What makes me decide if I should hire a photographer is the anticipated return on my investment (marketing expenses v. potential future sales). Before I contract services out, I look at the value it will offer my clients and the growth of my business. I then try to determine if it would promote a quicker sale, give a competitive advantage, establish or reinforce name identification, etc.
As far as whether you should go after the big fish my question is for you, since you arent getting the work instead of waiting for some to come , market to every possible client in your non billing hours. After you start receiving more work that you can handle then start picking and choosing..
Im not saying you shouldnt pick a specific target market but if the work isnt there go for the other untill you get what you want.
Iknow it sounds stupidly simple by I ask why not??
I`ve developed some long-term relationships with photographers over the years - mostly from my years running a marketing services firm doing a lot of print work, etc. for clients. Still have many friends and associates that are in the biz. Most have become very specialized - they target very specific and niche markets. In ATL, we are overrun with photographers - so to compete, they all have found their niche. Maybe you are trying to be too much to too many clients. Maybe you can find a niche and exploit it. Make a name for yourself in fewer markets.
There is still a lot of product photography needed - either for print or web. There are shops in ATL that stay quite busy doing nothing but product shoots. More of a factory than a studio. Cans and bottles and shirts and pants and other products don`t talk like models - much easier to work with - if you know what I mean.
I have one friend who specializes in nothing but pet and animal photography and makes a darn good living at it. With the pet industry booming and people spending more and more on their pets, this might be a niche for you to look into to.
Another friend does nothing but architectural photography and does well. too. He has made a name for himself in this arena.
Another is strictly portrait and people. He made a killing by getting the school and kids sports work. Shoots the class photos, the annual photos, etc. Plus, is the main photographer for all the kids sports leagues. But it is a lot of paper work - not something I believe can be done as a 1-man shop.
Just some ideas but I would think niche markets. Hope this helped.
In response to: "Nicole, would it be fair to say your decision is based on whether good photos would significantly increase the "perceived value" of either your service or the property your selling?" the answer is no. The reason being before I consult with my clients on the best price for their home or property I have already done my homework. I know what the market conditions are and what the comparable sales have been within the past 12 months, 6 months, 3 months and within the past 30 days. Therefore the "value" to which I mention isn`t monetary or "perceived value" but rather it is marketing the properties existing features and amenities in a way which showcases the property to stand out above similiar properties. Thus the value to my client would be items like: increasing the property`s market exposure; increased showings of the property; a quicker sale which would decrease the number of days the property is on the market; and in best case scenario to be able to present multiple offers from serious, qualified buyers despite it being a "buyers market".
two questions I need to ask,
If I`m not to far off base many bussiness successes are based on referal business and if you haven`t had the original customers yet it would be very tough to get the referals.
althou I feel your real problem is related to the questions listed above, and Im going to go against richards advise above. Reading your first post I didn`t get the impression that you were trying to be to much for to many people, This is the direction that I`m suggesting, since you have extra time on your hands (assuming you do) because you are marketing yourself and waiting for business to come in , I would take that down time and try to remarket yourself in a differant niches. As things develope and grow you will then have to option to choose in which direction you want to go and it will give you more options. When you start having business come from all directions you can take on more people and sell that business to other firms and then start to specialize. Now if you are always busy all of what I just said is a mute topic.
Additional Ideas and suggestions.
Give your services away to get estabished. of very deep discounts,
Get other people involved in the marketing of your service by giving them incentives to do so. you can never have to many people pushing your service, an area to many people don`t take advantage of...
I am in the same situation as yourself. I am in the process of defining my product and market. Although my focus is on larger companies where the profit margin is higher I am working odds and ends to keep money coming in. Here are a few suggestions to get some money coming in the door while you establish yourself in your desired market.
1. Think really local. Go talk to small business owners. Visit their websites, newspaper adds, or in store displays and take notes of anything you think could be improved by your services and then put together a short proposal and list how these things could increase their business.
2. Be a master of all niches (jack of all trades) for a while. Do some photography for special interest groups. Churchs, schools, little league programs.
4. If the people that you meet with are mostly in Financial services, tweek your angle to fit their needs. Real Estate agents need photos of their properties and better pictures means more leads on their listed properties. You could charge a flat rate of $75 to go out and photograph a house for them. This would save them time, and increase the traffic to those homes.
4.a Also, withing the real estate market you could focus on commercial properties, or high end properties and agents who deal exclusively with higher end properties. They would be more likely to pay a larger premium for you services. $200 instead of $75?
That`s all I have for now, but if I think of anything else I will let you know.