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When you’re doing anything with your photography business, you absolutely must be marketing to your ideal client. Why? Because when you’re not marketing to your ideal client, you’re marketing to this black void of nothing. And that nothing is what most call “everyone.”
After all, when you market to everyone, you’re in fact marketing to no one.
So, you absolutely must create your ideal client avatar.
These steps are in a very simple order to give you total clarity.
And what I will NOT do is teach you the standard procedure of “well, how much money do they make?” “What do they do for a job?” “How many kids/pets do they have?” “What level of education did they get?”
Simply put, that’s an old and outdated way of thinking about an ideal client avatar, in my opinion. It’s so… blah.
I mean come on… does someone need to make a certain level of income to value what you do? No.
Does someone need to go to school for a certain length of time to value what you do? No.
Do they need to have a particular kind of job to value what you do? No.
All of these outdated models of creating an ideal client avatar need to vanish forever, in my personal opinion.
So, how do you create your ideal client avatar in my world? Well, just follow the following 5 steps.
Don’t overthink this first and very crucial step. And this is where I like to personally start because if you don’t enjoy who you’re photographing, your happiness is going to suffer tremendously long term. So, make sure you enjoy what you’re doing by working with people who make it enjoyable.
For me, my ideal clients are actually quite a bit like me. They just might not be my age. For me, age is pretty irrelevant, although many of my clients are between the age of 25-35.
My ideal clients love to travel at every opportunity they get, they watch similar TV shows and movies, like watching the same sports teams I watch, enjoy standup comedy, love family more than anything, and they are always looking to improve their life at one angle or another.
Basically, the people in my ideal client avatar are people that I would love to hang out with on a personal level. They’re easy-going, hard-working, fun, family-oriented, and they love to go on adventures to seek out new people, places and things. If that even sounds like you, you might be my ideal client.
Yep, people need money to buy your stuff. Sure, people can put things on credit cards, but the credit cards still mean they have access to money. Even if its credit-based money. And sometimes – it might be parent-based money. Wherever it’s coming from, you have to market to someone who has the money to spend.
So, where do you find these people? That’s certainly the most common question I get at this point in the conversation.
Well, in my world, it’s not so much about where you find them… as it is about how they find you.
That’s what I coach on and that’s what my online courses are all about – inbound marketing.
You create the content that speaks to your ideal client avatar and the type of person that they are, and if you create the content well enough and you speak to them – they by themselves want to book you…. without you ever having to go out into the world to find THEM.
They find YOU.
Content is king when you’re a photographer, and image really is everything. And image isn’t just the photograph. It’s in everything your brand is about and how it presents you and your work.
Think about what they want to see in their DREAM photos.
You know, those photographs that they will be absolutely WOW’d by.
The types of photos that can grace the cover of a magazine. (After all, you want to be the best of the best, right? You’re not aiming for mediocrity, I hope.)
So, in their dream photos, do they want to be wearing jeans and a t-shirt? I highly doubt it.
Do they want to be wearing wrinkly clothes? No way.
Do they want to be wearing running shoes? Not a chance.
Do they want to have messy hair & bad makeup? Nope.
Do they want to have distracting background elements, dead trees and plants, and crazy dark and rainy clouds surrounding them? Nope.
So what do they want?
For you, it might be different than my ideal clients, but my ideal clients want this:
They want to look like they are straight out of a fashion catalog.
They want to dress their best.
They want to avoid bold patterns and logos.
They want their hair & makeup to be perfect.
They want their clothes to fit well and be flattering to their shape.
They want the weather to be sunny & warm.
They want the location to be outdoors surrounded by water & trees.
They want the location to be peaceful and away from prying eyes.
They want the experience to be fun, light, and they want to be guided the entire process through it. They want to be coached. They want to be led.
They also don’t want harsh light.
They want soft light.
They want flattering light.
They want natural light.
They do not want off-camera flash.
They want the best location possible that reflects the Pacific Northwest aesthetic in a frame.
And they want to put full trust in me that I can give them the results that they’ve always been dreaming of.
For you, your ideal client avatar may be different than mine. Everyone’s ideal client avatar is going to be different from the next person.
Here, think about them as who they are. Think about what they like doing for fun when no one is looking. And remember, this is nearly reverting back to Step 1. Your ideal client may be quite a lot who you are as a person.
This step is important to create because it can help you create your captions on Instagram, speak to your ideal audience on Pinterest, understand how to talk to them within your blog posts, and how to craft your entire marketing message and branding – right down to the smallest detail.
As an example, someone who loves the outdoors resonates more with adventurous colors, fonts, images, messaging, and overall aesthetic.
Conversely, someone who doesn’t really adventure but instead enjoys being pampered and buys high-end luxury material goods might resonate more with a website, content and marketing message that is more light, airy, feminine, clean, soft, and delicate.
As a visual example to both, I like to think about hobbies first, then about the types of places and companies that they physically spend money on.
So, if the ideal client avatar is adventurous – they’ve probably purchased something from North Face, Patagonia, Arcteryx, REI, Marmot, etc.
And if they’re more on the luxury side, they’ve probably purchased from Gucci, Yves St Laurent, Chanel, Rolex, Breitling, Burberry, Hermes, and others similar to them.
Of course, these are only two sections of ideal client avatar creation.
There are many nuances to creating your own ideal client.
But now that you are thinking about where your ideal client hangs out and what they like to do in their free time…
And where they are spending their very real money…
Look at the branding of these places where they are visiting and where they are spending their money…
Your branding should follow in suit.
Your marketing message should follow in suit.
Earthy client? Earthy branding.
Adventurous client? Adventurous branding.
Luxury client? Luxury branding.
As a photographer, it cannot just be your photos that book you anymore.
That’s how it was 20 years ago.
But not now.
Now, you need to not only be a master at your craft as a photographer, but as a digital marketer, branding expert, SEO copywriter, ads manager, and so many other things.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be doing all of these things yourself.
Remember, you are the boss.
Either take the time to learn it through an online course (like mine)…
or hire a coach (like me)…
Or just get it done for you (like the services that I offer).
Let’s assume that your ideal client wants ONE 24×36 framed print hanging above their fireplace mantle in their living room.
And that one photo is the most important thing to them.
What is that photo going to be of?
If you’re a wedding photographer, is it a photo of the bride & groom after their first look as they walk along a beach?
If you’re a family photographer, is it a lifestyle photo of them having the best time ever amongst tall grass at a local ranch?
If you’re a maternity photographer, is she wearing a high-end gown atop a mountain?
If you’re a newborn photographer, is it gorgeously styled or is it simplistic in nature? Is it posed or lifestyle?
When you know your ideal client avatar… you know what the NUMBER ONE favorite photo is going to be.
And that photo becomes what you showcase EVERYWHERE.
Let’s say you have photographed 20 clients.
And each client has one fireplace mantle.
In your portfolio and on your Instagram… you should now know exactly what needs to be showcased.
And in the caption and blog posts of these clients, you now know how to speak to them.
Want more clarity on this or want to run your ideal client by other pros? Join my free Facebook community and post in there.
Sure, it can get more complicated than this. But does it really need to be?
Always here to help.
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