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Why Personal Branding is a Non-Negotiable for Photographers

Why Personal Branding is a Non-Negotiable for Photographers

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When you hear the term, “personal brand,” what do you think that means? Is it showing up on stories face to camera talking about your editing list? What about showing your dog every now and then? If you think this is enough to be a “personal brand,” then this episode is going to challenge you to think again about that. 

We are talking all about what having a personal brand REALLY means and why it’s a non-negotiable, as well as the benefits of having a personal brand as a photographer and how to even begin creating one. 

There’s a lot that goes into personal branding that we won’t be able to get into, but I do want to touch on the high points as to why this is so important and what you could be missing out on if you’re not strategic with the personal pieces of your life that you do share. 

Having a personal brand is not having a personal diary 

This is a huge hesitation I see with having a personal brand. People think they have to share their whole life story, and that’s not the case. Yes, you have personal elements to your brand, but it’s not about letting people in on every single thing in your life. This can actually hinder your personal branding. 

If you listened to episode 29, you heard me talk about keeping things professional. I think this is a must-listen for every single photographer, so be sure to go back to that episode and take a listen. For now, you need to be strategic and have structure with what you do share. You want to take the parts of yourself that you do want to show online and let your strategy amplify those through your personal branding. 

Think about a few people you follow on Instagram or TikTok and think about what you love the most about following them. What content do you enjoy? What makes you come back for more? Why are you invested in their brand? 

It’s likely because even though they are a niched-down business, they share personal elements with their audience to connect with you. Think about beauty, personal life, motherhood, fitness, faith, eating healthy, spirituality, home decor, etc. 

Your personal brand is truly your vibe. It’s what people feel when they come into your world. 

And if you’re ever only talking about business, for example, “I have 3 booking spots left for 2024,” “I’m now offering $500 off,” “Here’s my editing list,” the list goes on and on – You just drown in the noise of everyone else offering the same thing you are. It creates no connection with you, and I truly believe the reason why someone would choose you over another photographer or educator is because they connect with who you are.  

There are many photographers out there, but you are your personal brand. Nobody can take that from you. 

The more you let your audience in on these personal branding and lifestyle content pieces, the more potential couples will connect with you and know they have to choose you over everyone else. So, how does this happen? Authority and personal branding. 

I just mentioned a HUGE buzzword, establishing authority in your field. It’s important to niche down and share content that’s only going to attract the clientele that you want to work with. This is why you’re not just sharing a personal diary on your business marketing platforms or even your website. 

You want to show your expertise, but even more, you want to showcase the transformations behind what it’s like to work together. This creates more of that authority because in doing so, you’re displaying the experience, and that leads into your personal branding because you are the one who creates the experience. 

By combining your authority and sharing the content that’s attracting the clientele you want to work with, while also having those elements of your personal branding in the midst of all of that, it’s going to get people locked in, and once people are locked in on your expertise and they care about what you have to say about your actual niche, then that’s when you can start sharing your personal recommendations, hot takes, storytelling about your life, or an experience that you had. 

This is how you build community on social media, and community is so much more important than going viral. So, in these personal branding elements, you have the opportunity to include people! If you post something that’s your opinion, post a little, “do you know what I mean” sticker or poll and they can react. Once you get these micro commitments from them, it immediately starts locking people in and keeps them coming back for more. It’s crazy to say that this wouldn’t lead to more bookings for you! 

With that being said, I do want to share a small example of how I utilize my personal branding in my own business, and it’s in my daily good morning coffee story. To the outsider looking in, they may think, “It’s just her daily coffee,” but my strategy and bigger picture behind this is: 

  1. I love coffee so much. It truly feels like a personality trait to me at this point, but it’s a necessity for me to function as an entrepreneur and I really do enjoy making my lattes. I wanted to be a barista at one point in my life and never got to it, and now that I’m at home, this is how I share that. Many times it includes failed latte art, but that’s really relatable. Am I right!? 
  2. There is this cozy feeling when it comes to thinking of holding a coffee cup in your hand and soaking up the morning slowness. This is what I want in my brand – a comforting and welcoming environment. 
  3. Consistency. I don’t mean posting this every single day. It’s more so that I’m consistently showing up in this way, no matter what my day looks like. Consistency will mean something different for everyone, but for me, it’s more so to give a sense of familiarity and for people to know what to expect. If they see my coffee story, they know that soon, I will probably be sharing a little bit about my to-do list for the day or sharing a student win or a client experience with me. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had in my DMs whenever I haven’t posted my good morning coffee story! 

People are 80% more likely to follow or hire those who have a photo of themselves as their profile picture. This also goes for sharing stories (specifically on IG) and consistently sharing images of yourself on your feed.

Recently, I was searching for a VA for a student of mine, and if someone had not posted something personal to their stories, or even shared a little behind-the-scenes, I had no interest in passing them along because I didn’t know who they really were. 

The same thing went for their posts. If they didn’t share pictures of themselves or their last post was like, a year ago, I didn’t take them seriously about their business, so they probably wouldn’t be serious about my student and what they need help with. 

This goes for photographers too. If you are ghosting your marketing in the busy season or not showing up in your stories because you’re drowning in your editing cave, maybe put it all away for a day and go do something fun that takes care of YOU. Something that you can share not for the purpose of sharing or for being strategic, but it’s likely that if you don’t feel like you have anything to share, you probably need to step away and go do something for yourself. 

How do you create a personal brand? 

Understand why you want to be a personal brand. Ask your closest friends and family how they would describe you. Look at your reviews to read how people felt around you and ask yourself how you describe yourself. What are your interests? What is your business origin story? What makes you unique? What are your values? What is your personality? What do you enjoy sharing about? 

You likely know what to share as far as your content pillars go (which, side note – we’ve never done a podcast episode on content pillars, but it’s something I teach in depth in my mentorship program, Book It, so let me know if you want a podcast episode about this), but when you are creating a personal brand, it’s more so focusing on how you talk about the what. 

You’ll give a further look into the personal aspects of your content pillars instead of just going educational all the time. 

So, just start with answering the questions and thoughts I listed out and simply start sharing whatever feels good to you. Just as your band evolves, your understanding and comfortability with being a personal brand will too. If you think that people don’t care, I promise you, they really do! 


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