Today I want to focus on personal branding for photographers. Specifically building your own personal brand as a branding photographer. One of the best ways to succeed as a brand photographer is to practice what you preach. Are you currently trying to sell a concept that your business hasn’t yet experienced the benefits of?
This is an important question to ask because it’s going to be a key factor in whether or not people can trust you as their brand photographer.
Listen to the episode now
- (01:19) Emails I would get from leads when I first started as a brand photographer
- (03:02) What is personal branding?
- (3:52) Examples of personal branding done well by real business owners and CEOs
- (05:06) Ways Building a Personal Brand Can Grow Your Business
- (06:37) What Makes Up Your Personal Brand?
- (10:59) How can you build your own personal brand as a branding photographer?
Building Your Own Personal Brand As A Branding Photographer
When I first started offering brand photography, I would get emails all the time from leads that would say, “I’m not really sure what I need for my business, but I just want you to do for me what you’ve done for yourself.”
At that time people weren’t really searching for brand photography yet. People were looking for lifestyle images for their business or pictures for content and blogs. Several years ago I didn’t have as many clients specifically looking for personal brand photography. That has since become way more of a buzzword and is on business owner’s radar, but at the time it wasn’t.
So they would go to my website and they saw that I had pictures of myself and video b-roll on different canvases of my ShowIt site. I was showing up on Instagram on a weekly basis and I had all these personal captions that would share a little bit more about myself and my life outside of work, and my personal approach to being an entrepreneur.
So early on, even if people didn’t know how to put into words what they needed… they wanted the results that I was getting from brand photography.
It’s interesting that even if someone can’t put into words what it is about your brand that made it stand out to them, everyone knows that building your own personal brand will not only grow your business and help you attract dream clients, but it’s also going to allow you to relate to your potential clients and be able to genuinely sell them on the value of the service that you offer.
After all, brand photography is a great way to grow a personal brand.
What is Personal Branding?
So what is personal branding anyways? Branding is what gets your ideal clients to pay attention to you. As brand photographers we’re always helping our clients with their personal branding. But I think it’s important to break it down and see what branding is as a whole, and then see how personal branding makes that difference.
Branding is what gets your clients to pay attention to you. It’s what allows you to stand out from a crowd. It’s how someone else experiences you and your brand as a whole. Branding is what others perceive of you and how they experience you. Even companies that aren’t run by just one individual can experience the benefits of building their marketing around a persona or a personal brand.
Personal branding brings a focus to just one individual. We can see that done really well with companies like Apple and Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, Elon Musk and Tesla, Neil Patel and Ubersuggest, and even Taylor Swift.
Personal branding brings a human connection into sales and marketing.
That is the superpower of building a personal brand. We work with those that we know, like, and trust. It’s easier to attract someone when you’re a personal brand because you’re making a connection with them, and they’re establishing trust with you right off the bat. That’s why it’s so important to be building your personal brand as a branding photographer.
Ways Building a Personal Brand Can Grow Your Photography Business
- Have you ever chosen a local brand over a global one because you saw the face of the person behind it?
- Have you ever spent more money on a product or service because you understood the complexity of the process to bring that product or service to life?
- Have you ever shared a business owner’s story that you heard with a friend or with a family member because it impacted you or because you found it interesting?
- Have you ever supported a friend by booking their service or buying their product because you personally knew them?
What these experiences have in common is that they are a story-based or a personal brand connection that you’re making. You knew or learned something about a person or a process. They invited you into their world, and you decided that they were the best solution for you.
Personal branding does not have to be something that is intimidating. It is as simple as making a personal connection, and gaining trust with the buyer because of that connection. My favorite thing about personal brand marketing is that it allows you to show up uniquely and in a way that only you can. It’s all about your personal values, your mission, your likes and your dislikes, your messaging, the tone that you use and more. Leveraging your personal brand will set you apart in a marketplace because no one can be you.
What Makes Up Your Personal Brand?
So what makes up your personal brand? I’m going to start off with the best one in my opinion, and that’s the visuals. This one goes without saying, but your brand photography and brand videography are going to play a huge role in your own personal brand.
We sell this service to other people all the time, but how many brand photographers have never invested in a branding session for themselves? How many brand photographers only have a couple of headshots on their website? If you’re pivoting into brand photography, it’s going to be so important for you to have images of yourself on your website and on your socials. You have to show other people that you believe in the power of imagery and of these visuals that you create.
It becomes much easier to sell your own services as a brand photographer, when you can testify to the impact that professional brand photography has on your bottom line.
