What makes you stand out as a photographer without competing on price? Brooke Jefferson, my guest today, has a very simple answer. She’s also sharing how you can show up authentically and truthfully online and share your opinions in this chaotic world that we live in. Make sure to tune in for her awesome strategies – grab a pen and paper!
You know how people who work in corporate jobs have work friends, those they can ping with throughout the day to vent, process info, or ask questions to? When you’re an entrepreneur, sometimes you can miss out on opportunities like that. And if you don’t have a friend like that, I highly recommend getting one.
Today’s guest, Brooke Jefferson, is one of those friends for me. Brooke and I are both photographers in Oklahoma and she’s just one of those people who you feel like you’ve known for years after one conversation. I know you’re gonna love her too so let’s get into the conversation!
Tavia: Brooke, welcome to the show! I am super excited to have you, finally! Thank you for being here!
Brooke: Yes. I’m so excited to be here. I know you and I have talked about doing this for a while, so I’m just excited that we’re finally getting to do it!
Tavia: Me too! I have a fly. I don’t know if you can see it. It’s like flying right in front of my face, so that’s cool. So I would love our people to know about you and your business. So can you tell us about you?
Brooke: Sure. I’ll just give you the brief part because I could write a novel on my life as I’ve been told, but yeah. So my name is Brooke Jefferson. I am a family photographer based in Southwestern, Oklahoma, and I also am a podcaster and educator like Tavia. She is all about birth photography. I’m all about the family and portrait photography. And so I love that we have that in common. I’m also a wife and a mom to two kids, a boy and a girl. We call them sour patch kids, because that’s just what they are. And I am trying to live my best life in the middle of busy season.
STARTING OUT IN PHOTOGRAPHY
Tavia: Yeah. In the middle of a busy season. Thank you for doing this in the middle of busy season. Like all photographers know what that’s like. How did you get started in photography? I don’t know this story.
Brooke: Oh, good. Yes. So, I love this answer because I hear a lot of photographers find me and they’re like, I’m just like you. So I accidentally stumbled into it. When I was growing up, I was into acting — being in front of the camera, modeling — that kind of thing. So it’s really ironic that I have built a photography business being behind the camera and long story short, after we had our daughter, she was about five or six months old, I wanted to take her pictures for some holiday. Don’t really remember what the holiday was, probably Valentine’s day if I was going to guess based on the fact that I started my business in the spring. So that’s my guess. I borrowed my mother-in-law’s camera and started playing around with it. And then I had a couple of friends just ask me if I’d come take their pictures. I became obsessed. It felt like a switch had turned on. And I was just like — I love this. And before I knew it, within four or five months, I had clients coming out the wazoo. I was very cheap in the past, which is something I wish I could have changed. But you live and you learn. And before I knew it, I had a business. It’s crazy.
Tavia: What year was that?
Tavia: Okay, cool. Yeah. That’s so funny. Cause I think my story is exactly the same, just 2009, because that’s when I had my firstborn in 2008. And it was the same thing where it was like exactly what you just described. My holiday was Easter. It was like, I want to take Easter photos. That’s so cool. I think that that’s like common in that timeframe. That’s when DSLRs, really 2007 until probably now, but you know, DSLRs were new. It was like inexpensive to get into photography. And so I know a lot of like suburban moms like us probably got into photography around that time.
Brooke: For sure, Canon rebel. We joke about this. Canon rebel circle.
Tavia: Were you in Clickin Moms?
Brooke: No, I wasn’t in it. I had paid a little bit of attention, but no, I wasn’t.
Tavia: I know that they’re still kind of popular, but back in 2009 to maybe 2011, it was like everybody was on Clickin Moms. That’d be funny if we were both there. My screen name was blinking lights, so creative.
WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS LIKE TODAY?
Tavia: I would love to know about your business today. 2014, fast forward to today, what is your business like today?
Brooke: Yeah. So 2014, real quick glimpse — hot mess, express, shot everything under the sun, super cheap, had no idea what I was doing, and I pretty much bed myself in imposter syndrome on a daily basis.
