You are your business. It’s a very normal belief that all businesses need some level of promotion to be successful, however when it comes to promoting yourself, that seems to be a very firm no-no. So how are you supposed to promote your business without promoting yourself? The answer is, you can’t. You need to be able to promote yourself. You need to get comfortable with talking to people about yourself, but I think I know a way to help.
When I started my business page on Facebook back in 2011, I didn’t want to be the girl on her personal page asking for likes. I didn’t want to bother my friends with invites to like my page or updates like “HEY did you know you can STILL like my business page?” Yes. They know.
In 2014, I started a short lived project with a friend where we created a new Facebook fan page. Within minutes I was clicking through my “Invite friends” list and inviting anyone and everyone to like it. Why? Because it was something I was doing with a friend. It wasn’t just me. It was me and someone else. There was a certain strength that extra number added that made me comfortable with promoting the project. So, idea one, team up with someone. Even if it’s just a short project, see what confidence comes with collaboration. You’d be surprised!
Idea two, have something to give them. Let’s say you’re in a waiting room and you see a woman reading a wedding magazine, a wearing big shiny rock on her finger. You desperately want to go over there and strike up a conversation but what are you going to say? “HI, I’m a wedding photographer, do you have a photographer already? If you don’t you should totally hire me.”? No. What an uncomfortable conversation. Like a real life commercial just comes and invades your personal space ready to take a credit card? Yikes.
But what if you had something to give her? What if you said “hello” and you strike up a conversation about her wedding. You mention you LOVE weddings because you’re a photographer and she tells you her venue and lets you take a closer look at her ring. A few minutes into the conversation you learn she is debating between a live band or a DJ. You tell her you have written a blog post on that exact topic and think she’d really like the article. “If you go to the blog section and go to the “For Brides” category, it’s the third one down.” You hand her a card and she has a real reason to go to your website.
You just managed to promote yourself in a non icky way. Did you say “HIRE ME!”? Nope. (She knows she can) Did you say “I’m really good I’ve been shooting weddings for four years now.”? Nope. You didn’t do any of the commercial junk that makes people uncomfortable, you simply had something of value that she could have for free.
Now, all this circles back to that age old advice of knowing your audience. If we go to your blog now, who is your blog FOR? Is it FOR other photographers? Is it FOR your ideal client? Who are you writing for? Make sure you’re writing for your target audience so that you will have something to offer when the opportunity presents itself. It doesn’t have to be a blog post… maybe instead you tell her you’re 100% in favor of a live band and you give her a referral. You write it on the back of your business card and say “I always love shooting their events so if you don’t have a photographer yet, my site is on here too!”
Lastly, you need to believe in what you’re promoting. Your website has to be something you’re completely 100% proud to share. You have to be confident in your pricing, in what images are at the top of your Instagram, and in the last wedding shared on your blog. I’ll leave you with one last story.
I was sitting on my friend’s couch, a margarita in hand and I said, “I DON’T GET IT. I’m actually good. And my prices are lower than everyone who is better than me. So my work is better than most in my price range. But somehow I can’t talk about myself to people!”
He looked at me. “Do you really believe your work is good?”
“And you really believe your prices are solid?”
“So if you saw a bride right now, do you truly believe the BEST thing she could POSSIBLY do for her wedding would be to hire you to shoot it?”
“YES!” I all but shouted.
“Then you are doing her a disservice by NOT talking to her.”
And I threw my margarita at him and left. Just kidding. But he was absolutely right. You’re doing a disservice by keeping your mouth shut. Yes you might need to work on strategy of classing it up a bit, but ultimately, you NEED to be talking about your business to potential clients. You’re not doing anyone any favors by keeping a lid on your business.
Think of if you saw a woman in a waiting room (Seriously, what’s with the waiting room scenarios?) and she was struggling to put a sock on. (Sorry, this is weird.) And beside you, you were sitting next to that guy who invented that sock helper thing. (Have you seen those commercials?) And you told him “Hey! Go tell her about your thing!!!” and he said “Nooo, I don’t want it to seem like I’m promoting myself.” and you say “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! This woman has to go through this EVERY DAY with her socks and you’re not going to help her?!”
So because of his own insecurities, that poor woman will always struggle with her socks.
Guys, how are you feeling? Were you smelling what I was cooking in this post? Anything else to add in the comments? A huge thank you for being here on day 41, we are doing 42 tomorrow: Creating something that’s been done before.
Hey. Do you mind if I tell you a story? One you might not have heard. All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. Until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. There is only one of you. And there will never be another.