Last Updated on January 17, 2021 by Jose Barrios
This is not about how to get more customers for your photography business, in fact, after reading this you might want to get rid of a few.
I have been involved in multiple business ventures throughout the years, so this is a collection of my mistakes and not just some list I just made up by reading other articles posted on the internet.
Mistake #1: Stop convincing people they need your photos
Many photographers want to convince potential clients on how their photographs are great and will help them sell their home faster.
Truth is that good photos are basic marketing, if the real estate agent you are trying to sell to does not understand this, they are more than likely a bad match for you.
You might think that by explaining to them how a good photo will help them sell faster and for more money will make them come to their senses and hire you, but this logic rarely has a good outcome.
In my experience when I did manage to get them as customers, they ended up leaving me for some cheaper and less skilled photographer. They would hire me only once or twice and then move on to never be seen again.
Do not become a photography evangelist!
Mistake #2: Don’t be the cheapest photographer on the market
Another myth is that you will get more customers with lower prices. When you are just starting out photographing this makes sense, you do not have a portfolio, and let’s face it, you need the money.
But once you have a few customers, it is time to raise your prices. The way I went about it was that I grandfathered in at a lower price for my original customers, and I would make them aware that the price they were getting was discounted and to please not tell other agents how much they were paying.
I would also put the full price on their invoices and then apply a discount so they could see in black and white.
The second problem with being the most affordable photographer in town is that cheap equals bad.
People equate price to quality, we do it every day in our lives. When we go shopping, we look at a pair of $100 jeans and automatically assume that they are better than the $50 ones.
The same principle applies to photos. If your price is very low, your potential customers will think you have a subpar product, why else would it be so cheap!
Mistake #3: Stop giving discounts
I have lost count of the number of times I have been told by a potential customer that if I give them a good price, they will bring me more business. Let me put this simply: it has never happened!
My solution to this problem was to give them free products.
Instead of offering a reduced price, you can give them more photos, maybe throw in some drone images, or my new favorite, give them a video slide show, they only take me 10 minutes to create in Adobe Rush (you can read more on how to make them here).
Just make sure to put the free service on the invoice and show the full price, then just add a discount for that item.
You want to make sure your buyers understand that your services are worth money.
Mistake #4: Not researching your clients
Sounds a bit like a detective thing, and in part, it is, because not all customers are good customers for your business.
Case in point are real estate agents that only sell a couple of properties a year, they might be very nice persons, but they will not help your business.
Now I’m not saying to not sell to them, I’m just saying do not invest too much time in them, invest your efforts in agents that actually sell homes.
If you have access to the MLS through a friend or even better if you yourself are a real estate agent, the MLS allows you to see how many homes an agent has sold in the last year.
Just be aware that there are basically two types of agents: Listing Agents and Buyer’s Agents.
Buyer’s agents sell homes, but they do not list them, in other words, they will never hire you on a consistent basis. They specialize in finding home buyers, not home sellers.
Listing agents are the ones you want, they are the ones that pay for photographs because they are listing the property on the MLS.
I personally know agents that sell many houses in a year, but they rarely need my services because they specialize in finding buyers, not sellers. So do your homework.
Mistake #5: Arguing with customers
There will come a time when someone will not like your work, it happens to all of us, you cannot avoid it.
You can sit there and argue with them or you can just give them their money back. I personally go for the latter and here is why: You will never make them happy, and more than likely they will never hire you again, but if you take their money they can leave a bad review online and that is worse than 10 good ones.
By not charging them you are taking away their ability to be mad at you, they now have no excuse to try to trash your business, and in fact, they might even recommend you for being honest, unlikely, but still better than a bad review.
Mistake #6: Buying needless equipment
My last tip, you are the one that makes the photo great, not the camera. The camera is but an instrument for your creations.
The latest AI-enabled editing software will not fix your bad photos. There is no magical plugin that will make the lights just right.
To put this in cooking terms, if you can’t cook, no matter what pans and pots you buy, your food will still be horrible.
In photography the same thing holds true. The biggest and newest camera will not make you a better photographer.
If you don’t believe me just go to websites like Flickr and look at photographs from 10 years ago, they are every bit as good as newer ones even though they were taken with cameras that had half the megapixels and half the technology of newer ones.
Great equipment just helps you be better, it does not make you better.
As always, I hope this short guide helps you have a better business.
“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”
Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great. You can visit his site at JoseBarriosPhoto.com.