DON"T BE TOO EAGER FOR A STUDIO SPACE - So many photographers go through this whole idea of "I'll finally be 'for real' when I get a retail location!" Instead, really look at the value of what you have to offer right now! Find your value and then learn to communicate it to your client.
I know it's the dream of every photographer to have their own studio/office, but here's the point you need to remember - a retail location adds instant costs and pressure to your revenue stream. Your philosophy for business real estate needs to be the same as your philosophy about going full time versus part time. You don't want to do it until you can't afford not to!
Today, you've got a great advantage photographers didn't have twenty years ago - you've got the Internet and social media. You've got your website and blog to help you establish credibility when years ago, so often you really needed a full time studio location.
- Think of your website as a shopping experience for your clients. In the same way you might like to shop at Nordstroms over Macy's, make a visit to your site a pleasant experience. Give people access to great images immediately and make every image a "wow" print! Make a visit to your site habit-forming.
- Fill your blog with helpful content. Stay on course with the information your readers enjoy. Know your audience.
- Do your website and blog appeal to your target? For most of you your audience is women. Women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer. Your website and blog have got to have the right look, feel and content for your target audience.
- Build a strong portfolio of images so, when meeting with clients, you have some physical examples of work you can show as well as what's on your website. Include some large framed prints with what you travel with. Remember, what you show is going to be what you sell.
- Look for great locations for business meetings like coffee shops, upscale restaurants and even some of the venues themselves where you might be photographing.
- Reduce your cost on studio space. If you really feel studio space is your only answer, then consider bringing in some partners to share the cost.
Over and over again I've seen photographers get obsessed with the need for physical space before they're really ready to handle the cost. Even the best of deals on retail space isn't to your advantage if you don't have the revenue coming in to support it. Instead, build your skill set, your reputation and your brand first. You don't have to let go of your dream for your own studio - just keep it in perspective so it doesn't become the kiss of death for building a strong business model!
Looking for inspiration on how to fulfill your dream of a studio? Read Cindy Harter Sims' guest post on how she turned her dream into a reality. She also joined me a few weeks ago on Weekend Wisdom. Then, join us today at 4:00 PM EST for "Mind Your Own Business" with Lori Nordstrom!