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Ahh relocation – it’s so stressful, exciting, stressful, new, stressful….if you can’t tell... it’s stressful! I have done it twice since May and I anticipate doing it again here this next May due to military moves. There’s no tried and true way to successfully moving your business except to be committed to making it work and patience in giving it time.
In May, I was in law school in Lynchburg, Virginia. I moved for the summer to intern in Washington DC, which is about 3 hours from my initial market. In August, I moved to Fort Hood, Texas as my husband was returning from deployment. The second I knew that I was going to be moving to these locations I started marketing. I didn’t wait until it was confirmed and boxes were packed. I had gotten my business rolling, I was getting out of the red and I wanted to ensure I was gonna keep it going. I often tell my mentees that it’s easier to keep a boulder rolling that is already going than to get it started again. In fall fairness, the summer internship timeline was my hometown so I had a few connections to make it easier. However, I was competing against many that were well established technically, professionally and in the community.
On the move to Texas I was really worried. The market was completely different. Pricing. Clientele. Product demands. Locations. Everything. You name it. It was going from night to day. I was moving from an area (Virginia) where the market was saturated with mass amounts of clients and enough for photographers have their fill of the pie. To an area (Texas) where it seems everyone is a photographer or knows someone who is and very different incomes.
There was no choice but to move from Virginia to Texas. I wanted my family together. I was finishing law school here. And I wanted my husband to help with our two crazy kids. Taking out of the equation the “choice” to move, I knew I had to make it work. It was either that or give up the business I’ve been building for almost two years. After using all of these tips, and constantly seeking out new clients I have built to a slammed business within a few months of moving here!
Here are the tips that I’ve learned from two relocations and am committed to using in this next one. I’ll be sure to do a follow up blog post once I get moved to a completely different market again this time
- Forward Market – Don’t wait until you get moved to start marketing. Do it now! Start taking clients! Waiting until you are in the area means you will be behind the curve. Sure, you may not know all the locations or where you’ll be living, but a little sacrifice and uncertainty on your part will get the ball rolling.
- Get plugged in – Get into online groups before you get there. Photographers, playgroups, local hobbyists, local military wives. Get to know people! I actually emphasize this tip not just for your business, but for your mental well being! It’s so much easier to move knowing that you’ll have at least some connections on the other side! Getting to know local photographers will help you bond easily with others with like interests, help to facilitate a referral network and allow for research/feedback on the area.
- Ask your friends – Utilize your friends! Ask them if they know anyone living in X area. You’d be surprised how small the world can be! It only takes ONE client to get the ball rolling there
- Consider re-portfolio building to gain clients – It may not hurt to seek out a couple clients to utilize for free to get the marketing going. Once you creep onto their social media pages and into their minds your marketing is going for you! There is always a balance of becoming known as the “free” photographer. Explicitly outline to new clients that this “free” or “discounted” session is merely an introductory pricing. Also consider re-portfolio building free or discounted to create demand. If your social media page is dead in the water, there is no demand created. People want what is exclusive and that everyone else wants. Create this.
- Announce repeatedly – Make sure it’s known to your current fan/client base! Send out announcements (email, postcards) and post it prominently on your webpage. This goes back to the idea that you never know who someone knows and who they will refer you to!
- Start your SEO early!! – Seriously! It takes a while for search engines to “pick up” on you. Start keying yourself with key words for location, niche and name! Start by posting an “accepting sessions” post with all these key words! Then start adding to your footers and permalink lines “City, State Photographer”. Keep in mind things people go to google when looking for a photographer!