How to overcome limiting beliefs about sales and marketing

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on June 3, 2015

in This is Business,This is Life

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“God didn’t equip us with unique talents, insights, drives, and ambitions for us to be ashamed of them. He meant us to use those to serve others in the marketplace. And people are waiting for what you have to offer.” – Michael Hyatt

Many artists just starting their photography business have the Betamax dilemma: a superior product saddled with inferior marketing.

Don’t worry – you’re not alone.

I totally understand the distaste you have for the business side of art; I think it’s shared by every artist who has suffered the trip outside their comfort zone to ask for business, or ask for the sale.

Good news, mates:

Marketing is a blessing to your community.

And sales is a blessing to your clientele.

There are limiting beliefs artists get saddled with from a lifetime of cultural experience:

  1. Marketing is a bunch of horsesh*t; tactics used to trick people into spending money they don’t have on things they neither need nor really want.
  2. Sales is where you grab your innocent client by the ankles and shake until their lunch money (and mortgage payment) falls out of their pockets.
  3. To have to employ these ‘tricks’ – SEO, copywriting, graphic design, mass marketing, advertising, e-mail lists, elevator pitches, promotions – is unseemly, like begging for money.
  4. If you have to do more than make beautiful photos to get people to buy from you, you must be a mediocre photographer – an imposter.
  5. This isn’t worth it.

Early in my photography career, I struggled with every one of these limiting beliefs.

But I learned through experience and wise counsel that I saw these aspects of business through a tainted lens – my understanding was biased, and immature.

It’s the difference between seeing the stars as little lights in the sky, then later understanding them as billions of suns within billions of galaxies hosting sextillions of planets.

What we think we see isn’t always what is.

Forget everything you know and feel about business and marketing, and let’s play what if:

What if you create really beautiful art that your subjects love to be a part of – art they will enjoy and cherish for generations?

What if there are people out there – ‘your people’ – who are a perfect fit for you as a professional photographer: they would love your art, love your personality, and be thankful to give you their money in exchange for your time and talent?

What ifmarketing‘ is just the methods you employ to connect the dots between the value you create and the people who would feel truly blessed to invest in your work?

What ifsales‘ is just the natural result of doing the honest work of making those connections? Of blessing your clients with your art, and them blessing you with their investment?

What if those sales, those financial resources, enabled you to multiply the ways you’re able to bless your community? (enabling workshops to refine your art, marketing to grow your reach, training and coaching to develop your business acumen, financial security to focus on your passion, unforgettable life experiences for your kids, resources to benefit your family, church, or beloved non-profits…)

…what if these what-ifs are true?

That if you’re willing to grow beyond your limiting beliefs, and reach outside your comfort zone, you can build a business as a professional photographer that changes your life and the lives of people you care about?

It’s no hyperbole – I have been blessed to live it and see it come to fruition, as have thousands of others who have been brave enough to Do The Work.

What do you say? Think we can get your heart where it needs to be, so you can enjoy success – however you define it – as a working artist?

We are passionate, inspired working artists – the onus on us is to create value (art and experience) and communicate value (marketing) that is so clear and authentic that our ideal clients have no question as to why they should do business with us (commanding value).

Those artists who tenaciously persist up the mountain of success, with a passion for blessing their clients and being blessed by them, will enjoy both the journey and the destination.

Next Steps

  • We all have limiting beliefs – it’s okay that you do, too. Open up your heart – look inside with open eyes, and grace – and make a list of all the beliefs you’re holding onto that are holding you back in your journey to become a professional photographer. Just recognizing these beliefs and forcing them into the light will show you how these negative thoughts and preconceived notions are not serving your dreams. Let them go.
  • Brainstorm session: get out your pen and paper. Play the What If game with yourself. Let the weight off your chest, and ask: What if… Your art is already good enough, and there are people out there who will love working with you? Write out how you would think, and take action, differently. What if… Your clients will love you and your personality, just the way you are; you are more than good enough, and worthy? Write out how you would think, and take action, differently. What if… You were guaranteed to earn $5,000 in income with your photography in the next 12 months, if you would just launch today and do your best along the way? Write out how you would think, and take action, differently. File this away in your Brainstorms folder.
  • My writing at exists to serve your needs as an amateur photographer making the transition to paid professional. I am truly grateful for your readership, and encourage you to subscribe to my e-mail newsletter at the top of any page of this site.
  • What’s the biggest struggle holding you back right now? E-mail me your answer (yes, right now!), and let’s make a breakthrough today.
  • If anything in this post has spoken to and inspired you, please comment below, drop me an e-mail, or call or text me at 830-688-1564 and let me know. I’d love to hear how you use these ideas to better your part time photography business!

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