a regular basis.
By giving back I don’t mean refunding customer fees. I mean give back to your local community.
Ask around your neighborhood, if someone is having a hard time, offer them a free shoot to cheer them up. Work with animal rescues and help raise money for them. Talk to your local hospital and see if there is anything you can do for them.
The more you give, the more you’ll receive. Whether it’s through new contacts or karma it can’t harm your business.
Don’t compete on price
Undercutting your competition is a race to the bottom, don’t do it. Charge what you’re worth. If someone is taking the time to check out your portfolio and then contacts you, it’s because you have impressed them.
If someone asks for a discount just end the conversation, and move on. Don’t listen to people that don’t accept your prices.
You need bookings. Sending emails defending your prices is a waste of your time and your time is valuable. If you sell products you will get a lot fewer inquiries from discount hunters. When you sell just the digital files people see less value in your services.
Your website should display what you sell. If you sell wall art, show images of your wall art on the website.
To give potential customers an idea of pricing use terms like “starting at $250”. They only get the full detailed price list when you get their name and email. By the time you have their name and email, they have visited your website, and looked at your work, your products, and your starting prices. You wouldn’t get their email if they didn’t feel comfortable dealing with you. You now have a qualified lead.
When you only offer digital files none of that happens. On your website all they see are photos. Nothing framed on a wall, no canvases, and no visualization of your work on the wall of a home. The product to these potential customers is the photoshoot. By selling only digital files you are telling people that they are not allowed to spend more than the listed price.
Instead, you should charge a session fee and let the customer decide how much they want to spend on the beautiful products you offer.
You can still offer digital files but put a higher price on them, or only offer them if the total dollar amount of the order exceeds $1000. Another option is to give them just the files that were used for the prints, not all of the files.
All of these things will help position you above your competition.