We all know, obviously, 2020 changed a lot of industries, especially the photography industry. And while I don’t think we’re out of the thick of it yet, I am discussing my Top 10 Predictions for Photographers in 2021 to keep growing your business and stay relevant in your marketing. So we’re discussing everything from marketing trends this year to social media forecasts to how to keep making an income when you can’t shoot sessions.
Before we get into the episode, in case you didn’t know, podcasters do episodes as a free way to serve their audience. If you’ve gotten value from any episode of the show, the best way you can say thank you is by leaving a review on iTunes because this helps the show reach more people. So if you need help doing that, if you’re like, “I’ve tried, it’s complicated!” It is complicated. I don’t know why iTunes doesn’t make it a little bit simpler, but I made simple instructions, screenshots, step-by-step to hopefully help you. You can go to thebeautyinbirth.net/podcast.
Did 2020 leave you second-guessing everything you thought you knew about how to get clients? Well, you’re not alone, my friend. If you need help filling your calendar this year with birth and baby photography clients, I have a training you do not want to miss. It’s called The Birth Photographers Marketing System: How to make $5,000-$10,000 a Month Without Discounting Your Prices. This training is perfect for birth photographers and motherhood photographers who want to fill their calendar with ideal clients. To sign up for free, go to www.getbirthphotographyclients.com. In this training, I’m going to lay out the exact 7-Step System I used to grow my studio to six figures and retire my husband from his nine to five. We’re also going to have a live Q and A at the end, so make sure you sign up. You can grab your spot at www.getbirthphotographyclients.com.
In 2020 we saw a lot of shifts in the photography industry. From lockdowns in the spring to virtual sessions, porch sessions. Do you guys remember that? Increase in home births for us, birth photographers, more people choosing home birth, which is awesome. Coming Home sessions for hospital births, social-distanced portrait sessions, and everything in between, right? Obviously a lot of these variances and sessions heavily depend on where you live. We just saw a lot this year.
I’ve been a photographer for 12 years. So in addition to my own experience in the industry, I’m speaking with my peers and listening to what other industry leaders have to say. These are my Top 10 Predictions for the Photography Industry in 2021.
1. Photographers will and are considering new offerings to supplement their income.
First of all, photographers will and are considering new offerings to supplement their income. So listen, hang with me here, okay? I recommend staying laser-focused on one thing, repeating it over and over until you’re known for that thing, and then expand. But the truth is these days, it is helpful, especially if your family relies on your income, to have one or two additional revenue streams in your photography business. And y’all honestly, this is something I’ve never recommended before, especially to new photographers, but you know, 2020. We’re changing a lot of things up. We thought were one way and they’re actually another right? There’s still a lot of value in being known for something, like a lot of value. And if you have the financial flexibility, I still wholeheartedly believe that when I chose to specialize in birth, my business grew so much faster than it would have if I had continued to be a jack-of-all-trades photographer, shooting anything and everything that came my way. But if you’re in a position where you have to make money every month, like your family or your team is relying on you, then it really just makes sense to have an additional revenue stream or two.
So let’s say you specialize in birth because I know a lot of you listening do. Think about your clients right now. They might not be able to have a photographer photograph their birth, right? So what can you still do to help them virtually without being there? What if you taught them how to take photos of their birth? What have you developed and sold a preset or an action that they could use on their phone photos to make them all look more cohesive or what if you took their photos and edited them yourself? So I asked myself this very question, “How can I still serve moms who want birth photography?” And I came up with a few solutions. We have to get creative. Things are different, right? Like it’s been this way for a minute now. So asking myself, how can I still serve moms who offer photography, cause they are still out there.
New Offering Ideas
- Coming Home Sessions
The first solution I came up with is as you know, we started, or I shouldn’t assume you know. As you likely know, we started offering Coming Home sessions, which are a great alternative to birth photography. And they’ve really taken off at our studio. A lot of families really, really love Coming Home sessions, which is fantastic. So if you don’t know what a Coming Home session is, basically, we’re just meeting them at the hospital and following them home and photographing them first, leaving the hospital, as well as once they get home and grandparents are there, older siblings are there, photographing them getting settled at home. It’s really, really beautiful. Go check out our Facebook page. We’ve shared a few Coming Home session photos.
