When you first begin your photography as a hobby, probably with a handheld camera or phone, just like most new to the craft, you take pictures of everything. Statues, flowers, birds… You don’t know yet what you’re good at so you shoot everything. You have no professional experience, you’re not thinking yet about making it into an income producing business. You’re just taking pictures because you liked it. It’s fun.
But then, something happens…you begin taking more and more pictures. At family events, of friends, you’re dabbling more into different types of photography…Landscape, Architectural, portraits and if you’re invited to a wedding you sneak out your own camera and snap a few there too. You begin getting accolades that your work is good and you begin doing more research online, you take the plunge and invest your money and time to learn how to use your new shiny DSLR. Your passion for this hobby grows and you begin to compare yourself to seasoned photographers and begin to get very serious about it but you don’t know where you’ll go with this newfound passion so you just keep shooting whatever is pleasing to your eye.
You begin to take a few gigs here and there probably all still free work, posts all your pictures on social media but here’s where things start to get a little iffy…all these pictures are random and there’s no pattern. I was the same exact way until I read a book called “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and along with my mentor and business coach I made a drastic turn that made all the difference. I focused, narrowed my niche and found my One Thing.
It’s not to say that I don’t dabble here and there, but I found the most success when I narrowed my focus to working with a specific type of client. This made all the difference, it removed all other distractions and I could focus specifically on my one client. The ideal client. It was like hitting a goldmine…literally. The success happened fast and slow.
Fast because I was providing a much needed service, it was constant. At the same time it was a slow process in developing my newfound area of expertise. I had to learn my client from the inside out. Their industry, their likes and dislikes and so my services were specifically tailored to them. I spoke like them even used their jargon in my marketing. I became one of them and because I had found my ONE Thing and I kept perfecting the craft with every single client I became very good at what I did.
What happens when you become very good at one thing is that it eliminates all other distractions. You have narrowed your goals therefore removing all other distractions and you are only focusing on this ONE outcome. YOu’re not worried about if X=Y because you know the results you’re after.
In the beginning it’s great to dabble into whatever your heart desires because your heart never leads you astray…but once you begin to want more out of your hobby and you’d like to begin monetizing you will need to eliminate the distractions and really start to look at the one area you’re both Good at and that You really like to do. If it’s weddings, do weddings, if it’s landscapes and nature do that…if you’re a people person, go with portraits, if you prefer inanimate objects then go that route. You do models or fine art..
You can do a combination but when you are doing your marketing, you want to be known as the expert at one thing. When I hire photographers for gigs I look at their websites and I would say 95% of the sites are very general and broad. There’s no congruency, I get distracted and don’t know what you’re specializing in. You’re a great photographer and all, but it’s clear to me you’re still searching for you’re one thing. You’re still distracted, you’re speaking many different languages and your client will get distracted too. You’re not yet speaking like your clients, you’re not yet at one with them where they can say …she get’s me or he knows what I want. And that my friends, it’s what it’s all about. Working with the clients you love because they will praise your work and keep coming back to you.
To summarize, if you’re at the cusp of wanting to take your hobby to the next level you have to treat it more seriously and take yourself to the next level and continue to hone in on your craft until you become well known for your ONE THING. In the words of Steve Jobs, “the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”