Photography Business: 3 Tips to Brand Your Business
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Photography Business Branding : A little bit of you, a whole lot of them!

A lot of photographers lately have jumped onboard with the mindset that their branding is ALL about them, the photographer. While I agree to a certain level, I strongly believe there is a whole other side that needs to be considered!

I’m currently in my second year of my photography business and when I look at what my brand was that first year I kind of cringe. I took so many random bits and pieces of me and tried to make that my brand. Today, if you looked at my brand, it’s not nearly as chaotic, in fact I’d like to say it’s very specific and targeted to my market. This is where you can totally miss the mark by only focusing on you the photographer. Once you know who your target market is, you can then find the pieces of you that will relate to them specifically, then your branding is on track.

Before:

After:

My brand is not, Marissa Lynn Photography, say what?!

Sure, you’ll see my name all over my website big and noticeable, but when a prospective client digs around on my site I want them to leave thinking, wow, I want a Perfectly You session! I’ve recently taken the plunge and have chosen to specialize in Senior Girls & Boudoir/Glamour for Women.

They are my target market. My site is pretty and girly and all about sending my message to each women and girl that visits, no matter what you look like, you are perfect, perfectly you. No one else can be you so own it, take pride in it and cherish it. We all come in different shapes and sizes and have our own assets, I encourage them to find those pieces of themselves and take pride in that. My brand is Perfectly You…

I was able to take this very specific piece of myself and relate it to my targeted client.

Am I always pink and girly? No. Is there more to Marissa Lynn than what is on my website? Yes.

But all that other stuff just doesn’t need to be distracting my clients from potentially booking a session with me. I am able to take my brand, Perfectly You, and then create a slogan for my two clients.

For Seniors: It’s your year, be you, Perfectly You…

For Women: In this moment, you are perfect, Perfectly You…

Tips to find your target market and nail your photography business branding:

1. Brainstorm who your ideal client is.

Take out a piece of paper and start writing down characteristics of your ideal client. Many people say this, but it’s because it works. What does she do for a living? Where does she live? What are her interests and hobbies? This may sound silly but the more you define that person the more you can figure out just where your target market is. My first time around I had done this step but I still had a huge disconnect between that person and my brand, it was because I wasn’t targeting my brand enough. What key characteristics of your ideal client best represent your brand? Write it down.

2. Start a Pinterest board.

When deciding the look and feel of my website, I took the advice from my close friend, mentor, and amazing photographer Holli True. She suggested I start a Pinterest board that was for my branding, then, just start pinning. Don’t think, just pin what moves you. What I found was a board full of feminine tones, bright and airy, with a touch of softness. If I wasn’t sure about specializing after viewing my board I was most certain that I was a photographer for women. In the board, you will see an outfit with pink pants and a beautiful lace top, that one image helped me decide my colors! I had been obsessed with that outfit for months, I had it on my “I want” board and it was one of the first things I knew I needed to put into my branding.

3. Create a slogan.

It’s best to do this after you’ve done the first two steps because at this point you’ll have a very clear understanding of your target market and your brand for your photography business. Then it becomes a game of trying to convey your message in as short of a slogan as possible, but it needs to tell the prospective client exactly what you want it to. Sounds scary and a little daunting, but it’s my favorite part. It’s definitely a brainstorm session, the more time you take to write down different ideas the more you will fine tune it and come up with something that fits.

Since doing these two things, finding my target market and setting my branding, I have seen so much more interest in my photography business.

Why?

Because now it makes sense, now it speaks to the people I want it to, so they are the people contacting me. My photography has improved too. Because I have my artistic mind focused in one area, my photos and posing skills improve with each and every session.

Branding plays such a huge role in the success of your photography business! I strongly encourage if you are in business to take a step back and really define who your target market is and then find the branding that works!

Remember, it should be a little bit of you, & a whole lot of them!!!

28 Comments
  • Cristin
    June 5, 2012 at 9:11 PM

    Love the branding tips this morning, especially #2! Having a business is a long term goal for me right now, and I’ve heard branding can be really expensive. How do you know where your niche is or your target client until you’ve spent some time in the business? I guess how do you avoid a costly branding mistake? I’ve also heard a lot of photographers talk about re-branding. Should you re-brand yourself every few years even if your brand matches your client? Wow, I think I used “brand” 20 times already :)

    • Courtney
      June 8, 2012 at 10:14 PM

      Marissa replied to your comment below yours – I thought I would put it here so it would get emailed to you :O)

      Great question Cristin! I would say in your situation being that your long term goal is to be in business you can take this time as you’re ‘portfolio’ building to really explore all the areas of photography that interest you and see what really grabs at you. After that point you will be one step closer to figuring out your niche. Just like with most things within business some things will cost more than others. For me, I was able to do my own design, but if you know that’s not your strong suite, start planning and saving now so that when you are ready you can invest in the right designer to really help you! If you’re happy with your brand and it’s reaching your target client I would go with the saying, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ Sure I think everyone makes tweaks along the way, fine tuning things here and there. Over time we all change a bit and so I think there is always some level of re-branding going on. I hope that helps Cristin!!

  • June 6, 2012 at 3:59 AM

    Great question Cristin! I would say in your situation being that your long term goal is to be in business you can take this time as you’re ‘portfolio’ building to really explore all the areas of photography that interest you and see what really grabs at you. After that point you will be one step closer to figuring out your niche. Just like with most things within business some things will cost more than others. For me, I was able to do my own design, but if you know that’s not your strong suite, start planning and saving now so that when you are ready you can invest in the right designer to really help you! If you’re happy with your brand and it’s reaching your target client I would go with the saying, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ :) Sure I think everyone makes tweaks along the way, fine tuning things here and there. Over time we all change a bit and so I think there is always some level of re-branding going on. I hope that helps Cristin!!

