Advice Please - How To Source Work, When Starting Out.

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Name
Phil
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#1
Hi everybody!

I'm just after some advice, please. I opened a photography studio back in March and we are still struggling to get work in the diary.

We have a sizeable studio, based in a busy village near St Helens, Warrington, Leigh and Salford, so we are in a good location. We are also willing to travel for shoots.

Does anybody have any advice for some good ways to source new business, please?

Thank you.
 
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#2
Hi Phil

As you may be aware, there are numerous threads here at TP by newer members about "how to get business..."

So, FWIW and having looked at Google streetview can I ask? Have you approached your fellow business owners such as the nearby Florist, Hairdressers.....even the Tattoo Parlour. Their customers are also potentially your customers and sorry if I sound weary but IMO without explaining what sort of actions you have taken to try to drive business to your door how can you expect the very knowledgeable TP members who have their niche in business (not me ;) )to even reflect on your circumstances???

Your request for advice is a bit like saying I need a piece of string but how the heck can I find a long enough bit to tie all my stuff together.

I sincerely wish you well on you & your partners venture :)

PS It just struck me to ask ~ when you were getting clients before opening the studio, what was working for you and have you managed to identify any reason(s) why 'going studio' has not helped you grow that original client base???
 
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Phil
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#4
Hi Phil

As you may be aware, there are numerous threads here at TP by newer members about "how to get business..."

So, FWIW and having looked at Google streetview can I ask? Have you approached your fellow business owners such as the nearby Florist, Hairdressers.....even the Tattoo Parlour. Their customers are also potentially your customers and sorry if I sound weary but IMO without explaining what sort of actions you have taken to try to drive business to your door how can you expect the very knowledgeable TP members who have their niche in business (not me ;) )to even reflect on your circumstances???

Your request for advice is a bit like saying I need a piece of string but how the heck can I find a long enough bit to tie all my stuff together.

I sincerely wish you well on you & your partners venture :)

PS It just struck me to ask ~ when you were getting clients before opening the studio, what was working for you and have you managed to identify any reason(s) why 'going studio' has not helped you grow that original client base???
Hi! Thanks for your reply. The reason I kept it vague was to see what kind of suggestions I receive. I 100% get where you're coming from, though. Most of our business has been pet, family and newborn portraiture. We acquired this business through people contacting us, or through us running competitions. Other than that, we are finding it difficult to source business.

I am currently approaching doggy day care groups and nurseries.

I've considered approaching Florists, Hairdressers, Tattoo Artists etc, but didn't expect they'd want or need photography. Most of these businesses seem to take images themselves, so I feel it may be a waste of time pitching to them.

I feel like I need a push to think 'outside of the box'.

My Mrs is the photographer and has worked in different big-name studios in the past. They already had a steady workstream, so she never had to source the work herself, unless the work came to her.

Thank you for the advice, so far. It is very much appreciated.
 
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4,554
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Simon
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#5
I think I've just found your website. A website isn't the be-all and end-all any more but it needs to be fairly clean - yours isn't working. Blank spaces where there should be images, images pulsing in and out, confusing navigation, no images which would make me want to hire you.

Folk may not find you via the website but it is your showcase.
 
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Phil
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#6
There are several different sorts of studio. In my limited experience very few manage more than one of family, lifestyle, corporate headshot, boudoir, glamour, commercial, high end product or high throughput product photography.

What's your USP?
Our USP is low-cost, high-quality photography. We specialise in all kinds of portraiture. Our photographer has a Master's Degree (MA) and 16 years of experience. She has also recently become a certified newborn photographer by a UK newborn photography workshop provider. We actually have a dedicated product photography set-up too, although we have had barely any product work. We are based near several industrial areas, although most companies appear to be large chains and therefore already have a photography service provider.
 
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Phil
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#7
I think I've just found your website. A website isn't the be-all and end-all any more but it needs to be fairly clean - yours isn't working. Blank spaces where there should be images, images pulsing in and out, confusing navigation, no images which would make me want to hire you.

Folk may not find you via the website but it is your showcase.
Our website is www.ownlightphotography.com

Out of interest, did you access the site via desktop or a smartphone/tablet? I've had issues with the site in the past. Sometimes it looks great on desktop, but doesn't work on mobile, and vice-versa. You're right, there are a few pages missing images, which I will sort this week. I can't find the pulsing images you speak of, though? Do you recall which page they were on? Also, we recently changed our navigation layout to make it less confusing (d'oh!) could you please elaborate a little on it.

This constructive criticism is extremely helpful and I will take it all on board.
 
