Here’s a fun fact you’ve probably discovered by now:
The photography business is a whole lot different on the inside than it looks from the outside…
To outsiders, being a professional photographer looks simple, laid-back, and sometimes glamorous.
Of course, you know differently.
From the inside, it’s hard work and can be incredibly stressful. It involves long hours spent editing and post-processing, and there’s a LOT of worry about where the next client is coming from.
Why the huge difference in perception?
Having a passion for photography is awesome, of course.
And being a talented amateur can get you a lot of attention from friends and relatives who tell you things like this:
Man, you take great pictures, you could do probably make some money from photography!
The thing is, when we’re still at the amateur level it’s hard to fully understand what it takes to be a professional photographer, and it’s easy to believe those well-meaning friends and family who assume (incorrectly) that having a good eye and a love of photography is basically all that’s needed.
The hard truth is that being a professional photographer has at least as much to do with being good at business and marketing as it does with being good with a camera or Photoshop.
And then there are the lies.
Sadly, many photographers can’t fathom out why it’s so difficult to get their business going when it looked so simple from the outside.
I mean, how hard can it be to create and sell photographs?
In fact, getting clients and making sales can be such a massive challenge that they end up believing at least 3 of the biggest lies in the industry, while they continue to struggle day after day, often for years, before finally succumbing to failure.
FACT: The sooner you identify and eliminate these lies from your own life the better off you’ll be.
There’s certainly no shortage of lies, but here are the three worst offenders…
Lie #1: The Photography Business Is Dying
If the photography industry is truly on its last legs why are you here?
Why put yourself through all the heartache and stress of building a business in an industry you already believe is dead?
Obviously, that makes no sense when you look at it like that, but photographers tell me all the time that there’s no way to make a living, that nobody buys or values photography anymore, or that smartphones have hammered the last nail in the coffin.
There are plenty of photographers making a good living from their work.
They do so because they follow a clear and effective plan to attract the right people, connect with them, and then use a lead-generation system to turn them into clients. They also offer a fantastic and memorable experience to their clients and take care of them like family.
Lie #2: Photography Should Sell Itself
Photographers everywhere hang on to this lie like a pit bull with a bone, often refusing to ever let go of it.
We see evidence of this everywhere:
- Slideshows with no supporting text…
- Blog posts with WAY too many photographs and only a few words…
- Portfolio galleries with just images and no stories to go with them…
- Sneak peeks on Facebook with no underlying marketing purpose…
- Homepages with one giant banner image and a few lines of text written for Google…
As visual storytellers, we desperately want to believe that our images convey the full story to the viewer, but we’re seriously overestimating the ability of website visitors to get the full impact of those stories the first time they see them.
The truth is, photography does NOT sell itself.
The selling part of being a pro photographer is YOUR job.
Lie #3: Selling Is A BAD Thing
If you hate the idea of selling, or you see sales as something that bad people do to others just to get money from them, then you’re in for a shock.
One of the tell-tales of this lie is when I hear people say things like, “I don’t want to come across as too salesy…”
This type of thinking can be catastrophic for your business.
It results in poorly-performing websites, weak calls to action, missing or broken lead-generation systems, and heavy reliance on the prospective customer deciding to hire you, or buy from you, with as little input from you as possible.
I understand you don’t want to be viewed like the typical stereotype of the greasy used-car salesperson (no one does), but you nonetheless need to sell your services and photography if you want to remain in business for more than a few weeks.
The fact is, your business needs money to survive, which can only come from making sales to customers.
And, your customers want to buy your work. Why else would they be looking for a photographer in the first place?
The key here is to embrace selling and to learn how to do it the right way.
If you’re one of the many people who are actually afraid of sales for some reason (I certainly was when I started out, so I know what that feels like), then you have to look at your inner psychology to see where that fear is coming from.
Take some classes on selling and discover the truth about good salesmanship, which is that helping people to buy what they want and need is a good thing for everyone involved.