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How Nanor Zinzalian Got Her Business Growing

nanor overhead coffee photo

Hi, I’m Nanor! I’m the marketing coordinator here at DigiSavvy. I’ve been developing business and marketing skills with DigiSavvy since I started as an intern during my Master’s program. These skills have worked in tandem with my Master’s in Business and Marketing, and I’ve had such a great time working with Alex and the DigiSavvy team!!

My Origin Story

nanor baby photo holding nikon lens

Over the last five years, I have turned my education and passion for photography into a full-time business. I have built my photography business from the ground up. It’s been such a rich learning experience; equal parts fun and rewarding since it’s been challenging too!! The business and marketing tools I have learned from my masters and working at DigiSavvy have been a tremendous help. However, what I have learned has also come from trial and error. I’ll be sharing some of the strategies I used that were effective in building my business to what it is today. Also, what worked well and what didn’t for me, and maybe it will help others find something to help make their path smoother as they build their businesses!

Some of the most meaningful and impactful ways I have been able to grow my business are: through referrals, building & maintaining momentum through connections, continuous education & market research, and showing up in authenticity & vulnerability. 

In the beginning

Nanor in Studio Photography photographing coffee beans during Bachelor’s program at ULV

Starting in my early days, just out of college, most of my paying clients were friends and family members. I made sure to tell them to tell as many people as they could that I was a photographer whenever it came up. This referral ripple effect is vital for any small business just getting started. I said yes to, almost if not all, photography gigs I was offered initially. I did a lot of birthday parties, weddings, holiday parties, and events. When shooting events, I was fully present, open, and friendly (SO IMPORTANT). How you conduct yourself and your business makes a significant impression on your clients and other people they may refer you to. So many new client relationships came out of small talk with party guests. From these events, I booked more and more clients. And as time went on, I was being sought out instead of seeking out clients. 

Instagram and other social media platforms are a great way to get referrals. One thing I would say, looking back, is that I wish I had posted more of what I was doing. Although I have grown immensely in my craft since I started, and I have my cringe moments when I look back at some past work, it ultimately served me to share what I was doing. The more I shared, the more clients could find me. It also created a way for positive and constructive feedback. While I believe it is important to post only work you are proud of and would like to do more of and get the kind of clients you want, being too picky or self-critical at the beginning of your career can prevent growth. Accept where you are and use that to the best of your ability while still striving to reach your greatest potential. Instagram and Pinterest also served as a way to do market research. To see what the photographers I admired were doing, how they were attracting clients, and even how they priced their services was so insightful. 

Gaining (and Maintaining) Momentum

Nanor photographing Blended Strategy Group’s Pre-Coachella Event at Harriet’s Rooftop

Consistency is essential for growing and maintaining momentum. As I continued to grow in my unique style and the artistry I put into my photography, I collaborated with bloggers, and I started to align with brands. As a result, I was able to shoot products of all types. At first, like with events, I accepted almost everything that came my way. Now I can be more discerning about what shoots, products, events, and even clients align with who I am as a photographer. I also have raised my prices according to my experience. When I was starting, my rate was very different! 

Setting Boundaries

On the journey to where I am now, I have also had to learn about boundaries. Starting with most clients being family or family friends, I had to learn how to navigate expectations, stand true to appointment times and lengths, and learn how to say “No.” Sometimes family is the best practice for learning these skills because often they are unfiltered and tend to blur lines because of familiarity. It took a lot for me to say no to extra time or uphold my policies on being late, but if I can do it with family, I can now do it with everyone! It made all the difference when I got really clear with myself what my prices were for specific types of shoots and wrote out a policy for clients to agree to before booking. Another difference-maker in my business was when I began requiring deposits. When I took my business seriously, my clients respected it and followed through on their commitments to their projects. 

Growing as a professional and persevering

I am passionate about growing as a photographer. Something that has helped me grow into a better photographer and allowed my business to grow has been the willingness to learn. Onward motion requires breakthroughs. I seek out and attend online conferences on photography techniques, business strategies, etc. It’s thrilling to be open to the world of support that is out there available to you in any field. I also do market research by stalking my favorite photography Instagrams and websites (everyone does it!). Paying attention to trends and also keeping classic unchanging elements in mind. 

I hold myself to a very high standard and show up as my best self for every shoot. What makes a difference in client relationships is the humility and vulnerability to being human. As professional as I am, I also do my best to stay true to myself and meet others where they are at. My relaxed and authentic self allows for positive client experiences and genuine connections. Photography, to me, is more than the income; it is the connection, the presence, and the ability to preserve precious moments. 

Final Thoughts

So just to recap, tell people what you’re doing (!!!), take opportunities when they arise, and the most important of all….be kind and be yourself! I truly believe that by putting yourself out there and believing in yourself, opportunities will eventually come your way 🙂

Comment below if you have any questions or anything you want to share about your experiences! Check out my website or follow me on Instagram!

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