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How to Get People To Hire YOU, Even When You Charge More

Let’s say you went on a month-long vacation to the south of France. 

(You like this blog post already, don’t you?)

But before you hopped on the plane, you were so busy dreaming of sunflower fields and private cooking lessons with famous French chefs that – whoops – you forgot to hire someone to take care of your yard while you were gone.

So when you return (suitcase jammed with fleur de sel and dainty bars of Provence lavender soap, of course), you groan aloud.  Your front yard has been overtaken by dandelions!


You’re a bit of a yard nut, you wanted to have friends over TOMORROW to show off your new French cooking skills, and your son is allergic to the bees now congregating on the sprouting yellow flowers.

This raggedy yard has to get into ship-shape – NOW!  So you throw your luggage in the house and drive to Home Depot, heading straight for the Lawn aisle.  You have two choices:

#1:  Wally’s All-Purpose Weed Killer, $4.99 a bottle
#2:  Liquid Dandelion Digger – Guaranteed To Kill Dandelions and Their Roots in 12 Hours Or Less, $14.99 a bottle

Which one are you going to pick?

If you truly are a yard nut, with a son allergic to bees, who wants to have friends over tomorrow for a dinner party?  You’re going to grab the first thing that promises to get rid of your specific problem, rapide!

Which brings us to today’s website marketing gem:

People are interested in solving specific problems.

Forget the south of France.  (But just for a minute.)  Let’s say you’re a bride who has 4 months to plan her wedding before her husband ships out with the navy.

Who are you going to call – the wedding photographer who has a gallery featuring navy grooms in dress whites and who gifts a bonus album to military families?  Or the photographer whose general wedding images are buried in a slideshow with photos of high school seniors, sports teams, and newborns?

Let me guess.  The photographer who tailored their site to the problems and needs that were at the forefront of your mind.

A website that books like crazy will talk to specific people about their specific needs.

But narrowing down can be scary.  After all, if I get really specific about who I’m speaking to, aren’t I leaving a whole lot of other people out?

Yes – and that’s the point.

Most portrait photographers I speak with want no more than 2 clients per week,

which works out to around 100 clients per year – max.  How many people live in the area you serve?  Probably more than 100.  But you don’t need all of them.  You just need the ones who most love and value what you do.  So talk to just them.

I was that bride who didn’t care much about flowers, shoes, catering, etc.  Some people get really jazzed about those things, which is just fine, but I wasn’t one of them.  If I had seen Spencer Lum’s home page with the tag line “Weddings schmeddings” I would have flipped out.  This is the one.  He gets me.  He won’t judge me for not caring about personalized napkins.  The field of possibilities went from thousands to one in 2 seconds.

Should he worry that some brides will be turned off by that?  No.  Because he only needs X number of weddings a year – he can’t serve every bride that visits his site, even if he wanted to.  Neither can you.  So just knock the socks off the ones who you’d love hanging out with.

Your website should go out of its way to talk to one kind of person, the one you most want to work with.  Because when they see that, they will say:  This is the one.  They get me.

You won’t have to convince anyone of anything.  They’ll convince themselves.  And here’s the other great thing:

People pay more to solve specific problems.

If I need dandelions banished immediately, I will pay $14.99 for the souped-up dandelion killer over the generic $4.99 herbicide any day.  It targets my most pressing concern and is guaranteed to do exactly what I need it to do, right now.  My ‘price shopping’ instinct diminishes considerably when I see how quickly my problem is about to disappear.

The power of narrow specificity applies to all things, not just weed killer.

Consider the following potential website headlines:

“Health and Fitness Coach” vs. “I will help you lose 20 lbs before your 15-year reunion”

“Pain Killer” vs. “Extra Strength Pain Killer for Migraines – Fights Pain and Light Sensitivity!”

“Graphic Design Artist” vs. “Let’s Build Your New Small Business A New Visual Identity in 10 Days.”

Which of those pairs would get you more interested in spending money – the one that tries to appeal to everyone, or the one that speaks directly to exactly what you need?

I hear a lot of photographers saying they just want to market to rich people who have money to spend. 

That’s fine, but rich people aren’t the only ones who have problems that need solving quickly.

How many times have you paid more to have something done better, quicker, or more specifically, even though you’re normally very careful with money?

Willingness to pay a higher price isn’t all about income.  It’s about how much you want what you see.  And how much you want it depends greatly on whether you feel it’s going to meet your highest, deepest, and most specific needs.

If I’m expecting twins, and I see a photographer marketing a luxurious, personal, spa-like session package for moms of multiples, you can bet I’m going to drool over it far more than a regular 1-hour session with the ‘wedding-seniors-head shots-pets-maternity-newborn’ photographer up the street.  Because I want someone who gets me, and whose website speaks to me in terms I understand and care about.

