This is what it looks like to work with people who are your people.
All right. We’re all friends here. Like, we can just be honest with each other, okay? Cool.
Here it goes.
I’ve meaning to tell you this, but I just didn’t have the heart to do it. But, I care enough about you to just be blunt.
So, your photographer bio, your About Me page, it kind of sucks. I mean, that’s a nice photo of you with the camera and all, but it’s all just, well, boring. Let’s step into your potential client’s shoes for just a minute, all right? So, cue the dream sequence…
I’m a newly engaged bride and I’m searching for a wedding photographer. I fire up my laptop and with giddy excitement, I do a quick Google search for wedding photographers in Colorado Springs. From digital heaven comes a giant list of exactly what I’m looking for…and it appears right before my eyes. Jackpot. Now I just have to pick one.
So, I click on the first one and her photos are amazing. And I take a peek at her pricing and well, it’s a bit more than I thought I was going to spend. What the heck? It’s my big day! Okay, there’s an About Me page. I should check this out…I mean, I’m going to be around this person all day on my wedding day. I should probably make sure that we would get along.
How sweet. She loves love. And she cherishes her opportunity to capture moments that will live forever. That’s exactly who I’m looking for. This photographer is perfect for me! Oh, and she’s also had a camera in her hand since she was seven years old. Wow. That’s awesome. I should just call her now. I’m going to book her right on the spot.
Well, you know what? Hold on. Maybe I should just look at a couple more photographers just to be sure, so that I can make sure that I felt like I did my due diligence…
So, I pull up another one. Wow – these photos are great, too! And the prices are about the same. Let me check if I like this person. Now, wait a minute…she loves love and she cherishes capturing moments too. AND she’s had a camera in her hand since she was seven. Wait, did I accidentally go back a page? Is this the same person? No, that’s a different photo of a woman with a camera in her hand. What an odd coincidence. Hold on a second; this other photographer says the same thing. And so does this one, and this one, and I can’t even remember who I’ve looked at anymore. They all look exactly the same. I’m in wedding photographer website Groundhog Day. Please…for the love of all things holy, MAKE IT STOP.
And that, my friend, is your problem.
Your About Me page is written about every other photographer, too. It’s homogenous. It’s forgettable.
So, let’s fix it…but how?
How to create an About Me page to attract YOUR people
Simple. Tell me about you.
- What makes you, you?
- What are you into that other people aren’t into, that I just might be into?
- What common interests do we have?
- What truly makes you a better option than other photographers I’m looking at today? Like actually better for me? Not what makes you a better photographer. What makes you a better photographer for me?
Here’s a good exercise. Imagine that you’re sitting at a table with three of your closest competitors and a potential client. That client asks you point blank: Why should I hire you, and not one of them? In that situation, the last thing you’re going to say is, Well I love love, and I cherish capturing moments.
You need to figure out what makes you truly unique compared to those others in your market, without trash-talking those people sitting at the table with you. Now, notice again, I didn’t say what makes you better. I said, what makes you truly unique? You don’t have to be better. You have to be better for your ideal client.
Now, here’s the real kicker. I want you to tell me something about you that I might really dislike. Hear me out. Tell me something about you I might really dislike, say something divisive, make me for you or against you. Because if I’m against you, I’m going to go away and you don’t want to work with me anyway. But if I’m with you, I’m with you, I’m your people. You and me, we’re BFFs now—and who doesn’t want to work with their BFF?
Let me give you an example. When we were still shooting weddings back in Nashville, if you went to our About Us page, you would be met with a photo of Adrienne and me from our own wedding, and we were sticking our ring fingers up to show off our wedding bands. At first glance, it looks like we’re giving you the finger.
And the copy on the page positions us from the start as shamelessly, irreverent photographers for sassy, mischievous, Nashville brides. It was followed by a series of ‘We Believe‘s that included things, like, “We believe that, ‘what she said’ is an appropriate response in 99% of situations.” Or, “We believe in sneaking into a second movie.” And there was something in there about a pants-off dance off, too.
Now, when you went to our Portfolio page, the first image that you’d see wasn’t one of our stunning panoramas from like the cliff wedding that we shot. And it wasn’t one of the portraits for many of our beach weddings. Or even a shot from the destination engagement session we did in New Orleans. It was a photo of me at a reception with my camera in my hand, on the dance floor, and one of our brides grinding on me from behind.
