How to Rebuild Your Business in a New Market

Photography

This is an *AMAZING* guest blog post by my sweet friend, Ashley Goodwin. She’s a talented photographer who relocated her business from North Carolina to Hawaii and had to rebuild her photography business from scratch. Ashley is doing amazing things on the Islands and she’s here today to share her tips on how she made it happen…

For months leading up to our military move from the sweet, southern drawls of North Carolina to the bright shores of O’ahu, Hawai’i I tried to devise a plan of how I would quickly re-launch my wedding photography business the moment we landed. I gathered new branding ideas, created a list of all the island creatives I wanted to meet but more than anything tried desperately to manage my sheer and total panic.

Then, we arrived.

I paced our Waikiki hotel room for months trying to find the best way to turn my high hopes into reality, daunted by the task of completely starting business again from scratch. Moving from life with friends and referrals as an Interior Designer turned Wedding Photographer in Charlotte smack dab into the middle of the Pacific Ocean where I didn’t know a soul was petrifying – paired with tsunami fears – I was nothing short of a hot mess. Costs associated with the move were mounting, and as supportive my husband is I worried the lack of additional income would cause unwanted stressors. As intimidating completing starting over was I was excited for a new perspective, the swaying palm trees just outside my door, and the opportunities that come along with a fresh beginning. I just had to remember mornings spent brainstorming with umbrella drinks didn’t pay me.

As it turns out with all of my relocation preparations, Pinterest boards and afternoons spent reading The Hunger Games on the beach location scouting, nothing produced more direct results than simply putting in #werk. Getting out of the house, introducing myself to people, and letting my new brand -an honest extension of my heart – develop organically.

Here are my Three Best Tips When Relocating Your Photo Business:Build Your Business Online.
One of the most effective ways to reach an international clientele is to expand your business outside of the confines of home. Before you’re physically present in a market there are few things you can do locally to drum up business, so until you’re hitting the actual pavement in your new city create interest online. Keep your website and blog consistently updated, utilize social media to share where you’re moving, and make sure your web presence is on point, this way when you’re the newbie in town you can hand out business cards with a brand that’s current and you’re confident in, ensuring you’re motivated to get to work that much quicker. The internet is a global market place, having a strong online presence if key if, like me, more moves are in potentially in your future! But let’s not think about that…

Structure for your new market:
Take a good hard look at how you’ve priced collections in the past and consider a change. Every market is different, like O’ahu some may require a variety of hourly options and others, while southern weddings require you stay to the very last sparkler fades on their grand exit. The best way to get to know your new market is by exploring it. Talk to other photographers, getting first-hand experience second shooting, and evaluate the types of events that happen in your area. After moving I completely overhauled my pricing and…wait for it…lowered it. From elopement to full on celebration I designed collections that would cover the range of options that my Hawai’ian and destination brides are looking for. In addition I humbly ditched the “I have shot a lot of weddings, I earned these prices” ego realizing if I wanted to get my name out in Hawai’i, I first had to shoot weddings in Hawai’i, if even at a fraction of the price. I know this is probably hard for most people to fathom and may result in hate tweets, but considering most weddings are booked a year out I wasn’t in the position to wait that long to start developing my island portfolio and was willing to do what whatever it took to secure events in a short amount of time, that meant competitive pricing. It was a hard pill to swallow that yes, I was not making much profit in beginning, but having weddings and experience on island meant opportunity for financial gain sooner. I was, after all, starting over. Make Friends:
Having genuine friends in the industry both on and offline keeps you inspired, accountable, and sane. Sincere connections and the desire to help not just other photographers but industry peers produce not only fruitful working relationships but importantly life-long friends. Don’t force yourself to align with the ‘heavy hitters” in the biz, instead focus on investing in people you admire and appreciate. Having movers and shakers as close pals is essential for creative stimulation, a shoulder to cry on, and providing boozy drinks at the exact moment you need them most. We creatives thrive around like-minded folks, and coincidentally the majority of my referrals come from other photographers. Win win! Where can these friends be found? Reach out on Facebook and turn that online buddy into a real life one (remember how that works?), shake hands at local business groups and wander photography expos.

All of these things are worth nothing without straight up hustle. It’s been over two and a half years since we first called O’ahu home and I am beyond beyoonndddd grateful to say my relaunched photography business has gone from a prayer and a wish to a bustling reality. I went from knowing no one to making some of the best friends a girl could ask for, not having enough money in my business account to pay for valet parking post wedding to toasting after tripling my yearly shooting goals and the exciting venture diving straight into my passion of shooting fine art film. Without the people I love who believe in me, none of it would have happened. Celebrate the little things, appreciate where you’re at, work hard, and always, always keep the faith.