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.

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  1. Tina

    June 18th, 2014 at 11:31 am

    I love this post! My husband’s job took us to a new town a year ago, so I’ve been in the "new market" struggle for a while – it’s not easy, and this is great advice! I had reached out to Ashley for some advice back when I first found out we were moving, and she was sweet enough to send me all kinds of ideas and tips for starting your business over in a new town. Thanks again Ashley!

  2. Anna OMG Yum!

    June 18th, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Wow!!!!! SOOOOO Beautiful!!!! Great tips too! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ <3

  3. Dillon Driscoll

    June 18th, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Amazing transition, beautiful pictures, and amazing life on the islands! Hope Big, Dream Bigger!

  4. Katie Kavanagh

    June 18th, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    It’s like you read my mind, I was going to email Jasmine to ask her advice on moving my business overseas, I’m based in Ireland and heading for Australia, this is just what I needed, thank you so much x

  5. Erin

    June 18th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Now THAT is some gorgeous photography!!

  6. Tracey Thomas

    June 18th, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    This post hit so close to home with me! I’m in the same situation having moved to a new city not knowing a single person. A year and a half later I’ve surpassed what I thought was possible for my wedding business here in Canada. Thank you so much for the inspiration and reminder that nothing is impossible Ashley πŸ™‚

  7. Morgan Nichols

    June 18th, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. I recently moved my hair design and makeup business from Oklahoma City to Aviano, Italy. (Where Americans can’t have a home based business… It’s been a lot of trades instead of actual payments) Now, my Air Force husband and I are looking at moving back stateside soon, and I am excited to hit the ground running rebuilding my business! Thanks for posting this, I will definitely be taking her advice.

  8. Morgan Nichols

    June 18th, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. I recently moved my hair design and makeup business from Oklahoma City to Aviano, Italy. (Where Americans can’t have a home based business… It’s been a lot of trades instead of actual payments) Now, my Air Force husband and I are looking at moving back stateside soon, and I am excited to hit the ground running rebuilding my business! Thanks for posting this, I will definitely be taking her advice.

  9. Nina Clark

    June 18th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    This is just the type of read I was looking for. I am currently in Hawaii preparing to move to Germany and in the process of starting from scratch in a new market. Mahalo!!!

  10. PAIGE OVERTURF

    June 18th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    and THIS is why I love you, Ashley!! Open and honest and passionate about what you do. xoxo

  11. Dana Laymon

    June 18th, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    yay! great post! Ashley is a great example that this can be done and she’s done it fabulously! hope i never have to do it! (but Hawaii wouldn’t be bad;)

  12. ashley mitchell

    June 18th, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Could not be happier for my sweet friend – Ashley, you deserve every single sweet thing coming your way. I know how hard you have HUSTLED from day one, and I’m very proud to call you my friend!

  13. Katie Mayfield

    June 18th, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you so much Jasmine for featuring Ashley! Thank you Ashley for the helpful tips! Reading over them, I am encouraged I’m not the only photographer in the boat as I have just moved from KY to Charlotte, NC. Praying my little prayer of success comes through eventually. Best of luck in Hawai’i!!

  14. Kelley-Spurlock Photography

    June 18th, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Well this was perfectly timed! Moving from Montana to Asheville, NC next week!! Time to hustle!!

  15. Heather

    June 18th, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I just went through a very similar (and VERY REAL) move that was very underwhelming compared to the expectations I had about relocating and picking up business right away. I moved not only to a new city or state but a new country where the emphasis placed on photography is different and DIY weddings are the norm. I constantly have to fight for value, but I am slowly, after one year, getting inquiries for 2015. I have followed these steps to a tee. Stepping outside of weddings to meet people in the off chance they know someone getting married. Shooting events, doing TFP shoots, referring vendors like crazy and trolling wedding boards with a ton of advice for potential brides in hope that they will check out my profile and see I am a photographer (I don’t want to be too pushy!). It is all coming together and learning that it takes time, and that you have to adjust expectations is the hardest part. But the most important.

  16. Joy

    June 18th, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    I needed to hear this today…really needed it! Thanks for sharing Ashley, I have loved following your work for the last few years. You rock girl!

  17. Ekow Blay

    June 18th, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    This is totally inspiring. I am in the process of relocating overseas and this has been one of the daunting thoughts iv been having ever sinc. Thankss Jasmine! Ashley Goodwin, i wish you all the best.

  18. Colleen Ivy

    June 18th, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    This is what I’ve been needing to hear & see an example of. Moving my business to Canada soon and I have been almost depressed. Thanks for the encouragement Ashley!

  19. In2yourBeauty Makeup Artistry

    June 19th, 2014 at 1:25 am

    This is a great blog post! My husband and I moved back to Satellite Beach, FL not too long ago and I found it difficult in the beginning to build up my makeup clientele. In Orlando, FL where we had moved from I had built up a nice client base. The small town community is a hard one to crack. Making friends in the industry and networking I have found is KEY. Go to every networking event you can and always have updated cards to give EVERYONE. My husband laughs at me but I am always talking to people about makeup and giving my cards out. Thanks for the encouragement in this blog. <3

  20. Jessica

    June 19th, 2014 at 1:44 am

    This is perfect timing! I am moving next week with my fiancΓ© from his current duty station in Jacksonville, FL to San Diego, CA. It’ll be an adjustment but I’m so excited to expand my business and do what I truly love.

  21. Alyssa Turner

    June 19th, 2014 at 4:02 am

    I love you girl, and miss our days and nights in Hawaii so much! Can’t wait to come visit you! We need to catch up soon!

