When you’re starting a business or in your first few years, it’s easy to get to a point where you honestly just don’t know what to do to grow your business in the way you want. I know I’ve definitely been there. You have all of these ideas for the future, but it’s difficult to connect the dots in a way.
Today, I’m hoping to connect at least a couple of dots for you. I’ve started multiple real estate photography businesses in different cities over the years, had photographers, worked with other companies, and it’s all given me great insight into how to run a real estate photography business.
We are going to break down 10 easy ways to grow and stand out from your competition into two groups: Business Operations & Client Connections
When you first dive into entrepreneurship, it’s incredibly overwhelming. Honestly, you have to really sit in it for a while before you even realize what you may need to be competitive in your market. Our workflow and the way we operate our business can be the missing piece. I’ve personally noticed once implementing what I’ve listed below that it either freed up my to focus on other things OR allowed me to up my quality of work.
Content Management System
For years, I used Dropbox to deliver my final images to clients and disperse them across team members. It worked great. Until I found out about Aryeo in the Real Estate Photography Facebook group.
I decided to give it a shot and was amazed at how it was practically created for me, the real estate photographer. It’s always improving, has fantastic features and most of all makes me look even more professional to my clients.
I’ve also heard of HDphotohub, but I have never used it.
I can go in deeper about Aryeo another day, but my advice is to not underestimate a content management system or platform that is created for people like you. Yes, it costs money, but it saves you time while upping your productivity.
Taking Payment Before Shoots
Making sure I’m paid has been a stressful part of the business for me. I’ve never not been paid, but for the longest time, I had so many different rules for different people. This person doesn’t pay for a few days, no worries. This person that. That person this. It sucked.
I started to worry less and less about it when I made the “rule” of I get paid on the day of or before the day of shoots. And I most certainly don’t send photos before invoices are paid. It just saves so much headache.
Are there exceptions? Of course. For example, I had an assistant working for a large company call me requesting a last-minute shoot recently. I was skeptical, but he insisted I would be paid directly after delivery. His boss just wouldn’t pay before photos were received. If I was busy that day, maybe I wouldn’t have played that game, but that day I did. And it worked out.
Throughout the cities, I’ve lived and businesses I’ve built, I’ve struggled with if I wanted to go “all in” on real estate photography or keep it broad. I think this held me back in the real estate photo world.
Of course, you don’t have to be the business or person that does all services they need, but it can greatly impact your revenue. It doesn’t take THAT much of a learning curve to expand your services from just photos to video, floorplans, tours, and drone. And that literally takes your average price per shoot from a couple of hundred bucks to a thousand or more. Think about it.
Learn Editing Often / Hire Editors
I’ve had people on my team edit, and I’ve done it myself. I’ve even been a part of companies that have their own editors / overseas editors. As your business grows, you will either have to find strategies to speed up your workflow, raise your prices to have fewer shoots or hire an editor. I think each has its pros and cons depending on your own personal goals.
Right now, in my most recent business, I’m enjoying learning how to become a better, faster editor. We will see if time makes me resort to hiring. Either way, prepare for growth so you are ready when it happens.
Join A Networking Group / Chamber
When I was growing my first real estate photography business in Columbia, SC, I joined a couple of networking groups, and it changed the game for me. Because business is so much about relationships and referrals, it makes sense that when you invest in others and step outside your comfort zone, you will be rewarded.
Depending on what you join, they can be super time-consuming. Personally, I found that after being in the group for a few months, I felt like I built the relationships I needed. My business grew. The bottom line is to invest in relationships in your community. It helps your community and your business.
Before we go into client connections, make sure to tune into my course, Real Estate Photography 101, you can take it for free on Skillshare here. I have over 175 students so far, and I’m working on a second course for people beyond the beginner level!
If you’re not ready for the course, you can tune into the free masterclass that also gives a lot of info here.
Okay so for me, client connections, are the little things you can do that directly impact your clients — helping them look good or potentially helping them be better at marketing themselves. In the end, these things help you stand out the most in my opinion because you are an extension of them. So when you look good, they look good.
I’m not even the best at these either, but I’m consistently making effort to be better at each area.
Yes, I mean foot booties. Of course, every house doesn’t need booties or for you to remove shoes, BUT having them on hand is a good idea. Especially if you are shooting luxury homes. A lot of people don’t like to wear shoes in the home anyway so it’s just extra respectful to ask and be ready to impress your client AND your client’s client.
Guides For Your Clients
Creating “guides” for your clients can not only teach them but also shape them into your ideal client. Which, I mean, we all want easy clients, right?
My best example of this is creating a How To Prepare For A Shoot guide like this here. I made it editable so you can add your own logo etc. I’ve found this is a great tool to hopefully ensure that homes are ready when I arrive because when they are not, man oh man, it makes my job so much harder!!
You can even send guides like this to potential clients to bring them to you. Take it as far as you want! You can create guides for your process, interior design, AirBnB’s, etc. Get creative with it!
I was doing a video for a house the other day, and they had hired a separate photographer. He showed up, and I thought he was the lawn guy because he was LEAFBLOWING the front yard!! Talk about above and beyond. Selfishly, I know this also makes our jobs easier and photos look better. But I was super inspired by this guy taking the time to do it right. This is something I plan to incorporate in my business sooner than later.
SendOutCards / Birthday
I’m sure there are different websites and companies that do this, but I am familiar with SendOut Cards.
The concept is simple. They define themselves as— Your personal assistant to creating human connections. We are here to deliver your promptings and help you make the difference only you can make. By sending cards and gifts.
This is just a thoughtful thing to do for your current clients. You can make sure you grab their birthdays — send them brownies, balloons and/or a card on their special day. You periodically send them congrats for the big things they’ve accomplished. Yes, it’s above and beyond, but trust me, it takes you beyond just a random real estate photographer. It cements your relationships with your clients.
Be A Resource & Supporter (connect w/ others (staging etc.)
I’m currently reading this book, called The Go-Giver. So far, its main theme is to focus on giving, and you will receive. This same principle applies for the last two ways to take your business to the next level, and once you’re able to pay your bills, you will be able to focus on it.
So what does this mean?
I mean two things. First, just simply support your client. The easiest way to do this is on social media. How do you feel when someone likes and comments on your post? Especially your business posts? Um, amazing!! So, do this to your clients / potential clients too. Just while you’re scrolling, throw them some bones! When something big happens, shoot them a text. A Congrats. It’s so easy but makes all the difference.
This is the one that really can take you above and beyond your competition. Why? Well, it’s very time-consuming, but in my opinion, outside of direct referrals, it’s the best way to grow your business.
Creating videos, vlogs, blogs, and emails directed at your ideal client attracts them to you AND provides them extreme value ideally. I love to teach so I will send out content that helps them with creative marketing, photo, video, design etc. I provide this value for free and do my best to show them what I can do for them. Even if they don’t ever work with me, I hope I can help in some way.
Final Thoughts — Always Learning
That’s it, folks. If you are not in the real estate photography group on Facebook. Definitely join that here. At the least, it’s just nice to connect with other real estate photographers.
As usual, please let me know if you have any questions or comments or anything, and tune into the masterclass above to get some more info.
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