  • Kira
    June 7, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Thank you for this! I’m realizing branding is so much more than coming up with a cute logo and matching colors on your web page. I’m definitely in the hobbyist/PBing side of things right now, but it’s a good reminder to be looking out for what I want my niche to be. I love your tip #3. This will take a lot of thought, but I’m excited for it!

  • Claire
    June 7, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Nice post. I’m definitely in the hobby PBing side of things right now, but it’s a good reminder to be looking out for what I want my niche to be. Thanks for sharing your site with us.

  • July 3, 2012 at 5:38 AM

    Thanks so much for this post! I love photographing families! And I love newborns!! They are a ton of work–but I really love them. That is my target audience–that is who I want to build my business around! But I feel so overwhelmed! The process of choosing colors, and designing a website–I have a website–but it is awful!!! Where do I begin? Who would I even contact to start this process? HELP!!!

  • January 28, 2013 at 4:55 AM

    Great article! I have been previously moving every 2-3 years (and more often more frequently) due to the military. My husband is now out and we have moved to a new place, again. I’ve had my photography business since 2007 and I am right back to having to start all over with making a name for myself in a new place. I feel like I ‘rebrand’ a lot but now I’m looking at finding something I can stick with. Do you have any advice for people who move around a lot with their photography business?

    • Courtney
      January 31, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      I understand moving as I’m an AF wife myself :) I am actually working with a photographer right now about a post on your photography business and starting over after a move. It may be a few months but keep an eye out for it :) My best advice is put yourself out there. You can do it!

  • February 5, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Thank you for these branding tips. Great suggestions. I am having a hard time narrowing down my focus. Will start thinking through this better so I can build my business.

    • Courtney
      February 7, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      Glad you found it helpful! Branding yourself is such a challenge! But it can be fun as well!

  • May 14, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Hi Courtney,

    I love your article. I found it to be very helpful and motivating. Right now I am in the midst of branding myself as soon as possible. I have been photographing for almost 8 years, and during the years I started to lack a brand by just photographing any and everything. I want my brand to be glamour/beauty/fashion, however, my clientele are clients who want photos of or with their children, event photographs, and so forth. So I have done the research of my target clientele, but I’m still stuck on how to use what I have researched to reach out to them. I still have so many clients contacting every day for children shoots, and that isn’t what I really want to do. So my question is, how do I transition my business from photographing everything to focusing on one genre,what do I do with the old clientel (do you still photograph for your old clients?), and how can I really successfully market my target using all the information I have?

    Thanks Courtney for your help… I know so many questions!

    • Courtney Slazinik
      May 16, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      I would say the first step would be to only showcase images that are the clients and work you want. Even if you do a family shoot, don’t blog about it or put it in your portfolio. Eventually people won’t come to you for family shoots b/c you will only have glamour and fashion images. It is up to you if you want to continue to photograph your old clients or if you want to politely refer them to another photographer in your area who specializes in what they are looking for. I didn’t write this post, it was a guest post by Marissa Lynn Photography. I don’t take on clients. Hope this helps :)

      • Josephine
        May 21, 2013 at 3:18 PM

        THANK YOU COURTNEY!

  • Morgan Craft
    May 30, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    Thank you for your great post, Marissa! I started a Pinterest board and went to town and it got my adreneline pumping!! I was so excited to see my business form its personality, and that is an area I have really been struggling in! I do have a question though. I am clueless about web designs, and I have been doing endless research while my logo is being designed. I have a domain name through My Hosting. I’ve heard to go through Photobiz, ProPhoto, Wix, and obvisouly SHOWIT, which I cannot afford right now. So, I am just wondering if you have any suggestions? I love your website, it is beautiful! Thanks for all of your advice!

  • June 21, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    Great advice for any type of business. I am a coach and since I got very clear on who my ‘Ideal Client’ is I am able to talk to her through my marketing. I love the idea of the Pinterest board and will be starting my Live Fabulously board today.

    • July 11, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      That is awesome! Figuring out your ideal client makes a world of difference!

  • Julie Anne
    June 22, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Hello Marissa Lynn, I was looking at your website an see that you change your brand, I love an update on your new brand.

  • Anna
    July 27, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    I am so glad I found this post! I just started my photography business this year. I am currently doing lots of random things and I definitely am quickly realizing things I love and things I prefer not to do. I am doing my first wedding soon! I plan to after that decide exactly what I like and don’t like and revamping my page!

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  • Rama
    October 29, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    Hey Courtney,

    Do you think this applies the same for someone who wants build their name as an artist as opposed to having a family photography business. I mean someone who primary goal is to show in galleries and build recognition and reputation as a fine artist.

    Rama

    • October 30, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      Hey Rama,

      Yes, I do think it would help. You want to have a client in mind so you know where and who to reach out to. Having a slogan or elevator pitch of what you do may help stir you in the right direction. These tips will help you build your website and so yes, all of them would work :)

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  • Erin
    April 17, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    Hi Courtney! I have been reading all the comments and questions, and they have been really helpful! I am just about to move to another city as well, and am questioning rebranding my business. I started shooting photography for family and it evolved into a part time business, since I also have another part time job, which will be ending soon. My business name was formed from my initials before I got married, but now that my name has changed, I feel like my photography name needs to change as well as narrowing and focusing on who my clientele is.

    I am going to have more time to focus on my photography and am shooting my first big wedding in November. Any advice you could give me would be awesome!

    Thanks!

    http://www.ebmphotography.net

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