- Virtual Birth Photography
The second thing is we’re now offering Virtual Birth Photography to our clients so that we can empower them to take beautiful photos of their birth because there really is nothing like having actual photos of your actual birth, right? So we started offering Virtual Birth Photography. If you’re a student inside either of our courses, The Beauty In Birth Photography Certification or Marketing School For Birth Photographers, you have access to a program called Virtual Birth Photography in a Box. And that is going to teach you how to offer this digital product to your community too. So I took what we’re doing, boiled it down, put it into a program for you guys.
I also recorded an episode called 10 Passive Income Ideas for Photographers. I will link that in the show notes for you as well. And that will give you some ideas too of sort of passive ways that you can make money if you can’t shoot sessions, or if you’re not shooting as many sessions as you’re accustomed to shooting.
2. Short and shareable videos will get organic traffic on Instagram.
My second prediction for photographers in 2021 is short and shareable videos will get organic traffic on Instagram. Short and shareable videos will get organic traffic on Instagram. Probably more so than other avenues on Instagram. So I typically stay away from words like should and need when it comes to anything marketing related, because I always test ideas with my audience to see what resonates with them. And I encourage my students to do the same. So if they’re like, “Tavia, should I be doing blah, blah, blah on Instagram?” I’m like, “Test it with your audience and see,” right? But in 2020 we saw more and more millennials join TikTok. And I know for most of us, our client is a millennial. And so as a result, Instagram introduced Instagram Reels, which are short videos that are 15-60 seconds long. I think right now in Instagram Reels, they can only be up to 30 seconds.
So obviously, if Instagram took the time to develop a new section of their app, specifically for short videos, 15-30 seconds, they are placing importance on it. So we should take notice also. So if you’re thinking, “Okay, Tavia, you said the word TikTok, do I have to dance?” Definitely not. Think outside the box! Whenever it comes to Instagram Reels or TikTok, how can you take videos and content and photos that you already have to make them into those short digestible videos?
Here’s what’s great about those short videos. It really gives people who don’t know who you are a taste of who you are. Like a quick shot, like a quick hit, little bit of quick information about who you are. And that’s what’s so great about these short videos. So any way you slice it, whether you’re looking at short videos for Instagram, TikTok, Instagram Reels, video is important. Video was important in 2020, and it’s going to continue to be equally or more important in 2021 on Instagram, specifically.
3. Facebook Groups are going to continue to get priority in the newsfeed.
My third prediction for photographers in 2021, we’re still talking about social media and marketing, is that Facebook Groups are going to continue to get priority in the newsfeed. So this isn’t actually new news. Mark Zuckerberg announced in 2019 that groups would start to get more priority in the newsfeed. And we’ve definitely seen this. So whether you decide to start your own group or if you’re active in other groups where your ideal client hangs out, I do think that spending time in Facebook groups will be time well spent in 2021 when it comes to building brand recognition and building those important relationships. So prediction number three is that Facebook Groups is where you want to prioritize your time on Facebook.
4. More and more photographers and clients will use Clubhouse.
Number four, the fourth prediction is more and more photographers and clients will use Clubhouse. So first of all, what’s Clubhouse? Think about it like this: basically, it’s a brand new social media app, brand new at the time of this recording and the best way to describe it, if you’ve never been on Clubhouse, is if we were having this podcast on Clubhouse right now, I’d be talking live and you could raise your hand to come up on stage. So when you’re on stage, you can ask questions and comment on the topic that we’re discussing. So it’d be like also kind of like being at an in-person conference, walking down a hallway, and peeking your head into different rooms where people are having conversations. And then if you found a topic that you liked, you can sit down and listen or raise your hand to contribute to the conversation.
