You’ve narrowed your passion down to just one niche that you truly love. So what’s next? Creating a plan that enables you to turn that niche into a constant flow of happy clients.
A NICHE WITH MORE
We all know that professional photography is full of its own niche markets. From seniors to maternity to architecture to food to infants, there’s truly something out there for everybody. When moving into your own niche, you may find that there’s more competition than you initially thought. Depending on your location and market, there could be dozens of photographers who specialize in the same things you do. So how do you cater to your niche without blending in with the crowd? One of the best ways to stand out is to not only offer targeted photography services, but also to make your mark with specialty products. Research your competition and find out what you--and only you--can offer. You may not be the only infant photographer in your area, but you may be the only one that offers stunning silk-bound custom albums. You could develop a specialty slide show product that is one in a million, or offer a service to your clients that is impossible to beat. Don’t become discouraged if you can’t be the only one in your niche. Look to your products and service as a way to stand out, and base your marketing around them.
THINK LIKE YOUR CLIENT
When you have decided on which niche to focus on, a great way to begin putting together a marketing plan is to imagine you are a client looking for “x” photography service. Where would you begin? Do you immediately turn to the internet or believe you would rely more on word of mouth? If you are concentrating on child photography, imagine you are a mom just beginning the search for the perfect photographer. Where would you turn first? Would you ask other moms? The boutique down the street? Would you look to the ads in a local magazine? Jumping out of the mindset of a photographer and business owner and putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer will immediately get you on the right track to effective marketing. This goes for commercial photography as well. If you are looking to sell architectural or product photography services, who is your buyer? Think about where clients will turn first to find new talent, and try to position yourself to get their attention.
Looking to your muse is a great way to decide your path in niche photography. Every artist has a muse and it may not necessarily be a person. It can be an animal, thing, a place, or even a vague subject such as fairy tales or history. Think of something that has inspired you deeply and has resurfaced in your work over and over again. Showing these images in your portfolio--or creating a new portfolio based on your niche--illustrates to the world what your business is all about.
IN SEARCH OF SUPPORT
When searching for inspiration and support in your chosen niche, you don’t have to look to your fellow photographers...that’s what EVERYONE does! Seeking out opportunities and networking groups in your area that focus on your niche can be a great way to market yourself and learn about your subject. If your niche is food photography, try attending as many food related events as you can. You’d be surprised how many folks you will meet who are in need of your services or know someone who is.
TESTING THE WATERS
While immediately maximizing the income from your niche sounds great, you may want to explore around it a little. Consider getting in your niche slowly by devoting an hour or so a day to putting your new business model together and letting it take off. A niche is all about learning and experimentation, so don’t get frustrated by initial failure. A successful niche business will rely heavily on the contacts you will make, and this takes time.
NEAR AND DEAR
Never hesitate to get involved with charities for any cause, but especially if the cause fits in with your niche. In fact, charitable photography work can be the easiest way to build a strong network around your niche. Charities are always looking for ways to raise funds, and what better way than through photography? Choose a handful of charities to contact and offer your availability for whatever events they have planned. Give freely of your time and include products when you can. Not only will you feel great and truly make a difference, you’ll be first in line for any referrals they and their supporters may have.
Discover your niche. The one you love. Build your brand around it. Stay true to it. Think outside the box. Be different. Put yourself in the shoes of your target consumer. Place yourself where they are. Join groups focused on your niche. Network. Be the best at what you do. Tether it all together, go fiercely forward, and you will find meaningful and fulfilling success.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.