How to Launch a Photography Business

Lesson 12 of 87

Select a Focus


How to Launch a Photography Business

Lesson 12 of 87

Select a Focus


Lesson Info

Select a Focus

I can't tell you how many times I've heard a friend come up to me, 'cause once you have a successful business, all your friends will say, "I have this great idea" okay? There have been so many times where that idea has been something as grand as this. Pye, I got this idea. We're gonna be the next Amazon. This is that big of an idea. Pye, I've got this idea. We're gonna compete with Netflix. If we can just get 1% of their market share, like, as soon as you hear those words, it's just like, "Slow down, dude, relax for one second." And if I were to tell you, "Go and be the next Amazon." This is literally something that every first time entrepreneur will say. Something that broad. It doesn't have to be Amazon but something that broad. This is where we go to. Where do you start? Amazon does retail, groceries, entertainment, music, home automation, web services, fulfillment, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, oh yeah, they started with the books. What of those things do you wanna compete on? Because a...

ny one of those things that you choose is a monumental task to try and take on. Amazon, they started with books, right? That's a niche within a niche. I'm gonna do retail, no. We're just gonna sell books inside of retail, okay? And now web services is one of their largest revenue generating areas. You know what web services are? Server hosting, Cloud storage, server management, like all sorts of web based services that they basically had to build for themselves and they said, "Well, now that we're good at this we might as well lease and sell it out to other people." It's impossible to do this. That's what we need to realize. Now, we're going and thinking on a much smaller scale. And I know the argument here is, yeah but I can take better pictures than the 99%. I know. I know all of us can take really great pictures, okay? I love taking pictures. I mean, I've done head shots, I've done boudoir, engagement, fashion, bridal, maternity. But that's not the point. It's not about how great the pictures are that you're taking. It's about the fact that you're competing with people that are 100% focused in a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche. That's how ridiculous it is. Like, you have people that are going down from photography to one niche of portraits down to a sub niche of dogs, just dogs. You're competing with them if you wanna do all of it, right? Look at this. You've got people that go from, I'm gonna do photography down to weddings down to film or dramatic style weddings, right? There are studios that brand entirely around classic film looking images. And there are studios that brand entirely around dramatic images. How do you possibly compete with both these from, let's just say from a quality side, just starting with a quality side. They're 100% focused on it, you've got five different things that you're doing. How do you catch up? Now, how do you compete against their branding and identity, their 100% focused marketing efforts, their pricing and efficiency and the fact that they do it better than you because that's all they focus on so they're going to do it more cost effectively than you? Is this becoming like kind of, is that making sense in terms of choosing a focus? It's a terrifying thing to choose a focus because all of us are like, what if I do choose something I don't like? What if I pigeonhole myself? What if... What are the questions you guys have when choosing a focus? The doubts, the worries? Joe. My competition. Your competition? Yeah, who am I gonna be up against? Especially if it's off the wall focus? Yeah, so, Joe, if you said, "I'm gonna do head shots, weddings, engagements and family portraits." Might not make it out of the head shop. Might not make it out of the head shots. But now you've identified four specialties that you're competing across. Oh, man, when we start getting into competitor analysis, are you gonna spend the time to put together competitor analyses for four different focuses? And then are you gonna market and create SEO for four different focuses and four different websites and four... That's the task that you're taking on. Now, it's possible to start with one, say head shots, and then after you've got that wheel spinning and it's easy to maintain, you drop a person in place, they