In Clubhouse, there’s no video and there’s no text chatting, it’s audio only. Obviously, this social media app is brand new. Like I said, as I’m recording this in January, it’s still actually in beta mode and it’s only for iOS users and it’s still Invite Only, meaning that you have to know someone who is already on the app to be accepted. But I’ve seen tremendous growth in the app in just the few weeks that I’ve been on it. And I personally have made some really great connections with other business owners through the app, which has expanded my overall network. I will say right now it appears to be mostly business owners and not as many consumers. So if you have a B2B Model, a Business-to-Business Model, it’s a really good time to jump in. If you have a B2C Model, Business-to-Consumer, I still think it’s a good time to jump into clubhouse because even if your ideal client isn’t there yet, you can familiarize yourself with how everything works and get a strategy plan in place before everybody jumps on the Clubhouse bandwagon.
So when I think about how to use Clubhouse for my studio specifically, I think about it a few different ways:
- Introduce business through collaborations with other business owners
Number one, I can collaborate with other businesses to get the word out about myself and birth photography in general, which is good news for birth and newborn photography overall. Like it just continues to get the word out there that birth photography is a thing, right?
- Attract potential customers through conversations
The second way is with Clubhouse, with my photography studio, obviously I need to attract local people and local conversations happening in the Oklahoma City Metro. So what I could do and probably will do, but haven’t yet because not as many local businesses are on, is to collaborate with Oklahoma City businesses to chat about topics that are relevant to my ideal client. So local moms and families.
- Learn and connect with people who are sharing information in the platform
The third way that you could use Clubhouse right now, and that I can use it for my studio, is learning from others who are giving info on the platform and also connect with them off the platform.
So that’s been something that’s really cool is because there’s so few people on Clubhouse right now. I’ve been in rooms with pretty big names in different industries, and there’s only, you know, 20 people in the room. There’s a really good chance, 20 people in the room, I’m going to have a chance to ask a question and connect with that person. So it’s a really good way to network with people in other industries and to connect with the people that you follow and have an opportunity to learn from them in a really intimate way, like a really small gathering type way. So there’s a lot of benefits to being one of the first to a new platform like Clubhouse to build your following before it’s monetized, right? But like, literally let me back up like, think about Instagram and Facebook before there were Facebook ads. If any of you even remember a time when it was like literally chronological order, like your feed was in chronological order, there was no algorithm. Like that’s kind of the vibe with Clubhouse right now. It’s so new, but you have a great opportunity to build up your following and get familiar with it before it’s monetized.
But I just want to throw out a disclaimer if you’re listening to this as a new photographer and you’re not consistently creating content and posting on your top one to two social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, I don’t want you to get bogged down with trying to add in Clubhouse. Because it’s just going to be one more thing that you can’t keep up with that you feel overwhelmed with. So then you don’t do anything, right? I’d rather you just leave Clubhouse alone and focus on the things that matter in your business, like creating content and being consistent on the platforms where your ideal client is already hanging out. But if you are consistently creating content for your blog and social media, consider how to add in Clubhouse without creating more work for yourself.
So inside Marketing School for Birth Photographers, we teach you how to create content that attracts your ideal client. So if you’re a student, make sure to use Module 4 as a reference here and repurpose the content you’re creating for Clubhouse. So think about, can you host a room to continue a conversation that you started on your blog or on social media? Are there local events that you could cover? What about doing a Q and A with a local provider? There’s definitely a lot of opportunities here being new to Clubhouse, and it’s really, really exciting. Oh, if you’re on Clubhouse, come find me. I’m @TaviaRedburn.
5. Plan to continue to see virtual consultations and ordering appointments in 2021.
My fifth prediction for photographers in 2021 is to plan to continue to see virtual consultations and ordering appointments in 2021. Let’s be honest. Some of y’all didn’t even know what Zoom was at the beginning of 2020, right? And now everybody in their grandma, like literally grandmas are using Zoom on a day-to-day basis. On the one hand, it’s neat because we have a lot more meetings in the day without drive time. And we can like stay in our yoga pants and have meetings when the weather is bad.
There’s a lot of perks too! A lot of people have switched to Zoom for consultations and ordering appointments. But I don’t know about you. And I’m an introvert and I still feel this way, I’m missing people’s real faces. Like in real life, staring at their face. So I am excited for when we can do in-person and virtual meetings.
