For Photographers | How to Relocate Your Photo Business
Moving can be so stressful and if you include moving your photography business on top of that it can almost be too much to handle. But today I'm sharing some actions and mindset changes to help you grow your business in a new town! I moved from Knoxville, TN to Frederick, MD almost two years ago. So I'm sharing everything I learned while relocating my business and growing as an individual at the same time. My mindset, photography and happiness has grown for the better since moving. Moving was challenging and scary but more importantly the most exciting thing I've ever done.
BE BRAVE: Moving can be utterly terrifying and stressful but I want to encourage you to be brave and embrace the change. I know as humans that's the last thing we are built to do but I want you to lean into the challenge and grow as an individual. I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't moved to Maryland and pushed myself to figure out who I am
DON'T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE: Changing our views, opinions, beliefs, and desires is an integral part of the human experience. We would be stagnant and boring we if we never explored who we are. Learning new things can change your path which is scary but also exciting. By moving you will be introduced to jobs and experiences outside of your comfort zone that you might fall in love with. I encourage you to be open to new opportunities that await you. You might have always lived in Florida enjoying the direct sunlight and then you move to Seattle and fall in love with dark and moody light. What you have learned in the past has prepared you for the future. You just have to be receptive and willing to explore what you want personally and business-wise. I never would have discovered I enjoyed marketing and meeting up with creatives because in Knoxville I was content with everything I had and never strove to grow and learn about myself. When I moved to Maryland I had a choice to sink or swim in terms of my business and my dreams. I chose to swim. Through that I learned where I truly want my business to be and who I truly am. I've become so much bolder and braver since I have moved. It wasn't an immediate transformation, as nothing really is, but I relaxed let go of control and embraced the improved me.
BE SELFISH: Write down the reason you are moving (for example I wanted to experience new things, live in a new place, and live with my boyfriend and two dogs). Also write down your "WHY" for continuing your photography business in a new place. That will keep your motivation flowing. Embrace the fact that you are taking chances, truly living, and following your dreams. You are far more than your business and don't forget that. I wouldn't have been following my dreams if I had stayed in Knoxville because of my business. This is the only life we will ever have - don't you want to live it to the fullest?
USE WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY GOT: Most likely you already have a stunning portfolio, nice website and the skills you need to run your business. Don't dismiss those things! You can continue to put out beautiful work you've already shot. Prep your blog posts ahead of time so new content still goes out while you are midst all the boxes and uhauls. You also already have a client base and loyal lovers of your content, reach out to them and ask if they know anyone who lives in or near the city you are moving to. It's a small world and you never know who your previous clients and friends might know. Also post on your social medias and don't be afraid to be honest and say you're moving and would love to make some industry friends in your new town. You don't lose anything by asking.
EMAIL INDUSTRY PEERS: A month before I moved to Maryland I emailed literally 20 photographers whose work I admired and thought I would be a good fit to work with. I told them I was interested in second shooting for them. Through that I was able to make connections and pick up second shooting jobs.
KEEP THE DOOR OPEN: I often travel to Knoxville for weddings. I am so glad I kept that door open because I love Knoxville and all my clients living in Knoxville. As we know, word of mouth is the best form of marketing so I made it clear I still want to book weddings and sessions in Knoxville. That also helps if you get homesick - you know you will be back for sessions or weddings!
BE AWARE: You might need to change your prices based on the cost of living where you are moving. I had to refigure my prices in order to make a living because Maryland is so much more expensive than Tennessee. Remember do what is best for you and your business and have faith that your ideal clients will come.
SEO: This so important when you are moving, so be sure to change the location on your website. You can also set up a Google Business page with your new location. That helps you show up higher when people are looking for a photographer. I also recommend putting out content and updating your site at least once a week to increase your SEO.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Using social media to spread the word for your business is so important. Within the first week of moving to Maryland I did an Instagram giveaway. I was able to spread the word that I was new to the area and booking new clients. Through that free session I met some amazing people. Use hashtags and location tags increase your local area. Find popular local hashtags to attract your ideal client and use them often. You can also use Instagram to find individuals you want to photograph which is a perfect way to network and build your portfolio. Focus on the local engagement you receive and focus on connecting with local vendors and ideal clients.
FREE SHOOTS: Don't look at this as you are giving away your services instead seek out couples or individuals or businesses you'd love to add to your portfolio and carefully handpick the venue, clothing and vibes to add to your portfolio. With these sessions you are meeting new people, expanding your client base, and creating work for yourself and to share. You are able to shoot with no expectations other than to grow in your craft. You can reach out to boutiques or places you want to shoot at and tell them you will do a free session for them and if they like it continue with your services and hire you in the future. Looking back I didn't have my style mastered until I moved to Maryland and something just clicked. I also didn't have a choice to remain stagnant, when it came to my style I needed to grow to keep up with the changing times and styles. Doing portfolio sessions also showed my potential client I know where all the beautiful spots in the area are and it also gave me a chance to share local photos. My potential clients wanted to see what I could do in their area not what I had already done in Tennessee.
MEET UPS: I encourage you to ask people out on coffee dates. Not to ask them business questions or anything like that but to truly make connections and friendships that last. Also look into your local Rising Tide Society group. Face to face meet ups can really expand your network and build true friendships from many different industries not just photographers. Getting to know people outside your industry can expand your mind and you could discover something new you love. Also when you think about it it's not the photographers who need photos, its the small businesses and people who need your services. But deep down don't look at people as potential clients just look for human connection and see if it grows from there.
FB GROUPS: There are fb groups for just about everything these days, especially for photographers. Find the local groups and there you can post about yourself and meet industry peers. You can also pick up second shooting gigs as well as referrals which will be the back bone of your business. Many photographers pass on their referrals in facebook groups. Start in the Rising Tide Society and I'm sure local photogs in your area know of many groups they can add you to.
STYLED SESSIONS: These are a wonderful way to network with many different people in the wedding industry. You gain experience, referrals and get to create amazing things with amazing people. You are also getting your name out there by providing beautiful photos for the other vendors to share. Bonus points if you get the session featured on a local blog! They don't have to just be wedding styled shoots. Any kind of session needs flowers, makeup and beautiful venue and clothing. Even if you don't shoot weddings you can create innovative styled shoots!
LOCAL FEATURES: A great way to get the word out in your new town is getting featured in your local blogs. Submit your styled sessions and shoots you've done. Also post the feature on your website to show your potential clients that you have been featured in the area. Sometimes you can sign up for a membership on the local blog. Features also increase your SEO. Be aware because I don't suggest paying for any national wedding blogs (they are overpriced and I've heard don't yield good results).
BRIDAL SHOWS: I did this within the first few months of moving to Maryland and was able to book all the weddings I needed for the next year. Through that I was able to meet tons of potential clients and book couples in person. There is something so valuable in meeting people face to face instead of having them get to know you via the internet.
EMBRACE ALL THE FEELS: You might feel lonely, lost, and confused but I encourage you to lean into those feelings. Your body and mind are trying to talk to you. Listen. You might realize you want to go back to school, it might be the push you need to ask that person to coffee, or take yourself on a self love date. You are a human before a business owner. Your business will take lots of work to get it where you want to be. But don't be too hard on yourself it is growing how it should. Have faith in yourself and believe in yourself. Continue to work hard at achieving your dreams but also give yourself space to breath and discover new things about yourself that has come out from the move. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling. Push yourself to grow and develop new skills.
You've got this! Be brave. Follow your dreams. Be a freaking awesome human.