Who is Your Ideal Client?


Creating Your Ideal Photography Business


Lesson Info

Who is Your Ideal Client?

This was the hardest question for us to answer. Whenever I would go to marketing seminars, they would say, "Okay, just go find your ideal client "and tell them what you do." I was like, "Well, who's my, I want somebody "that invests in photography; who is that?" (laughs) It took me a while to realize that nobody can tell me who my ideal client is. What I started doing is looking at the clients that I really enjoyed working with. I had to start to define who that ideal client was for me, and it took time to realize that. It's kind of trial and error. You think you're on the right track, and you'll get the wrong type of client that doesn't value what you do, and then you realize what's not your ideal client, and that helps you define what is your ideal client. For us, our ideal client is artsy. They appreciate fine art. They go to museums; they sometimes are collectors. That's first and foremost. They value photography as an art. Just because someone is an art collector doesn't mean that...

they consider photography to be art, so you have to be sure that you're clear on that front as well. They're very well educated. Almost all of our clients have graduate degrees. We've just learned that over the years. They are very successful. Oftentimes, both parents work. The bride and the groom client, they're both executives. They both have MBAs or some other kind of graduate degree. They both are in leadership roles in their business, so they oversee other employees. They're used to running the show, kinda high powered jobs. They are healthy. They are climbers and runners and bikers and kayakers; that's about 3/4 of Colorado anyway, but (laughs) that tends to be who we attract. They're active; they're out all the time, doing things in nature. Typically, people that are active in the gym are different than our clients. Our clients are active in the environment. That's a key distinction. They're outdoorsy; they camp. They don't mind getting dirty. They don't mind it if its cold and rainy outside. We do sessions rain or shine most of the time. It's taken a long time for us to figure out who this is. While I said successful, that doesn't necessarily equate to wealthy. There's a difference there. Our clients value time away from work as well. While wealth is always an advantage in the sales room, it's not critical. Some of our best clients have very low incomes, and they really have to stretch to be able to invest with us. They value it; we give them a means; and they figure out a way to make it happen. When I first started trying to answer this question, wealthy was at the top of the list. Anybody that has extra money surely will buy our photography, and that's not necessarily true. We learned that the hard way. As you go through your business, think about the people that you have really enjoyed working with, or the people that you think you will enjoy working with. What are they like? What do they like to do? How do they spend their time? Where do they spend their money? Our clients often have ski passes up into the mountains, which is a thousand-dollar-per-person investment every year, and ski equipment on top of that. Skiers are a great target market. They have expendable money, they're outdoorsy; they're active; they're healthy; they fit the profile. If I can build a relationship with somewhere where skiers hang out, I can capture that client. That's one option. Climbers, anybody that climbs big mountains, spends $600 on a pair of boots, that's my client, on hiking boots, not dress boots. That's my client; that's the person I want in the door. If I can go into a high end mountaineering store, where people with families come, and I can connect with those clients, those are the people that I wanna interact with. If I can connect with a family that spends more time at REI than they do at the mall, that's my client. Knowing that has really changed with who we build relationships with. Think about that, where does your client spend their time? Where does your ideal client spend their money? Then, you can start to define who your ideal partner is to build a relationship.

Class Description

"If you're struggling to figure out the business process of photography, this class is one of the clearest and most concise I've ever seen. If you're experienced but the business side and pricing are eluding you, you will find clarity here. I own at least twenty CreativeLive courses and hands down, this one explains pricing and strategy better than any others I've purchased or watched live." - Julie, CreativeLive Student 
Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - start ups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. This class will cover: 

  • Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living 
  • Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses 
  • How to write and create your business plan 
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business. 


1Class Introduction 2How To Price Your Products 3Which Products Will You Offer 4Methods For Pricing 5Mark Up Factors On Products 6What Is Your Per Hour Figure 7What Is The Feasibility Of A Product 8Target Sales Average 9Session Fees Pricing Strategy 10Minimum Purchase And Incentives Pricing Strategy 11Bundling Pricing Strategy 12Pre-Design Pricing Strategy 13Album Pricing Strategies 14Example Pricing List 15Business Basics Overview 16Tracking Product Lines In Your Business 17Track Your Session Counts 18Know Your Sales Average 19Importance Of Data Analysis 20Overview Of Costs 21Professional Photographers Of America Benchmark Survey 22Creating A Vision For Your Business 23What Do You Want To Accomplish 24Take A Leap Of Faith 25Refine Your Vision 26Products That Sell 27Identify Pricing Strategies 28Portrait Pricing Strategy Example 29Album Pricing Strategy Example 30Online Pricing Strategy Example 31Fine Art Prints Pricing Strategy Example 32Packages Pricing Strategy Example 33Sales Strategies Overview 34Portrait Sales Session Overview 35Sales Strategy for Portrait Sales 36How to Present Images to Client 37Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales 38Album Pre-Design 39Marketing: Define Yourself 40Who is Your Ideal Client? 41Who is Your Ideal Partner? 42How to Start a Partner Business Relationship 43Marketing Strategies that Work 44Product Lines: Business Plan Part One 45Workload: Business Plan Part Two 46Sessions: Business Plan Part Three 47Expenses: Business Plan Part Four 48Clients: Business Plan Part Five



I started my business a year ago with little formal technical photography education. It's hard to admit but I've been winging it, figuring out each small task that goes with photographing a session, editing one, and working with clients as I go. I may be doing things backwards, but now that I feel like I'm more comfortable in those small, specific parts of business, I need to figure out how to make this business sustainable and profitable. Kathy's class felt perfect for this time in my business to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what I want to focus on and where I want to go (and how much I want to pay myself!). She uses realistic, specific numbers: something that's SO helpful and I feel like I rarely see in the photography community. And she breaks everything down in an organized and easy to understand way. The classes were easy to follow along with and Kathy's positivity and patient manner is inspiring and motivating. The fact that she used to be a school teacher is clear. Thank you so much Kathy (and the rest of the Holcombes)!

Jenny Farrell

I am so glad I was able to attend this course in person and receive all the wonderful and practical information Kathy shared with us. I also really enjoyed the connections with other audience members and side conversations with Creative Live peeps as well as the Holcombe family. What an inspiration this family is--lots of practical info, but also a great pep talk to not sell yourself short and get out there and do what you love, but use sound business practice while doing it. Thanks so much for these incredible two days.


Fantastic course! Very helpful instruction and how-to guide for anyone considering starting up a photography business. Kathy was an excellent instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I gained a good understanding of the practical everyday aspects of running this kind of business, and how to create my own vision.