Brand Messaging and Brand Story
Other elements that make up your personal brand include your brand story and your messaging. This includes all the communication that you have. The emails you send, the way that you communicate with your clients, the way that you post on social media. This is the tone that you use as a brand.
You can be serious or playful. Energetic and confident. Feminine or masculine. Friendly and kind, or assertive. It’s important to keep your brand messaging consistent across all your platforms.
Ways that you can incorporate your brand story and share that with your followers is by having a section about yourself on your website. Your “about me” page is typically the 2nd most visited page on your website. Infuse your personality and your personal story into your brand that way you can make a personal connection with someone.
One of my favorite examples of a brand story done really well is Jenna Kutcher. For years she talked about buying a $300 Craigslist camera and turning it into a multimillion dollar business. Everyone knew Jenna for taking a Craigslist camera and turning it into a business. That was a way that she connected with other photographers or people that were interested in photography and wanted to follow in her footsteps. This allowed her to easily sell her courses, editing presets, digital products and more to that demographic!
Personal Brand Core Values
Another element of your personal brand are your core values and the things that you believe in. Since this is personal, you are allowed to have non-negotiables and you’re allowed to take a stand. I do this on my own website.
One of my core values is, “you are enough”. And under that core value, I share that I believe that you are enough just the way that you are. While every photo is edited for brightness, clarity and consistency, I have instituted a no retouch policy.
Part of my brand messaging and part of my brand story is women empowerment and community. This core value is one of the ways that I can live that out in my business.
When it comes down to personal branding, it’s important to think about what you want to be known for, and then finding ways to incorporate that thing into your visuals, your story, your messaging, your marketing, your core values, all of that.
How can you build your own personal brand as a branding photographer?
If you haven’t done this yet and you are a brand photographer, I encourage you to work on building your personal brand. To really practice what you preach and to try it out and see if you experience the benefits of personal branding.
Authentically Show Up
Authentically show up in your messaging, show up on your website, share Instagram captions that are true to you and the way you speak. Every email response and marketing message that you send should reflect you, your skills and your personality.
People should experience you online first, and then get that same person and personality at their photoshoot date.
Use Social Media and Your Website To Build Your Personal Brand
The second thing is to start showing up on your social media platforms and on your own website. Don’t just share 1 headshot of yourself. Get some pictures of yourself that are more lifestyle focused that you can use on your website.
Start posting on social media about yourself. Don’t just promote your services all the time, also share about your life outside of your business. Show up and share your pets or your hobbies or your quirks.
Another way that you can build your personal brand is by infusing your marketing messaging, your website copy and your emails with your personal tone. So figure out what that tone is. Is it sassy? Are you energetic? What is that tone? And then infuse that into your website, infuse that into your copy because that’s going to make you stand out.
If you don’t have a content marketing strategy for Instagram that you feel confident in, you can learn more about what I do to generate leads from Instagram here!
Building Your Personal Brand As A Photographer Will Position Yourself As An Expert In You Industry
The most important thing when building your personal brand is to position yourself as an expert when it comes to creating content for other people. As brand photographers, we’re paid to help people create their content.
It’s very important that you position yourself as an expert in personal branding and content creation, and that you can be seen as an authority. So even if you don’t always get personal with your content, be sure to share tips, share your expertise, share what you know and what makes your process different, and why you are the go-to expert in your industry.
This is just a reminder that if you’re currently not building your personal brand, you would benefit so much by doing it as a brand photographer. You might not see that return immediately, but long-term you will have people email you and tell you they need you. They will trust you. And it’s because they will have seen the strategy behind what you’ve done for yourself.
Are you ready to streamline and grow your brand photography business?
This content is brought to you by The Brand Photography Shop. You can find free and paid resources, templates and digital downloads to grow your business. These are all created by a brand photographer for brand photographers. Go to the shop to learn more today!
CHECK THIS OUT NEXT!
- Looking for more clarity about branding and what it entails? Read this blog post titled, “Your Brand Is Not Your Logo (Branding, Building A Personal Brand, And When To Rebrand)” for more!
- Read this post about the 3 Pillars of Branding to learn more about creating a consistent brand identity as a business owner.
- Not sure what to post on Instagram? This blog post has 6 Instagram post ideas for entrepreneurs!
- Purchase The Brand Photography Starter Kit for all the resources and tools I use to run my own 6-figure brand photography business! If you need brand photography email templates, a brand photography client workflow or planning questionnaire, you’ll find all the downloads in the shop!
- Listen to the Become A Brand Photography podcast to learn how to pivot into brand photography. On the podcast I share everything I’ve learned the last 5+ years (and 200 brand photoshoots later) about running an in-demand brand photography business!