How Do I Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace?

Dear Shama,

I am a photographer in the DFW area and love what I do. The problem is that there are TONS of photographers in the area, and I am not sure how to set myself apart. I have been told my some well wishers that I should leave photography because of the competition and try serving an under served niche. I know they mean well, but I love being a photographer. This is my passion and my business… I just want it to be a successful business. Please Help!

-Confused in Dallas

Dear Confused in Dallas,confused boy

Let me first congratulate you for reaching out and trying to get answers before just giving up. So my answer is two part. One-Don’t give up photography if you love it. Clients can spot passion from a mile away. Two-Your well wishers are partially right. You do need to carve out a niche, but that niche can exist WITHIN photography. You may be an excellent all-rounder photographer, but pick one or two areas in photography where you can really "own" the market.

For example, you may find that you enjoy taking pictures at weddings most or you may choose something more obscure-like photographing food items for gift catalogs. The idea here is to find a niche where you can establish yourself as the go-to guy (or gal). Once you OWN that niche, then you can expand your reach. Your first step is to figure out how you would like to establish yourself. Not necessarily as a photographer-but as a certain TYPE of photographer.

That brings me to my second point-really check out your competitors. Ask yourself-Do they really share your target market? How do they market themselves? What services are they NOT offering. Find the gaps in their strategy-and fill them in. For example, do they not work on weekends or offer to fly to other cities? Fill in the need that they are not addressing.

Third, use the power of partnership. Let’s say you decide to photograph weddings- you can offer your services to wedding planners and use them as affiliates. They recommend you to their clients, and you give them a referral percentage. Find other businesses that compliment your services, and pair up with them.  Here are your action steps-1) Pick a niche within photography, 2) Provide your clients with what your competitors are not, 3) Leverage the power of partners. BEST of Luck and Work Smart!


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