So fast forward to today, we’re almost eight years later. And my business today is very specific to families. I know exactly who I’m confident in serving. I’m confident in the way that I serve that I have a style that people can recognize from anywhere. And they’re like that’s Brooke. I know that’s Brooke’s work. I’m working half the time I’ve ever worked in my entire, the least amount I would say. Probably not even half the least amount and still my life is full. I just feel grateful. I kind of wake up every day and I’m like, is this for real? I really was able to leave a teaching job — from a broke teacher and a teenage mom to boom, here we are! A successful photography business. So it’s crazy. It looks a lot different.
Tavia: That’s awesome. And I love what you said about your style being identifiable. People see your work without a watermark and know it’s yours. I just recorded an episode. It might’ve actually come out a couple of weeks ago about that exact thing and deciding like, am I in the portfolio building phase or am I in the growth phase where I’m ready to like start scaling up? And one of the indicators that I gave is like, if people start to recognize your work, you are out of the portfolio building phase. You are in the growth phase because your brand is becoming recognizable in your community. So I love that you said that about your work. That’s so cool.
Brooke: I love that you have an episode about that. That’s phenomenal. I love that. And that’s another thing too. I think a lot of us, because we are such artists at heart, we’re such creatives first before we ever put on the business hat, a lot of us get caught up in — I don’t feel like I’ve ever reached where I want to get with my editing.
And same thing here. My style is forever changing. Now, I still think that I fall under an identifiable category for sure. But I also think that we kind of get caught up in perfection sometimes. And so we just have to be confident in what you are doing now, because you’re going to look back every year and something’s going to have been different, changed, it’s now better than it was. And so I just know that something we like to get caught up in and I think that we kind of need to let that perfection of editing go because it’s a forever evolving thing. So I just want to throw that little encouragement there beause we all struggle with it — Tavia and I both.
Tavia: Oh yeah. And you’ll never get there, wherever there is. You’re never going to get there. So it’s just like accepting where you are now and your style can be recognizable, even if it does start to evolve and change over time. Whether or not you realize that there’s unique things that you’re doing over and over, and it’s not always necessarily your editing, it’s like you and how you shoot and that’s what becomes recognizable. It’s not like you use this preset or this action one time and not ever again, it’s not about that so much. So. Yeah, totally agree.
Standing Out In The Competition Full-Priced
Tavia: So I would love to know…the way that you just described all of that sounds so simple and I know that it’s not, and I know you know it’s not. And so I would love to know, in that time of growing your business, when you start out in your lower price, and I think a lot of us go through this where you start out in your lower price and of course the clients are flooding in. And then as you start to raise your prices, a lot of times, your repeats aren’t coming to you anymore because your prices are going up and all of that. So like, what was that journey like? And how did you stand out in your market whenever you were raising your prices? Like, did that happen to you? I guess I’m assuming it did, but did it happen to you?
Brooke: Oh yeah, absolutely. So it’s a rocky journey, honestly. And I think it’s rocky for everyone. I know you and I are very passionate about teaching people how to do it where it’s not so rocky, you don’t have to duct tape your business together and you can just follow proven strategies and a system that works, and I love that, but I didn’t have that. And I know you didn’t have that. And so we were left to figure it out on our own.
Now there’s a lot of things that I did. Of course, I invested myself in education. I just kept trying and failing over and over again until I figured it out.
But the key component for me that really changed the game and then allowed the pricing and all the extra ways that I serve my clients was figuring out who that client was first.
So really who do I enjoy serving? What types of photography actually light me up? What do I need to say no to and never take it again? And that was very hard to do, especially when you’re trying to make money. I get it!
For me, to sum it all up, I really think just learning my client and creating this irresistible, unforgettable client experience is what allowed people to become loyal and raving clients that come back again and again. That for me is probably what sealed the deal.
Tavia: That’s awesome. I love that. So when people hear that client experience, I don’t know if it’s just me. I feel like, I always think like, “Gifts! I should be sending them gifts.” You know what I mean? Is that something that you think of or that your students like have pop up for them is like, “Oh, client experience means surprising them with gifts.”