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Simon
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#8
Our website is www.ownlightphotography.com

Out of interest, did you access the site via desktop or a smartphone/tablet? I've had issues with the site in the past. Sometimes it looks great on desktop, but doesn't work on mobile, and vice-versa. You're right, there are a few pages missing images, which I will sort this week. I can't find the pulsing images you speak of, though? Do you recall which page they were on? Also, we recently changed our navigation layout to make it less confusing (d'oh!) could you please elaborate a little on it.

This constructive criticism is extremely helpful and I will take it all on board.
That's the one. Desktop, 2 browsers.

Sorry to be so negative.. hth

Home page 'click to enter'.. who does that any more?
I clicked.. no pictures
Went to about.. No pics, nearly missed the text about you
menus - overlap the titles and are semi-transparent, or don't drop down at all (pets)
Studio hire - hover over images - they wobble about & look clickable but aren't

Pets - image pulses in and out
The headshots gallery clearly has some more images to the right but I can't scroll to them
Babysitters.. can't see the image
Community - inconsistent font, no images.

etc etc

BUT the main thing is I couldn't find a gallery which gives a clear flavour of what you do, and I spent some time looking. Most folk won't.

IMO You'd do better to take it down and create a one page site - images. prices & contact details - while you fix the current one.
 
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#9
Hi! Thanks for your reply. The reason I kept it vague was to see what kind of suggestions I receive. I 100% get where you're coming from, though. Most of our business has been pet, family and newborn portraiture. We acquired this business through people contacting us, or through us running competitions. Other than that, we are finding it difficult to source business.

I am currently approaching doggy day care groups and nurseries.

I've considered approaching Florists, Hairdressers, Tattoo Artists etc, but didn't expect they'd want or need photography. Most of these businesses seem to take images themselves, so I feel it may be a waste of time pitching to them.

I feel like I need a push to think 'outside of the box'.

My Mrs is the photographer and has worked in different big-name studios in the past. They already had a steady workstream, so she never had to source the work herself, unless the work came to her.

Thank you for the advice, so far. It is very much appreciated.
OK, take this with a pinch salt as I am not directly relating any of this to photography................just businesses in general.

  1. If you have never approached the likes of Florists, Hairdressers, Tattoo Artists etc how do you know if what you can offer will be of interest???
    Remember the old adage ~ if you assume it can make an Ass out of You & Me ;)
    The ones I mentioned are literally on your doorstep - yes, they may not have the sort of clientele who need pro photographic services but with a few mins of your time you may just open some doors to "their world, for you" and lead to some work?

  2. I recall, in sales & business of some 'old timers' saying they had 40 years of experience and still wondered why they could not increase sales et al
    Interpretation ~ they had 1 years experience that they had utilised for the last 39 years!

    Moral of that story, yes think out of the box but don't neglect what you may be seeing as 'the obvious'?

  3. Never forget how and what you are selling to your current customers and explore what other services they might need.................and don't assume they know exactly what all your services are!!!

    One story of note ~ bear in mind at the company I worked for decades we had some clients we had served for over 20 years (some in excess of 40 years!).
    The then MD was talking to one who he knew in both business and personally who asked him for a product.................he exclaimed & explained that he even sampled it to said customer on more than one occasion and still the customer had forgotten ~ tell them, tell them again, tell them you have told them...........rinse & repeat ;)
 
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Phil
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#10
OK, take this with a pinch salt as I am not directly relating any of this to photography................just businesses in general.

  1. If you have never approached the likes of Florists, Hairdressers, Tattoo Artists etc how do you know if what you can offer will be of interest???
    Remember the old adage ~ if you assume it can make an Ass out of You & Me ;)
    The ones I mentioned are literally on your doorstep - yes, they may not have the sort of clientele who need pro photographic services but with a few mins of your time you may just open some doors to "their world, for you" and lead to some work?

  2. I recall, in sales & business of some 'old timers' saying they had 40 years of experience and still wondered why they could not increase sales et al
    Interpretation ~ they had 1 years experience that they had utilised for the last 39 years!

    Moral of that story, yes think out of the box but don't neglect what you may be seeing as 'the obvious'?

  3. Never forget how and what you are selling to your current customers and explore what other services they might need.................and don't assume they know exactly what all your services are!!!

    One story of note ~ bear in mind at the company I worked for decades we had some clients we had served for over 20 years (some in excess of 40 years!).
    The then MD was talking to one who he knew in both business and personally who asked him for a product.................he exclaimed & explained that he even sampled it to said customer on more than one occasion and still the customer had forgotten ~ tell them, tell them again, tell them you have told them...........rinse & repeat ;)
Solid advice. Thank you!
 
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David
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#11
You have to be careful when offering 'low cost' photography as a USP. Because if you do that, you only attract clients with a low disposable income. You won't attract high quality clients with a big disposible income, who are used to paying premium prices. That was a mistake I made when I first started. I once had someone set up half a mile from me who's USP was 'affordable' photography. They lasted one year - despite being located in my village where the average house price is £900k. My prices were over treble his and I'm still here after 16 years. Your USP must be your photography and something your competitors don't offer - not because you are cheap. Photography is a bespoke service and should be charged accordingly.

