“You can’t please everyone.”
This is especially true when trying to define your ideal client.
It’s a concept many of us learned in childhood but for some reason when you start your own photography business the lesson goes out the window.
We’re programmed to want to make every possible sale and be appealing to everyone.
It’s the ultimate case of looking for quantity vs quality.
Unfortunately, casting out too wide a net can do more harm than good.
You can end up “ok” to everyone but not “the best” at anything. And who wants to pay top dollar for “ok”?
Your best bet is to find your niche and own it.
Don’t know your photography niche?
Rather than just sitting and thinking about who your perfect client would be, first consider who YOU are.
If you don’t actually like your clients, think about how much harder they will be to work with!
While you don’t have to have everything in common, having similar interests and values will make for a much more cohesive experience for the both of you.
Are you super casual, old-school and not a huge fan of social media? As much as you may love the idea of shooting high-end, uber trendy weddings in your head, that’s probably not the right direction or client for you.
Young, on the silly side, and love candid photography? Family photography focusing on young children would likely be a great fit for your personality and style.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Again, this doesn’t mean you need to start looking for clients who are just like you, but rather those that would be a great compliment to you.
Some qualities to consider when trying to define your ideal client:
I’m talking age, sex, and type of photography.
Are you looking to focus on 20 and early 30 somethings that are probably looking for wedding photographers for their dream weddings, newborn photographers and/or early family photography?
Or maybe you prefer older clients who are planning a second wedding or are looking to have multigenerational photos done with the kids and grandchildren.
Think about what you want to photograph and who is most likely to want those photos. It is unlikely you are going to find a 40+ year old man getting excited about extravagant wedding photography. Those clients are much more likely to be in their early 20’s and female.
Most of this is common sense but can be easily overlooked when trying to plan.
Who they are:
Think about a potential client’s culture and lifestyle.
Maybe you have a lot of experience photographing Quinces in the Hispanic community, same-sex weddings, or adoptions.
These events are becoming more and more commonplace and there is still a large, growing market to tap into.
Use and emphasize any “out-of-the-box” experience you may have to give you the upper hand with an entire group of potential clients that may not feel seen by other photographers.
Think about personalities.
Formal vs Informal
Posed vs Candid
Indoor vs Outdoor
Country vs Urban
Frugal vs Valued
Quantity vs Quality
Some clients love happy, family pictures where everyone is laughing in a field while others may want more serious, editorial-style shots in the city.
Some are only concerned with how much money they will have to spend while others are more focused on finding the photographer who can make sure they get the photos of their dreams.
Some want to be told where to stand and how to smile while others want a more relaxed and natural approach.
Think about what you offer and which clients you want to work with and market accordingly.
I have a playful personality and discovered I really liked working with laid-back, touchy-feely types of professionals. I don’t really like stiff poses so instead started directing my clients with play, movement and prompts. This became a big part of my brand messaging.
Have a client that doesn’t fit your chosen niche?
Be honest with yourself.
Is this an opportunity for you to step out of your comfort zone? Or is it more likely that it’s going to turn into a giant headache that leaves both you and the client unsatisfied?
Don’t be afraid to say “NO!”
Remember that you don’t have to take on every client that comes your way.
In fact, it can be an opportunity to build connections with other photographers in the area that have different styles than you and build a referral network that can help you both.
Have a client slip through the cracks?
As hard as you try you can’t guarantee you will only have clients you gel with- and that’s ok! Do your best to treat them as a learning lesson and a reminder of why you are marketing to the clients you are.
Who you are and what you offer is going to be a perfect match for a certain group- find it and dig in!
My ideal client loves the experience of their fun, playful photo session!