If you own a camera, you’re a photographer. If you own a Stradivarius – you own a Stradivarius.”
I forget where I heard that quote. While I concede that playing the violin is perhaps more complicated than taking a photograph, I would argue that taking a photograph well requires far more skill than simply taking a snapshot.
Nowadays, with automatic settings on digital cameras, it’s almost impossible to take a bad photograph – which is why amateur photographers sometimes believe they can replace the professionals.
They are even encouraged to do this by the media. We’ve all seen the shaky photographs or film footage, taken on a mobile phone, that make it to the breakfast news on TV because a member of the public just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
It’s a win-win for the amateur photographer and the media – the amateur gets his or her photograph on the TV, and the TV company doesn’t have to pay for it.
And in this age of instant everything, there is a definite benefit to having members of the public report incidents in their local area.
The fact that the results produced by the professionals are better quality – or are more aesthetically pleasing, in the case of non-reportage photography – doesn’t seem to matter to the consumers. In the middle of one of the worst recessions, many people are focused solely on price – and there’s no better price than “free”!
No matter what business you’re in – even if you’re an employee looking for a job – there will always be other people competing with you. Some will produce better quality than you – some worse. Some will be more expensive, and some will undercut your prices to a point where it’s no longer viable for you.
None of that really matters. There’s no point in comparing yourself with other people and trying to compete with them – especially not on price. Lowering your prices is not a guarantee of success.
Play your Stradivarius
The best thing you can do is to be yourself and specialise in what you do best – and I don’t mean “choose a niche”. I mean do something – or a combination of somethings – that very few other people are doing, so there’s no competition.
For example: my husband specialised in traditional solid plaster cornices, run in situ – while one of my former clients said she’s a fan of mine because of my unique combination of inspiration, business coaching, internet marketing and web technology skills.
You won’t appeal to everyone – but that’s OK. You don’t need “everyone” to buy from you. You just need to attract enough clients who understand what you’re about, who appreciate your unique talents and the way you do things – and who are happy to pay you for who you are, as much as for what you do.
Play – rather than just own – your Stradivarius, and even “free” can’t compete with you.
About the author Julia Barnickle is a film maker, photographer, artist and writer, and the founder of The Quiet Entrepreneur community for introverts in business. She offers visibility coaching to raise your online profile, and helps you create videos to promote and deliver your services.