Brooke: I think that is a very common misconception or not even a misconception because yes, client gifts is definitely wrapped up in client experience, but that’s just like one single part of it. I don’t think that’s all of it at all. So for me, what client experience really is, is it is truly studying and getting to know your clients to the best of your ability. Figuring out like what matters to them, what are their values? What do you guys have in common? Because if you’re not relatable to them, they’re going to choose someone else. How can you really take the niche that you’ve decided, the specialty that you want to become that go-to photographer for? How can you take that and develop an entire experience for your business? That to me is a summary really of what client experience is.
3 Secrets To An Unforgettable Client Experience
1. Study your ideal clients and their needs
Tavia: An experience. Okay. So I have two questions about the experience piece, like creating that once you know who your ideal client is. What if my ideal client is different than me? What if I am like 60 years old and my kids are out of the house and I want to like serve families with young kids? That’s not really me anymore, you know what I mean? Like how would that person do something like this?
Brooke: Yeah. So the first step is to, let’s just brainstorm it really get out of Google doc or some paper and just write out who this person is. What is she like? What do you envision her to be? So if she’s not you, then what is she like? Is she a former version of yourself because, and I’ve heard this, we’ve heard all the business teachings on this – 9 out of 10 times, they really are somewhat of a former version of ourselves. That doesn’t mean that, you know, we have the same status, we live in the same neighborhood, we have the same type of a job. That’s not necessarily what I mean. It’s going to be the inner being of who that person is. So get emotional. You have to understand your client on an emotional basis and get to that level to really start digging in there because people aren’t going to book you without a reason for doing so.
If she’s not you, then what is she like? Is she a former version of yourself? That doesn’t mean that we have the same status, we live in the same neighborhood, we have the same type of a job. It’s going to be the inner being of who that person is.
Again, they have to either relate to you. You have to solve a problem for them. You have to give them some type of a desired result that they’re looking for. And for a lot of us, we want to be used again and again, especially for us that are birth and family photographers. We have the capacity to serve people for a very lengthy amount of time. It could be a decade, two decades. We never know what that looks like.
And so I think getting to really like, just doing research on that client, look back. So for those of you that are like, “Wow, I’ve never done this before. I have, I don’t know, five or seven sessions under my belt,” go look and compare them. Which ones did you love the most? What about that person made it easy for you or made it enjoyable for you? And then was there a nightmare client in there? What was that person like? Did you see any red flags? And once you can identify that, that’s going to help you move into the more tangible step-by-step now how do I actually build out a client experience and a client journey?
2. Map out your client journey
Tavia: Awesome. Okay. So you’re building out the client experience based on who this person is. And so you might be looking at, is it a past version of me? Is it a past client that I had? And once you figure that out, it’s like building this experience around it. So can you give me some thoughts or ideas of what does that mean to build a client experience?
Brooke: Yes. Okay. So this is one of my favorite things to teach. I won’t give you the whole deal just because it’s a lot, but I will say tangibly, here’s what I want you to do:
So what you want to do is you want to write out every single step from the time someone inquires about working with you to the time that you are delivering their gallery, their products, etc. and what does it look like beyond? So you’re basically, and this is why I call it like a client journey map, it’s the journey step-by-step they’re going on. So write down all of the actual, tangible steps, the things they have to do and the things you have to do to get them from point A to point B, which is the deliverables. And then get creative.
3. Infuse your personality into the client journey to create an unforgettable experience
Brooke: So this is where the second step is now go back. We studied your ideal client. We know what she loves, what she values, what’s important to her, what her greatest desires in life are. We know what she doesn’t really care about. We know that she would prefer this or that.
We studied your ideal client. We know what she loves, what she values, what she doesn’t really care about. And then take that and mix it with your brand: what sets you apart? What makes you different?
This is your, your tone of voice. This is the way that you are with your clients. You can infuse your personality.
So some photographers are going to be more, very serious and straight to the point when they are interacting with their clients, then you could have somebody that’s completely different like me, we’re literally cracking up almost the entire time. I feel like a long lost cousin of yours when you drive away at the end of your session. And I’m very sarcastic and I’m really good at dad jokes, right? So you’ve got these personalities. Now you have to find a way, how do I infuse that into the experience? So everybody has a client journey. You just don’t realize it. Now it’s, “how do I infuse an experience into that step-by-step process?” Does that make sense?
