(It will transform your business)
I think most of us start our creative businesses doing anything and everything. I had the best intentions of being a photojournalist when I first decided I was going to be a professional photographer, but I also needed to generate income, so my career actually started with wedding photography which quickly took over my life with the odd event and studio shoot thrown into the mix. I didn’t start my business with a clear creative plan, I was just glad to be getting paid for my work even though it wasn’t the work I truly wanted to be creating.
To cut a long story short, I started to follow my heart about 7 years into my career (folks it really doesn’t need to take this long) and seek out opportunities to take photographs that told stories and could make a positive impact. For me, that was photographing shelter dogs. I haven’t looked back and I’ve built a photography business based on my own unique style, a crazy little niche and I book clients who specifically want me to shoot portraits for them and see the value in the rates I charge (I’m not cheap). In retrospect, it took me far longer than it should have to reach this point because I didn’t listen to my inner guidance.
Developing your own creative style will catapult your business into a whole new realm of amazing clients and income.
Here are 5 ways to do it:
- Ask yourself what you’d draw, paint, photograph, make or do even if you weren’t getting paid and have a quick Google to see if there’s someone else achieving success doing the same thing. If there is, you know it’s a viable idea and you can proceed to step 2.
- Think about the best work you’ve ever done in terms of the end result, the type of client and the way you created it. What made it so great? Were you in a particular place, did you have a plan beforehand? Get clear on what you did to make this particular work so fabulous, then reverse engineer the steps you took so you can work out how to replicate the greatness.
- Send out some emails to your favourite clients and ask them what it is they love about your work or why they specifically chose to work with you. Perhaps it was because they love the way you light a photograph, perhaps you were incredibly patient and present which made them feel valued, perhaps you just ‘got’ them. You may find that someone else can reflect back your strengths as a creative and you can use the feedback to fine tune the individuality of your work.
- Start a creative side project just for you. Ironically, the awards I’ve won for my work have been for photography series’ that I’ve shot just because I wanted to and I’ve gained clients from making and sharing these projects. The BLACK SERIES (which features black rescue dogs and ridiculous captions) went viral worldwide, saw my Instagram account grow by thousands overnight and bagged me a TEDx talk. I really can’t overstate the value of making your own work (watch the TEDx talk for more on this).
- Consider what matters to you and what you’re passionate about in life and infuse your work with that. If you love capturing emotion, yet you’re busy taking posed family photos, how can you switch things up and get your families interacting more? If you’re writing copy for a corporate when you’d be happier working on a horror story, get your Stephen King on. Remember what you’re sharing on your website and social media will attract you more of the same, so make and share the kinds of work you’d like to create more of.
It’s easy to be tricked into thinking that we have to limit ourselves to creating certain things in a certain way to make money, or make the same kind of work everyone else is because we’re afraid that doing it our way won’t sell and I’ve really discovered that the opposite is true. When you allow your inner creative voice some time to get out and shine, your business really will change for the better.
If you’ve got a creative idea that you’re not quite brave enough to explore or you know you’d like to take your business in a different direction, but you’ve no idea how to do it, please get in touch with me. I’d love to help you.