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  • Sarah Harley

STRATEGY & PLANNING

So what's my plan?



Having researched competitors in the region, it is clear that there are plenty of other photographers in the area who are already established, have a reputation, an existing client list and a highly credible portfolio of work.


If I’m perfectly honest, it is feeling pretty easy at this point to lose confidence and wonder if there is any point proceeding further. Is there really going to be enough work for everyone and am I really good enough to make this work as a career?


I can think of all the reasons not to forge ahead and struggling to think of reasons why I should keep going.


Although photography is one of the things that makes me most happy, realistically I also need to work and earn money. I’m not young and don’t have the luxury of time on my side. It feels like my last chance to really do a job I love, rather than a job I can do. If it’s not going to work then should I put all my time and effort into it or do I just leave it as a hobby and look for work elsewhere?


I’m at a crossroads it feels and yet I need to carry on with this module as if I am going to proceed with the career option. I could of course switch my approach and become perhaps just an online gallery selling imagery – both my own and that supplied by others (hmm…maybe that could be an alternative business idea?), but I figure I at least have to see this process through.


I guess all the photographers out there started somewhere and if you don’t start then you will never know?


So, what’s my plan?

Market Research


I’ve started this and will keep doing it throughout this whole process and beyond. Knowledge is power and often the source of inspiration. Even whilst having an online search whilst writing this post, I’ve found a food photographer based in London whose images are simply stunning (https://stuartwest.co.uk) – to dream about what I could create is essential to creating the fire to want to succeed.


USP


We all need a USP and all have one – even if it’s not always obvious. Completing a SWOT analysis on myself and my business idea will be essential to moving forward. I’ve got a lot of skills and experience gained in previous jobs – there must be a way of using those to my advantage? Next step must be to list those skills and see how I can adapt them to photography.


PRICING


I’m clear on how my pricing structure will work – what I need to do next is put figures to that structure. Figures will need to reflect my entry position into the career without seeming too cheap which will devalue the level of skill and professionalism. Although regionally there is limited information on competitor pricing, I can look at those photographers specialising in one area of commercial work – such as food photography – and then base my rates on these and others sourced from across the UK as mentioned in my previous blog post.


Searching for food photographers in South Wales immediately brings up some examples:

Mike Cooper Photography

Owen Matthias

Hepburn Photography


Along with others whose work perhaps isn’t as professional as I would have expected which gives me some hope that there is still space in the market.



MARKETING


"There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.” — Brian Koslow

However – most new business start in the same way – with little or no reputation. You are only as good as your last happy client, but without reputation how do you get clients?

I need to develop a marketing strategy that will give me exposure to potential clients, as with bookings comes portfolio material, testimonials and that all important reputation and word of mouth referral.


KEY AREAS TO CONSIDER


Website – this will be my main marketing tool so will need to be as professional and as populated with quality imagery in my genre as it can be. Also ensure SEO is activated and working well on the site to improve rankings.


Social media – needs to be professional, linked to website and not associated with any personal accounts – although my personal account will be used to promote my business so that I can reach more people for free.


Advertising – paid for options will exist in local publications and on websites, but is there a way of generating free advertising? My new website comes with some free Google ads so these will be activated to assist online. Also need to consider local businesses that may be able to display work for free (eg cafes) or suppliers that may be willing to put reciprocal links on their websites. Noticeboards often exist in local shops so flyers could be placed on these.


Additional Marketing tools– eg business cards, flyers, posters – all of these need to be developed with a consistent theme in order to ensure my brand identity is recognisable and professional. The more that these are distributed then the more people will get to see my business.


Free work– a valuable source of developing reputation, word of mouth referrals and portfolio material. Get in touch with friends, families, local businesses and suitable network groups to offer a limited number of shoots for free.


Internships or unpaid assistant work– consider approaching local photographers for opportunities to be a second shooter on jobs or an assistant in order to accumulate more portfolio work and also get them to consider me as a paid option for future jobs if they like the work I produce.


Guess I’d better crack on as based on all of the above there’s plenty of work to do!
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