Tavia: Totally. So an example might be like, whenever you email them that their gallery is ready, for example, would you recommend instead of just being like the standard e-mail, you’re like, okay, I have the type of relationship where I’m like friends with my clients. So I’m not going to e-mail this to them. I’m going to text them like a voice text and be like, “Dude, I am so pumped for you to see these. My favorite one is image number 43. You have to check it out. Let me know after you look at the slide show, if you have any questions and I can’t wait to hear what your favorite is,” or something like that. That’s like a little bit more of like your voice versus feeling like, okay, copy e-mail template, paste, send. Is that a good example of what you mean when you’re looking at the steps?
BONUS TIP 1: BE AWARE TO DIFFERENT LEARNING STYLES
Brooke: Yes. I actually love that example. That is really good. Just another golden tip is we all have different learning styles. So would you say that your clients are more visual and kind of need a step-by-step process? Great. Record a video that actually shows them you walking through their gallery or a gallery. I mean, it’s all what you have the time to do and show them step-by-step: here’s how you navigate everything, here’s how you make selections. Let me know if you have any questions. I just wanted to send this video over.
So one thing that I do for gallery delivery, I still will send them an e-mail just so they have it in their database. It’s easy to search your e-mail and find it if they ever wanted to pull it up again. But I also send them a text because we’re friends, I’m a long lost cousin. I have that ability to do that. For some photographers, they’re thinking, “heck no, we’re never texting. That is not happening.” That is fine. That it’s all what you want to do.
BONUS TIP 2: PROVIDE SOLUTIONS IN A UNIQUE WAY!
I do want to give you one more example to before we ever get to the session is I send a reminder e-mail out to my clients and in it, I use very, when I say colorful language, I don’t mean cussing, but I mean, I put like personality colorful language into it. So I always, you know, for me, I used to be branded as whiskey and Coke used to be my drink. So people would know that and I’ve had many clients gift me different bottles of whiskey. It just was like what I was known for.
I’ve kind of changed that since then, but I always tell them like, “Guys, I know you’re not looking forward to this, but your wife has put so much effort into this and I have prepped her. So if you can just pack your favorite beverage, if that’s what’s going to help make you go along with your session a lot better, then let’s do it.” And guess what? The last year or two that I’ve done that e-mail, I have literally seen them bring, you know, bring their beverage and then they’re in a lot better mood and they actually enjoy it. And they usually walk away saying, “That was actually the best session we’ve ever done. I still don’t like taking pictures, but let’s go to Brooke every single time.” So that’s another example for you on what that looks like to infuse experience into your client journey.
Tavia: So good. I love that. And I love that you saw a problem, which a lot of us deal with, which is dads who are like *eyeroll* we have to go take photos. And they’re like very begrudgingly there. I love that you saw a problem and were able to like infuse your personality into that. Like, “dude, chill here have a drink. It’s fine. You have my permission.” Right? Like this doesn’t have to be a stuffy thing. That is so, so good. I love that.
Going Above and Beyond with the Small Things
Tavia: Okay. So if you’re listening and you’re looking at your client journey, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t freak out and be like, I miss this stuff. I’m not going to be able to do this. Just write it out as best as you can think of it and just look at it and think like, “Okay, what are the problems that my client is potentially having with this phase?” I know for us, with moms that have new babies, it’s time. And I know that’s true for your clients too likely, Brooke. It’s a universal problem. But it’s like, “I don’t have time. I need to get the gist of it.” You know? So maybe like super long e-mails with detailed instructions isn’t the way to go.
Or think about like, when she, I know that when my babies were little, I would check my e-mail while I was nursing while I couldn’t watch videos or anything with sound because it would like wake them up. So I would want to read stuff. So if you think about it like that, like what is she doing when she gets this e-mail? What is she feeling in this phase of pregnancy and tweak it to that and even say like, “Hey, I’m sending this to you in texts because I know that you probably can’t have sound on or something like that,” just shows your client that you know them and understand them, right? I love that so much.
Brooke: Yes. And that’s literally it. It’s just the small things. So, I used to do in-home newborn sessions and I would have a little question on my questionnaire for mom that she’d fill out before she had baby. Because you know, once you have baby, you’re scatter-brained, you’re sleep-deprived. Like I hear you when you talk about not having time, but I used to ask them, “What’s your favorite drink?” They don’t remember that. They don’t remember answering that.
