stand out in a saturated market photographers

There are two foundational questions that every business owner needs to define and be able to easily communicate before they even THINK about promoting their photoshoots.

Here’s a preview of How To Eliminate The Competition With Two Simple Questions (Part I):
  • [01:43] – What happens if you skip asking yourself these two simple questions
  • [02:57] – A quote that completely changed my perspective
  • [03:37 – The realisation that gave me the confidence to stop even looking at the competition 
  • [05:35] – When you can communicate this ONE thing you will attract ideal clients
  • [08:11] – The first question you must be able to communicate to eliminate the competition 
  • [10:06] – Why your clients REALLY buy from you 
  • [12:14] – Examples of how I would answer this first question
  • [09:38] – The 4 fundamental elements to communicating what you sell
  • [16:11] – How you can download the formula 

Click here to listen! Part 1

Here’s a preview of How To Eliminate The Competition With Two Simple Questions (Part II):
  • [01:54] – The second quote that completely changed my perspective
  • [03:30] – After a loss, all we have left are memories… and photos 
  • [05:40] – If you’re struggling with being valued as a photographer, this will help 
  • [07:02] – The second question you need to communicate to eliminate the competition 
  • [08:29] – Why you MUST know the answer to this second question

Click here to listen! Part 2

Listen Right Here To The Latest 3 Episodes

How to Book Photoshoots in this New Economy Without Being Insensitive, Tone Deaf or Salesy. The Shoot Booking Secrets Podcast with Clare Stephens

  1. How to Book Photoshoots in this New Economy Without Being Insensitive, Tone Deaf or Salesy.
  2. Six Simple Steps to 24/7 Bookings and Sales on Autopilot for Photographers
  3. How To Eliminate The Competition With Two Simple Questions (Part Two)

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Podcast Episode Show Notes:

I was about to launch into the 6 Step Bookings on Autopilot Blueprint – but then I realised before I do that, there are two foundational questions that every business owner needs to define and be able to easily communicate before they even THINK about promoting their photoshoots.

I was going to put them into one episode but then realised we might be here for a good hour if I did that – plus I really feel like they are two separate exercises, so they really need their own individual episode.

These two questions are so important – that when you first join my coaching program, the Photography Business Accelerator, you don’t get access to all the funnel and automation tech modules until you have answered them first.

Because I know what will happen if photographers skip this bit.

They will tell me they are overwhelmed, they will tell me they aren’t motivated, they will tell me that they don’t know what to write about in social media, they will struggle with knowing what niche to focus on – and mostly, they will tell me that their funnels don’t work, noone is buying and their market is saturated.

The saturated market is a big one. 

Photographers complain all the time about how every man (or woman) and his dog are a photographer these days. That anyone with a digital camera can be a photographer. That they can’t compete with Mary Jane down the street who is charging $50 for a shoot and all the digitals.

I remember I used to feel like this. I didn’t feel like I couldn’t compete with cheaper photographers though, because I knew they wouldn’t be around for too long, so I didn’t care about them. I remember when I started my business, I stalked all the photographers in Rose Bay and Bondi and Paddington, and found out their prices and walked past their studios and felt like I would never be able to compete with them because they were so well known and established.

And then I saw two quotes in succession that reframed EVERYTHING for me about competition and completely changed my perspective and gave me the confidence to stop even looking at the competition. 

The first quote was from Marie Forleo:

Marie Forleo unique perspective quote eliminate competition saturated market

I remember hearing that and suddenly thinking, omg that is so true. 

There is not one other person on the planet that exact same combination of 

My personality; 

My intuition

what I have been through and the lessons I’ve taken from those experiences;

what drives me to want what I want or do what I do

Or my unique attitude.

There’s noone else out there who has my optimism, my Virgo perfectionism, my maths nerdiness, my spontaneity, my Dux of the School intelligence.

There’s noone out there who has felt my same heartbreaks, and joys and disappointments the way I have. There is noone out there who is driven by the same beliefs, who has the same values, who has the same family history passed down to them as me.