run it, you spin up the next wheel and go. Question. Thank you, Joe. So, what about, for example, I do boudoir but then I have different target market. I have the mother-to-be, the bride-to-be and then the woman who just take some time for herself. Is it too much or should I just have one target in my niche? So Judy that is a great question. So, I would say that within your niche, you've identified your niche. What that sounds like now are product offerings. So, it sounds like you focused in on boudoir and the products that you have are for brides-to-be, therefore people that wanna take out time for themselves and this, that's great. There's nothing wrong with that. If you go too far down, you might have a hard time getting enough clients, right? But I think even any of those subproducts you could still focus 100% on and still get enough clients. Okay. That's a really good question, though. Okay. So, it's time to choose. Wedding, engagement, family, newborn, maternity, head shots, senior, boudoir, I'm not gonna list them all out but any direct client service area, exact same process, okay? So, this is where I want you guys to actually pause and mind map. I want you guys to think of the different genres that you have. Now, in class, you can do it if we have questions but I'm gonna let you guys do that in your free time. So, write down, mind map potential focuses. And what you're gonna do with each of these branches is you're gonna write out a focus and you're gonna write out it is to be that person. We know that all the business and admin applies to every one of them. So instead write down the types of people that you're gonna be interacting with, the types of subjects you're gonna be shooting, what it is going to be like shooting that, what is it going to be like dealing with a baby that's crying nonstop and trying to sooth that baby? Like these are all things that you can free think of, right? You don't have to be a newborn photographer to guess that the newborn's probably gonna pee and poop on a lot of your materials, right? That's just a given. So, if you have a hard time with that, then you probably cross that off your list and what you're gonna do is after you get this mind map vision out of what this environment looks like you're gonna start crossing things off that don't fit your personality. Cool? Is this making sense so far? From that point, you can ask your friends about their experiences but I think you guys can put together enough to at least narrow it down to, like, maybe a couple of areas and then start asking people about focus. So, that's what the discipline lifestyle mind map is. Here's what we're gonna research now. This is gonna start going into competitor analysis. This is where we say the principles remain, nothing changes. So, we're gonna research, Google search wedding photography, wedding photographer, wedding photographer in my area. So, for example, wedding photographer in Orange County, wedding photographer in San Francisco, wedding photographer in New York. You can even identify a sub genre, fine art wedding photography, journalistic wedding photography, but I want you to look in your specific location and start identifying who's around you and this is the beauty of it, so, change the topic to newborn, change it to maternity, change it to pet photography, change it to head shots, any of these are fine. It's the same process. And what we're gonna get at is we're gonna a list of local competition, okay? Questions as far as the different disciplines go? Because now we're gonna take that research and go into competitor analysis. Do we have any questions right now in terms of focuses? Yes. How might you adjust that for someone who's interested in commercial clients? How would you kinda make some changes to that so you can still do all that mind mapping but have something to work from? Great question. So, regarding commercial clients, honestly everything stays very similar except for your grass roots marketing because grass roots marketing for commercial clients, let's say, Nissan. It wasn't Nissan that actually hired me to do that shoot, it was their agency that they hired to hire me. Does that make sense? So, you're not marketing to end consumers, you're marketing basically to agencies which means that the types of grass roots marketing that you're doing is more along the lines of putting together brochures, handouts, trying to network and meet with them. You're not targeting those individuals