So when I show up to their newborn session with their favorite drink in hand, it says, “Hey, I see you as more than just a transaction for my business. I see you as someone I’m here to serve, and I’m going to go above and beyond your expectations.”
That is the bottom line. That is what creates talk about your business. That is how you stand out above everybody else. Cause guys, everybody, every photographer out there is now doing style guides, prep guides, client closet — they’re all doing those things. What can you do that’s different? What can you do that’s a cut above the rest? And that is what I’m constantly challenging myself and my students as well. How do we go above and beyond?
Competing beyond pricing
Tavia: Yeah. So you’re saying don’t compete on price.
Brooke: Well, yeah. Oh man, that’s just a whole another episode.
Tavia: Did I open a bag of worms? I’m sorry.
Brooke: Not really. It’s just at the end of the day, I feel like we all run to, “Oh, what’s she charging? Oh, like what is Susan down the street charging? Oh, well she’s only charging $50 a session.” That means she’s probably really not legit. And it just goes so beyond that.
And so yes. Can we start maybe, you know, comparing our competition through the types of testimonials we’re getting or who gets the most referrals in their business rather than, “Oh, hey, you actually charge $400 more than I do.” I love that you asked that, but at the same time, let’s not go there. Let’s don’t compare pricing because you have no idea of why that photographer is priced the way that they are
Tavia: Totally. Yeah. And it’s just, you just never know. And so focus on the things that you can control. You can’t control what somebody else is charging, but you can control your client experience and like how you wow them.
Brooke: Yeah, for sure.
Showing Up Authentically and Truthfully in Social Media
Tavia: So good. Okay. So I want to kind of shift topics a little bit, but in the same realm of client experience, because Brooke and I have talked about this privately. And so I was like, I want to talk about this on the podcast a little bit. And that is like, I talk about something with my students called attract and repel. It’s not a brand new concept. Obviously, people know what attract and repel is. But I really found success in my business when I repelled a significant portion of people who thought birth photography was like gross or weird. Now people know more what it is. But when I was first starting, it was like a weird thing. So the fact that I was putting out photos of placentas was like shocking. You know, people were like, “Oh, I hate that. What are you doing? Gross!!!”
And so I repelled a lot of people and I in turn, found out it was actually really beneficial to my business, to repel people because I simultaneously attracted people who were like, “What is this? This is cool. Maybe I want this.” And if I had been afraid to be a little bit controversial by posting that, I would have lost out on that opportunity to create those like raving fan type clients with it. And so we’re living in this crazy world, where everybody has an opinion about — everybody’s always had an opinion, but I feel like the last 18 months has just made like even more division and even more people that are just like, “No, this is right. No, that’s right. No, I’m not doing business with you.” Like whatever. And so how can you be somebody who has an opinion about something and show up authentically and truthfully, and not feel like you’re showing up in like a fake, phony way without like alienating people and making everyone mad?
Brooke: Okay. Yes. I know we’ve been talking a lot about this on the side and in private and here’s the thing, I feel like, like you said, everyone has an opinion already. It’s just for so long, we left the opinions unspoken. Like we just kept it to ourself. And what we’re seeing now is just an uprising of everyone expressing their opinion, freely expressing their opinion and sometimes going above and beyond. And I’m one of those people where I used to be terrified to just have a controversial opinion or to even just express what my opinion was. But the more that I have found the courage and to really just dig into my roots and who I am and what my values are and what my ideal client’s values are, because again, they’re going to share most of your values. It’s not about, they don’t have to agree with you on everything, right? Much like we have family and friends who we don’t agree on everything, but guess what we’re still good and that’s fine.
But for me, I just have learned the more that I have gotten the courage to speak out about certain things and again, go back to my roots, values, all that, the better I’m able to serve people. It’s kind of ironic. The very thing I’m afraid of is what people praise me for.
And so I just want to give you an example of this. I really used to be afraid to infuse faith, share my faith, get into the nitty gritty about my faith and then share some truths that sometimes do alienate people. And I don’t do it out of an evil intent. I do it out of an intent to serve better, to meet my people where they’re at, to meet myself where I’m at. And it is literally the very reason that I have had many photographers be like, “I invested in your program because of this is what you did.” And it has nothing to do with business. It’s crazy!