And you can also bet that I will be sharing your website with all the moms in my mommy group who are also having twins.  Because I’m not going to tell my friends about just any photographer – I’m going to let her in on the one who totally gets us.

Don’t build your website for the 100,000 people nearest where you live.  Build it for the 100 who you most want to work with.

Want to hear more about how to speak specifically to your dream clients?

And listen to Sue Bryce and Spencer Lum give you tried-and-true tips for building a website that those clients will adore?

You’ll probably love this, then:

Check it out here and see what people are saying –> 



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  1. Jody on August 22, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I have to tell you- the timing of this post was perfect! I am currently preparing to launch my business. I wish to cater to a specific clientele (special needs children/families). This really reminded me that it’s OK and I don’t need to maek sure I am appealing to every single child and family out there! Thanks, sometimes perspective is everything!:)

    • Jenika on August 22, 2012 at 2:17 am

      Glad to hear it Jody! Best of luck to you with your business – definitely a wonderful and beautiful clientele you’re serving!

  2. Addie on August 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    This is the hardest lesson Ive had to learn over and over… and finally (FINALLY!) its starting to sink into my thick skin and Im really growing comfortable in my own skin and what I have to offer… thank you!

    • Jenika on August 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      It’s definitely a journey to get to that place! There’s an audience for virtually every stage, though…shine on yours!

  3. Allison on August 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Cutting out weddings, starting… NOW.

    • Jenika on August 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Bold! Love it!

      • Allison on August 23, 2012 at 1:55 am

        I did it. It was scary, but it’s gone from my site. I now have to make the announcement, which is also scary, but necessary. I’ve known I have needed to do that for a while but was too scared I was going to miss out on a big market. But you know, I’ve been in business for a year and a half and haven’t done a paid wedding. So it’s not like I’m losing out at all. And maybe I’ll help people who want to book me. Thanks for the motivation!

  4. Christy on August 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Jenika you ALWAYS make me think! I’m a day dreamer so it’s not easy to get me out of the clouds. I can not wait until your from Portfolio to Profit engine comes out! You have helped me more than you will ever know.

    Thank you!

    • Jenika on August 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      Thanks for the love, Christy!! ::hugs::

  5. ErinLeigh on August 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Jenika, i absolutely love reading your blog! it always makes things seem simpler for me-which is no small feat believe me you. i am just starting out my business, and honestly nature, broken down buildings, and inanimate objects are my thing. not so much people. i started photographing people-because that’s where the money is-and i’m getting more comfortable with it. but, i cannot for the life of me seem to cut out specific things…i want to do e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g weddings, newborns, maternity, portraits, families. i want to to show people they are beautiful and they matter, i like to focus on things that otherwise go unnoticed and show their beauty. i would love to just stick with just nature/old buildings/inanimate objects, but thinking about missing out on the so many other different kinds makes me a bit sad. not to mention, how in the world do you market yourself when it isn’t people you’re capturing??

    • Jenika on August 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks Erin! A lot of people are in the same boat as you. In fact, you just gave me an idea for a post…

  6. Shaun McGuire on August 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm


    You’ve done it again. This is why some make a living others make nothing. I was thinking of closing up shop but I may just give this line a try.



    • Jenika on August 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Hang in there Shaun! Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Keep me posted.

  7. tina on August 24, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Thank you

  8. acacia falzone on August 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I really needed this, thank you!

  9. Michelle on August 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Jenika! Thank you for this post. I read this right before Sue Bryce (on CL) started talking about creating a pdf that shows a story about what a client would experience in your session. Or a video showing what clients can expect for their experience to be like. Each one should target a group that can relate the best. It’s one of those things you can’t ignore because you start to hear it from multiple people! Now to work on targeting a client 🙂

  10. Dan Waters on March 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    It’s all about the quantity and quality of people enquiring. One way to get the quantity is to use free exhibits all over town. I get them in places like restaurants where I tell the owner that I’ll call all the people in the photos (who’ve pre-signed a model release form) to let them know their photo is displayed in abc restaurant. Of course they then bring their friends and have a meal in the restaurant to show off their photo. It makes me famous in the neighbourhood, my clients feel special and the restaurant gets customers. I then rotate the photos every couple of months. The more exhibits you have the more famous you get. The quality of client I go for are people who are emotional. Emotional people tend to invest more in photography because they ‘feel’ the value, they don’t ‘think’ about it.

  11. Matt Sweadner on January 3, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    I just cut events. It was like my blankie because that’s what I started out doing but I no longer even like doing them. And it’s not like I even do many of them anymore anyway so, poof, gone lol.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants lol.

  12. Stephanie on February 10, 2017 at 1:14 am

    I’ve heard this concept repeatedly, but no one ever articulated in such a way that hit home like this. This post IS my 14.99 weed killer! Thank you!

    • Jenika on February 10, 2017 at 2:44 am

      Hooray!! 😀 So glad to hear this! Go get ’em!

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