Skip to main content

Defining Your Ideal Client

Lesson 21 from: Find Your Niche and Build Your Family Photography Business

Julia Kelleher

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

21. Defining Your Ideal Client

Next Lesson: What Is a Brand?

Lesson Info

Defining Your Ideal Client

One of the other critical things that you need to do is to find your ideal client. And the way you do that is through research. Why do we target one person? Why do you want to go after one person? Yeah, let's get a microphone sorry. In my mind it's to break beyond being nobody's first choice so that if you're targeting one specific person, when they find you, you are their first choice. That's exactly right, you nailed it. When you target that single person, you will wind up attracting everyone like her. There's a lot of her, there's 7 billion people in the world there's bound to be people who have a lot of similarities, right. I have found, in my questionnaire I ask a lot of questions like you know "what kind of furniture do you love?", "If you could go shopping for your whole house" "on an unlimited budget where would you go?". I say that 'cause I want to get a sense for what this person loves, you know so we can mind-meld a little bit. It's always Restoration Hardware, Westhome, C...

rade and barrel or Pottery Barn. Always, okay. That modern, clean, the so comfortable style, okay. It's hilarious but it's very comforting to me because it tells me that I'm attracting the right client. I'm attracting the women who loves what I love. You know, when they see the studio I say to them, "okay, so what does your dream house look like?". "What's your goal for the images?", "where does it plan to hang?". Oh well, I get the whole we're moving or we're building a house, like every week I get it. And I go, oh what, oh like this I want it to look like this. Great, we're on the same page. You know, and that's a beautiful thing. That's when kismet happens, you know you're doing the right thing when that occurs, okay. But even if you don't have a studio space, which does help the brand a lot, you can still do this by everything you present to someone. The way you dress, your marketing materials. How do they look? The way you communicate on the phone, the way you meet with someone. Do you have a meeting space or not? Do you meet in your home? What does your home look like? Do you meet in a coffee shop? Do you meet via Zoom or Skype? What does the background look like? What does the lighting look like? What's your audio like? If your audio's crap I always, I mean, Anthony our audio guy here who's just awesome. I told him yesterday, "I'll use the most (inaudible)", "I don't care how it looks as long as I sound good.". 'Cause it's really true, in video production, audio's one of the most critical things. If it sounds good you'll watch it if the picture's bad. But if the audio's great and the picture's amazing it's terrible. So if you're doing zoom conferences with your clients make sure you've got a good microphone and it sounds good. I know that seems like a minor thing but you'd be surprised how those little things add up a lot in determining an impression to your ideal client. So to find that ideal client, that one woman, and I say woman because in this type of work the woman is making the buying decision. In families, 80 percent of the time the woman is making the financial decision, okay. This is uber critical. You must target a female in portrait photography. Now, will it always happen that way? No, but we're gonna target her. You have to understand your overall market. Every market is different. You know you hear me complain about the complaints about the shoot and burner, okay, it's not about it price. I don't care what you charge I just want you to be profitable. If you're charging not enough to be profitable that's not right. And there is a threshold. If you are taking 100 dollars for a session and giving your client a disc- you are paying them to photograph them. It's as simple as that. I know that because I know the numbers. Throughout your entire annual year your overhead, even though you work out of your home there's still overhead that you have. Your computer expenses, your camera expenses, your insurance, your taxes, all this stuff. You are paying your client to photograph them. I know that based on that. Now, if you're making around 500 to 800 per client I'm gonna go "Oh I kind of want to see your" "numbers before I worry about you." Okay? 'Cause it's possible you may be in a market that just can't handle that upwards of that type of pricing. If you're in a market like Seattle, yes you can handle it. Okay, without a doubt. You should be able to get clients who spend 3,4,5,6, 10,000 on a portrait session no problem. You've got some elite people here in Seattle. Some of the wealthiest people in the world live in Seattle. Okay, so there's a market place here for that type of price point. Pricing places you in a market, okay. We're gonna talk about these two things, understanding your research, your market. How do you know what the market can handle? Okay, first of all, you have to know your area demographics. Okay, you can get this information or at least general information from, from your local chamber of commerce will have these statistics. It'll give you all kinds of fascinating information on housing costs, average incomes, what type of work people do in your market, how many children they have, how many jobs they have. I mean, the census is just a rich place of