Varina and I started Visual Wilderness in March 2014. While Varina and I have been leading nature photography workshop for number of years, we did not have a regular customer base other then few photographers who would attend our workshops. What we did have was a solid reputation, a diverse portfolio, and a decent social media following.
Because our business strategy was to do fewer workshops and sell more online educational materials, we needed to quickly grow our customer base. We leveraged our social media connection and a consistent online content creation strategy to grow our nature photography business from a few photographers to several thousand customers in more than 80 countries just four years.
Here are six important business tactics that we employed to help us reach such a large and diverse audience:
It’s About the Customers
Put your customers first. We may hear that a lot but what does it actually mean?
You must find ways to connect with your customers. That doesn’t mean you have to exchange emails with every customer. Instead, we connect with customers through social media, Nature Photography blog, our website, and our InFocus Nature Photography Newsletter.
- Facebook Page
- Nature Photography Blog
- InFocus Newsletter
Each of these avenues provides something interesting that our customers want… such as tips, techniques, inspirational stories and photos, and other photographers’ work (don’t just post your OWN awesome photos). We strive for ways to make our customers WANT to come back and check in for content they find interesting.
Remember… it’s not always about selling to your customers. It’s also important for your nature photography business to produce value-added content. For us, this means teaching others how to become better nature photographers. Not only does this provide customer loyalty, it also improves our customer retention rate. Our content provides a steady stream of blog posts that are less about “Hey! Look at our awesome landscape photos!” and more about how we captured those awesome landscape photos. They are lessons on equipment, camera settings, composition, creativity, post-processing and more. Information that helps our customers shoot better photos.
Identify with Your Customers
When building and supporting your customer base, the worst thing you can do is to portray yourself as the greatest photographer that ever lived or to put yourself above everyone else. We recommend that you show your humanness… admit your mistakes… and share them openly. Shared experiences (and shared mistakes) often allow customers to better relate to you.
This type of sharing shows our customers that no one is born a great photographer. Instead, it takes a lot of practice AND a lot of mistakes along the way as we learn. And since no one is the PERFECT photographer, we can learn from our customers as well. One more point – by sharing our experiences and mistakes with our customers, we can help them save time and money since they may then avoid the mistakes we made.
Make It Easy for Customers
The easier it is for your customers to connect with you, the more they’ll return to your world. Provide a variety of opportunities for this connection – a Youtube channel, social media, newsletters, blogs, website. Let the customers choose how to connect with your nature photography business. Our website content is syndicated to social media, our InFocus Nature Photography Newsletter, and web app notifications so our current and new customers can view the content on the media with which they’re most comfortable.
Similarly, Visual Wilderness makes it easy for our customer to purchase our products. They can purchase products for downloads or they can sign up for a streaming service that allows them access to all video courses on Visual Wilderness for a low monthly fee. We also make it extremely easy for customer to pay for our products using a number of different payment options such as Paypal, Android Pay, Apple Pay, or credit cards.
It’s also important to remember that your nature photography business website must look good and should be professionally-designed. Even more importantly, it must be FUNCTIONAL and easy to navigate for your customers and visitor alike.
Provide Diverse Product Offerings
When we started, we only provided nature photography eBooks. Now we’ve started producing nature photography video courses and we also market video tutorials from other nature photographers. We also lead workshop every couple of years when the right opportunity presents itself.
The cost of these offerings varies. eBooks are the least expensive and workshops are the most expensive. Providing a variety of opportunities at different price points allows our nature photography business to reach customers from all income levels and across continents.
Following each of these tips is critical for the long-term success of your nature photography business. They help to build long-term relationships, to keep traffic on your website high, and to provide repeat revenue. Do you have any additional tips and tricks for engaging customers? If so, please share them in the comments section below.