One of the most important aspects of running a successful photography business, or any business for that matter, is to know what you're selling. Like, really know what you're selling.
This does sound like a stupidly simple question at first glance, doesn't it? The most common and obvious answer is 'I sell photos'. But do you? Just think about it...
After a little more thought, you may have came up with 'I sell books, prints, and albums' or going a little deeper and you may come up with 'I sell my time, my skill and myself'. These aren't wrong, but these are your commodities. They're a byproduct.
To get to know what you're selling you need to think of why a customer buys something. Think of a car, why would somebody buy an Aston Martin over a Vauxhall? Because they have more money? Probably. Because they love the look of it? Getting closer... Status? Bingo! You could buy multiple Vauxhalls instead of one Aston Martin, but there's no status in owning multiple Vauxhalls. An Aston Martin makes you feel a certain way.
Aston Martin knows their market and targets them accordingly. There are faster cars around, cheaper, and more expensive cars around but none of them are an Aston Martin.
Ok, that's a car though. So how does that apply to photography?
We'll start with boudoir photography. What you're selling is confidence. You're selling somebody the idea and opportunity to look amazing and feel confident with a visual product for them to take away.
Weddings? You're selling memories. Capturing events people would have missed, a different viewpoint to the day, a reminder of the love shared. You'll also be selling a form of stress relief. The clients have confidence in you to help the day run smoother. If you're especially extroverted you may also bring out certain happy energy in people too!
We'll give you one more example, a little more complicated this time too. Let's say you have a travel company approach you and ask you to shoot some magazine brochure stuff for them. They would like some poolside photos of a couple having a relaxing holiday. They provide the location and outfits. What are you selling now? You're selling an idea, a dream. Successfully implementing the photos will evoke a feeling in the viewer. It's probably going to be relaxation. Clearly, you're not selling directly to the travel company. But in fulfilling the brief you're selling the dream to their customer.
As you can see, knowing what you are selling takes a little more thought than you may have guessed. But when you know exactly what you want to sell, you can direct all attention to it and really set yourself out from the crowd.