but as far as your website, it's identical. We still need to go through SEO and content creation and content marketing. We still need to identify. We still need to look at competitors. We still need to all these things the same. It's simply the marketing aspect that shifts because now you're not targeting the end consumer, you're targeting an in between. Oh, yes, go for it. Okay, so for me, I don't know know how unique my genre is but I incorporate large format film photography with digital. So I kinda do like a digital session and then a bonus. And then I develop the film. But that's where I am struggling to market to that particular client Yeah. That sees value in that. 'Cause it really is one of a kind. It is, you're talking about hybrid, right? So, that's basically hybrid studios. (sighs) That's challenging. Why? Because how many clients know the term hyrbid? That's a very specialized industry term, right? So, you can't necessarily when it comes to SEO and content marketing if you type in, you know, what is your location? Woodinville. Okay, if you type in Woodinville hybrid wedding photography, that's a term that I guarantee only photographers are gonna be looking at. Yeah. So you have to, you're gonna have to take that product and you have to market to a broader area and a broader kind of mindset. So, like wedding photography in that locale. Okay. And then you're gonna have to educate. Yeah, right now I just have Woodinville photographer (laughs) for my SEO. And we're gonna talk about that 'cause Woodinville photographer is a very broad term. Right. So, what's gonna happen is you're gonna burn up a lot of your time because the people that are searching that could be looking for head shots, newborns, photography, like pet photography, they could be looking for anything, any type of photographer in that area and you end up burning a lot of your time answering questions like, hey do you shoot this? Hey, do you shoot that? Do you do this? So, we're gonna talk about focusing down enough where you're not gonna burn up time. Perfect, thank you. And I've got, oh, I'm gonna do one from online. Of course, yes. And then we'll throw it back over. Okay, so this is from Jessica K. who has a question about focus. She says, "What if I have an end focus that I anticipate might take longer to get to. For example, outdoor adventure and travel. But I know that I have a focus for now, for example lifestyle, to sustain my business to get to that end focus that's slightly more aspirational. Would that work? Yeah, so the only trick to this is that people are gonna buy what you show. So, if you're intending to build this business where you eventually wanna say, shoot filmic weddings but right now you feel like the market is more broad doing modern style. You're gonna put up so much content in the meanwhile that everybody that comes to you is gonna expect that and when you try to switch it over it's not gonna happen. So, if the genres fit into like, whether we're talking about lifestyle versus travel, that sounds like a commercial kind of endeavor and it sounds like two different products within that. And then you need to be showing, so, if you wanna start both those things up at the same time and you're not getting clients for the travel side, you need to being test shoots and things on your own to market that and to show it just as much as the other thing on your blog and on your site and everything so that it looks like they're both kinda poppin'. [Woman at computer] Great, thank you. Yes, well I think it was kind of like the same direction. What if the emphasis is in nature and travel photography, for example. So, we're gonna get to identifying your target client. But that's the first question I would ask, who is it that you're selling to? [Nature Photographer] I'm still working on that. So, that's gonna be the first step. And the beauty about this course I'm not gonna tell any of you exactly what you should do at any point in time. What I'm gonna give you is a framework to figuring it out. Because if I told you how to market to your client, it would only work for 10 of you that have that exact client. But, if I told you how to identify who your target market is by branding or creating a brand persona of who you're marketing to, then you can put together that persona and you can say, "This is the person I'm looking to get. Oh, this is the place that that person spends time. This is where I need to market to get to that person."

