April 20th, 2015
Richard in New Mexico is struggling to get started in real estate photography and needs help. Here is his account of his efforts in the last fourteen months:
Beginning February 2014, I began concentrating on residential real estate photography. I have over 50 years experience as a photographer and have worked every area of photography except residential real estate. I began my career in 1961 as a photojournalist. Now, being retired and other causes I need to start working again. So I purchased a realtor list from Info USA. It contains over 600 realtor names, physical addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. I then signed up with Mail Chimp and began an email campaign sending out one email every week. In every email I attempted to offer something of value even if it was outside real estate photography, like how to shoot your children and things like how to shoot a winter snow scene without it looking gray and gloomy. About once a month I offered a monthly special or around the holidays a holiday special. These offers where everything from a discount on a listing shoot to a nearly free family portrait or a business head shot. Well after 14 months I have had a grand total of two residential jobs and four commercial shoots. The fee for the resident jobs was $200.00 each and each of the commercial job were about $550 with the largest being $1,250. Gross income $3,300 for the year. Further on every offer I made in the emails I have NOT had one realtor take my offer. Several times I offered my $200 package as a 2 for 1 sale. Other offers were for a 10-20% discount plus an Ala-Charte item for FREE. My packages are priced as follows: GOOD $99.00, BETTER $150.00, BEST $250.00 and PREMIER starting at $450 with preview walk thru required and I provide a written estimate of cost based on wants and needs. Here is the hooker, last week I offered a $250 photo package for absolutely FREE…No Charge! FREE! Not one Realtor call for an appointment!!
There are several problems that I see in your marketing:
- E-mail marketing is not the most effective approach to build a real estate photography business. It is more effective for keeping in touch with existing customers. Personal contact combined with targeted direct mail is a better marketing approach.
- Purchasing customer lists is not the most effective way to find potential clients in your area. It’s more effective to build your own potential client list from brokers websites in your area. This way you can focus on agents that specialize in listing and you can see who are the top listing agents in each office. You can’t tell how old or accurate these purchased list are.
- Some markets are harder to build a real estate photography business in than others. When I look at your city of 45,000 on Zillow there is currently 155 properties on the market above $200K and 73 above $300K. This is a small real estate market. Real estate agents in small rural markets like this take more education and marketing than in large metropolitan areas. You have to sell listing agents on what professional real estate photography is going to do for them.
Sounds like your problem is not competition but educating the listing agents. Here are some suggestions for changes in your approach that may help:
- Build a marketing piece (jumbo post card or 8.5 x 11 flyer) that summarizes why using your services will help local listing agents be more successful. Things like: 1) they get more listings because sellers see that they are doing a better job marketing their property and 2) data that shows that their listings will net more for their home sellers. Also build that marketing pitch into your website.
- Get out to open houses and real estate offices and meet the top listing agents in your market face to face, give them your pitch and leave your marketing piece with them.
I’m sure others will have more ideas.