Business + Marketing

How to Brand Your Photo Business for Real Client Connection

August 17, 2020

By Sacia Matthews

© Sacia Matthews

There should be a real emphasis on showing and not telling your ideal clients who you are, says photographer Sacia Listenbee (pictured here). In this article, she shares what you should consider as you refine your strategy.

I used to think that personal branding within my business meant constantly talking about how much I love coffee and how tacos are my life. Do not get me wrong: I do love coffee, and I definitely love a good taco; but what I have realized over the years is that is not what personal branding within my photography business should mean.  

Integrating your personal life into your business marketing is a key strategy for connecting with your ideal clients, especially in a world where we are longing for personal connections, however we can find them. But how do we do this without going over the top, or even worse, telling our clients who we are versus showing them who we are, what we value and what we like to see in them? 

balancing personal life in branding and business marketing for photographers by sacia matthews, photographing bride and bridesmaid behind the scenes

I struggled with finding the balance of too much versus not enough. Finally, I feel like I am in a place where I have found the perfect balance, and it truly takes trial and error for your audience. I have found that I like to show my values off through art. I believe in intentionality, thoughtful details, authentic love, legacy, equality, so I show this off through my work by choosing images that reflect these ideals.  

[Read: 8 Common Branding Pitfalls in Wedding and Portrait Photography]

Conversely, through Instagram Stories, I share small snapshots of my life through behind-the-scenes work—I love showing off clients laughing and having fun, signaling to potential clients that they will have fun when they work with me. I share banter between my husband and I—they can see themselves in us: “lovingly witty,” as I like to call it.   

There should be a real emphasis on showing and not telling your ideal clients who you are. Your values and ideals should live within every image that you share. It should tell a story not just of your clients but of yourself. And your interactions on social media—whether via Stories, reels or commenting—should be an additional guide to help support what you have shown. In other words, your personal branding is your backup; it gives you street credit.  

There are a few things to consider as you refine your strategy that will help you keep your vision in clear focus.  

The Ideal Client  

finding ideal client using personal branding techniques connecting with photo business black and white photo of bride at window dress shot

I’ll spare you the monotony of ideal clientelism, however I firmly believe that you should first know your ideal client inside and out. The moment I realized that I only need to speak to the 15 wedding clients per year that I take and their creative partners, not to the entire social media platform, my messaging instantly changed.

[Check out “Six-Figure Wedding Photography: The 3 Building Blocks of Branding For Your Ideal Client“]

I could really hone in on what I need them to know about me, what I need them to love about my work and how I need them to resonate with what I say. Your personal branding becomes much more specific because you are not here for everybody; you are here for your specific niche.  

Again, it is not about coffee and tacos

You love coffee and food? So do millions of other people and—gasp—other creatives. Your messaging has to go deeper than this. You have to find that sweet spot of what people want to hear from you and meld that with what you need people to know about you. 

Perhaps it’s social justice and reform—you signal often to clients that everyone is welcome in your space. Maybe you are a Photoshop wiz and you love it—you share before-and-afters and walk people through the process, showing your precision and attention to detail.

The list is endless, but trial-and-error it until you find what gets your audience engaged with you.  

Find Your Why 

find your why with personal branding connecting to ideal clients through photo business black and white wedding photography outdoors natural light

Your why is the thing that gets you out of bed every day. Your why is what inspires you, what inspires your ideal clients. Once you are able to identify this, you will begin to identify it in your work. That becomes a common thread, and you should build your personal branding around that. 

Your personal branding should never be a reflection of who you are not, but who you are and what you care about. Use your voice to project your why, to show us what you value. I promise, you have amazing things to say.  

Finding the way to stay engaged and maintain professionalism can be challenging, and it takes practice. When you find the heartbeat of your business and begin to craft your personal storytelling, you will find that clients will be much more engaged, and creative partners will be excited to work with you. When the elusiveness of who you are and what you value becomes revealed, it will be so much sweeter than all the coffee and all the tacos.  

Sacia Listenbee is a destination wedding and boudoir photographer based in Charleston, South Carolina.