In celebration of the all-new charlotteargyrou.com, I’ve invited seven brilliant founders to share their expertise in seven areas of creative business. These are subjects I have found especially fun or challenging in my first 18 months since launching Charlotte Argyrou Illustration. “On the Sofa” invites creative, wedding and wellness entrepreneurs to join the conversation, each focused on personal branding, community, tech & SEO, mindset, design, self-belief and uniqueness.
My second guest is wedding photographer Anna Pumer, who is also founder of the Kick Ass Photographers network. Uniting a community of 1600+ photographers globally through a website, Facebook group, and now real-life meet-ups, Anna has found community at the core of her creative business. In our Live chat, Anna and I discussed how the community she initially began as a targeted group to sell to, quickly became so much more.
Kick Ass Photographers
Charlotte: Tell us about your community of photographers. Who’s it for and what do they get out of it?
Anna: Kick Ass Photographers is a community for photographers of all kinds, all around the world. It’s a Facebook group with 1600+ members, website and effective newsletter packed with useful content for people looking to grow both their skills and their businesses.
I used to be a journalist, and all these photographers were asking me for help with their About Me pages. I created a template that I was able to sell, which was then followed by a customisable blog post template. Both templates help photographers with parts of their business they often struggle with. The community was created around that.
When I first started out, I posted daily with themed content. But now it is mostly other people posting. Photographers share their questions, concerns and tips:
“How do I deal with difficult brides…?”
“Any tips for photographing fireworks…?”
“This went wrong, what do I do now…?”
Everyone goes through those things and we all help each other. It’s a positive space.
Charlotte: What do you get out of it? Why do you want to lead a community of like-minded people?
Anna: It’s my group with my rules, so can sell my own services – my objective when I created it. But it’s grown beyond that now. People talk about the group in other groups and then want to join themselves. With so many active members, I don’t need to lead the content daily. I started the group for the students of a workshop I was running, and used it to grow the workshop, as well as create a community and make my name known in the industry as an authority. It’s grown so much since then, it’s now global and full of likeminded photographers – my colleagues! I also get to test ideas and new services of my own, and support others at the same time.
Charlotte: I’ve leaned on my community in times of stress or indecision. Do you experience the same?
Anna: Friends outside your professional community may not understand what it’s like to be self-employed. They may not have a clue about your skillset or understand your business or goals. But your community is a brilliant and useful place to find a morale boost or fresh ideas.
Where Community Can Take You
Charlotte: Do you get photography bookings as a result of the group?
Anna: Yes, a member recently recommended me to a couple and I’m meeting them shortly. It was just so nice that he did that. You remember things like that. When you ask for help, you remember the active members of the group. You get to make yourself known without being salesy or pushy.
Charlotte: You are just about to extended your online community offline, with a real life meet-up. What’s your grand plan?
Anna: I’d been thinking of doing a meet-up, when a member suggested it too. I hate organising events. I don’t want to arrange food and incur costs like decorations. We just want to meet in a pub and share stories. In doing so, the people become real, beyond a profile picture. All my photography friends are from my online community. They understand the frustrations and challenges you experience better than your real-life friends and family.
I’m not selling tickets, so there’s no pressure to secure attendance or meet minimum numbers. It’s low key. I’ve planned elaborate overseas workshops and it is was a huge amount of work, stressful and I didn’t make any money. Trying to sell places to only break even wasn’t worth it.
Above and Beyond
Charlotte: You offer all kinds of support to your community, beyond photography advice. Tell us about how you can help.
Anna: I’m now offering website reviews to photographers and creatives, due to demand from within my community. Often, people struggle to be objective about their own website, so an outside pair of eyes offering a constructive critique can really help clarify where and why you may be losing out on bookings.
A great website should make it easy for people to buy from or book you. The user journey should be clear and draw your ideal customer in.
People want to know about you, especially if they are inviting you to be part of the biggest day of their lives. Show them who you really are and what’s it’s like to be in your company. You don’t need everyone to love you, but you want to be booked by people who do. There’s only one you, so you are your best chance at making your business stand to your ideal client.