Episode 17: The 1 Change You Can Make to Grow Your Photography Business Now

with Sarah Petty

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Right now, there are more reasons than ever to pull back or quit your photography business. I bet you’ve thought to yourself, “Businesses are closing and people are losing their jobs, so I can’t possibly grow my photography business;” or  “My kids are at home and I’m their teacher, so I can’t run a photography business, too.” You’re thinking, “Nobody in my community is leaving their house because of the coronavirus, so there are no photography clients anywhere.”

Here’s the thing. We all look for proof of our false beliefs. We want to be right so bad that we self-sabotage our dreams. It’s a real phenomenon called confirmation bias, and it’s standing in the way of you and the photography business that you want. I’m going to show you how to kick confirmation bias to the curb. Once you do that, your photography business will start to grow again. 

Giving Digital Files Will Not Grow Your Photography Business

When I started my photography business, it was pre-digital and I was giving all of my clients proofs of their images (which is the same thing as selling digital files today) because I believed that was serving them. I heard a speaker at our state convention. He told us to scan the negatives and use a projector to present our images. He was in a suit that made him look very sales-y. What I took away from that presentation was, “Yuck, I would not want that done to me.” He reinforced my decision of giving clients proofs.

I looked for others in my market who were doing the same thing as me to reinforce my decision to give clients proofs. I remember being so frustrated that my clients were not buying anything. They would spend the $75 for the session and proofs and didn’t spend anything more. I couldn’t understand it. I was giving them these great choices. They were telling me they loved the images, but they weren’t ordering anything. I wasn’t making money, I was suffering. I was not serving my clients, and I almost went out of business because of it. Look at how confirmation bias might be showing up in your life. 

Years of suffering later, I ran into someone. Her name is Sam and she’s a photographer in Colorado. She said to me, “Sarah, you have to go boutique.” She explained to me how we serve our clients by helping them make a decision. Picking photos is hard. If we invest more time with them, almost everyone will order something and be happy. I thought I was serving my customers by giving them every image, but I was wrong. Boutique changed everything for me.

You Can Find Safe Ways to Photograph New Clients Amid a Pandemic

You might be saying to yourself, “Nobody’s leaving home because of the pandemic, so there’s nobody to photograph.” There is not a market in this world where nobody is leaving their home. There are some cities that are at higher risk than other cities, but there are safe ways to create images for people. People need your art right now. They are suffering. 

The images you create can help teens who have had their school days, sports, and extracurricular activities ripped away from them. It can help families reconnect since most of their plans have been canceled. These images can help young people who are struggling with their mental health. It can make them feel loved. It’ll help them have hope. It’ll make them celebrate this time. 

You Can Homeschool Your Kids and Grow Your Photography Business

You also might be saying, “My little kids are having to do online school at home.” You’re telling yourself, “I have to help them;” and “It is impossible to homeschool and run a business.”

Don’t look for proof of those biases. There’s plenty of people out there who have figured it out, who are making systems, and who are managing just fine. You don’t have to neglect your family to run a profitable business. Look for that proof. 

My top-level coaching students, who have young kids, have made a group together where they hold each other accountable in their photography businesses while they balance homeschooling their children. When they start to feel overwhelmed, they reach out to the group and people will respond with strategies and tactics to help them. 

Sometimes you need to know that you’re not alone. Look for the proof that people are succeeding. You can find more proof on our Instagram and Joy Of Marketing on Facebook. I want you to look for the proof that people are balancing their families and photography businesses.

Surround Yourself With Proof That You Can Grow Your Photography Business

If you’re hanging out with people who are negative and always talking about how terrible their life is, you will feel that way, too. There’s an abundance of information that can prove your confirmation bias, but you have to stop looking at the people who are struggling and look at the ones who are succeeding.

If you’re looking at all the shoot and burn photographers who are competing in a price race to the bottom, you’re going to have confirmation that that is what everyone is doing. What you need to be doing is looking at what successful photographers are doing right now. Will that be hard? Absolutely, but pressing the pause button on your business will not grow your photography business. 

I believe that this pandemic will clear out the shoot and burn photographers. They’re in the price race to the bottom. They’re selling jump drives of digital files to clients who are struggling. Before the pandemic, shoot and burn photographers had price-sensitive clients that didn’t want to pay and invest in artwork. They just wanted whatever was cheapest. They didn’t value photography, and it might’ve been a stretch for them to even pay 200 bucks for a cd of images. Do you think shoot and burn photography will be easier now? No, of course not. The boutique photographers are the ones that are surviving thriving. Start looking for confirmation of that. 

Boutique Is The Answer

Life is hard right now. We are all experiencing a year that we never saw coming and we’re having to manage every new thing that comes at us every single day. If you’re a photographer who thinks you can’t succeed right now, change that belief into the belief that you can grow your photography business. Look for that proof and it will change everything for you.

 If you want to hang out with a group of people who will lift you up, come and join us in learning how to grow your photography business and become boutique. My students are learning how to make boutique work for them every single day. 

More than ever, I want you to look for the proof that boutique is the answer. It’s what’s going to get you through this pandemic and bring you the clients who have money to invest. Keep working, keep studying, keep learning, and keep listening. You do not have to listen to the proof that it’s not going to work, because it is. It’s working for a lot of people right now. I want that to be you.

connect with portrait photographer Sarah Petty on instagram to learn how to grow your photography business

Sarah Petty Podcast How To Save Your Photography Business

I'm Sarah Petty

I’m a photographer living in the middle of a cornfield (central Illinois), momma of three teenage kiddos (plus a cat & dog) and an educator for all things photography business. Favorites: Earl Grey Tea (not coffee!), anything orange and clothes that are made for tall girls 

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