Building a Business, One Client at a Time
Section 3 features Studio readers’ successes with creating, maintaining, and broadening their client base. Startup or established studio, the business challenges are similar, while the solutions are many.
Readers’ strategy coverage includes: starting with diverse revenue streams before moving to a niche . . . creating a holiday promo that charms clients and delivers a high ROI . . . developing a website that produces steady leads . . . offering clients a classic portrait look plus a behind-the-scenes look at retouching . . . sending postcards that generate calls for portfolio submissions, new-client bookings, email inquiries . . . selling portrait experiences rather than price.
“What’s Working” items explore digital, emails that speed responses to prospective clients, total customer satisfaction, and traveling everywhere with mini albums and a laptop, because you never know. . .
Building a Business in a Micro Market Start With Diverse Revenue Streams, Search for Niche
by Wayne Thomas
I entered the photography business four years ago, with diverse national and international experience as a stockbroker, professional soccer official, symphony musician, and business consultant.
I’m confident in my portrait work, but I know there are photographers who are better and more experienced in my northern Wyoming market. But tenacity and drive are my “not so secret” secrets.
As I build my business, I’m finding that one of the keys to securing income sources is having one steady revenue stream and other sources of varying scale and consistency. I work with a local newspaper as a photojournalist, with the understanding that if a job opens up, I’m free to pursue other assignments. Wedding jobs, as well as portraiture and freelance work, help fill the gaps. While diversity is a must in a small area, I’d like to ultimately concentrate on one niche with a diverse clientele.
I currently market primarily by word of mouth, which may change once I move to a more populated area. In a small town, word of mouth forces consistent work with a high amount of customer satisfaction. Craig Satterlee, chair of the Northwest College Photography Department, and Stephen G. Smith, Pulitzer Prize winner, live in the area and serve as mentors and inspiration.
I also market to newspapers, magazines, and individuals across the country. I find out about events with national interest, such as sports or art happenings, and who’s performing. Then I contact local and regional outlets for the participants to pre-sell images and collect assignments.
Recently, I traveled to the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, and shot for the weekend. Before the gathering, I notified several organizations, then followed up with them afterward to stay in touch with decision-makers and inform them of current and future projects.
Photography contests are a good source of free advertising. But you have to be very cautious and read the fine print. Recently, Microsoft held a potentially lucrative contest, but the fine print turned over all entry image rights to Microsoft, win or lose. While the potential of winning $10,000 was tempting, losing all rights to submitted photos was not.
Wayne Thomas of Wayne Thomas Photography (www.waynethomasphotography.com) in Powell, Wyoming, has been in the photography business for four years. Previously a stockbroker, professional soccer official, symphony musician, and business consultant in various national and international markets, Thomas applies his various acquired skills to his photography.
Holiday Promo Generates Family Portrait Leads “Wow! in a Box” Charms Clients, Delivers High ROI
by Johwanna Alleyne
I chose photography as my means of expression because it moves me like no other art. I can stand in front of a photographic image and weep. No other medium makes me feel that way. For me, there is an excruciating moment of assertion in pushing the button—it’s a dramatic moment of choice. In that choice, you expose everything about who you are and what you feel. A photograph is a record of human spirit.