But if we’re going to continue to do a lot of virtual meetings, creating a branded experience, even virtually, is important this year in 2021. So there’s some things to consider when it comes to creating a branded experience virtually are asking yourself things like:
- Are you showing up with the same energy that you would in person, in-person meetings?
- Are your kids in the same room during your appointment? How about virtually? Are they there?
- When you meet in person, do you get dressed and put makeup on? How about virtually?
Lighting, your backdrop, your appearance, your timeliness, how prepared you are, are equally, if not more so important on virtual meetings. So when we meet clients virtually it’s our goal to make the experience as close to meeting them in real life at the studio as possible. So we know that virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere. So then it’s a question of how can we make them a branded experience and a similar experience to what it would be like to meet in person?
6. Your text message list will become as valuable as your e-mail list.
My sixth prediction for photographers this year in 2021 is that your text message list will become as valuable as your e-mail list. So this is pretty bold because I really believe in collecting e-mail addresses and building your e-mail list. And I don’t think that’s going to change building your e-mail list as a business owner will continue to be important in 2021. But hang with me for a second. As a consumer, think about how likely you are to open every single e-mail that you get. I mean, that’s pretty unlikely, right? I know it is for me. Think about your text messages now. How likely are you to open a text message? I mean, I open every single one. So text messaging services are becoming more and more popular. And as photographers, I see huge opportunities to not only keep in communication with existing clients, but also use them to send short, occasional text blasts to potential clients interested in specific things. So I set a lot of key words right there. Communication with existing clients, yes. But also using them to occasionally send short text blast to potential clients that are interested in specific things.
What you do not want to do is send exactly what you sent to your e-mail list in a text form. That just isn’t going to work. Imagine getting a text like that. It would be like so overwhelming, everybody will be unsubscribing. But instead, what if you sent one text message, one time a month or one time a week. And it was very, very short and to the point and very specific for that person. So for example, if many sessions are opening up or if you have birth photography spots for a certain month that are open and your text messaging, those pieces of information to people who specifically wanted that information. So the key with text message marketing is Segmentation. Meaning, I’m not going to send a text blast about booking birth photography to someone who is done having kids. So segmenting that text message list is really important.
One cool thing about text message lists is the open rate can be as high as 98%. Whereas common e-mail open rates are about 20 to 30% depending on the size of your list. So that is quite significant. Another perk for building your text message list is they’re pretty generally warm leads, meaning they know who you are. They’re not just a random person that is like, who is this e-mail from? Delete. If they’ve given you their cell phone number, they want to hear from you, right? Like I’m not giving my phone number to anyone that I don’t want to get texts from. So if I do give out my cell phone number, it means I really want to hear about them, which makes them a warm lead. So in Marketing School for Birth Photographers, we talk about how to start and build your e-mail list. And so these same strategies can be used for your text message list with just minor tweaks.
If you’re in marketing school, I’d love to continue this conversation. I really would love to continue this conversation on our next coaching call or in the student Facebook group, because text message blast or something we’re looking into for the studio. And so I’d love to chat with you guys about what that looks like and how we can learn that together.
7. Virtual events and classes will continue to be popular in 2021.
My seventh prediction for photographers in 2021 is that virtual events and classes will continue to be popular in 2021. So just like number five, when we talked about virtual ordering appointments and consultations, a lot of events in classes that would normally be in person are going to go virtual in 2021. I think a lot of stuff got canceled, just straight up canceled in 2020, and I think in 2021, we’re going to see people switching to a virtual option, but keeping those events.
So there’s really great things about these events in-person or virtual, like networking with other vendors and meeting the community and your potential clients. I also love in these events, potential clients in real life can touch and feel our products. That’s one of my favorite things about them is to have our canvases and our albums, our heirloom hoops and wood prints in person, so people can touch them and feel them and see what they look like. You know, some of these events will still happen, but they’re likely going to be virtual in 2021.
So what does that mean for you? Well, were you planning to participate in a baby expo or teach a class or have a vendor fair? Consider how to take this online and create an experience that’s almost as good as being in person. What were the things you loved or your potential clients or vendors loved about those in-person events and how can you recreate that experience virtually?
