Photography Marketing & Selling Secret #29: The Ultimate Reason Most Photographers Fail

Here's 5 Key Areas That Will Grow Your Photography Business Fast!

Here's 5 Key Areas That Will Grow Your Photography Business Fast!

Most photographers don’t like photography marketing and selling.  As a result, their photography business usually fails financially, and they end up burning out, giving up, selling their photography equipment, and losing everything.  To most photographers, the marketing & selling aspects of the business are really painful & confusing.

It’s totally understandable, because we went into photography because we love photography – we love the equipment, the knobs and dials, creating beautiful images, working in Photoshop, and  working with color harmony, composition, and design.

Have you ever wondered why some photographers are so amazingly successful, even in challenging times, while other photographers are struggling and dropping like flies, even though their photography is actually quite good?

The reason is that successful photographers force themselves to learn and do the things that the failures don’t want to learn or do.

So in that sentence above, you have the ultimate photography marketing and selling secret. All you have to do, to be an amazingly successful photographer, is to FORCE yourself to learn marketing and selling – so that literally your marketing and selling skills are as good or better than your photography  and Photoshop skills.

I know you don’t want to hear this. I am one of you. I’ve been a photographer for 40 years. I went into photography because I love photography. But I practically starved in the early years, because I didn’t want to put the work & time into the marketing and selling areas of the photography business.

So the purpose of this article is to simply drive home for you one indisputable fact – that if you want to be successful in the portrait and wedding photography business in this day and age and under these economic conditions, you’re going to absolutely have to force yourself to learn and do the things that the failures do not want to learn or do.

So, here’s a short list of five things that most photographers don’t want to learn about or do:

1. Photographers don’t want to …learn how to sell.  They feel that “If my photography is good enough, it will sell itself.”

The fact is this: No matter how “good” your photography is, it will not sell itself – at least it surely won’t sell itself enough to earn you the income you dream about. You MUST learn how to sell, and you must do it now. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you will succeed.

But please understand that selling is not forcing people, or tricking people. Selling is finding out what people want, and then helping the to get it. Selling is a good thing – not a bad thing. People don’t know what’s best for them to do – they need and want your help and guidance.

2. Photographers don’t want to invest time & money into marketing.  They feel that if they do a really nice job, that word of mouth will bring them all the people they need. This is totally wrong. Yes, word of mouth is great, however, there is not enough of it to bring you the income & success you desire.

You’re going to have to create a HUGE demand for your limited supply, and then control the volume of work you do with the price.  And you can’t create a HUGE demand with just word of mouth.

So start NOW to invest the time & money to discover the most effective ways to market your photography business.

3. Photographers don’t want to meet the client/prospect ahead of time (on a separate day) to plan the photography and let the prospect know what to wear, where the photography will be created, and the policies by which they run their business.

These “policies” of how you run your business are a critical part of your success. But your prospects & clients MUST know about them BEFORE they start working with you, and the most effective way to do this is IN PERSON.

Let her know that you charge a prepaid “Creation Fee” that is paid in advance, and that doesn’t go toward the finished images – it’s a fee that covers the time and planning that you put into creating the beautiful images.

Let her know that your “Originals” don’t leave the photography business, but rather she comes back in to see them presented to her in person. (See #5 below.)

(These are two of the many “Operational Policies” that you need to run your photography business by.)

4. Photographers don’t want to become “organized.”  They honestly feel they are too busy to be able to take the time to plan their day and workflow.

Organization, workflow and planning your daily “things to do list” are all vital parts of running a successful photography business. Invest 30 to 60 minutes EVERY morning to do the planning & organizing of your day & week, and to put together your “Things To Do List” in order of importance, for that day. Do this religiously and watch your photography business grow & prosper beyond your wildest dreams.

5. Photographers don’t want to take the time to personally show the client her images – they just want to post them online, and let the client place her order. This is a HUGE mistake. Portrait and wedding photography is a one-on-one personal business, and if you want to grow and prosper, it must be done in person.  Never, ever try to “sell” your images by placing them online.

So, if the successful photographers force themselves to learn and do the things that the failures don’t want to do, then you now have a great list of five things you’re going to want to start doing immediately to be the success you dream about with your photography!

All the best,


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6 Responses to Photography Marketing & Selling Secret #29: The Ultimate Reason Most Photographers Fail

  1. September 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I love your pages! Thanks a lot!

    • April 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Moriah,
      Thanks so much for the comment. Glad you’re enjoying this!

  2. April 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Having put many of your suggestions into practice, I can absolutely agree with the major points of this blog post, Charles. I used to think that my photography, if good enough, will bring people flocking to me. Oh, how wrong I was! Then I looked out on the web at VERY mediocre, even poor photographers, who were booking ALL KINDS of clients. I didn’t understand it! I used to think that my happy clients will “get the word out” and clients would be beating down my door. How wrong I was! In fact, many of my early clients got “deals” on their portraits. In turn, they told others to come get “deals”, too! Ugh. Then I found your site, Chuck. I began making it a REQUIREMENT to have a phone consultation and personal meet-and-greet and planning session. I stopped presenting my images online and instead I required an ordering session where I showed them all of my originals. Guess what? The very FIRST sale doing this, I sold about $1,000 in product. I couldn’t believe it. My average was, to be quite honest, close to $100 – and I had to HOUND people to make their orders – sometimes a few months afterwards. I was doing things ALL wrong. Now, I still struggle with #4 above. I have a full time job on top of doing portrait photography, so planning my days/weeks/months is a big task to carve time out. I’m working on it. I just wanted to say, “Thank you.” If your readers are on the fence at all about your system and the secrets you share, then they really need to try it, put the advice into action and see how well it works. I’m amazed!

    • April 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Joseph, Glad you are enjoying the success, and thanks for taking the time for this comment!
      All the best to you!

  3. November 4, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I absolutely agree with everything you have said and already do this. However, we do sometimes have problems arranging the viewing when the portrait is several family groups who are spread all over the country. We are asked to put our images online for non-local members to choose. We don’t like doing this, what would you suggest?

    We also have some clients who want to purchase digital images only. We don’t like offering this option but feel that we have to as there is a demand for this in the UK. If we don’t offer this, clients will use other studios that do. Any advice on how to deal with this?

    • November 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Sheila! Excellent questions. This is one of the most difficult things for professional photographers to come to grips with, and my way isn’t the only way, but here’s my honest, sincere answer to your question. What we do is we carefully screen our prospects, before accepting them as clients. We ask them many questions on the telephone (using our Telecharts” when talking with them, to find out if they are not going to be willing to do business our way. If not, then we diplomatically recommend they keep looking for a photographer – as we aren’t the right photog for them. So if we hear any “warning signals” that we feel will cause problems later on, we decline to move forward with that prospect. If, however, there seems to be potential there, we will move forward and set up a time to get together and “chat” with them in person in the studio. Then, if we can “educate them” that we do not post our images online, and they are okay with it, we move forward. If not, we diplomatically walk away from moving forward.

      The same goes for digital images. We are in the business of supplying our clients with lovely wall portraits as home decor. We are NOT in the business of supplying our clients with digital files. Therefore, if that’s all they seem to be interested in, we do not accept them as a client. I know it’s scary to send prospects away if money is tight, but trust me, it’s the way to go – it saves you so much time and effort working with someone who is going to end up not ordering anything, or just wanting the digital files.

      I hope this is helpful. I learned from my mentor, the great photographer and business person, Donald Jack, that “In order to be successful, you must be willing to send some people away.” He was SO RIGHT! Thanks Don!

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