Even if someone has a similar style of photography as me, there’s no one on the planet who has absorbed what I have absorbed from all the different courses I’ve taken or from the different people who’ve mentored me.

There is no one with the exact same skills or or natural talent or creativity. You and I might see the exact same scene in front of us and yet we will take completely different photos – because we all see things from our own unique perspectives!

And

Since there is not one other person on the planet who is exactly the same as you – there literally is no competition! It does not exist!

CLARE STEPHENS

No matter what I do in my life or in my business – no one can compete with me, because there is no one else out there like me.

Isn’t that the most liberating thing ever?

I remember when I started my business, I lacked confidence about my photography skills.

But after I heard that quote, I realised – I might not be Australian Photographer of the Year, but I know I make my clients feel at ease and relaxed and this comes through in my photos, and in my social media posts and my communication

— and THAT’s why MY clients choose to work with me. They are attracted to my energy AS WELL as liking my photos.

It made me realise that I often bought from businesses because I liked the business owner or liked their story. Samantha Wills is a prime example.

I didn’t buy her jewellery because it was the cheapest or the most well known or even the best. There were lots of other alternative places I could buy costume jewellery.

The reason I was a loyal customer of Samantha Wills, was that I loved her story. I loved that she was a girl from Port Macquarie who started off her business by selling her home made jewellery at the markets in Bondi.

I loved that she was a beach girl, I loved her clothes and her apartment that was just around the corner from mine.

I loved that she did both glam and no makeup and told stories about her Aussie Dad in her feed. To me, her story was and still is, both relatable AND aspirational. And buying her products made me feel a part of that. 

So yes, some people will want to work with the Australian Photographer of the Year. 

Some people might see my easy going nature as too flippant or unprofessional or simply not resonate with me at all.

And I realised that’s totally ok.

I don’t want to attract people who don’t like me for who I am.

Those people can self select out.

You don’t need to focus on those people who don’t even resonate with you as a human being.

You only need to focus on the people who like your photography AND like who you are, fundamentally.

Those are the people who are your ideal client.

Now, it’s one thing to say that competition doesn’t exist and there’s noone else on the planet with your unique skills, talent, personality, life experience or perspective…

You must be able to COMMUNICATE how you are different and what you offer — so your ideal clients can find you, get to know you, and feel compelled to buy from you.

CLARE STEPHENS

And the place to start is to be able to clearly define the answers to two simple questions:

Today we are covering the first question which is…

What do you sell?

Seems so simple right? 

But skip this at your own risk. 

The photographers who can’t answer this succinctly are usually the ones who struggle in their business.

When you can clearly define this and  communicate what you sell quickly and easily in your marketing, on social media, in person, this becomes the backbone of your business. You will feel clear, certain and confident.

In my coaching program, one of my photographers described it as <<<INSERT TESTIMONIAL FROM PBA>>

There will ALWAYS be some reason that we can blame, for why we aren’t getting the results we want.

So what do you sell?

Most photographers fumble and faff when they are asked that question. 

Oh eh, I’m a family photographer. 

Yes I get what you do, but what do you sell?

Oh eh, I sell photoshoots and photos.

Your potential clients don’t buy because you’re a photographer. 

They aren’t even buying the photos.

And if you can’t define and communicate what people are buying from you, how do you expect people to want to buy it?

They are buying from you because they believe you will help to solve a problem or fulfill a desire they have.

Some people call this an elevator pitch, others like Dan Henry calls it a Refined Marketing Statement. Whatever you call it, You should be able to say it in one sentence. 

So think about what problems do you solve or what desire do you fulfil?

For my business, these are some of the problems and desires that most photographers have:

  • They think they need a huge following or win awards or 5 years experience before they can earn a decent income from photography
  • They want to make more money but they think raising their prices will mean less people will buy from them
  • They want more clients but also don’t want more clients because it will create more work from them
  • They want more consistency in terms of incoming enquiries, shoots and income 
  • They know there are better ways of doing things but they don’t know what the best way is
  • They like the idea of selling online but don’t want to come across as icky, scammy or salesy 
  • They might even know that they need automation but the tech overwhelms them or they think they have to spend money on 
  • They might think they should invest in a Facebook ads course instead

And then I turn those problems or desires into solutions.

