- When you tell customers that you are heavily booked, and seem to be “all business” or too “corporate,” you tend to lose the personal connection with your customers that is critical to being a successful pro. You are in a “personal” business, much the same as a hair stylist; in that, if customers don’t feel comfortable with you, if you appear to hide your true self behind your professionalism, then they are apt to take their business elsewhere.
- Part of the solution is to be honest about your business. If you work from your home and are simply a pro with a camera that shoots digital photos, then explain your situation in just those terms. Add a dash of “you” to your marketing and customer communications by avoiding the use of “we” on your Web site or in any other description of your business. Descriptions in the third person are even worse. The other part of the solution is to include some time in your bookings and schedule for some person-to-person interaction. Offer every client a beverage at the start of a meeting or photo session. Spend the time it takes to drink it to talk about anything other than photography or your business: families, kids, vacations, etc. They’ll be more relaxed when you’re ready to put them in front of the camera because you’ve created a personal bond with them, which only takes a few minutes of chitchat.
- Ask customers to write their names, phone numbers and email addresses in your appointment book when you’re meeting with them to schedule a digital photo session. It reinforces their commitment to honoring the appointment.
- Develop that personal rapport with your customers by confirming bookings on the phone as well as by email. When all your communications are via email, you start to lose the personal connections you had made and additional opportunities to strengthen them. Your first confirmation should be by phone, and then via email some time later, with a request for a reply. Confirm the appointment again, 48 to 72 hours in advance, by phone, email and/or text.
- Finally, find a business mentor or more than one. One of the most valuable benefits of being mentored by a successful professional photographer or other small business owner is that they know where the pitfalls mentioned in this article and many others lie along the path. Why should you step in them and jeopardize your dream of being a pro when there is someone willing to guide you around them?
- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Stock Photography: Residual Income With Your Digital Camera
- Get Your Photography on the Web: The Fastest, Easiest Way to Show and Sell Your Work
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Selling Your Photography: How to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Business and Legal Forms for Photographers
Be a Person Who Is a Professional
Additional Quick Tips to Drive the Success of Your Business
There’s more to going pro than excellent digital photography skills. You most also learn how to be a professional, without losing your personality.