Uprooting your life for a move is difficult. Doing that when you’re an entrepreneur with a geographically based business is even harder. It can feel super intimidating to build a business in a new city. And even if you’re not navigating those waters, finding creative ways to grow and thrive in business right where you are is a challenge, in general.
After launching a brand new photography business in a city where I knew virtually no one the same month I moved, I discovered 3 key tactics and strategies to increase connections and bookings so you don’t have to start from scratch. These are what I used to grow my business in Augusta, GA, and already am refreshing my memory years later as we prepare to move back to Athens, GA in a couple months. Hope they are helpful for you in your season of transition or growth!
When I first moved to Augusta, GA with very few connections or friends, I knew I needed to build relationships, and fast. Not just for business purposes, but because I was lonely. Those friendships started as just that… friendships. But after intentional outreach, serving others well, and continuing to reach out, friendships turned into business relationships, as well. What I’d suggest?
Make a list of 5 people you’d like to befriend in your city whose audiences and brand voices align with yours. Connect for coffee (you can even employ these tactics on connection about what to do before you pitch someone!) and aim to meet one person new each week! Be bold – the worst they can say is “no thanks!” Ask them to get together with zero preconceived notions or expectations, and be genuinely interested in their lives and businesses. Offer to serve them how you can. If you’re a photographer, offer headshots, if you’re a florist, bring a few blooms to share, if you’re a social media strategist, share a few pointers on your latest social discovery. Regardless, offer something of value to your newfound friendship, and they’ll see that you’re not just in it for your own gain. That’s a powerful thing!
Additionally, one place that I highly recommend to find new business friends & potential working relationships is through the Rising Tide Society and your local TuesdaysTogether meetup! A community over competition mindset goes far in bringing lots of joy to your business, as well as lots of potential partnerships! Sharing is caring, friends. That’s the name of the game in relationship building. Put yourself out there and share your knowledge, encouragement, business, life, and love, and you’ll likely get that back!
Finally, consider creating a referral group among friends to share referrals for when you’re at capacity or already booked for a particular date or opportunity. That alone can fill up your calendar when you all share the wealth!
When I first launched a photography business with no clients on the books, I needed something to prove to my audience that I was indeed a photographer and that I could do this. I needed to build that “know, like, trust” factor to convince people I was a worthy hire. I needed to “show the work I wanted to shoot.”
Based on one of those friendships I built in the early days of exploring creative entrepreneurship, I did my very first styled shoot with my dear friend, Marilisa of Martel Event for Chancey Charm, submitted it and landed a publication in print in The Celebration Society. It was a huge honor that I owe mostly to all of the incredible vendors we collaborated with, but it gave me a chance to prove I could actually do the work… and a third party endorsement to set me apart from the other “newbie” photographers. Getting published offers an element of “social proof” – showing that other people also believe in the work you do.
Another opportunity to focus on in creating work of the caliber you’d like to book: make sure you’re working alongside other creatives and vendors in similar seasons of business as you and with similar goals. That ensures that you’ll grow your businesses together – for the long term – instead of just a one and done thing.
Finally, when choosing locations to do things like photoshoots, ensure that you’re sharing the photos (and proper credits!) with the vendor team, encouraging them to share… and then share them yourself! If you’d love to book more at your local favorite wedding venue, aim to shoot at their property, and blog/share on social media to build your SEO & hashtag search opportunities!
In the meantime, pursue passion projects that relate to your product or service you offer! I spent my early days cooking and photographing food in my kitchen to create content for Instagram… because I needed to show I was a photographer somehow. Little did I know, that that season of waiting and blooming where I was planted actually would result in a discovery of what is now a large portion of my business: food, editorial, & branding photography!
If you move to your new city & feel like you’re just one in a billion, in an oversaturated industry, without so much as a hope to get noticed… there’s a remedy for that. Discovering and owning your signature brand voice allows you to market with intention and with your target audience in mind. Marketing is so much more than just paying for an advertisement on The Knot and calling it a day.
Marketing is about discovering your audience, exploring your brand voice, and showcasing it in everything you do. It’s about using your differentiating factor to stand out from the crowd. It’s about connecting with your ideal client & employing the psychology of selling. From styled shoots to in person meetings to your social media imagery and captions, everything is marketing. Make marketing your friend, and I guarantee you you’ll be embracing your voice & message faster than you can say: “I’m sorry, I’m fully booked for the year.” 😉
If you need a bit of help getting started finding your Brand Voice, download my FREE 8-page brand voice recipe guide here!
So I challenge you to think: what are 3 ways you could “bloom where you are planted” right now to build a business in a new city or grow & thrive right where you’re at? Comment below with one thing you plan to do or have found to be successful!