Within the competitive wedding photography industry, there are thousands of photographers who want to book clients who match their brand and message. As a photographer, you spend much of your time working on your business to reflect a certain message that will reach out to like-minded clients. In order to be successful in attracting ideal couples, there are a few steps you need to take to stand out as a photography business owner from others in the industry.
Since finding your ideal client is key to growing your business, we brought in photography duo Jeff and Erin Youngren of The Youngrens, to share some of her insight into finding couples you want to work with. This is the first installment of our 4-part series discussing how to find your ideal client written by Erin, so let’s get to it!
Are you tired of shooting weddings that aren’t your style? Or working with clients that you don’t enjoy? There’s nothing more difficult than feeling dragged down by your business or dreading your shoots because you don’t connect with your clients or they don’t connect with you. It’s hard feeling unknown, unappreciated, or simply disconnected from your clientele and your art.
I strongly believe that every photographer has a unique client type that is perfectly suited for them. We talk about it all the time in the wedding and portrait photography industry – your target audience, your perfect bride, the right clientele. All different ways to talk about the same thing – your ideal client.
We talk about it, because it’s important. In fact, I believe it’s critical to running a sustainable business that you enjoy. When you work with your ideal clients – your favorite clients that bring joy and life to your business – the job becomes incredibly fulfilling. It reminds you of why you chose this profession in the first place – your art and your freedom.
When Jeff and I discovered our ideal clients in the first few years of shooting and began to intentionally shape our business around our favorite couples, our business transformed from a day-to-day job into a fulfilling artistic endeavor.
The good news is that anyone can do this. And the even better news is that you are so unique, your ideal client profile is completely different from the ideal client profiles of any other photographers.
The not-so-good news is that I can’t help you find your ideal client in a single blog post. The most important tasks in your business are ones that don’t come easy, right? (Check out more resources on Discovering Your Ideal Client at the end of this post).
What I CAN do, though, is put you on the right path. Here’s 5 solid steps that will get the process started of discovering your ideal client, and if you only work through these steps and do nothing else, you will already be ahead of the game!
1. Write Down Your Favorite Past Clients
Write down three to five of your absolute favorite past clients. If you have more than five, write them down too – the more, the better! (If you are just getting started and don’t have past clients to work with, write down friends, family, or acquaintances that you would LOVE to photograph if you got the chance.)
2. Were They…?
Next to each one of those favorite clients, write down the letters P, C, and/or R next to each client based on the criteria below (you may write down one of the letters next to a favorite client, or you may write all three letters next to a certain name):
- (P) = Were they Profitable? Did they pay you what you asked? I don’t mean ‘did they paid you the most’ – just note if they paid you your asking price, no questions asked.
- (C) = Did you Connect? Did you connect with them personally and/or creatively? Did their wedding inspire you as an artist? Did you feel alive working with them?
- (R) = Do they Refer you? Have they talked about you to their friends OR are they part of an ideal network to which you would like to market?
Related: Free Download: How to Grow Your Wedding Photography Business: 2015 Updated Edition
3. Focus on Your Ideal Past Clients
Look at your past clients that have two or more letters next to their name. These are the ones that are truly ideal, and you should focus your energies on them when fleshing out your target market.
The next step is to ask yourself a number of questions about these past clients, and a fuzzy picture will begin to develop of your ideal client: What was it that you liked in particular about these clients? Their style? Their values? Their personalities?
Write down as much as you can about what you loved about them, and circle commonalities if they appear.
4. Dream About Your Future Ideal Client
Set aside your past favorite clients for a moment, because the next step is to dream about your ideal client. This is where you get to infuse your wants and desires into your target market. What characteristics, styles, or values do you want your ideal client to have that maybe your current clients haven’t demonstrated? Write them down underneath your past favorite clients as a new ‘dream client’.
5. Keep Refining
The last step is to hang this piece of paper next to your desk for you to reference, modify, develop, and refine. The more you work at this profile, the more valuable and beneficial it will become!
There is a lot more that you need to do in order to develop an in-depth ideal client profile, but this is a great first step in the process! Jeff and I actually helped photographers discover their ideal clients over the course of a two-day workshop called Discover Your Ideal Client, and that was just the beginning of their journeys.
We believe in finding your ideal client so much, that we are taking our two-day Discover Your Ideal Client workshop and revamping the content into a self-guided downloadable course, so that all of you out there can find your target audience, too. That course is coming to our photographer site in mid-June of 2015, so sign up for our newsletter to be notified when it launches.
For you to have the ability to set aside time to create a plan for attracting ideal clients, there are certain parts of your business that you have to trust a specialist to do for you. When you partner with a post wedding editing company, like ShootDotEdit, you get back free time – time you can use to work on your business to stand out to your ideal clients! Learn more about developing a clear and unique brand message with our Guide, 7 Branding Mistakes Wedding Photographers Make (and How to Fix Them)!