Have you ever heard the phrase – The Riches are in the Niches? It’s a pretty famous quote in the marketing world. A niche is a very targeted service or product that will fill a need that is either essential or desired.
One of the most powerful steps you can take right now to kickstart your photography business journey is to get clear on your niche. This one step will lead on to how you create your business. At this point you might have a few areas you may want to consider, and you may feel confused about which direction is right for you. No matter where you are right now, the following questions we are going to work through will help you choose your perfect niche. The niche will determine your ideal potential customer, and your niche needs to be where you will be genuinely excited to work.
So should you specialise?
As a photographer, you can offer a wide variety of genres and subject matter. However it is what you become known for and what your ‘signature style’ is that is what you will become known for. You want to be identified by your niche, which is typically what you specialise in.
The following factors could be considered:
- The subject matter you shoot
- The style in which you shoot
- A particular technique you employ
- A particular market or type of client you consistently work with
The last point is important to consider. Determining your niche by a certain market is a very popular way to work, but it is not your only option. Other photography niches cross different markets. For example, a documentary style photographer might shoot weddings but also editorial news coverage as their niche is in the documentary style they chose. A portrait photographer might shoot headshots but also studio family portraits as they have lighting skills, techniques and experience. A sports photographer might be commissioned at live events but also have a large collection of specialist sports images they sell to stock agencies looking for that subject matter.
Why is it important?
However you choose to define your niche, the benefits of specialising in a chosen are that:
- There is more chance you are remembered and recommended as you become known in your niche
- If you are passionate and constantly inspired within your chosen niche you will become a superior photographer whereas if you choose a niche for profit or because you think there is more demand you will potentially become bored or resentful
- It is more likely you will become an expert in your niche if you focus consistently – for example you know how to work with couples to get the most intimate shots, or you know how to engage with a toddler, or you can make a CEO of a large corporation crack a smile
- Clients will feel more confident they are making a good decision in hiring you as they see your experience in your specialism, this in turn will grow your business
- Having a niche generally enables you to focus and have a direction without getting distracted by lots of different tasks and options.
Your niche sweet spot
Before we jump into the questions to help you identify your niche, let’s consider how you know you’ve made the right choice. Your goal is to find the sweet spot: the intersection between your skills and know-how, your experience and character for types of working, a service that has market potential with an audience who will gladly pay, and a working environment that truly lights you up.
Your Skills and Know-How
This is the time to consider and leverage your know-how and skills core competencies. We all have skills and that includes YOU. These may not be photography related at this point, you may still be learning those for the business you are creating, but how else do you best add value? As you think about this, it’s important to remember what you already achieved perhaps in your personal life or in a previous career.
Maybe you are you especially good with making people feel comfortable?
Maybe you are an experienced horse rider who understands what the equine market needs?
Maybe you studied architecture and have a good vision for buildings and interiors?
These are some ideas to get you thinking laterally about all your skills and know-how and whether they could be of use to a particular audience or subject.
Your Experience & Character
Think about what you are already good at. Is there a particularly type of photography that you have already focused on with good results? Have your friends or family asked you to provide them with images at a wedding or of their children or for their website? Outside of photography do you have hobbies and interests that mean you find yourself often in certain environments or with certain subjects?
It is also important to consider your personality and character. If you like to be at home then photography involving travel is not for you, and if weekends off with your family is important then you must recognise when considering wedding or family photography. Your personality often comes across strongly in your work, and this is how photographers develop a signature style. Whether you direct a lot, or prefer to let situations evolve naturally and capture them, if you are thoughtful and empathetic, or if you are technically accurate and extremely considered; – all these traits will create different images for different types of photographers.
You need to be sure there is potential market for your services. Would your ideal customer pay for your services and is there profit potential? Pay attention to what people are raving about on social media and do some research on the market in your area. (We will cover competitive analysis in more detail further down the line…)
Passion & Inspiration
You don’t need to have it all sorted yet in terms of skills or knowledge but you do need to be excited to launch a business around this niche. This is the most important factor! And when things get tough—and they will at times—your enthusiasm around this niche needs to be able to pull you through the tough times! You may find you already have a leaning towards a certain niche, and you can work on developing your style as you evolve and learn throughout this course.
When your niche hits all four of these sweet spot quadrants, you stand a much higher chance of success. You will be inspired and motivated because you’ll feel confident you are moving in the right direction.