Higher-Profit, Lower-Stress Newborn Niche

June17_LargeBlog_EBlume

Higher-Profit, Lower-Stress Newborn Niche with Eileen Blume

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Do you dream of creating a newborn business that energizes you, enriches your family and keeps its hands off your personal life? As a working photographer and mother of three young kids, I empathize deeply with the longing “to make it all work.” Trying to balance work and life can be so difficult. I’ve often felt discouraged, and believed the lie that my own dreams were somehow unreasonable, out of reach or that I was unworthy to realize them. Have you been there?

 

Before I give you the four steps I used to launch my luxury newborn studio from day one, you need to know this important fact about me: I am a huge introvert. I also possess almost zero natural confidence. So I would not have believed this feat possible without some serious encouragement. Now I’m here to pass it on to you.

 

If these four ideas resonate, I invite you to access my exclusive 30-minute video course on the topic. It’s not the short video embedded in this article (although you can start there). This longer video was part of a recent paid curriculum online. This month, I want to give it to you for free—you, the hard-working yet self-deprecating woman who understands where I’m coming from: Go to bit.ly/4steps4newborns for free access. If nothing else, you’ll see how obviously self-conscious I felt when recording it, yet how little that matters when it comes to the sound principles that make businesses like mine and the women I coach work for us.

 

Now let’s dive in to those all-important four steps.

 

Simplify

 

First I want you to forget the idea that you even need a physical studio to have a successful studio business. When my husband, Phillip, and I started our business eight years ago, we did everything out of our 1,200-square-foot home and still managed to be successful. Newborn sessions took place either in our dark living room or at a client’s apartment.

 

It’s so important to simplify. Simplify your process. Simplify your gear. Simplify everything. You want as little overhead as possible, especially when starting out. For newborn photography, there is actually a very short list of essential equipment, and the same items will pop up over and over again if you simply Google “newborn photography equipment”: posing beanbag, space heater, backdrop stand, single light (I recommend the Spiderlite by Westcott), blankets and wraps.

 

You also want to choose a simple lens that does the job well—either a 50mm or 35mm. Avoid prop addiction. The best thing you can do to keep it simple is to stick with neutral colors. This is the most timeless style for any client, and your work will never look dated or gimmicky.

 

Focus on the End Product
Next, you need to offer a core product that contains multiple images. For Blume Babies (www.blumebabies.com), I offer an 8×10 linen fine-art box from Finao with matted 5×7’s. Some studios are more about wall displays, and that’s totally fine. Perhaps you can offer a wall collage of some sort. Just think of a core product you want each client to end up taking home and treasuring.

 

Remember, if you want to create a luxury brand that earns you the money you deserve, you’ll need to provide that luxury product. This is going to keep you profitable enough so that you’re not pulling your hair out to keep your business open and your family fed.

 

Your session fee should not include digital images. I’m all about offering digitals, but they need to come at a high price. Consider gifting them with certain artwork purchase levels or, as an incentive, offer the Facebook-size digitals only with images that are ordered.

 

Market Smarter
You don’t want to be the photographer who is on the hilltop with all the other photographers, jumping and shouting, “Pick me. Pick me. My images look the best.” My advice is to save on traditional “broad” marketing and instead find creative ways to target your ideal clients by partnering with local businesses, whether it be a baby boutique, hospital or OB office.

 

You want to create value for the partner business, like offering gift certificates that are labeled as being “from” their office, “for” their clients. Put ego aside. This allows partners to look good to their clients, and it brings you business. The certificates can include a session discount at your studio. Or you can design a marketing piece for your partner business using your images.

 

Another way to partner is to do a model call, which is what I actually did through our local hospital to jumpstart Blume Babies. The first step was to walk into the hospital, start asking around and find the people in charge of marketing. I made the connection, and then we got approval to make flyers for the hospital to hand out to pregnant moms advertising a free session with Blume Babies. The hospital, in turn, would receive the images for marketing purposes, and I was able to build my portfolio quickly; so it was a win-win situation.

 

Pro tip: Remember, you’re in charge of designing the certificates and marketing pieces for your partners. Yet those same pieces will be distributed by the partner, right? So be sure all information sections (especially your bio and/or accolades) are flattering and written in third person. You’re trying to earn trust from potential clients, which increases the likelihood of bookings. Since the certificates are not a traditional marketing plea, but rather a gift from the hospital, all the positive information inside holds much more weight in the future client’s mind. It’s a powerful word-of-mouth referral.

 

Sell the Experience

 

Remember that it is the parents who hold the purse strings, not the baby. Of course the babies are our subjects. Their safety is paramount, but they aren’t the only ones whose comfort is important. Research proves that all purchasing decisions are made emotionally, so you want to set up the experience to appeal to all their senses.

 

Create a spa-like experience for the parents during your shoot or sales session. Have scented candles burning as they walk in, snacks and drinks, beautiful artwork for them to look at. I even have these lovely little chalk glasses I got at Pier One; I write my clients’ names on them, and they think it is the coolest thing. When you offer an amazing experience, they project their emotions onto the finished images, and all of that translates into satisfied clients who sing your praises.

 

Conclusion

 

So those are the four steps in a nutshell. Simplify, focus on end product, market smarter and sell the experience. If you want to go deeper, download my full presentation on establishing your newborn brand at bit.ly/4steps4newborns.

 

I mentioned I’m an introvert. My husband, Phillip Blume, is the extrovert, the go-getter, the photographer and monthly contributor to this magazine whom you surely know. Since we got married a decade ago, he has supported me and pushed me to do things I never believed I could do, from speaking in front of thousands of people on stages for CreativeLIVE and TEDx, to adopting a child and even homeschooling our three kids while we travel the world together. It’s been an amazing adventure, and I have to admit that only now have I finally begun to see that turning dreams into reality doesn’t happen by chance. It’s not a stroke of luck. It’s a choice.

 

We began our photography business with no ambitions; we were “living on love” and just wanted to work at our passion while putting food on the table. But by the time our small-town wedding studio was named an official “fastest growing business,” we had come to realize success never relies on being discovered for your superior talent (although I know many of you are very talented). It relies on time-proven business and marketing principles. It’s not rocket science. You can do this.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the June issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.