Class Description

The content and opinions expressed in this course are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem

Build a business and get people to spend money on your photography. Award-winning photographer and co-founder of Lin and Jirsa Photography Pye Jirsa will walk you through the first 12 weeks of building your business. With his relatable and actionable teaching style, he’ll explain how to define your product as a photographer and determine where it fits into a consumer mindset. You’ll learn the steps to creating a brand, pricing yourself confidently, sales techniques, and basic marketing practices. This class covers everything you’ll need if you’re considering photography as a job, including:

  • Where to position yourself in the market
  • Branding your business to attract your ideal client
  • Pricing and basic financing
  • Creating a business plan
  • Setting up a portfolio
  • How to get your first customer in the door
  • Getting leads on new clients
  • Understanding sales
  • The psychology of a buyer

Pye has built multiple successful businesses from the ground up and this course includes your 12 week road map to launching your business.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Common Myths & Unknown Truths
  3. The Road Ahead
  4. Find Your Passion
  5. The Lin & Jirsa Journey
  6. Part-time, Full-time, Employed, Partners?
  7. Stop Wasting Time & Money
  8. Your 12 Week Roadmap
  9. Great Plans Still Fail
  10. Strategy Vs. Planning
  11. Mind Mapping
  12. Select a Focus
  13. Competitor Research
  14. S.W.O.T. Analysis
  15. Strategy & Long Term Goals
  16. Values, Vision & Mission
  17. Effectively Managing Your Time
  18. Artistic Development
  19. Create Your Plan
  20. What's Your Product
  21. Luxury vs Consumer Products & Experiences
  22. Quick Break for Econ 101
  23. Your Target Market & Brand Message
  24. What's in a Name
  25. Your Client 'Why'
  26. Crafting the Why Experience
  27. Document the Client Experience
  28. Business Administration Basics
  29. Book Keeping Management
  30. Create the Logo & Branding
  31. Portfolio Design
  32. Design Your Services & Packages
  33. Pricing Fears & Myths
  34. Three Pricing Methods
  35. Package Pricing Psychology & Design
  36. Psychology of Numbers
  37. Pricing Q&A
  38. Grass Roots Marketing
  39. The Empty Party
  40. Friends & Family Test Shoots
  41. Join Groups
  42. Second Shooting Etiquette
  43. The Listing & Classified Hustle
  44. Make Instagram Simple
  45. Your Automated Pinterest Plan
  46. Facebook Because You Must
  47. Giveaway & Styled Shoots
  48. Content Marketing & SEO
  49. The Monster: SEO
  50. Selecting Your Keywords
  51. Testing Your Keywords
  52. Grouping Main & Niche Goals
  53. Your Content Road Map
  54. Content Marketing Q&A
  55. Inspiration to Keep Working
  56. How to Craft Your Content
  57. Internal Linking Basics
  58. Back Link Building Basics
  59. Link Value Factos
  60. Measuring Link Value
  61. Link Building Strategy & Plan
  62. Link Building Plan: Vendors & Guest Writing
  63. Link Building Plan: Features, Directories, Comments
  64. Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool
  65. What is Sales? Show Me!
  66. Your First Massive Failure
  67. The Sales Process
  68. Your Second Massive Failure
  69. Understand Buyer Psychology
  70. Step 0: Building Rapport & Trust
  71. Step 1: Identify Need or Want
  72. Cognitive Dissonance
  73. Steps 2 & 3: Value Proposition & The Solution
  74. Step 4 : Close, Make the Ask
  75. Step 5: Follow Up & Resolve Concerns
  76. Family Photography Hot Seat
  77. Business Example Hot Seat
  78. Boudoir Photography Hot Seat
  79. The Best Sales Person
  80. Your Mindset, Vibrations & Frequency
  81. Always Positive, Always Affirming
  82. The Second Money & Dual Process
  83. Chumming the Price Waters
  84. Creating Want or Scarcity
  85. Timeless Advice on Being Likable
  86. Selling Over The Phone
  87. Forbidden Words in Sales


Angela Sanchez

This class has been an eye opener for me; a point of change in my vision as photographer. Pye is and AMAZING, INSPIRING, GENEROUS instructor, with an, authentic desire to help people and to share with them the best of his knowledge. I will not have enough words to say thanks to Pye Jirsa, as a teacher and as a human being, and thanks to Creative Live who allows us to benefit from the experience of such a knowledgeable, educated, well-versed photographer and instructor. 1000% recommended!

Yenith LianTy

Been following this guy forever. Pye Jirsa may be well known in the wedding & portrait photography world and if there is something that this guy knows it is how to create a business, a sustainable one. The workbook he provided is comprehensive, and I honestly wish I had this when I first started out as a photographer! I love that he talks about his failures, keeping it real and honest for anyone starting out. He is definitely one of the best instructors around, super humble, down to earth and with a sense of humor to boot. The course is worth it! THE WORKBOOK is AMAZING! SUPER DETAILED!

Tai Hsin

I saw the live broadcast and it was amazing. Pye is one of the best instructors and inspirational photographers.. there are two type of ppl.. one who has the knowledge and doesn’t know to teach another who has the knowledge and knows how to get it through.... I still didn’t purchase this as I am saving for my daughters entrance fee for collage... :) Anyways he’s one of the best instructors and a good friend.... very humble and always cracks jokes.... Keep inspiring and keep teaching.... my blessings are always with you pye.