So this is what I would answer if someone asked me what I sell or what I do:

If I was talking to photographers who might want to work with me, I would say

I help photographers get bookings on autopilot and confidently raise their prices using funnels, without being icky, scammy or salesy and without tech overwhelm. 

If I was talking at a BBQ – I would probably say something a bit shorter and general like

I help photographers get bookings on autopilot and confidently raise their prices, using funnels.

When you break down that statement, you can see there are some fundamental elements to it.

The first part is “I help”. 

So, based on your photography niche, who do you help? If you’re just getting started in business or you are struggling because you shoot so many different genres – Who do you WANT to help most?

Business owners, Families? Pregnant Women? Couples in love? 

And here is a hint: if you are struggling to define this because you shoot so many genres – that is your first problem. 

If you’re a family photographer and someone asks you to photograph an event – I’m not saying you can’t go and do that shoot – as long as you have the technical ability, go ahead.

However if you are MARKETING yourself as the jack of all trades – you’ll be seen as the master of none – and that’s why people aren’t buying from you.

The next part is what do you help those people be, do or have? What do they REALLY want that you want to help them with? 

Do your photos help them make more money? Get more confident? Escape reality? Rediscover love? Document history? Collect memories?

The third part is – what’s the vehicle you use to get your unique result?

Documentary style? Any time of day studio lighting? Unique locations? Highly skilled composites?

Then the last part is to cover the main that stops your ideal client from booking – such as beliefs they have, alternatives that could get the same result, or maybe they’ve tried it before and didn’t get a good result. 

You can communicate that use words like “without”, “even if” or “doesn’t”

Do they think it will be too intimidating? Do they want to lose weight first? Do they hate having their photo taken? Do they have a husband who hates having his photo taken? Do they think they need to pay a fortune before even seeing the photos? Do they think they need to spend more money on top of the shoot like clothes or a fancy hotel room? Do they think they need to spend money on something else for their family first?

Then put it all together to create ONE sentence that rolls off the tongue and describes who you help and what you sell.

So if I was marketing my branding photoshoots, I would say something like 

I help business owners shine online through flattering and fun portraits that connect and result in more customers, confidence and cash.

So now it is your turn:

If you head over to shootbookingsecrets.com you can download the Elevator Pitch Formula to help you come up with your own Elevator Pitch. Print it out, and then relisten to this episode and mull it over until you come up with your own. 

It might take a few goes or iterations but you will know when you have nailed it. It will FEEL right for you.

You’ll feel a huge sense of relief and clarity…

And when you practice it so it rolls off the tongue you will feel a million times more confident in yourself and your business.

And the best thing? 

It will make it so much easier for people to remember you and most importantly, it helps your friends, family, people in your network to REFER you.

When someone says, oh does anyone know someone who can help me grow my photography business on social media?

My friends, family and business besties say – “oh you need to talk to Clare Stephens – she helps photographers get bookings on autopilot and confidently raise their prices, using funnels”

How much easier does that make it, right?

Make sure you don’t skip this, spend the time right now to re-listen to this episode, download the Elevator Pitch Formula worksheet from shootbookingsecrets.com and get it DONE today.

I promise its a game changer.

The second quote that reframed everything for me was this quote by Warren Buffet.

Warren Buffet eliminate competition in saturated market quote

I think Warren Buffet was referring to investing and having a long term outlook, but when I heard this quote, this triggered in me an epiphany. 

If you don’t know me, I’m from a BIG close family and grew up in a country town. My dad is one of 3 boys, my mum’s family immigrated from Ireland to Australia when she was 7 and is one of 7 kids.

My dad’s parents, nan and biggie lived 6 blocks from both my primary and high school and we often walked home a few days a week after school.