I also spotted two other things on your site. Firstly, it looks like you do viewings online as you refer to a viewing gallery. If that is the case, its virtually guaranteed your sales will be considerably lower than in-person viewings done at your studio. Secondly, in my opinion you are selling your digis at ridiculously low prices. Digis have a much higher value (I sell a minimum of 5 digis for £500.00), as you can make multiple copies from them. There appears to be no mention of wall display products either. Digis normally end up in a drawer, whilst framed photos end up on the wall for their friends to see. Clients walls can be your best shop window.

As for finding business in the near future, doing stalls at summer fetes is a good one. Also approach your local schools and ask if they want to do a promo. In the past I've done one where I pay the school fund £10.00 for every shoot I get from that respective school during the promo period. Perhaps launch that in October to hit the autumn half term and Christmas trade.
 
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#12
I managed to miss one out ;)

Remember 'people buy from people'..................your products & services could be the best in the world but unless you or your partner are selling "you" and "her" your sales will always be lower.

One selling mantra ~ "what do You want" > "We can do that" > "I can make it happen" [You the customer, We as in both parties, I the seller]
 
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Phil
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#13
To add to the brilliant advice above - the website doesn't work at all. Find a better template (as per @juggler above) that you've control over then implement some simple SEO. You need to work out what you're selling and distil your messages.

Now to the business - you need to learn what you should be specialising in. You're trying to market a business and forgive the bluntness; you have no marketing experience. Your wife has some 'decent' images - but the horse photo's are snaps compared to the best of them. The images should illustrate exactly the descriptions of services - it's obvious that you're advertising services you havent delivered yet (as there's no images to show us what we'd be buying)
 
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Mark
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#14
Two points.

That has to be one of the most annoying websites that I've seen for a photographer. You website should be about two main things:
a) Providing information
b) to show case your images.

It does neither efficiently.

Secondly, ditch the horse photographs until you've taken some better ones. Unless you know what you are doing, don't ever crop the ears off an equine photograph.
 
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Robert
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#15
You've got some great photos on the site, but I'd looked at your sight twice, and didnt realise I had to swipe to see a lot of the images.
Only realised when I tried to find the horse images that Phil and Mark mentioned.
You've left gaps in the page for meet the staff that makes it look like images are missing.
 
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Phil
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#16
Thanks for the advice, gents. I've had a look at ways I can compress the site in to a more easily digestible experience. I will ditch the 'Sessions' menu, for a Sessions page and move everything in there under one link. Then, each service will have a brief description, an image and a link to expand on. This will take around 13 different menu entries (most noticeable on the mobile site) down to 1.
 
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Phil
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#17
The horizontal scrolling was popular with a few photographers a couple of years ago; I’m not sure I ever met a customer who liked it though.

What’s ‘wrong’ is the horrid - zontal scrolling; having sections live without content, having content that doesn’t fit the text.

Users won’t like having a menu that then opens up to more selections, menus that mean nothing etc.

The only thing wrong with your old menu system is as above.

The worst mistake you could make would be to put all your customer groups into one big pile.

If you were looking for a commercial photographer you’d want the commercial content to hit you in the face.

You’ve got about 5 seconds to keep them on site!
 
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Phil
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#18
The horizontal scrolling was popular with a few photographers a couple of years ago; I’m not sure I ever met a customer who liked it though.

What’s ‘wrong’ is the horrid - zontal scrolling; having sections live without content, having content that doesn’t fit the text.

Users won’t like having a menu that then opens up to more selections, menus that mean nothing etc.

The only thing wrong with your old menu system is as above.

The worst mistake you could make would be to put all your customer groups into one big pile.

If you were looking for a commercial photographer you’d want the commercial content to hit you in the face.

You’ve got about 5 seconds to keep them on site!

Thanks very much, Phil (awesome name, by the way - I am also called Phil)

I have cleaned up the menus, whilst keeping Commercial, Events and Studio Hire as separate entities. The sessions are now all grouped under one link, containing images and links to the specific pages, rather than having a huge list to begin with. The horizontal-scrolling pages are no more! I will also update the pet photos and commercial photos throughout the week, as we have lots more. I have got rid of the currently empty 'Blog' page, as well as the 'Community' page that we also haven't yet got round to doing. As for other blank pages - I will sort out some head shots for the 'Meet The Team' page over the next week. Hopefully all of this makes for a much more pleasant user experience.

With all that in mind, I don't suppose I could ask you to kindly take one last look at the site, to see if it reads better to you. Better browsing experience? Easier to navigate?

Thank you very much for your help. It really is greatly appreciated.
 
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