information and you can microcosmic down to your area, so I highly suggest at least looking at that. Getting a sense of what your market's about. Now if you live in a place you probably have a pretty good feel but remember you're not your client. Don't generalize, be careful. What you think is in your market may not necessarily be the case, so just be open, be a scientist in that regard. Survey people, you can put out a survey to a cold audience on Facebook, run a couple ads for a couple hundred bucks, get people to fill out a survey about what they love in portraiture and don't love. Don't talk about price at all. The first thing they'll say is "lowest price" of course. Especially if they think you're just a photographer. Right, they have no idea who you are. If you're an artist or what kind of niche you're producing. They're just gonna think blanket photography, they're gonna think Susie Que down the street. Of course they want the cheapest price, right. Only when they know you're different in what you're providing do they go "oh yah that is worth more". Okay, know who they are, know if they value photography, learn what they spend money on. In some markets art just isn't that important. In others it's the cultural center of the entire town. So you have to understand what's important to the clientele. I have a client right now, he's a bar manager and she works at a dry cleaner. And they hired me knowing full well they're gonna spend several thousand dollars on portraits for their new baby. And it just blows me away, I'm like "dude you're a bar manager and you" "make minimum wage at a dry cleaner". Like it's not always about income. Now granted, we target that because that's generally who can afford us but remember it's not necessarily about how much money someone makes it's about what they value. In essence what they will spend money on. Some people spend their entire pay cheque on a car, on a new car. Are you crazy? That's things gonna depreciate the minute you take it off the lot. I drive a 2007 Navigator that's piece of honk and got 150,000 miles on it. I hate buying cars but I'll buy land and a house. Spend money on it 'cause I know it'll, I'm a business person, okay. But people spend money on different things, you just have to learn what it is and what they value. So, the ideal client, how do you define her? The analogy is very simple. How many of you have significant others? Boyfriends, husbands, someone you're dating, a lover, whoever, okay. How many of you have dated in the past at all? So you know what it's like to go through this courtship process, right. Sometimes it's great, sometimes you want to just roll your eyes and go "um, no", right? Think about that for a second. When you met, how many of you are with life partners? People with whom you're with for life? Or you know, ideally for life? When you knew it, go back to the moments, the days whatever when you're like, "wow, this person is for me". "Like, I can see it, we're gonna be together a long time". What did you connect on? You connected on your values, right. You connected on how hot and cute he or she was, right. Visually, you connected personality, kismet, right. I just described a brand. Your personal brand is what your significant other adores. Your identity. The business is exactly the same way, it has a persona. And as artists we have it easy because usually our business brand is our own persona or brand, right. We can relate the two very well because heck, we're putting our heart and soul into our work and our work is part of our brand and style and so therefore it's kind synonymous with the fact that our hearts are our brands. Which makes us incredibly vulnerable to George because we're basically asking someone, "Hey, you want to pay for me?". "Want to buy me?", "I'm great, want to buy me?". It's a little intimidating, I mean essentially that's what you're doing. Here's my art, here's my heart, I'm gonna put it on paper and I'm gonna hope that you'll want to pay for it. But I don't want you to rely on hope marketing. To me hope marketing is a sure failure. Strategic marketing is what gives you the greatest chances for survival.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Bonus Material Instructions

Ratings and Reviews

Courtney Ranck-Copher

I own I think all of Julia's classes. This is probably my favorite. I will say that it's because its exactly the type of photography I have been wanting to focus on. So the information was extremely valuable to me. But I do love all of Julia's classes and you can learn so much from her as a mentor regardless of the type of portraits you shoot. Thanks Julia for a wonderful class I have watched it multiple times!


As always, Julia never disappoints! It has been so awesome to watch her work with such incredible intention, from concept to session to sales. Her energy and strategy are so motivational and very, very creative! This class rocks from start to finish, and is a perfect addition to my Creative Live business arsenal! Five stars all the way!!!!!

Amy Vaughn

My favorite part was seeing how Julia's business evolved over time and transformed into what it is today. Good tips for finding inspiration to develop a niche and practical marketing advice. I'm glad I took this alongside Tamara's business class - the two photographers had very different approaches to their business and shooting family photography in many ways, but it really illustrators how there's no one way to do everything. I learned so much from both of them.

Student Work