A common challenge for a lot of photographers is carving out a new niche. So, we thought it might be fun to create a new niche for your business – for the sake of this blog post. Here are some random ideas of what you might do if you decided to move into the pet photography market. Any of these ideas could be applied to other markets…so use your imagination!
1. Start by finding 5 to 10 friends with pets and set up some photo sessions. Shoot the sessions for free and include a couple of 5×7 prints or low-res digital files for their time. If you totally nail it and they want to buy a 30″ print for their fireplace…great…make sure to charge them for that!Try to avoid the social media “model call” – you don’t want your potential clients thinking that shoot for free is your “thing”.
This will help you create some marketing material and it’s good practice so that you can work out the kinks (like how to work with a dogs short attention span…and anything elsewe can’t imagine right now) without the pressure of having a paying client.
Try to avoid the social media “model call” unless you’re really desperate (ie. moved to a new town and have no friends!) – you don’t want your potential clients thinking that shooting for free is your “thing”.
2. Before you deliver their “freebies”, print some referral cards for those clients with a photo of their pet on it. You could include a message like ” we would love to photograph more pets like Rex – please call to book your complimentary session”.
Note: If the referral card has a photo of their pet on it – they’re less likely to throw it in the recycle bin than if it’s just a generic studio card. So, give away a bunch of sessions and plan to make sales on the products/prints.
3. Once you have some decent portfolio material, you can update your website, blog and begin introducing your new niche on social media.
4. Then start to research some local influencers in the pet market. Check out dog walkers, cat walkers?, veterinarians, pet stores, dog groomers…anyone who seems to have it going on on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. Spend a couple of weeks engaging with their content – and then connect with them to see if they would be interested in collaborating. What kind of collaboration? Well, one thought is that you could offer to create some image content in exchange for them featuring you on one/all of their social media channels. This will help you grow your audience and give you the opportunity to build relationships with additional pet owners!
5. You could also hold an event to create a buzz in your community. You could talk to a local animal shelter about doing a photo fundraiser for them. Invite people with their pets down to a local park where you could photograph them for a donation to the shelter. The folks could pick up their photo at the animal shelter or your studio and all the proceeds would go to the shelter. You would make sure to send a press release a couple weeks before to the local radio station and newspaper to let them know what you’re up to. (tip: make sure to follow up!) If you’re lucky, not only will the press read/print the release…but the newspaper might even do a feature on the event and print some of the best photos from the fundraiser. Talk about some good press!
Now these are just 5 ideas that come top of mind…Do you have any ideas to add? Add them below in the comments section and maybe we can create an awesome “new niche resource” together! Or – if you have any “cat-wearing-sombrero” photos – I’d love to see those too!
Editors Note: This post was originally published in Aug 2013 and has been revamped and updated to reflect current social media strategies.