People just want to find people that are relatable.
We talked about that in the beginning. People want to find people who aren’t afraid to express an opinion and just be open, you know? And it doesn’t mean you have to talk about politics. It doesn’t mean you have to talk about faith or any of that if you want to keep that private, but you have to start expressing opinions. You have to show contrast — what is different about you? Because if you just want to be the cookie dough I can buy at the store, and you know, we all get the same, we do the same process and we get the same outcome, it gets boring. And you turn into vanilla and people are looking for better flavors. And so how can you kind of spice up what you’re doing and find courage to share things.
Even if guys, even if it’s as simple as this right here, I actually don’t like Starbucks. And let me tell you, I just put up a Starbucks gift card for everybody that does. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I know that a lot of people do. And so that’s just an easy, fun example of how it can be a little bit controversial, but actually like have a backbone and an opinion. So does that answer your question?
Tavia: Yes. I love it. I don’t know if you’ve heard me over here. I was like, mmm yeah. Like going to church or something. And I was like, yeah. Um, no, I love that. That’s so, so good. And I love that you said that once you really started sharing those opinions that became the thing that attracted people to you. So it’s like this thing that you might be afraid of sharing very likely is the thing that is going to draw people to you. I mean, some of the non-controversial things about me that I shared with my students, as well as my photography clients were things like I had a VBAC, that’s a way that we can connect. I had a home birth. That’s a way that we can connect. And when I share those things about myself, it becomes like, “Oh, well, Tavia gets it. She had a home birth too.” Especially for me doing birth photography, It’s like a way that we can connect.
This thing that you might be afraid of sharing very likely is the thing that is going to draw people to you. And so really thinking about like, how does it align with your ideal client? What’s your intention behind why you’re sharing and is it because it’s a feeling that you have that you want to share with people / also attract your tribe to you?
And so really thinking about like, how does it align with your ideal client? Exactly like what Brooke said. Is this thing that I’m going to share shared out of emotion in a moment — so PS never do that. Never share something because you’re like excited or afraid or scared or whatever, but it doesn’t align with your ideal client. What’s your intention behind why you’re sharing that thing and is it because you’re feeling an emotion or is it because it’s a feeling that you have that you want to share with people / also attract your tribe to you? Do you agree with that, Brooke?
Brooke: Yes, I do. So one of the best examples I can give, especially just because of your niche and I know who’s listening, like for motherhood, okay. Motherhood plays a really big role, regardless if you’re doing birth photography, family photography, if you’re a mom and you serve other moms in some capacity, motherhood really does matter, but here’s the thing, we’re all doing it differently. And so one of, you know, one of my students in my program, I walked her through. Here’s what I actually want you to start sharing, because I think you’re going to start hitting a nerve in a good way that’s going to do the repel and attract that you teach. And she’s very intentional, her kids really don’t watch TV. And to me I’m like, oh my gosh, I don’t know how my kids would survive some days without getting to watch at least one of their favorite shows.
And it shows that we’re different, but they’re for the moms that she’s really trying to get to about intentional motherhood, it’s sharing things like that.
So if that’s a part of your brand, you have to show up and share it.
And it could be as simple as like for her they do something every day after they homeschool. And that, again, something I can’t relate to in my season, but I still admire it. I’m still intrigued by it. And so that’s an example of how she’s going to really resonate with other homeschool moms and moms who don’t want TV to be a main babysitter for their kids, if you will. And hey, I’m really not offended by that at all. So hopefully your listeners aren’t either. But the other thing too is just show it, like you’ll meet people that are interested that don’t do that either. And so that’s kind of the, and then guess what you get to repel all your haters. Great. Thank you for not wasting my time and doing business with me because that probably was never going to last anyway. You know what I mean? Yeah. So I just, those are the best examples that I can come up with. It’s the little things, it’s the big things and it’s everything in between. You just have to decide where you stand on something.
Connect with Brooke!