Every Sunday, we had a Sunday roast at nan’s place with my dad’s brothers and their families. And every Christmas, everyone on dad’s side would spend the day together – plus other in-laws, a couple of mum’s sisters would pop in and always a random or two who had nowhere to be on Christmas day so anywhere between 30-45 people.

Up until I was 40, there were only four Christmases that were not spent with the entire extended family in Goulburn. So you get it, family is super important to me. 

When I started getting into photography, every year I would make sure we got a photo of everyone plus smaller group family photos. I hated “working” on Christmas day, so I would literally set up a tripod and make sure everyone got into a photo at some stage during the day.

In early 2011, my aunty who was only 52 and who had been with my uncle since they were both 13 years old, died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. She was getting ready to go out for date night with my uncle, blow drying her hair.

Then a few hours later, in a hospital on life support after being helicoptered to Sydney. No sickness, no warning. My cousins were only 16, 19 and 21. We were all devastated as you can imagine. 

All we had left of her were memories… and photos. And the last photos taken of her were our silly Christmas pics from a couple of months before. And now, almost 10 years later, every year on her anniversary or her birthday, my cousins will share one of the photos I casually took, not knowing their significance or that they would be the last photos that ever existed of her. 

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

A few years ago, I got a call from a client asking me if they could buy more photos from their shoot a couple of years before. Their 21 year old son had been tragically killed in an accident. Of course I dug out the archives and just gave them the entire collection, and they were so grateful to have those images of them all together as a family.

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

A family is looking at precious family photos today, because a long time ago I had the guts to learn a new skill, follow my passion, quit my job and made myself visible, despite feeling all the way out of my comfort zone.

A family is looking at precious family photos today, because a long time ago, because I made myself visible, that family found out I existed, liked what they saw, got off the fence about having a photoshoot and decided it was important to hold their shoot NOW, instead of waiting for later.

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

That quote triggered an epiphany in me about WHY being a photographer had such immense value. 

It suddenly dawned on me that selling my photoshoots wasn’t ABOUT ME. It’s about my clients.

It is MY JOB and my RESPONSIBILITY to show my potential clients WHY photography is so important.

Because once someone is gone, all we have are memories, and the photos that we never realise will be the last ones..

So the second question in How to Eliminate the Competition is 

Why do you sell what you sell?

I help photographers get bookings on autopilot using funnels, because I want to show them there are easier ways to make money so they can work less and spend more time with the people who are important to them, doing the things that fill their own cup.

I help photographers confidently raise their prices, because I believe that photography is immensely valuable and should be priced accordingly.

I’m passionate about photographers using funnels and automation, because these systems help to collapse time – getting bigger results more quickly than most people believe is possible.

I love helping women in particular because when I believe when women have more independence, money, confidence and power, it creates a more empathetic, conscious and strengthened society overall.

And I love the personal freedom, flexibility and the sense of accomplishment I get from working for myself, whenever, wherever and how often I want to.

So – why do you sell what you sell?

Being clear about WHY you sell what you sell, will help to motivate you on the days you want to throw in the towel on your business (trust me if you haven’t had one of those days, you will).

Being clear about WHY you sell what you sell, will showcase your energy and your passion..

Being clear about WHY you sell what you sell, will help people to understand your beliefs, your values and your story.

And when you can communicate what you sell and why you sell what you sell clearly in your content 

– when someone is looking for a photographer, and they already like your photos, your energy, your passion, your beliefs, your values and your story, will be the thing that gets them off the fence, to decide YOU are the photographer for them..  

And THAT is How You Eliminate The Competition —

— naturally, easily, elegantly — simply by being yourself.

Other Ways To Enjoy This Episode

  • Listen To Part 1 of this Episode on iTunes here
  • Listen To Part 2 of this Episode on iTunes here
  • Download The Transcript To This Episode here

Resources Mentioned

Go Deeper

  • Watch the Bookings on Autopilot Training here
  • Join the Photography Business Accelerator here

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— To your success,

Clare xx

clare stephens photographer business mentor
PS: I’m on a mission to help 15,000 photographers to become empowered and profitable business owners
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