Okay, okay, I admit, I suffer from it.
But, you also suffer from it.
In fact, we all suffer from it!
What do we all suffer from? SELF-DOUBT!
And why is that? Because we are all human, and we all suffer in times of stress, overloaded calendars, unforeseen events. Let's face it, life happens and we all just try to roll with it as well as can.
But where does the self-doubt come into play when you are a freelance photographer?
Most of the times it arises in those months that are generally a bit more quiet. We all have those fluctuating calendars where we run from shoot to shoot for weeks on end, and then have weeks where we have more time to spare. And you hear crickets. And you start to get anxious, because what if no clients will come in? What then? Help! Okay, breathe in, breathe out, stay calm...
Self-doubt can also come glancing around the corner when you've had a few leads that you didn't convert. Sometimes you book them all, but sometimes you hear lead after lead say they aren't sure you're the right photographer for them, that they think your rates are too high, and they'll find their photographer elsewhere. Will nobody ever book me again? What's wrong with me? Who do I think I am? How dare they say I'm too expensive! OMG, it must be your fault, right? You must change your rates? Your website! Your flyers?! You need to start right away! Panic!
And there it is: the downward spiral of self-doubt.
All of these normal human responses to rejection like fear, anxiety, doubt, anger, panic, are inevitably what makes us human. And they can lead you into doubt about your brand, your style, your business and pricing structure and so on and so forth. Wow, that's a really slippery and gnarly road your mind can go down, right?
Why do you let your mind go there? What is in you, the photographer, that you let that doubt take over?
When you start to get negative comments on rates, do you switch to over-analyzing your approach in the photography world? How do you react to feedback from potential leads like that? I can hear your mind racing: Are you too expensive? Why aren't they booking you? Should you lower your prices, again and again because photographer X or Y or Z down the road charge way less than you do? I don't have that monthly paycheck, so if nobody books me, I will have no income!
I know each and every doubtful thought that comes to mind, because I've been down that same road of self-doubt over and over in the past. I switched my rates like I changed the color of my nail polish. And I would redo my website and my packages so that the right people would come and book me. And I would give more and more free stuff and nice gadgets away to my booked clients, so they would promote me to their friends. And.... Well, the list goes on and on. I worked and altered, modified and tweaked, but nothing really changed for me. And I especially NEVER dared to put my prices UP! The only result that came from all my frantic attempts to attract more traffic, leads and bookings was procrastination. My actions lead me further from my desired end result: making an income. All I did was waste my time and my own money by investing in the wrong things and by not knowing where I was heading.
So, what changed my thinking and what stopped the self-doubt for me as a photographer?
One day, I was watching a Creative Live broadcast and I came across this course about Pricing and Sales for Photographers and I saw a shot of a sales session, where a photographer showed clients their images and helped them with product selection. I jumped out of my seat and said: that's it! I don't sell! I put my heart and soul into my work, but I give everything away! And that's when it hit me: my clients weren't putting a high value on my service, because I didn't put a high value on my service! They want their stuff for free, because I charge next to nothing! If I want to be of more value to my clients, I have to put more value on myself and my photography services first.
And then I transformed my approach to my photography business.
I started calculating what I could do in a year. I added up all my expenses. I set up a product range of really nice, high quality photography products like wall art, heirloom albums, boutique items and I put those items everywhere on my website, in my brochures, on my social media, my blog posts, you name it. I emphasized that my pictures were part of a photography one-stop-shop SERVICE. My clients were the busy, tired parents that needed a place that helped them out. Someone that could read their thoughts and be a step ahead of them. They would book me, I would prepare everything, shoot the session, help them picking out nice products, and order all of their products for them, so they wouldn't have to worry about it.
And guess what happened? I took a few of my clients for a test run to see how they would experience an in-person sales session. They knew it was new for me, but the products were real and the presentation was real, and I made a real effort providing them with a one-stop-shop service. And right there, on that first sales appointment (or ordering/viewing appointment, or how you want to call it), my clients ordered for nearly USD 1,500! I was blown away, but I knew I was on the right track, because before, I used to make between USD 100-150 per booking. This order was ten times more!
Implementing a sales structure totally transformed my photography business!
Since that first test run, I've never looked back. The customers responded really well to this new service I offered and they said they didn't know any photographer who offered this type of service to their clients. They also expressed their gratitude for offering this help with selecting and ordering products, because they had a busy schedule and this was a real solution to their time problem. Who would've thought???