Tavia: So good! Man. Okay, so of course I knew we were going to go like a little bit long, but I would love to know before we sign off, of course, I want you to tell everybody, in fact, why don’t you tell everybody before I ask my final question as like the cliffhanger, why don’t you tell everybody the name of your podcast? Because if they’re listening to this, chances they’re a podcast listener, and where are the best social platforms for them to find you on?
Brooke: Okay. So the podcast is Book More Clients Photography Podcast, come find me. There’s almost 200 episodes for you to binge on. So I’d love for you to do that. And then I would say the easiest place to find me, and then get connected in whatever way you want to is over on Instagram. And that’s @brookejanaephotography.
What is something you wish you knew on your 1st year in business?
Tavia: Cool. Okay, so the final question, the cliffhanger question, and we kind of talked about it before, but I would love to know what is something that you wish that you did when you were like in the first year of your business? So not like a brand new baby photographer, but like you’ve had some experience, what do you wish that you would have done or wish that you knew then?
I wish I would have known then that really committing to a specific niche really does excel your success. That if I can pinpoint anything, that looking back on that again, it was getting clear on who I wanted to serve and staying committed.
Brooke: I wish I would have known then that really committing to a specific niche really does excel your success. That if I can pinpoint anything, that looking back on that again, it was getting clear on who I wanted to serve and staying committed because just because I chose on whatever day, whatever year into my business, I just really kind of want to take on some families and really going all in with that. It took me time to become known for that, but that day one of staying committed and doing it even when it’s hard, I really think that’s just super transformational. So if I could go back, I would definitely tell myself, you need to pick a niche and stick with it and just keep day after day after day, because that is the momentum I’m riding on now in my business.
Tavia: You know, I agree with you. We talked before and I was like, if we don’t agree on everything, that’s totally fine with me. You know, I agree a hundred percent on that because it was the same pivotal shift for me. So I’m so glad, like as soon as you said that, I was like, yay!
Brooke: I’m sure, my listeners, when they come listen to this episode, they’re already going to know I’m going to say ‘niche’ because they’re like, “Oh my gosh, you’re really serious about this niching,” because I talk about it in my podcasts so much, but that’s it, that’s the big secret that so many photographers are like, what’s the magic pill? What’s the secret sauce? That’s it! “Uh yeah, I don’t really want to do that.” Okay. Well, sorry. We’ll talk about this in a year when you’re still stuck like that. I knew you’d agree. We’ve had this conversation many times or two, but that’s it. That’s what I’d stick a pin in is niching.
BONUS TIP 3: NICHE DOWN!
Tavia: Even if it feels like uncomfortably small. Like even when you’re like, are there even enough people that actually want this much less than number of people I need to hire me?
Brooke: Yes. I still say yes. Now with that, just one more tangible tip, if you really are trying to, this is just a really good example. So wedding photography — so generic.
And the photographers that are having the success are the ones that are branding themselves on a specific type of either couple, a bride, a type of wedding.
So I always give this example. Some people just want those western cowboy weddings — awesome. Some people want intimate backyard weddings — amazing. You know where you start? You start by actually finding someone that wants something like that. Even if you have to do it for super cheap the first time do it, build that portfolio. I know you have an episode on that. So how funny that this is literally full circle, maybe that’s the next episode someone needs to go.
Tavia: Yeah, totally. I love it. It’s so true. And even within the niche of birth, because in some markets like Denver or Dallas, like these large cities that actually birth photography is pretty common, like it’s up there with newborn photography. I’m like niche down to something even more specific within birth. Like what you just said. It was weddings.
What if you specialize in home birth? What if you specialize in VBAC? What if you specialize in single moms? There’s so many things that you could niche down and then when that single mom sees you, she’s going to be like, “She totally gets it, that’s all I see on her website. I see a blog post about it. That’s totally what she specializes in. I have to hire her.”
And you guys that’s when price does not become as much of an issue because they feel so connected with you on that level.
And they see that that’s what you do. Price, you know? “Oh, my budget was a thousand dollars, but you charge $1800. Yeah. I’m going to make it work because I really like you,” you know what I mean?
Brooke: Been there, done that. There we go. Yeah.
Tavia: Same a hundred percent. Okay. So good, Brooke. This was amazing. Thank you so much for being here!
Brooke: Thank you for having me.