Jonathan in New York City asked a great question:
I have been a subscriber for years. I feel like I have read everything and nothing on this website. I am forcing myself to get started in this industry in New York City of all places, and I'm scared as hell! What are the top five things to remember as I go forward?
To give you some perspective; I've shot for one brokerage because I had a day job and couldn't afford the time. Most of the properties were low income and the tenants weren't very compliant to my requests or to those of the broker/agent, so my images suffered.
Wow, this is a challenging question! We all give out a lot of advice here, but Jonathan is asking to have it boiled down to just the most important things. What are the most important 5 things? Here is my list:
- Understand your competition: You need to know what you have to do to compete in your market so understand as much about your competition as possible. Once you understand your competition you know what services are most important in your market and can eventually offer services above and beyond what your competition offers.
- Service is as important as your images: Half or more of what you are providing is the service that goes along with your photos. Make it easy for agents to do business with you. Make scheduling, payment, photo delivery, fast turn around and all other aspects of your product(s) easy and tailored to what agents want. That is, go out of your way to give great service!
- Create a hardcopy marketing piece: Create a regular size or jumbo size glossy postcard that has one or more of your very best images on it along with your contact info and your site URL and a call to action. Deliver your marketing piece to targeted agents office mail slots and personally to those you talk to. You don’t have to mail these. Agents have mail slots at their office. You can personally deliver these to these mail slots at real estate offices. Distribute your marketing piece every few months.
- Market with as much personal contact as possible: You need to meet as many of your potential clients face-to-face as possible. Real estate agents are people oriented and respond best to personal contact. Go to their open houses and their office meetings or call them. Have an elevator pitch that you can use to explain what your services will do for them. One of the biggest things professional photography will do for them is get them more listings.
- Be persistent: Don't be discouraged by failures. All you need is a few that say yes. Building a real estate photography business doesn't happen overnight. You have to stay visible to agents until they decide to hire you for whatever reason. Once you connect with a few agents and win them over, referrals can be an important source of new clients. Don't be afraid to ask for referrals and reward them for referrals (something like a shoot discount for referrals).
I think if you can nail these 5 items you will be on your way to success. What does everyone think? Are there other items that are more important?
Hang in there Jonathan and be persistent! And let us know how things work out for you.