  22. Kristen Holly

    June 19th, 2014 at 5:42 am

    So spot on! I recently moved my business from Michigan to California (Bay Area), and this totally hit home. It’s scary of course, but the best way to get your business moving is to get yourself moving! πŸ™‚ Cheers fellow transplants!

  23. Courtney

    June 19th, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I’m a Kentucky girl who moved to Miami 2 years ago and Ashley hit the nail on the head. It’s daunting, scary, and so much more. But it can be done! you just have to be ready to work hard, make new friends, and never give up! Ashley even had tips in here that I didn’t really think of until I had already moved and it set me a little behind. Such great advice to start seeking those coonections in your new town before you even get there! Thanks Ashley πŸ™‚

  24. Norma Skinner

    June 20th, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Really helpful post – not just for relocators. (Remember Ashley from creativeLIVE. Nice to see her doing so well & encouraging us all.)

  25. David

    June 21st, 2014 at 8:23 am

    This is good information, not just for someone moving, but also someone getting established for the first time in a location. It’s a reminder that moving really is like starting over, just with more knowledge to avoid the pitfalls you made the first time around.

  26. Yasmeen

    June 21st, 2014 at 8:41 am

    We just relocated to Phoenix, three years after a previous relocation. Hoping we can meet some of our goals too. Thanks for the tips and for showing it is possible.

  27. Dan Hand

    June 21st, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    This is great, I left San Diego for Denver a couple years back and it’s been a slow climb up the rankings. Thanks!

  28. HayleyLane

    June 21st, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Great advice Ashley! We have considered a move in the future and this has definitely given us some great perspective. Thank you, love your work πŸ™‚

  29. Jessie Dee

    June 22nd, 2014 at 3:47 am

    This is an inspiring post and motivates me to make the leap and try my hand in a new market. I know it will be hard but it can be done, especially with the supoort of other creatives!

  30. Tara

    June 22nd, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    This is a great post! I moved myself about a year ago and I can still use some of these tactics today – but I also shared this with someone else who was asking how they can prepare themselves for a move. Definitely a bookmark fav!

  31. Adrian

    June 23rd, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I have just launched my second business, which even though it is similar to my other business, it almost feels like a complete rebrand as the market is entirely different (everyday people instead of models and fashion clients). The goal is to do destination shoots and to take my clients to amazing locations. So getting the brand out there is certainly going to be a challenge, especially as I will be using a business name (as I cannot link it to my own name as it is a different market). Thanks for the post.

  32. Deb Snelson

    June 23rd, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Beautiful imagery and very helpful advice – can apply to anyone trying to break into a new market. Thanks!

  33. Aquarelle Chicago Wedding Photography

    June 23rd, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Dear Jasmine, thank you for featuring this article. It is excellent! And very helpful!

  34. Jamie

    June 23rd, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    After moving twice, I have been a bit frustrated with the slow pace of rebuilding my business. It’s so encouraging to read this article and also the comments from others!

  35. Carolyn Welch

    June 23rd, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Jamine, these are great tips even for a photographer in biz for a while, thanks!!

  36. frank || velvet crown photography

    June 28th, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I think these are solid tips. They truly encourage the business aspect. To expand on Ashley’s "build your business online," one really should consider hiring an SEO expert to help you maximize your on-line presence and set up a content strategy, so you can start appearing in search results. My brother and I are starting to dive into this aspect of the business. Much success to everyone.

  37. Scott

    June 29th, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Spot on! Thanks for Posting and featuring such great content. Relevant even if I can’t move to Hawaii this year ~

  38. Juli Feller

    July 1st, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    An awesome article of encouragement! I just moved from California to Indiana 6 weeks ago and am thinking of ways of marketing my business in the Indianapolis area. Great tips! Thank you Ashley!

  39. Angeka

    July 6th, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Great Tips! When we relocated, setting up my online presence before the move definitely helped get the ball rolling. Then reaching out to local photographers and wedding industry vendors when we arrived help propel me with the groundwork that I had previously done.

  40. Kevin Laymon

    July 15th, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Awesome article! I’m not into photography specifically, but some of your advice can apply across the board. Thanks!

  41. Sandi

    July 15th, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Great article with some useful tips. Thanks Ashley!

  42. Sarah Querido

    July 22nd, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Hi Ashley,
    that’s was beautiful story.
    I am starting up in Hawaii too. I hope I can see you soon:)

  43. Joe

    July 23rd, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Can’t believe I missed this post the last few visits! This is just what I’ve been looking for as we’re considering relocating. Thanks for sharing, Jasmine!

  44. Jamisone

    August 31st, 2014 at 2:32 am

    sound business advise rather starting over or just starting for the first time!.. thanks! I’ve done this with my financial business and just needed a reminder to do this with my wife and I photography business.

  45. Lised Marquez

    September 15th, 2014 at 5:00 am

    Thank you for this post! I have been living something like this, very useful!

  46. Eva

    December 23rd, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Thank you for the good advice. I live in France and there are five months I moved to the other end of the country. I had stress to resume my business from scratch. I see clearer now, my concern is "normal".
    Thank you for this article! I missed but I’m glad I found today.
    Friendships Bordeaux (South West – France)

  47. Megan Burnett

    January 7th, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    This is funny, because I just did the same thing but opposite. I just moved from San Diego to Charlotte, North Carolina. Don’t know a soul. Time to re-build!

  48. Amber Clay

    September 5th, 2015 at 7:02 am

    I needed this. I’ll be moving from Delaware to Charleston, SC this fall and this is exactly the answer I was looking for. Thank you!

  49. Sky Simone

    December 25th, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Trying to really soak in this information since I’ve relocated from Australia to California. Thank you Jasmine for sharing.