Is Fear Holding Your Photography Business Back?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks solopreneurs have to overcome is the tendency to operate from a place of fear. Instead of confidently charging forward with belief in service, approach, and self, they come at every potential client with the equivalent of an awkward side hug. Everything is couched in 10 layers of “only if you want.” Nothing is chased with all-in enthusiasm. And it can have a terrible effect on your business! So, I have to ask: is fear the thing that’s holding your photography business back?

You’ve got the talent. You’ve built the experience. You’ve delighted the clients. And yet you still can’t overcome the timidity that keeps you from diving into the deep end. And you may not even know you’re doing it! So, today, let’s break down the top six places I see photographers allowing fear to guide their photography business decisions and why it can be such a huge problem.

1. You’re afraid of being specific because you might alienate a potential client.

I hear this all the time from clients, even after we’ve spent hours unearthing their ideal client and brand voice. Despite knowing exactly who they want to work with (and more importantly, who they don’t), they still fear making specific references intended to captivate their ideal clients and repel those who are less than ideal.

For example, a photographer tells me they want to work solely in the luxury wedding market, focusing on high-end couples and name-brand-filled celebrations. Then they point out that the phrase “kick off your Jimmy Choos, and let’s talk photography” might alienate brides who can’t afford luxury shoes…

confused by fear-based photography business practices

Well. Yeah. That’s kinda the point.

Written content that tries to speak to everyone results in written content that speaks to no one. Now, THAT’S something worth being afraid of! So, it’s time to decide who your ideal client is, how to speak to them, and if you’re REALLY ready to go all-in on attracting them. If you are, let those specifics fly free, baby!

2. You’re afraid of shining a light on the problems you solve because you might come off as negative.

This is another one I get at least once every other month from a client during edits: “mmmm…is there a way we can make this more positive?” Well, we did just point out that asking a friend to photograph their wedding instead of a professional photographer could lead to disaster, so…not sure exactly how (or why!) that can be spun into a trip to Disney World!

Illustrating the negative is absolutely essential in marketing. I mean, if there is no negative to NOT hiring you (saving me thousands), why should I bother to do it? 

Of course, we aren’t out here to stir terror in your potential clients, but there are two ways to do this well.

Firstly, you can point out the nerves and stressors potential clients are bringing into the situation, like terror over stepping in front of a camera or nerves that squirmy littles will make for bad family photos. Then, validate those fears and show how you are uniquely capable of solving their problem! The more you understand your client’s stressor and the more unique your solution, the better this will work for you!

Or secondly, you can illustrate a bad thing that could happen if they don’t choose to work with you, like lost images or trendy edits that go out of style next year. Your client may never have thought of these before, so if you can point out why they are a problem and how you avoid them, you build confidence in your brand!

Being afraid of speaking honestly about the negative dampens the effect of the positive you share! So, don’t shy away from being honest about the problems you solve.

3. You’re afraid of sharing what you’re great at because it might sound cocky.

It’s oh so common and oh so silly. With a million different photographers to choose from, why should I choose you? And if you’re too shy to tell me, why should I believe in you?

I know it sounds harsh, but if you can’t speak with confidence and conviction about why I should book you, I’m going to doubt there’s even a good reason. 

This detrimental tendency toward extreme modesty is very common in women. It’s hammered into us that speaking about our accomplishments is rude. So, it doesn’t surprise me when that mentality bleeds into my conversations with photographers about their written content. But if you want to market your business effectively, this is something you absolutely must overcome.

Practice writing “I’m known for…” and “I excel in…” statements that are true to your photography business. Now, go incorporate them into your written content!

4. You’re afraid of sharing your prices because people might not inquire with you.

If you’ve been around these parts for a minute, there’s one thing you know about me: I’m a die-hard advocate for sharing at least a starting price on your website. You can battle me on the strategy of the thing ’til we are both blue in the face. But something we should ALL agree on is that if the reason you aren’t sharing your prices is that you’re scared to, there’s a problem.

Services cost money. That’s just how the world spins. From Anthropologie to Delta Airlines, the prices are there plain as day. Would hiding them make you more likely to buy? Or just make you annoyed? So, how do you think it makes your clients feel when they can’t find any prices on your website?

But even if you want to set their feelings aside, if you’ve set your prices honestly and strategically, you shouldn’t be afraid to share them! You should share them firmly and with confidence! And if you have set your prices correctly, but are still scared to share them, you probably haven’t done enough to illustrate the value you bring through your service.

If you’re afraid to share your prices, it’s essential to ask yourself “why” so you can solve the problem rather than continuing to move in fear.

5. You’re afraid of promoting your services because you might sound “salesy.”

I’ve got bad news, my dear, dear friend: if you never want to sound salesy, you need to get out of the business of selling things.

People need to know what to do to hire you or buy your products. And sometimes, people aren’t the best at figuring things out on their own. So, hiding obvious calls to action from your clients isn’t helpful!

If someone is on your website, it’s because they are interested in whatcha got! So, why are you scared of telling them how to get it? You’re not going door-to-door sharing the good word about Amy Lynn Photography. You’re on your website talking about your services! How could playing coy when it comes to closing the deal be a good idea?

If you stay scared about all the rest of these, this one has to be overcome right now! And it’s something you can only get over with practice. So go into your website right now and make that “Book now!” button bigger. Add calls to action to every single page of your website. Conclude every blog post with a sentence or two telling readers how they work with you. Get that good info out there, and watch it pay off.

6. You’re afraid of trusting others to help you.

As your business grows, you can’t do it all on your own. Take a look at all the photographers you most admire. I guarantee they work with accountants, coaches, copywriters, advertisers, and more to bring their vision to life. You can’t be good at everything. And rather than wasting time, money, and energy on trying to figure out how to get good at everything, it’s time to start working with contractors. 

For example, you could waste months (or even years!) trying to write your own written content only to come away with something mediocre, or you could hire me to write your content in just two days and have something in the blink of an eye that actually helps your business grow!

It’s normal, though, to be a little wary when hiring professionals. I mean, on the internet, anyone can say anything! So, look for established contractors who:

    • have demonstrated a repeated pattern of success with clients
    • can clearly lay out their process
    • have a very definite timeline on when your work will be completed

This way, you can book with confidence instead of worrying! You can’t afford to stay afraid of working with other people. You need their expertise to grow the business of your dreams.

These are just six ways in which photographers routinely hold their photography businesses back through fear-based decision-making. I’m sure there are many others, but if you can overcome just these few, you’ll be well on your way to a freer, more successful photography business!

If you feel like you’re stuck on one or more of those and need a hand, I’d love to work with you! I offer a two-day copywriting experience that will totally eliminate all of these from your website, as well as a 90-minute strategy intensive during which we can overcome any fears holding you back. So, don’t wait! Let’s infuse your business with all the confidence you deserve!

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Meet the copywriter for photographers.

Oh, hey!

I’m Erica, the brains behind the clacking computer keys! I’m an introverted extrovert, a sympathy crier who also loves to box, a person who reads comic books while wearing floral dresses…and plants flowers in Wonder Woman t-shirts. I’m a crazy collection of opposites and beyond excited to turn your astonishing personality into words that will build your business.

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