Meet Summer Safrit of Real Promises Photography. Summer specializes in High School Senior portraits in the Nashville, Tennessee area.
Moving to a new city has its own set of challenges, but even more so for professional photographers who have invested so much in establishing a brand in a local market.
Learn how she used moving into a new market as motivation to start fresh, and hit the ground running and increase her average sale from $250 to $1200 in less than 3 years.
I’m originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. When I moved to Tennessee in October of 2010, I knew I had to hit the ground running with my business. Since I didn’t have a specialty area of photography in North Carolina, I knew I had the chance to reinvent my entire business upon moving and began my planning before we finished packing our house.
At the time, my average sales were around $250, which was fine because I did it part time while teaching third grade. I knew when I moved, I wanted to jump in full time and gave myself a full year to see how I did and planned to reevaluate if my plan didn’t work.
Luckily, I’m a planner. I had my business goals and plan and knew when we moved that I wanted to jump into the high school senior market. I also knew that was going to be a huge challenge because I didn’t know a single person in Tennessee, especially any teenagers.
I worked extremely hard, marketing daily to get my name into people’s hands. I relied heavily on Google searches for the first six months and networking with the fabulous group of photographers from all over the Nashville area.
I launched my first applications for Senior Representatives during the 2011-2012 school year and that took a ton of work. Since I was still new to the area, I worked on making any connections I could with the high school group and wound up begging two girls to be my official Senior Reps that year. They were great and I owe them a ton for trusting the new photographer in town.
This current school year, we had around 11 applications and ended up with 5 Senior Reps that have been fantastic! I think it’s safe to say we have a lot of fun together and they’ve been great at passing the word along. We also introduced our Custom Mobile Apps (StickyAlbums) for the first time this school year and they were an immediate hit!!
For the upcoming school year, we started our Senior Model (name change!) search the second week of January. By the time we closed our applications, we had 26 applications and most of them were referrals from this past year’s girls!! We took the time to narrow those down based on their social media statuses (since they are representing our brand!) and a few other components and our first cut was 17 girls. Our goal is to start the school year with at least 10 Senior Models this year (double last year!).
I can honestly say that being in this business is a lot of work. It’s DAILY work. The senior business is one of the hardest because we market to the parents and the teens and on all kinds of social media platforms. Hard work pays off, though, and I make sure to check my business goals often. We have now raised our averages to slightly over $1200 in two and a half years.
If you are looking to move across the country, to a different state, or just a new town, don’t be scared and worried about losing your clientele.You have a very unique chance to reinvent yourself and your business.
You can be the photographer that was not even making minimum wage (I average 10 hours per client) to being able to support a business (insurance, studio, taxes, overhead, etc) comfortably. Don’t be afraid, embrace it!