Business

5 Ways to Make Your Photography Business Stand Out

January 12, 2022

Let’s face it: there are lots of photographers out there these days. When I was first starting out, that used to make me nervous! Every time I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I saw incredibly talented people sharing beautiful work. It made me wonder if I was doing this thing right. Buuuuut then, it finally […]

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I'm a photographer, educator and weekly podcaster. I left teaching in a First Grade classroom to build a thriving photography business, and inspire and teach other like-minded women how to build, scale, and create a photo business. I am so excited to meet you!

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Let’s face it: there are lots of photographers out there these days. When I was first starting out, that used to make me nervous! Every time I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I saw incredibly talented people sharing beautiful work. It made me wonder if I was doing this thing right.

Buuuuut then, it finally hit me. I’m not here to compare myself to anyone! Comparing yourself to others will never make you stand out. Instead, it’ll actually cause you to shrink back from all you could be. Remember: there is always more room in the world for beautiful work. 

At the end of the day, social media is about connection, not competition – even when it comes to others who work in this industry! If you can show up with an intentional plan and the right mindset, you’ll have opportunities to connect with your dream clients, build friendships with fellow creatives, and even find a way to make your biz stand out in a crowd. As you’re building your business or sharing about it on socials, these five tips will have you shining brighter all the time. 

  1. Be authentic. 

This is always my first piece of advice, because I truly believe it matters the most. Be you – always. Becoming a copycat of someone else is booooring, because you’re not honoring your own creativity! You’re also stealing a brand or style they worked hard to create, and others will see right through that. Don’t be afraid to take risks, try new things, and flex that creative muscle. You’ll find your stride and start capturing shots that truly feel like you in no time. Of course, it’s great to learn from others and use their work and inspiration, but your work will be so much more meaningful when you take what you’ve learned and make it your own. 

Important note here: you can’t create from a place that’s completely authentic to who you are as an artist until you know who you actually want to be as an artist. If you haven’t already, take some time to sit down and determine what kind of photographer you are and what kind of business you’re going to build (Pssst – my free masterclass, 5 Steps to Building Your Soul-Centered Photography Biz, would be a super helpful tool for you!) Once you really know who you are, you can live from that honest and true place, which means everything you do will feel a little more like you. 

Jillian Goulding photography in a studio doing a branding photo shoot
  1. Be consistent.

To stand out in the photography world, you’ve gotta be in it for the long game. The more you show up, the more benefits you’ll see. What kind of benefits? I’m so glad you asked. With every single shoot, you gain experience, which is the best teacher around. You’ll also widen your circle of potential clients when you share a gallery on social media, because your clients preeeetty much always want to repost your beautiful work – which means their followers get introduced to you in the best way possible. Heck, even the social media algorithm will like you better if you post consistently and stick with it! As your audience grows, you will gain their trust and they will tell others about you!

Don’t forget to be consistent in your education, too! One of the things I love most about photography is that we’ll never know it all. Continue to learn, grow, and hone your skills so that your artistry and creativity continue to soar. Year after year, you’ll look back and hardly be able to believe how far you’ve come. This business will surprise you over and over again, and there are so many things in your future you’ll be proud of if you just refuse to give up

  1. Be patient. 

When you follow the previous two tips, you’ll get a pretty good feel for what your strengths are and where you truly shine. Keep those things in mind, and use them to your advantage whenever you can. There will always be another photographer who has a skill that you just don’t possess – and that is totally fine! Maybe they’ve unlocked that moody, modern vibe, but you’re great at bright and boho shoots. Maybe they’re fantastic at couples photos, but you have a foolproof way to make babies smile at just the right moment. Whatever your rockstar quality is, tuck it in your back pocket and plan to use it time and time again. 

 Even if you’re working in your sweet spot, you’ve got to remember that success comes over time, not overnight. It’s not often that a photography business just blows up one day and skyrockets to the top. It happens, but it’s pretty rare. In most cases, building relationships and improving your work is the slow and sure road to success. As you keep learning, you’ll attract more clients. And as you build relationships with those clients, they’ll connect you to others and continue to hire you themselves! Be patient, and your star will definitely rise in due time. Also, it’s important to remember that being a “famous photographer” isn’t the point! Growing a huge social media following isn’t the reason we picked up a camera in the first place. We get to do what we love and bring beauty into the world, and we get paid for it. That’s pretty incredible – don’t ever forget it. 

  1. Be willing to pave your own path. 

Here’s the thing: my version of success might look totally different than yours! It’s easy to follow roads that others have already walked, but before you take a step in that direction, check in with yourself. Is that what success looks like for you? If so, proceed! If not, don’t be afraid to carve out a new path entirely. 

One of the best parts about owning a business is that you get to run things however you want. (Well, you know – as long as you meet your clients deadlines and pay your taxes.) Figure out what success looks like for you and your business, and chart a course that aligns with that vision! When we judge ourselves by someone else’s vision, we get discouraged and we lose all motivation – because we’re headed for a goal that isn’t even ours! The only goals you need to be accountable to are your own, so  be true to your art and vision. Then, you can enjoy a thriving business while also living a life that feels like home. 

My Photo 101 Workshop Students
  1. Be collaborative. 

Like I said in the beginning, it’s all about connection, not competition. Making friends in this industry makes work a lot easier – and it also makes life a lot more fun! Connection really is a twofold plan: connect with those who are just starting out so that you can offer expert advice and a helping hand, aaaand connect with those who are ahead of you so that you can learn, grow, and be inspired. We all have so much to learn from one another, no matter what stage our businesses are in! Plus, the friends I’ve made as a photographer are truly gold. They’re so precious to me, and I wouldn’t love this business half as much without them. 

If you’re ready to build a business you’re truly proud of in 2022, my upcoming masterclass, 5 Steps to Building Your Soul-Centered Photography Biz, is the perfect place to start. Plus, it’s totally free! Go ahead, grab a spot – I promise you won’t regret it. 

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I’m Jillian Goulding, a photographer and educator raising babies and building my life in Sacramento, CA.

Over the years, I’ve transformed my side hustle into a thriving photography business that has taken me and my camera to the beaches of San Francisco Bay, the pages of People Magazine, and the screens of Extra TV.

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