The End Of Competition For Your Photography Business

(Last Updated On: September 28, 2017)

Photo by George Redgrave

There Is No More Competition!

Good news, you don’t need to worry about competition for your photography Business.  How can I suggest this crazy idea? Everyone is a photographer! and the competition is everywhere. Exactly, there is now so much competition, it becomes a moot point.

Observation and education is the only value of your photographic competition. Other photographers can provide inspiration. You can learn much from photographers who do it right. However, you can also learn life lessons from photographers charging $500 for a wedding (before they go out of business).

Wait! you do have one competitor, it’s you.

The only photographer you should compete against is you. It is important for you to improve your business year over year with new skills and better business practices. Improve your processes and give your customer an awesome experience. Your goal is to improve your brand, because a photographers brand is what will determine success or failure.

How Can A Photographer Charge $50,000 a day?

Why do some photographers only charge $500, while others can charge $50,000? A friend recently bid against a photographer who bid exactly that much – per day. Is one photographers really that much better than the other? perhaps. However, in some cases there are photographers who charge cheap rates who are equal or better than photographers who charge the big bucks. What is the difference? Once again, it’s branding and positioning. Location is not a barrier anymore in our global digital world. The bottom line is the $50,000 photographer asks for it.

The fact is not every client is going to pay $50,000. Obviously, you need to target the right audience and earn the reputation to satisfy such as customer. Your brand is your reputation. Your brand is what earns you more clients and the clients with larger budgets.

A photographer in 2018 is better off working with other photographers, to support each others success. This mindset improves your reputation and the health of the photography community. Worrying and considering other photographers as the evil competition is a lonely and wrong-headed approach. Everyone is competition, including uncle Jose with his iPhone. Which, in turn, cancels out the concept of competition, in my opinion.

Below is a video I created with similar insight. If you have not subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can do so here (you need to be signed in to Google):

What’s Next?

Great, so there is no competition except myself, now what?

First, set goals. Where do you want your photography to be in a year? Lets say you want to earn $100,000 in business. What does it take to accomplish this income. It doesn’t magically fall out of the sky.

Work backwards from your goal. How many clients will it take and how much do you need to charge to achieve your goal? One photography pricing model which works well for me is per image pricing. It’s hard to scale your time, so, I find it better to charge per project or per image. In other words, place the value on your photographs rather than your time.

Once you review your cost of doing business, how many clients you need to aquire and the rates you must charge to survive, let alone achieve your goals — you will raise your rates.

Work on your brand (reputation). Yes, improve your skills, but also create processes which improve your work-flow, efficiency and customer experience. Research and understand what your target clients want and need to pay you what your are worth.

Price Isn’t The Issue

It is very possible many of your clients already hire you because of your great work. Chances are many are willing to pay more than you already charge. This is the reason why I say ignore the competition. You want people to hire you because of your awesome photography, not your price.

If price is an issue, here are three of the possible problems. One, the client just needs a photographer. This means they know they need a photographer, but don’t value photography or the photographer. Unfortunately, this is a tough client to work for and I avoid them. They are not loyal, offer little; while expecting a lot, and most important waste time you could use to earn and serve good clients.

Two, they don’t have the budget. I will work with some clients who legitimately have a limited budget. They appreciate my work, referred me to other good clients or maybe hired me in the past with a fair rate and prompt payment.

Unfortunately, there are people or companies who will spend a large amount of money on related services, yet consider photography as an after-thought. For example, a business may spend thousands of dollars on billboard space, but wants cheap photography for the display — a major element which will help give them a positive return on their billboard investment. I try to avoid these penny wise, pound foolish clients.

I’ve also found people/companies who have tight budgets tend to refer others who have tight budgets. This is not helpful for business growth.

The third is the biggest reason price is an issue; you are running your photography business like a commodity. You believe being affordable is they best way to build your photography career. Many commodity photographers do not bring any additional value to their service, which is why people are not willing to pay more. There are millions of people who can pick up a camera and take a good photograph. Today, taking awesome photos is not an extraordinary skill. You must provide more.

Service is not the more. The creation of a properly exposed and well composed photograph is expected, so is good service. Telling people you have great service is like saying you’re cool. You can’t. Only your customers can talk about your great service. You have to earn it. Which, in turn, helps your brand.

The Next Level

In most cases, eighty percent of what takes you to the next level of your photography career, is not your photography.

True, you must learn new photography skills, including post-processing. However, this is only twenty percent of the equation. The most important skills you need to become a top photographer are  business and marketing.

Think about it, most classes, seminars, and famous photographers are teaching photography techniques. These are the most attended sessions, so, why are more photographers not succeeding after they leave? As a photography business educator, I assure you our class sizes, blog traffic and social media following are much smaller than technique educators. Which is fine, because you can take advantage of this misdirection.

While most of the competition are learning the latest posing technique, you can turn your attention to what really grows your photography business. You focus on understanding the customer, and how to improve your brand. This helps you earn more money, grow your client base, which keeps you in business; doing what you love — getting paid to create awesome images.

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