Your Camera Is Not the Only Thing That Should be Focused

by Ron Dawson3 Comments

Specialist make more money precisely because they specialize. Photo (c) ThePhotoBin on Flickr

I must admit, I always get a chuckle when I come across a webpage for a photographer and filmmaker and they say something like, “We specialize in weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthdays, church videos, non-profits, commercials, dance recitals, newborns, teens, music groups, corporate events, and legal depositions.” Phew! I call that EBTKS marketing (everything but the kitchen sink). Can a person really specialize in twenty different things?

As you put your entrepreneurial stake in the ground, whether you're creating a full-blown studio, or if you're going solo as an independent contractor, it would behoove you to market yourself as an expert in a particular area. Here are the top 3 reasons for focusing your business:

  1. Competitive edge. If you bust your knee, who would you prefer to look at it? A general practitioner, or an orthopedic surgeon who looks at knees all day long? The same goes for your potential clients. All other things being equal, a bride will be more inclined to hire a wedding filmmaker who specializes in weddings.  Your client wants to know that you are not only skilled in the art of fine cinema, but that you are intimately knowledgeable about the specific issues surrounding her specific needs.
  2. Branding. You will have a much better time defining your company's brand if it's based on a specific area of expertise. A strong brand means building trust and being remembered.
  3. Higher rates. A specialist will typically be able to command significantly higher rates when they're focused. In fact, the more specialized you are, the higher the rates you can command.

Taking Jobs Outside Your Focus

In today's tough economy, I can understand the importance of taking work as it comes so that you can continue to support your family or your lifestyle. But, just because you focus on one area does not mean you shouldn't take jobs that don't fit in that expertise if you're given the opportunity. It's not at all unreasonable that if you're a talented wedding filmmaker, that from time to time you'll get referrals for commercial work. When weddings were my main focus, about 1/3 of my business came from commercial work. I did no marketing for that side of the business. They were all referrals.  However, I did not put my commercial work on my wedding website. I would upload it and embed it an a webpage with my company's branding, but I wouldn't make them public. I would just send the link as needed. Likewise, now that I focus on commercial work (specifically inspirational and cause-driven films) I keep any wedding work I do on a completely different website from my main company site. Show the stuff that relates to what you do, but take on other jobs as necessary, even if you don't display them publicly.

Next week I'll cover the process of making a switch from one area of focus to another. Be sure to “tune in.”

Ron's cliche director image.Ron Dawson is an award-winning filmmaker, blogger, podcaster, husband and father. He writes about the art and business of filmmaking and photography at

(cover photo credit: snap from the ThePhotoBin on Flickr)


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