Your Brand, Your Worth with Sal Cincotta
I hope you realize that your brand and the perception of your brand can directly influence how much money consumers are willing to spend with you. It’s amazing how many photographers and business owners in general don’t grasp this seemingly simple idea.
No one cares how good of a photographer you are. Process that for a second. Let that settle in. It just doesn’t matter. Business is at the core of your success.
Here are some things you can do now to get your house in order so that you and your brand are seen as trusted and valued.
Fix your website.
If your website looks like it was designed in the early 2000s, it’s time for an overhaul. Fix your damn website. It’s one of the easiest things you can do. If you don’t know how to do it, there are a gazillion sites out there that require no technical experience at all to help you. This is mindboggling to me. Today’s consumers are incredibly internet savvy, and when they see a site that doesn’t look up to snuff, they know they are seeing a half-baked operation.
Not only does it send the wrong message to your clients, but Google and other search engines are going to penalize you and not list your site. This is basic stuff. If you invest just a little time, you can perfect it for sure.
Improve your social media activity.
There is nothing worse than having a blog with no posts. It’s like having the original “Hello World!” blog post. You created a blog, so use it. If not, take it down. When a client goes to your site and sees no activity, it sends the message you are not in business or not serious about your business. It’s like inviting company over for dinner and having your dirty laundry all over the living room.
The same thing applies to any of your social channels. We live in a world of social media. People want to learn more about your brand and what you do—and, believe it or not, the personality of your brand. There is something to be said for social proof. This is one of the single most leading indicators to a potential client. If you have a page, use it. Find someone on your staff who can help or find a 12-year-old—they live for this.
Stop trying to be everything to everyone.
If a client were to visit your site, would it be clear exactly who your target client is and exactly what you offer? More than likely, the answer is no. Pick a genre and specialize in it. If you have pictures of pets, babies, real estate, headshots, weddings and more on your site, I’ve got some bad news for you: You look like an amateur. You are making your site impossible for search engines to figure out what you do and what you are known for.
I am not saying you can’t have multiple focus areas, but there comes a point where it’s just too much. What do you love and what are you good at? Lead with that. Showcase your best work. Less is more, I promise you. Take a good hard look over your body of work and figure out what you want to be when you grow up.
Don’t know? That’s ok too. Every photographer struggles with it in the beginning. This is very important. It will shape the future of your company by sending the right message to your clients. Think about it. If your big wedding day were approaching, would you want to hire someone who specializes in weddings or someone who is dabbling in a little bit of everything? Whom would you spend more money with?
Attract the right clients.
Your website is a person’s first view into your business and portfolio. So why do we show images that make no sense? Are you a wedding photojournalist? Then show photojournalistic images. My style of photography is big and dramatic, heavily influenced by architecture. That is all you see on my site. This ensures I attract the right clients. Who are the right clients? People who are attracted to and inspired by my style. Those are the people who are willing to spend money on my art.
If you have every type of photography on your site but no specific style, whom are you really attracting? When you walk into a designer store, you see that it has a style for the current season and it all works in a cohesive way. If you walk into a Walmart clothing department, you’ll find literally every kind of clothing style imaginable. Why? Because they are trying to appeal to every possible person. Customers are a commodity. So, do you want to shoot any kind of client or do you want to appeal to a specific client? If you want to appeal to a specific client, it begins with your images on your website.
Find your style.
Your style of photography is every bit a part of your overall brand identity. This is so important to building confidence and attracting the right types of clients. Everything has to work together, deliberately: your images, editing, lighting, posing, website, logo. It should all feel like one cohesive thought. This takes time and energy.
The “how” behind a solid brand is a little more complicated. Every photographer struggles with it. We are all trying to find our style. Once we do, we get bored and start to reinvent ourselves. Welcome to being an artist.
What companies or artists inspire you? Take inspiration from their branding. Don’t copy everything—put your own spin on it, make it yours. Refine your work and portfolio so it has a consistent look and feel. If you can create your own signature look, clients will be willing to pay a premium. If your work stands out, you will be able to raise your prices. Why? Because it’s different. And different sells for a premium.
Make those brand changes now, and you will see the positive outcomes sooner than you can imagine.