This past fall, I decided to offer casual mentoring sessions to photographers looking to refine their brand experience. Most of them are hosted online, and its you, me, a big mug of tea, and we brainstorm ways to make things better. Simple? Yes. I named them Connected Brand mentoring sessions because branding and client experience is what I really consider to be something I have learned a great deal about and love sharing that with others. Sometimes you just need someone to understand and sit and hash out pricing and products, or a more streamlined way to book clients, or actually tell you how your website could better attract who you want to be working with. Does this mean I am perfect or run a perfect business? Far from it. But I got over my fear of putting myself out there, and seeing photographers transform and begin to chase after what they really want is SO rewarding!
More than 20 photographers later, I can definitely pinpoint the common themes and what comes up in almost every session. So I thought I would share the top two with you today. I’ve decided to make this a series, and today’s both have to do with your website. And let me tell you, your website is SO much more than a great design!
• • Show the kind of work you want to be doing • •
Hands down. This is one of the top things I notice photographers struggling with. If you want to be photographing luxurious weddings at the best venues in your state, than I shouldn’t see a website portfolio of just babies. If you have hate “posed” family portraits, than you shouldn’t be blogging “posed” family portraits. When I launched the Tiffany Farley brand you see here today for the first time, I had this vision of Connection Portraits that was so unique, that I had to show people what it meant. I couldn’t launch my new website with my past portfolio because none of that fit anymore. So before it launched, I asked friends to model for me all summer long. In fact, when I launched my new website and brand, almost my entire portfolio and recent blog posts shown were all styled shoots of some nature that I created in order to show what I wanted to be shooting. Did I make a ton of income that summer? No. But did I have the portfolio I needed when I launched my website to book the sessions I wanted from then on? Yes. I had to get over myself, be humble, and start from scratch. I would rather have a smaller portfolio and show only what I want to be booking, then big galleries showing everything I don’t.
Action Step: Open up the portfolio gallery on your website. ( Oh boy, sometimes we forget how long it has been since we have done that, huh? ) Is every image recent and a representation of your best work? Is every image representing what you want to book more of? If not, let’s clean house. It really takes less than 30 minutes. What do you feel is missing? Is there anything you want to be photographing, but don’t feel you show enough of or any of? Then plan a shoot. Ask a friend. Reach out on social media. HAVE FUN with it and photograph a dream shoot specifically for portfolio improvement. I do it, and it’s crazy beneficial. Also be sure to check out your blog. If that’s where you are sending potential clients everyday, or multiple times a week- are you showing what you want to be booking?
• • Put yourself in your ideal client’s shoes • •
This is the BEST exercise when you are feeling stuck with your brand but don’t really know what you should work on first. I want you to picture your ideal client. Maybe it is a fictional character that you think would be the best fit for you, the one you picture everyone else getting the chance to work with except for you. Maybe it’s someone you know and its your secret goal that they ask you one day to photograph them. A dream bride, a dream mother, a dream high school senior- whoever that person is to you.
(I am going to say “her” in this example because my ideal client is a mother and it helps to make this exercise as specific as possible. But of course your ideal client could also be a “him”.)
I want you to imagine that she is sitting down at their computer right now. I want you to picture her typing in YOUR website address. (Does this excite you, or make you panic that nothing on your website is the way you want it?!) Imagine that she has landed on your home page. How are you speaking directly to her (or him!) in that moment? How are you building a connection with her in the first SECONDS of being there? Are you making her really search out who you are and what you offer as a photographer? Or are you instantly drawing her in?
She clicks on your About Page. How is yours? Is it the best representation of you? Do you connect with her at all? Does she resonate with what you are saying about yourself and the way you say it? Is there an image of you for her to connect with? Do you say that you “just love love” or that “you tell stories with your camera“- and then expect her to think you are unique and offer something different than Suzie down the street?
Is your pricing on your website? Do you create a brand experience with your pricing and make her feel invited to contact you? Is there “just something” about you that she can’t shy away from and makes her want to learn more? Or are you making it easy for her to price shop because you didn’t give her any other reason not to?
Is it easy to contact you? Do you make it clear that it’s what you want her to do?
My point… is that so often we think not having the thousands of dollars for the best designer is the problem. We use it as an excuse to hide behind. Your ideal client is not hiring you not because you can’t afford the most rockstar designer, in reality they aren’t hiring you because you never took them deeper after you invited them to come. You told them to check out your website, and she came and she looked and she never stayed past the home page because there was no reason for her to. Your pricing was a list of numbers, she has no idea what the difference between a gallery wrap and a matted print was, so she got overwhelmed and left. She couldn’t even find your contact page, and it really didn’t sound like you wanted to talk anyway. She’s looking for a lifestyle family family photographer, and someone mentioned your name, but she doesn’t see a single image on your website that looks like what she thought lifestyle was.
Action Step: Do this exercise. Go to every page of your website and ask yourself how you are giving that ideal client a brand experience. Then break down one thing at a time, and go in and make it a priority to fix. Things like having an updated portfolio or a decent about page should be priority for you. Not on the back burner of someday. Almost every workshop I have attended, when someone offers website critiques, a good hand full of photographers shrink in their seats and beg not to be picked because there is no “recent work” or it hasn’t been” updated in forever”. Then WHY are you asking CLIENTS to go there and use THAT as the decision of whether or not to book you?
Hiring a rockstar designer is awesome. But it is not the end all, nor does it BEGIN there. You can START here.
To learn more about booking Tiffany for a Connected Brand mentoring session click HERE. The next available online opening is late July.
To learn more about booking your Connection Portrait Session or the popular Motherhood Collective, contact Tiffany via the Connect link in the menu, or email directly at TIFFANY@TIFFANYFARLEY.COM
Tiffany is located in New Haven, Connecticut, and frequently travels to her clients from Bar Harbor to San Francisco.
To find out details regarding her upcoming travel dates, or to book a custom travel session, please contact for more information.