So for some Nashville brides, remember Nashville brides, this is horrifying and absolutely unacceptable. And that was exactly the point. They could not imagine working with us, and we didn’t want to work with them either. Because others, like the bride in that photo, were our people. She chose us for her wedding over a dozen “better” photographers, and—fun fact for you—she and her husband are now the godparents of our son.
This is what it looks like to work with people who are your people.
We had countless clients turn down better photographers who charged less than we did because they hired us, not only for what we do, but also for who we are and how we made them feel about themselves. And, just in case you’re thinking, I don’t know if this really works: the last wedding that we shot in Nashville before we moved to Colorado was a $10,500 wedding package. So, not only were we getting people who wanted to work with us, they were paying us a premium to work with us.
Now, was our work good? Of course it was. But there are 1,000 photographers in Nashville who did just as good or even better work than we did. Something had to make us better for our ideal client.
So, put yourself out there, be you, give your potential clients something to remember, give them something to agree with and to run to you because of, or to disagree with and run away from.
You can repel the wrong people too, and trust me, you want to
I had coffee with a pet photographer in Denver, a couple of years back, and we had this same conversation that I’m having with you right now, where I was encouraging her to be more divisive in her business, to push some people away.
And she said: ‘But how can I do that? I’m just a pet photographer. ‘ And I said: ‘Are you kidding me? This is really simple. Let’s walk through some stuff. What is something that “dog people” would identify with that their non-dog people friends think that they’re weird about? Because you don’t want lukewarm dog people here. You want the full on dog freaks.’
So, we started spit-balling some ideas, like having fur all over your clothes and how that’s probably the secret handshake to dog people. Normal people would say, Oh, you need to break out the lint roller, like stat. But to dog people, that’s that badge of honor. And, from there, we landed on a series that really took off for her and allowed her to talk to her ideal clients in a fun and light-hearted way that was still divisive enough to weed out the clients who aren’t perfect for her.
We decided she should do this series of ‘Reasons my dog is cooler than your kid.’ Dog people loved it, and they identified with it, and she saw not only a tangible increase in bookings, but an increase in bookings of clients who wanted exactly what she offered.
So, find that thing that “normal people” think is weird. Then, make that your banner, the flag that you hold up high that says, “I don’t think you’re weird, I think you’re awesome! If you agree with me, join my parade!” Normal people think it’s weird to get portraits of your dog created and displayed on your wall. And that’s fine. She doesn’t need normal people. She needs her people. So, how can she position herself to draw those people out, to talk to them in a way that says, ‘Come join my parade, you’re welcome here.’
One more example for you. There’s a birth photographer, also in Denver, named Monet Moutrie. If you’re in the birth photography world, you probably know her. She has a massive online following. In fact, last I looked, she had 150,000 followers on Instagram and that’s after having her Instagram account banned at least once and having to start all over. Now, why would a birth photographer get banned on Instagram? Well, she believes that birth, every aspect of it, is natural and beautiful. And she doesn’t shy away from showing images that others would deem ‘inappropriate’ for public display. Is that divisive? You bet.
Just look at the comments on some of her posts and you’ll see that divide plain as day. Some call her photos ‘obscene’ or ‘traumatic’ or ‘overly gory’, but you don’t have to look closely at all to see her people there as well. They love what she does. She has clients commenting on her posts about how they can’t wait for their birth if only because Monet will be there to document it. She says to them with every single post on Instagram, ‘I don’t think you’re strange. I think you’re beautiful and I celebrate the same things you celebrate.’
For a certain portion of the population, Monet is not just a birth photographer, she is the only birth photographer for them. They couldn’t even imagine using someone else. Why would they? No one else understands them the way Monet does. No one else can possibly make them feel more comfortable in their own skin than Monet does. And, if they need a birth photographer, she is their only choice.
So, I’m going to leave you with this really simple analogy. People like to talk about how your business should be a magnet, drawing people toward it. But, they never talk about what happens when you turn that magnet over. It repels things, it pushes things away. Let your business be that magnet, attracting your people and repelling the others. Because, at the end of the day, I don’t know about you, but I would rather be loved by some and hated by others, than forgotten by all of them.