Jeff Brown – The Photographers Mentor
Welcome to RISE Jeff, it is an pleasure to introduce you to our community. I am absolutely delighted you are a RISE Ambassador and here to share your knowledge with our members.
RISE has learnt so much already from you on LinkedIn and thought it was about time to share with everyone else.
So can you tell us…..
RISE: Since leaving school you have always been a photographer, can you tell us all more about your life within photography?
Actually, my first business when I left school was running my own fishing tackle shop, I was the youngest person in the UK at the time to get a Princess’ Trusted Grant to start my business, that was back in 1986. Now I feel really old.
I got into photography through fishing. Going fly fishing in the countryside surrounded by nature, early morning sunrises and gorgeous sunsets, I wanted to capture what I saw and experienced. Around this time a good friend was selling a Canon AE-1 that became my first camera, I had no idea how to use it but learn’t all I could.
RISE: So from photographer to photographers mentor, what made you take that step?
To be honest a few things, but I guess mainly a significant change in life circumstances. After my divorce, weekends became much more precious, I wasn’t spending enough time with my little girl and shooting around 70 weddings a year didn’t leave me with many weekends left.
I’d set “Focus on Marketing” up several years earlier, mainly to run training workshops for photographers, as I’d helped many of my friends and fellow ex-military photographers with their business marketing and I loved it. I’ve always been so passionate about marketing and success.
RISE: Your business now is ‘Focus On Marketing’ speciﬁcally for photographers. Why are you so passionate about helping other photographers succeed?
Marketing isn’t rocket science, but there is a formula for success. I see so many amazingly talented photographers failing because of their marketing, but as creative people we take the failure personally and believe it’s our images that are at fault when our products and services don’t sell.
I’ve made it my mission to educate and help as many photographers as I can and devote a good proportion of my time to giving free help and advice online, as well as speaking at local events and teaching photography students in colleges and universities the formula for success and building a solid photography brand.
Im NOT a fantastic award winning photographer myself, yes I’ve got my LBIPP and LSWPP but its marketing that sky rocketed my businesses to success, there are many more talented photographers than me out there who deserve to be making a healthy living from their passion.
RISE: Your social media platform of choice and expertise is Linkedin, why that platform?
I have over 40,000 followers on my Focus on Marketing Facebook, and for years Facebook was my go to platform for selling my weddings, boudoir, portraits and pet photography through my business pages, but over the years, page engagement has plummeted and ad spend has increased just to get eyes on my content.
When I first started using LinkedIn I realised that the type of people using the platform seemed to be less price focused and more solution focused, meaning that if the service or photography was a good fit for them they were less bothered about the price than many Facebook users I’d encountered. I also discovered that LinkedIn is massively underused by photographers and an untapped goldmine for connecting with your ideal clients without the need to spend money on adverts.
RISE: Photographers feel they need to be seen on ALL social media platforms; do you think this is true?
Yes, I do think a lot of photographers over do the social media aspect which makes it hard for them to keep up with content and posting. I’ve always said its better to have a solid presence on two social media platforms than a half-hearted attempt on six.
RISE: We hear you talking a lot about niche, does it really matter if a photographer tries to market all aspects of their business?
TOTALLY, niche is the way ahead by far, no doubt about it. If you try to be the photographer for everyone you become special to no one and the only thing you can do to compete is compete on price which is a recipe for failure.
Don’t get me wrong you can still be a wedding photographer and commercial photographer, just separate your offerings. Have individual social pages and websites for your different specialities; I had five different photography companies because each one had a different message and a different type of client. I couldn’t promote my nursery school photography under my boudoir website; likewise, I’d soon be turning brides off my wedding photography page and website if they kept seeing images of the commercial work we were doing for constructions companies. If you want to succeed and charge a premium you need to go niche, the days of the Freelancer and General Photographer are gone.
RISE: What can a photographer coming into your programme expect?
My program is a photographers road map to guaranteed success, but unlike a lot of programs, where photographers are left to work through it on their own, I’m very hands on and always there when they need my help.
My plan is very structured, it starts with building your brand first. Brand is everything, you can’t charge a premium price if you don’t look and feel premium. Once we have your brand sorted then its onto pricing, website and social media, it really is the full package. I do put a money back guarantee on my program that’s how committed I am to making a difference to every photographer who works with me. We have a great online community where everyone from the program comes together and helps each other; its pretty amazing; I do love what I do, my clients are more like friends than clients.
RISE: I know you have written a best selling book. Can you tell us more about what made you write it?
Seeing photographers struggling with LinkedIn and losing out on so much potential was the driving force for me to write my LinkedIn Success Book. I knew I could only work with so many photographers, but felt, if I could get the message out to thousands more through a simple step by step book, I’d be massively helping the industry and doing my bit.
RISE: What would you say the key to success is on Social Media?
Content and consistency. Even viral posts are soon forgotten about, so you need to be posting daily. However posting daily means still posting quality engaging content, not just talking about yourself or coming across salesy, you need to be posting regularly on topics your ideal clients will love to read and engage with.
For example, if you’re a pet photographer don’t just post images of the dogs you’ve photographed, tell a story about them, their cheeky character and what they got up to during the shoot. Share reviews about the latest dog toys, recommend local dog walks, dog friendly pubs, connect with pet shops, dog groomers and dog walkers ask them for content to and make your social media page a hub of all things pet related not just a page about your photography, your followers will LOVE IT.
RISE: Thank You so much for taking the time to chat with us Jeff, we could talk marketing all day long, as there is always something to learn. To finish our interview however, what lies ahead for you within your business?
Next year, a lot more workshops plus a tour of the US as around 40% of my clients are from the States. I’ve got another book I’m working on and also looking to connect with a camera manufacturer to sponsor my program, oh and I’d love to do a lot more podcasts, think I did seven this year and loved them, Im hooked on podcasting.
You can find out a lot more about LinkedIn by connecting with Jeff
Connect on Facebook
Check out Jeff’s Book The Photographers “Link” edIn