Earlier, I mentioned that success favors those who aren’t afraid to deviate from the herd.
Being brave enough to try different strategies is a key element to success.
But, success is also about letting go of bad ideas, regardless of how much they seem like conventional wisdom.
Instead, let’s be honest and call them what they are:
Dangerous ones at that because they’ll hold you back and kill your photography business before it ever gets off the ground.
The problem is, these lies are traps that are so easy to fall into.
Here are 6 of the biggest ones…
Trap #1: Starting A Photography Business Is Easy
Compared to most enterprises, starting a photography business is simple.
The industry isn’t regulated, and there are no exams to pass or professional licenses to acquire. All you need is the equipment and the technical skills to use it properly.
But “simple” is not the same as “easy”.
Nor does it mean you can get away with a poor understanding of the fundamental principles of business, marketing, and sales.
I don’t care how great a photographer you are, you won’t succeed without those things.
Sadly, many photographers delude themselves that getting started is easy, and they’ll just learn the business and marketing stuff as they go.
Except they don’t because they refuse to invest in the right training.
Instead, they muddle through from day to day, trying one vague strategy after another until it’s too late to get the help they need, and they fail.
Trap #2: It’s All About The Photographs
In its simplest form, you create and sell photographs.
Which makes believing this lie so easy.
After all, people want photographs from you, so it’s tempting to imagine that you only need to show them examples of what you do.
And the more photos you show them, the better, right?
You’re a visual storyteller (if not, you’re in the wrong place), which means you try to capture a narrative of some kind in every photograph you create.
The stories within your photos may be powerful, but that doesn’t mean they’re immediately obvious to the casual website visitor.
Stuffing your website with image-packed galleries only creates visual overload and prevents people from appreciating the individual story of each photograph.
And yet, what do we see on most photographers’ websites?
Galleries and portfolios that fill the page with countless thumbnails, and blog posts bursting at the seams with images in a vain attempt to impress.
Confused visitors who fail to appreciate the true impact of what you do.
Within seconds, they’re gone…
Trap #3: You Just Need To Get Your Name Out There
Let’s be blunt… “Getting your name out there” is not marketing.
Your name has nothing at all to do with attracting the right clients.
Because, even if people do hear your name and check you out, they won’t even think of hiring you unless what they see makes an immediate and meaningful impact upon them.
Marketing is about attracting the right people who resonate with what you and your business represents in terms of the experience you offer.
The core elements that make you and your photography unique are what you should be getting out there in front of people, not just a name or business identity.
If you’ve been focused on trying to find ways to get your name out there, or get more exposure, it’s time to stop and rethink things.
Trap #4: Word Of Mouth Speaks For Itself
Word of mouth is the Holy Grail of marketing.
And it’s just as hard to find.
When it works, it can be great, but it rarely does for most photographers.
It doesn’t matter how thrilled your clients tell you they are, only a small percentage will rave about you to friends and family.
Despite that, many photographers tell me they rely on word of mouth for clients.
But, then, in the next breath they complain about the lack of bookings.
Too many photographers latch onto word of mouth marketing because they see it as a means of avoiding the discomforts of doing actual marketing.
Too much wasted time sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.
And no clients.
Trap #5: A Great-Looking Website Attracts More Clients
Sure, your website might look amazing, but it’s all for nothing if no one takes the action you want them to.
Photographers waste countless hours stressing out over fonts, colors, layouts, themes, flashy backgrounds, and fancy galleries…
Only to forget about the true purpose of the website.
Which is to make an impact on visitors and convert them into potential customers.
Of course, no one wants an ugly website.
But please pay attention to the desired end goal first, and then create aesthetics that support and enhance the conversion of visitors into qualified leads.
Trap #6: The Photographs Will Sell Themselves
“I hate asking people for money…”
That’s the #1 response I hear from photographers when I ask them how they feel about sales.
The bad news?
Professional photography is all about sales.
Whether you like it or not, you’re in the business of selling photographs to people, so you might as well get used to the idea.
After all, your business can’t survive without selling your product to someone.
Fear of sales (more accurately, the fear of rejection in sales) leads to all kinds of bad practices such as private online proofing galleries or trying to sell passively at a distance.
None of those methods serve your clients as effectively as in-person sales where you take charge of the sales presentation.
It doesn’t mean you have to be pushy (quite the opposite, in fact), but you do have to accept the responsibility of helping your clients buy what’s right for them.
Success Is Not “Normal”
Be honest, how many of these lies have you told yourself?
There’s no need to feel bad because these are easy traps to fall into.
They’re what we see as conventional wisdom in the photography business because they’re what see as the “normal” way of doing business.
Except that the “normal” state for most photographers is failure.
Coming up next, how do most struggling photographers deal with the difficulties of getting their business off the ground?
Click below to find out.