It's not why you doubt, but how you react to doubt.
What I'm trying to say with this example, is that it doesn't matter that you doubt yourself every once in a while. We all have doubts. I have doubts like you and like anyone else. Which photographer doesn't? But it's the way you respond to doubt. Do you let it drive you crazy? Or can you take a step to assess what's happening and come up with a solution for yourself? What happens when you panic about not booking clients? Do you start listing all the 'dead Harries' like "People in this city don't like this price range", or "That's not the way people do business in my area!"? Or do you talk yourself down with the standard negative remarks that you use when things don't go your way? "I can't work like that, that's not my style!" "Who am I to think that I can charge X or Y amount?"
Shift your perspective from "can't" and "don't" to "can" and "do"!
Being negative doesn't do anybody any good. And it sure won't bring in that dream client or dream project of yours. Don't put the blame on external factors outside of yourself. Take responsibility for your own situation and start working from a place within yourself. Empower yourself and start to think in opportunities and possibilities.
Why do I say this?
- YOU are what makes your photography business UNIQUE. There's no other YOU people can book!
- YOU are the person that can step outside of your comfort zone, where new doors will open.
- YOU can create value for others so they see the need of booking you as their photographer and making you their go-to address for ALL their photography needs.
- YOU can use each day to connect with your warm audience to make an offer they can't resist.
- YOU are the only one who can tell your personal story and WHY you create those images with such great passion.
- YOU have the unique creativity that has brought you to becoming a photographer in the first place
- YOU can create opportunities, because you are that creative, and you can think outside of the box
- YOU have had the guts to start your own photography service, so why not go that extra mile where nobody else goes?
- YOU have all the answers in your hand, you just need to stop and listen to that inner voice of inspiration
- YOU are the only one who knows where you want your business to lead you, you just need to get clear on that vision
You see why you can't let self-doubt lead you to negativity when you're a photographer?
Negativity doesn't help your business. You know that as well I do. It's a waste of time and energy. So, you can flip the perspective and put on a pair of pink-colored glasses to see the world in a different way. How? Self-doubt can be used as a tool for GROWTH. As feedback from your anxiety and fear that's trying to hold you back and wants to keep you in your comfort zone. Every time you feel that negative vibe coming up, ask yourself: what can I do? What's really going on here? What are my fears trying to tell me? Do I lower my rates, because I feel insecure? Where does that insecurity come from? And what small step can I take right now, to feel empowered and move a step closer to my goals?
Don't be afraid of fear or self-doubt, embrace it!
What I want you to do this week, is start a journal. I have one and I call it my "Gremlin Journal'. In it you write all of your self-doubts, every negative statement that comes to mind that week. And behind every negative, deconstructive thought or conviction, you write down a positive thought you can start to use instead.
Negative thought: "I will never make money with my photography, because people only want digital files. I might as well give them away."
Replacement thought: "My photography is valuable, and I will create a nice package with an album and 5 complementary digital files and put this up on my website and in my information brochure, so people can see the value of booking me."
Negative thought: "I'm too expensive and everyone goes to that cheap photographer down the block."
Replacement thought: "I will up my customer service with a personal preparation meeting, so I can customize all pictures to my clients needs. I will tell this to all my existing clients and offer them product order credit of USD 50, if they refer someone to me."
Negative thought: "I have nobody in the area who wants to work with me or promote me."
Replacement thought: "This week I will reach out to 5 possible network partners in person each day, and take them out for lunch or coffee, and ask them what I can offer them that is of VALUE to them, so we can help each other out."
Turn that impossible into "I'm possible"
Do you see how I've flipped these negative thoughts into possibilities? Into practical steps you can implement in your own photography business TODAY? I want to invite you to do the same for your business. It's never too late, but it's always a waste of time to complain or doubt yourself. Remember that YOU are your own biggest obstacle. Don't take no for an answer if you have really set your mind to something. Be bold, be brave and get your work out there!
Well, I hope this has helped you in any way. And if it might help you to have some steps you can follow, I also have created a free PDF for you on how you can create momentum and get clear on your vision to get more clients through the door.
You can sign up and download that freebie by following the link in this image below.
I love to hear what you think of this article, because I love feedback. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on social media. You can find Photographers Coach on Facebook where you can join my private FB group, the Photographers Coach Clan, or you can follow me on Instagram for the latest news and updates.