At the ripe old age of 38, I have had a few minutes here and there to do some introspection. One of the things I have realized is that I am quite a literal person. For example, if a person ‘Likes’ my Facebook Business Page, then I think they actually like my work and as a by product perhaps they like me. Facebook was brilliant when it decided to call connections ‘FRIENDS’ and bookmarks as ‘LIKES’. Very smart. And for people who don’t take the meaning of these things quite literally, it works really well. But for me, it is hard. You see, if I have a facebook friend, it means that I have to be their actual friend. I would want to meet them for coffee or dinner when I am in their town. I would want to text them or ring them up or email them. In a similar vein, when somebody likes my business page, I want them to like my work.
Obviously I do not have a degree in marketing, branding or selling. I realize that as a business owner, networking is a key factor in growing your business, but even in that unless it is genuine, I find myself shying away. I hope that people will just hear about me miraculously and love my work and book me. But the truth is, you can’t grow a business like that. You have to go out there, tell people what you can do for them, schmooze, figure out how you can help them and do it with kindness not expecting anything in return. You have to step outside your box. For photographers (and other artists), it is easy to just stick with networking with other photographers. There are great friendships to be found there.. I can attest to that. It is also easier to stick with networking online through facebook or forums or instagram. But this does not grow our businesses from the bottom up. My personal belief is that you have to have a solid foundation first within your own community. The shops, the bakeries, the bookstores, other photographers and creatives. Believe it or not, many people are not
wasting their time on the interwebs online.
If having a photography studio meant that I could take photographs and deliver them to clients and that was all.. I would be happy as a clam. With a studio though, I have to get the next client in the door. And with Mr. Google not helping me at all (google Old Town family photographer.. I am nowhere to be found), I have to make a concerted effort to find new clients. I cannot tell you how outside my comfort zone this is… it screams, LOOK AT ME, I AM AWESOME and that is just off putting to me so I can’t imagine how others feel!
So what to do? Hire a marketing guru to help me out? Teach me to network? Or just put out work that I believe in and hope for the best? I don’t have the answer. Any advice?