Almost everyone starts off shooting anything they’re able to book. And photographers aren’t alone, most service providers take on every client they can get when they start off. I know I did. But at some point, specializing becomes the way forward.
Why? Really, really, really important reasons…
Specialize Because It Makes You Look Good
You’ve been arrested for murder! Falsely accused, no doubt. Your next decision will determine the rest of your life: you need to hire a lawyer!
So, do you call the firm down the street? You know, the one that handles bankruptcies, divorce, and criminal law? Or are you going to call that one criminal defense attorney with the reputation of being a brawler in the courtroom who’s never lost a murder trial?
Clients looking to hire a photographer have a similar dilemma. They want to reduce their risk. The risk that the final work sucks. The risk that their photographer ends up being a flake and shows up late or takes months to finish editing. The risk that their once in a lifetime moments aren’t captured. And they feel that someone who’s specialized in exactly what they need is going to be better prepared to deliver great work than someone who dabbles in everything.
So, by specializing you immediately make your target client feel more confident in your abilities. You look like a professional. And the right clients are willing to pay a premium price for confidence.
Yes, many use price as their primary motivator. That’s why the general law firm down the street has their calendar filled up. But even if you want to compete on price, you still need to specialize…
Because You Can Do It Better And Faster
Developing really awesome systems for your business is everything. EVERYTHING. As a solopreneur, systems help you produce better and more consistent work. They also help you get tasks done faster – often much faster. And in the case you want to grow, they enable you to hire a team once you’re schedule demands it. They can then enable your business to run when you aren’t there and could even make it possible to sell one day.
If you’re “specializing” in a bunch of different things, creating systems becomes a massive undertaking that never seems to get the attention it deserves. Because creating and maintaining great systems for one service takes a ton of work. And every type of shoot is going to require a new system. Most of us don’t have time for that because we’re already working too many hours and feeling like we didn’t get anything done. There’s never enough time in the day! Ever feel like that?
Marketing Just Got Sooooo Easy
Marketing could fit into my Systems chatter above, but since it has a special place in my heart, it’s getting its own heading. Marketing is simple: Know who you’re selling to. Find them and make them want what you have. Make it easy for them to get it. Do those things and you’ll never wonder where your next client is going to come from.
But when you have multiple services, your marketing for each one is completely different (at least it should be). You have different target clients. Different pain points and desires. They hang out in different places (online or off). I think you see where I’m going with this… you’re just making everything so damn hard.
Making The Transition
If you’re not specialized, it’s probably because you’re scared you won’t find enough work in one niche or you can’t stand the thought of your creativity being confined to one area. I get it, more than you can know.
So just take it slow. You don’t have to cut off all the clients that come to you for different types of shoots. You could start by simply focusing your marketing efforts on your new specialty. Get to really know your target market and figure out some ways you can get their attention.
Once you figure out how to keep yourself busy with one type of shoot, quickly start saying no to any other types of work. And that’s when it gets really fun. Now you can create the systems that’ll make your work faster so you can handle more of it in less time. And the best part? You’re actually enhancing your creative potential. Because you’re no longer frantically trying to get work done. You’re able to focus and give all your creative energy to your current shoot.
Prepare to Feel… Relief
Before I started specializing, my marketing was so hard. Since I didn’t have a narrow target market, creating content and advertising was such a daunting task it seldom got done. I couldn’t deeply understand a market’s unique problems and create custom solutions for them because every new client was like starting all over again.
But when I narrowed in on a very specific niche that I was passionate about, those problems were immediately gone. The new challenge was simply to learn about the niche and figure out how to deliver an exceptional service to people who all had similar problems. And that’s way more enjoyable than frantically trying to get work done.