Build it and they will come. Or in my case - get good at photography and they will come.
I thought that was how it worked really - become a photographer, and people would see my work and just, you know, want it. They'd book me and I'd have a steady stream of paying customers allowing me to do what I loved for a living.
Then as I became aware of how amazing the other photographers were in my area - I thought - well - I just need to be as good as them or better and people will see my work and want to buy it.
I figured that if I had some awards that would prove I was good enough and then people would book me more - so I entered, and I got a couple of awards (including a gold which I'm still pretty proud of - even though I'm convinced I fluked it!)
Hmmm...... turns out that still wasn't quite good enough. (And those other photographers were and are pretty darned awesome - that's some pretty tough creative comp to compare to!)
Now don't get me wrong - perfecting your craft is important, and continually pushing yourself creatively is something we all need to do if we are to learn and to grow.
Awards are a whole other level of dedication, courage, vulnerability and passion. I am always in awe when I watch the awards and see so many crazy talented artists and their work - mind blowing!!
BUT - creative work and client work are not always the same. And the way YOU look at things is not the same way as your CUSTOMER looks at things.
Running a good business takes a lot more than creative skill, talent and awards.
Far too many photographers say "I'm no good at business" or "I hate numbers" or "I just want to take beautiful portraits." (And that's totally OK - if you don't want to earn a living from your craft.)
Far too many heart-driven photographers doubt themselves and so they never try. And in never trying - they never realize their true potential or their dream of having a business that they love support them financially as well as creatively.
Far too many amazing photographers have crappy businesses.
Meanwhile - some of the most successful studio owners - are not necessarily the best photographers, or have the most awards in their area - yet they run a well-oiled machine that is consistently profitable.
So - I'm putting on my 'tough love' hat on for you my friend - your client actually doesn't care if you are the best or not.
What a client cares about is - what do they get?
What is their experience with you going to be like?
Will you give them what they want?
Will there be value for them, in going to you?
And being the 'best' isn't necessarily going to get them in the door in the first place.
So what will make you more money then?
A clear vision of what you want to achieve with your business.
Excellent knowledge of your business numbers and excellent money management.
Good positioning in the market and knowing who your target customer is.
Excellent marketing to reach your target customer.
Effective systems and processes to ensure that a lead moves all the way through to paying client.
Better sales processes.
A strategic pricing structure.
Providing an excellent service and experience, and making customers FEEL special.
Confidence to believe in yourself - you CAN do this!
And - finally - yes, good, professional photography and quality finished products.