I was catching up with an old friend in a crowded coffee shop in Washington, DC, when she asked a question many of us wonder privately but don't say out loud.
"Why do you think one person will get so many likes and great comments on a photo when another person with photos just as good gets nothing? How do some people get so popular and others don't?
"Seriously? I don't get it."
I know it can seem arbitrary, but often it can come down to your personal branding choices.
"When you build your brand and make a name for yourself, you attract better opportunities." — Amanda Miller Littlejohn, personal branding consultant.
Amanda joins me this episode to help you learn how to create your personal brand and package your genius.
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How do you decide what kinds of photos you should focus on?
Do some reflecting. Yes, you are a photographer, but who are your niche. You might naturally gravitate to an audience.
Which are the projects that you loved doing, the ones that felt effortless?
What is your history? What are the common threads? What resonated most with you? What got you excited, and you thought this was the best use of my time?
It’s a process of self-inquiry. Once you learn how to do it, you can repeat the process as often as you need.
You might still feel like you are one of a million people doing the same kind of photography. How will you stand out?
If you are doing a headshot, for instance, you might feel like one in a million.
If you only position yourself as a headshot photographer, you are one in a million. You might also think of the kinds of clients you take the best pictures of. Here are some ideas:
- Casual startup founder
- Modern tech feel
- Natural light feminine blogger
- Do you capture corporate
- Creative entrepreneurs
- Political candidates
The faster you can define the audience and your niche, the easier it becomes for the customer to see themselves in your work and know that you are the photographer for them.
Sometimes it is not what you think
You might think you are a headshot photographer, and when you start pulling your portfolio together. You pull your best 10 photos, you realize they aren’t headshot but lifestyle product shots.
Sometimes we have an idea in our heads of who our customer is, who our audience is, what our niche. Your patterns and your history will never lie to you.
Who keeps referring you? Is there a type of client who is always referring their clients to you? If so, we need to pay attention.
We get these ideas of who we are and who we serve, but we aren’t paying attention to who is coming to us and who is telling us that they love us.
What if you have multiple interests?
Sometimes the things that people think are separate have some common threads or similarity.They may fit into a broader bucket. You’d have to figure out what is that broader bucket.
What do all the people who are interested in our interest have in common?
If they are all so different that they have nothing in common, you might have to go with where you are getting the most traction now.
You might want to focus on a market, but if that market is not focused back on you, it might be time to reconsider.
What should you be doing first?
I base my training on the five elements of personal brand positioning. Once you know who you are, you need these elements:
- Message. A clear concise message that you can use to communicate with them.
- Evidence. You get evidence that you can do what you say.
- Social proof. We need other people singing our praises.
- Thought leadership content. Creating content around the solution your provide to that audience.
- Broadcast. You need broadcasting channels. I recommend people use public speaking, social media, and mainstream media.
It’s not enough to do great work and be creative and be amazing at it, you’ve got to get the word out about what you’re doing, so you can impact more people and get in front of more people.
How do you know this works?
The five elements came from a decade working in PR. I stopped to think what are the things I always tell people to do. What is my very best advice?
Even when people call me and say, “why am I not getting any traction?” all I have to do is look at their website, and I can identify that one of those steps is missing. I have found that if you have all five of those steps working in harmony, you’re good.