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Photographers, How to Find Your Why! – Part 1

March 10, 2020

How to Find Your Why | Marketing Ideas and Tips for Photographers with Ariel Dilworth

When I first went full-time in my photography business, I had NO IDEA the effort it was going to require to run it successfully. Sure, I was posting to social media, blogging, networking, doing SEO on my website, as well as 6 million other things to market my business.

But these were my daily struggles:

  • Trying to get inspired to write social media posts only to have no one engage
  • Figuring out what to blog about when the last session I did wasn’t really “blog worthy” or didn’t have a cool story
  • Finding time to network with others and figuring out which ones to network with
  • Getting ghosted with inquiries or going days without inquiries at all.
  • Struggling with comparison every single time I got on Instagram
  • Experiencing Self-Doubt when I saw an old client post new photos done by someone else

So, I put in the hard work, I was certified in marketing and I marketed my business to PERFECTION. But then, the ULTIMATE struggle happened. My busy was busy but I was BURNT OUT.

My mind was always distracted by my business instead of focusing on where I was in each moment. Despite all my marketing efforts, I kept getting inquiries from “price shoppers” and less than ideal clients. My editing had grown to an average of 9,000 photos per month.

I tried raising my prices incrementally but my conversion rate dropped by 70%.

I felt stuck!

In my mind I wondered, “if I can’t get my potential clients to understand my unique value and my worth how in the world am I going to make it? Thus began my search for how to find my why.

Why, “Why?”

In our business we experience things like self-doubt, burn-out, comparison-itis, and perfectionism. We have grumpy clients, needy clients, and other “less-than-ideal” clients. Our business experiences minor tragedies and major ones. We have ups and downs, good days and bad days, successes and failures.

When the bad times come, if we don’t have our why, we do one of two things:

  1. Quit! Surrendering to the lie that we were never “meant” to do this.
  2. Feel sad for a moment but keep pressing on. We hustle more than we ever have. We make changes (prices, marketing strategies, etc.) and implement new things because we believe the problem lies with something we are doing.

But the problem isn’t found in what we are doing. The problem is what we are NOT doing. We aren’t starting with “Why.”

Why isn’t the ONLY way to achieve “success” (by traditional metrics). However, I would argue that it is the only way to help us achieve long-term and FULFILLING success.

The power of “why”

Those are the times that the power of knowing our why is shown. Our “why” gives us the determination and courage to keep going. It gives us strength we didn’t know we had. My why helps me overcome self-doubt and eliminates comparison. It blesses us with laser-like focus and clarity of mind.

Our why has the ability to push us to incredible action and drive us to tears. But not just us, it also does the same thing for others.

Science tells us, that 100% of purchasing decisions are made in the limbic portion of our brain. The Limbic Portion of our brain is the part that also controls emotion. Which means that ALL purchasing decisions are emotionally (NOT logically) based. It all happens subconsciously.

Sure, we might like to believe that we are in control. But science has proven otherwise. Therefore, we as marketers of our own photography business must realize that the role of emotions in our marketing is CRITICAL.

And knowing your why is what helps you do that! It isn’t just an internal compass that helps you feel fulfilled. It fills you with passion and energy and drive for what you do (not on a career level) but on a human being life purpose level, ALL THE TIME.

And once you know how to find your why and you understand it… you can clearly articulate it to your audience! That’s when you’ll be able to not just motivate them but INSPIRE them to pick you. Even if you’re more expensive, farther away, or not as good as another photographer.

We aren’t just photographers, we are business owners, which means finding our why cannot be an afterthought. It has to be the very first thing we do. Know How to Find your Why is THE MOST IMPORTANT element when defining your business. Knowing our “why” and having the ability to communicate it clearly is the reason some photographers succeed and others don’t.

What is “why”

But before you learn how to find your why, you need to know what it actually is and what it’s not.

Your why is your reason for getting up every single day. It is the very purpose for your existence. Your “why” has NOTHING to do with your job OR your family. It has nothing to do with money or success. Your why is who you are. It’s based on your personality, your character, your life story, your passions, your strengths and your weaknesses.

These things are not a why:

  • Be the best photographer
  • Provide for my family through photography
  • To change the world with my photos
  • To offer the highest quality photos at the best possible price
  • Excellence in all we do in our life and business
  • Keep marriages and families together with the power of photographs
  • Help parents stay invest in their children with photographs
  • Provide timeless memories with photography
  • Share your perspective of the world through your photos
  • To keep the memory of the people we love alive with photos
  • To help others remember through the power of photography

Those things might be true. But… those things are goals or RESULTS at best. They are marketing statements and mission statements. They are things we post on our website to TRY to communicate the passion that we have for what we do and the people we serve.

In contrast, your why should be your foundational message that has nothing to do with WHAT you do, HOW you do it, or WHO you do it for!


My “Why”

My why is to challenge others to experience growth and healing so they can be who they were meant to be and live the life they were meant to live.

I wasn’t born to be a photographer. I was born to accomplish my why. Photography is simply the method in which I choose to do so. I could still accomplish this as a therapist, a teacher, a nurse, a minister in a church, a speaker, a stay-at-home mom, etc.

Don’t confuse your goals and mission statements with our why. Your job, family, fame, money or success with your why.

Your why is WHO YOU are and the affect YOU have on the world.

How to Find your “why”

Interested in knowing how to find your why? Check out THIS POST.

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Ariel Dilworth © 2019