8. A personalized and custom touch will go further than ever before.
My eighth prediction for photographers in 2021 is a personalized and custom touch will go further than ever before. So in our fast-paced world, more and more businesses are choosing to automate and streamline things on business. Things like automated e-mails and automated text reminders. And I am a big fan of working smarter, not harder. But when other businesses zig, we want to zag, right? We want to stand out. So while other photographers are learning about automation and they’re trying to systematize everything and automate everything, which there’s a difference between systems and automation, but while other photographers are trying to automate everything in 2021, there’s a big opportunity for us to go out of our way to customize and personalize the entire experience for our client. So my prediction for photographers is that those who take a personalized and custom approach to business and client relationships will go further than in previous years, because less people are going to be doing that.
9. Clients expect services, responses, and information faster than ever.
My ninth prediction for photographers in 2021 is that clients expect services, responses, and information faster than ever. Remember back in the day, when you ordered something online and it would take 7-10 business days to arrive, and that was just totally normal and acceptable? I mean, if I order something and it’s like longer than a day, I’m like, “Where’s my stuff?” I’m on Amazon, like checking to see where it is. I’m looking at USPS–“Where’s my stuff,” right, if it’s longer than 24 hours. I know I’m not alone in that.
Our clients likely feel the same way. We want stuff now! We live in an Amazon Prime, Netflix-binging world where people want something and they want it now. So one thing we teach inside Marketing School for Birth Photographers is there are three desired traits customers want from any business. And those are quality, fast and cheap. But the kicker is you can only be two. Like fast and cheap isn’t quality. And quality and fast isn’t cheap, right? So if our clients expect services, responses and information faster than ever in 2021, think about every step of the way in your client process. Are you delivering things faster than they anticipated? And if not, how can you begin to do that?
10. You NEED to be ready for anything.
Okay. We’re to our final, final prediction for photographers in 2021, and it is you need to be ready for anything. I mean, okay, call me an internal optimist, but based on the way things look now, I am hopeful at COVID rates are going to drop, hospitals and businesses and cities are going to start to open back up, and we’re going to be in a really, really different place six months from now. And you know, if 2020 taught us photographers anything, it really is how durable we are.
Like how incredibly strong and resilient you are. I mean, chances are, you were thrown into virtual schooling plus running your business, in addition to everything happening in the world and just like regular things in your life. This has been a lot and you did it and you’re doing it now. And that’s really incredible. You should be really proud of yourself for that. So 2021, we quite literally have no idea what will happen with our industry or just about anything else. But I’m personally okay with that because if we survived and thrived through 2020, we can handle anything. And I believe that we just have to be prepared and ready for anything and willing to shift and pivot when we need to. And the key to this is to understand what you’re giving your clients with the sessions that you offer. Yes, they’re getting lovely portraits and an experience, but why are they really hiring you? Really?
Why are they really hiring you? What do they want from you? The answer is memories. They love their family and you’re giving them precious memories. You’re giving them the thing that if their house was on fire, they’re going to grab their kids and they’re grabbing their photo album. That’s how important what you do is. So whether or not you can physically be there in person, dig deep into how you can serve them no matter what is going on in the world, because what you do is so necessary. Be ready for anything in 2021, my friends. Plan for the unexpected and plan for intentional growth.
My friend photography is so important to so many people around the world and your gift gives them a sense of normalcy and joy and memories. Thank you for carving out time to be here today. And remember if you’re enjoying this podcast, please hit subscribe wherever you’re listening. And thank you to everyone who has left the show a review on iTunes. I read each and every one and it helps this podcast reach more people. So thank you for taking the time to do that.
And remember if you have a passion, it’s there for a reason. Serve others with your gifts and passion, and make a great living doing it. Have a great week!
Hey there! Check out the links mentioned in this episode:
To know how to leave a comment on iTunes, go to thebeautyinbirth.net/podcast.
Sign up for FREE to The Birth Photographers Marketing System: How to Make $5,000-$10,000 a Month without Discounting Your Prices at www.getbirthphotographyclients.com.
To learn about Virtual Birth Photography, check out our program called Virtual Birth Photography in a Box.
Listen to the our podcast episode about passive income ideas at 10 Passive Income Ideas for Photographers.