Building Your Photography Business Part 3: Growing Your Business
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been exploring issues related to image copyrights and building your photography business. As discussed in previous articles in this series, your success as a photographer depends in large part on your ability to protect the images you create and procure clients by building your brand.
In this installment of the series, we explore another aspect of building your business: how to grow your business after it’s established. Though there are many ways that you can do this, we’ve identified three crucial tasks that will help you realize growth.
Create (and Maintain) an Email List
Having an email list of all your clients is a necessary for having a successful photography business. Each client that walks in your door represents continued income for you, providing that you acquire their contact information for future correspondence (and assuming that you do a good job to warrant future work!).
Your email list should obviously be used to inform clients of specials you have going on, sales on prints, and the like. But it should also be used as a customer service tool. Send a follow-up email a couple of weeks after a session to ask your clients how they liked their experience. After delivering prints, send a thank you email, recognizing that your clients have other choices and that you appreciate their business. In that regard, email not only enhances your ability to let people know about products or services, but also helps you demonstrate a continued commitment to their satisfaction.
Of course, simply having an email list isn’t good enough. You also need to maintain it. People change their email addresses all the time, so having an accurate list is essential if you are to stay in contact with past clients. What’s more, you want the time and energy you put into drafting emails, newsletters, and the like to actually be seen, so keeping your email list constantly updated will serve you well for building your business.
Get Out There - Volunteer Your Services
One of the first pieces of advice that beginning photographers receive is to volunteer their services to get experience. This rings true for more experienced photographers as well.
Volunteering your services serves a number of functions. First, it allows you to showcase your talents to a group of people that might not otherwise have heard of you or your business. As a result, each person with whom you come in contact is a potential client down the road. Second, volunteerism is a great way to make real connections in the community, beyond just hoping to snag a few clients. It’s a platform for networking with other business owners that might send clients your way.
Lastly, volunteering is a great way to advertise your services for free - all you have to do is commit some of your time to the cause. Again, if you’re just starting out, you need all the exposure you can get. Volunteering at the county fair, parades, and other local events is one of the best ways you can advertise without spending a dime.
Something that consumers appreciate is a service provider that can demonstrate their expertise in their field. That certainly applies to photographers, and an ideal way to highlight your expertise is to start blogging.
Now, the purpose here isn’t to be self-indulgent and talk about what a great photographer you are. Instead, the point of having a blog is to offer something of value to your readers. That might be tips for posing children for portraits or a quick rundown of your post-processing workflow. You might even make some short tutorial videos in which you demonstrate how to bracket exposures or explain how to use the manual exposure adjustments on a camera.
The point is that by being informative and educational, you provide a service to people that seek it while demonstrating your expertise without saying “look how wonderful I am!” What’s more, as your blog gains a following, it becomes a vehicle for advertising. Each view and each share represents a potential client for you. That’s how you grow a business!
Rely on Modern Tools to Help You Grow
Building a successful photography business is made easier if you equip yourself with the right tools that facilitate your growth. Some, like post-processing software, accounting software, and website building tools, are obvious. Others, like Copypants, might not initially be on your radar, but can prove invaluable to you in the short and the long term.
Copypants is a personalized tool that, on the one hand, helps protect your images from theft, and on the other hand, helps you reap the benefits of the sharing economy of the internet. In terms of image protection, Copypants scours the internet for copies of your photos. Once an image is found, Copypants offers you a number of options in terms of recourse - you can issue a takedown notice, or even leave the image alone if you so choose.
But beyond that, Copypants helps you grow your business by helping you address illegal use of your photos in a way that helps grow your business. For example, rather than issuing a takedown notice, you can request that the publisher pay a license fee. Copypants will even help you determine a fair amount to request! Not only does that help you navigate the illegal use of your images, but it also helps you put well-deserved money into the bank.
Copypants can also help you reap the benefits of the sharing economy of the internet. For example, if Copypants finds one of your images online, and it has not been properly attributed to you, you can contact the publisher and ask that they give proper credit to you for your work. Once they do that, every person that sees the image will know that you created it, thereby driving more business your way.
If it sounds complicated - it’s not. Copypants does all the heavy lifting for you. The image searches are done behind the scenes. Any payments received from publishers are processed by Copypants. Even the legal mumbo jumbo is taken care of by Copypants as well. All you have to do is login and click a few buttons to take the course of action you wish to take. That, in turn, gives you more time to focus on tasks like building your email list and volunteering your services to get even more clients for your growing business.
In the end, being a successful photographer depends a lot on your level of talent. But it also depends on you being active in pursuing clientele and arming yourself with tools that will make your business dreams a reality. Copypants is certainly a secret weapon for your success. When combined with your talent and a drive to promote your brand, you’ve got a solid foundation for building your photography business!