How to Launch a Photography Business



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.


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