The Biggest Mistake We Recently Made in Our Business

POSTED IN : Branding & Marketing

Jeff and I had to make a hard decision recently with one of our associate wedding brands.

(In case you didn’t know, we own three different wedding photography studios in San Diego.)

Wedding bookings kept going down and down and down for this brand, which meant that our revenue numbers were also going down and down and down…


It was scary. It was HARD.


I had many panic moments where I couldn’t think straight and I didn’t know what to do.

At least, that’s what I told myself, because in reality I KNEW what we needed to do…

I knew that we needed to seriously re-focus the brand, but it was TERRIFYING.

How were we going to pay our bills if we turned away potential business??

Wouldn’t just one more wedding make a difference?? Even if it wasn’t the right fit??

But I had to tell myself the tough truth that I already knew:

We may book a few more clients with our current strategy, but they wouldn’t be the right clients.


If we didn’t focus the brand, we would end up spinning our wheels with this studio for one more year, wondering when we were going to be able to finally book the kind of weddings that we wanted.


Even though Jeff and I were not the ones actually shooting these weddings (we have a team of photographers that shoot for us in this brand), we knew that we were totally going to burn out as business owners if we didn’t DO something.

So I sat down with one of our photographers and I said:

“I would be so much more ok with clients that aren’t a good fit – we can work with them and make them super happy – if I knew that our studio was actually, ruthlessly going after the ones that ARE the right fit.”

In the end, we slashed the portfolio, redid the website, and insanely focused the brand.

And guess what?

We are attracting amazing Dreamies for this brand. Not every client is absolutely perfect still, but we are definitely turning off the really wrong ones, and starting to attract the really right ones.

Fatal Dreamie Mistake #2: Being Afraid of Saying ‘NO’

For The Youngrens, Jeff and I only book 20 weddings every year.

Which means that we need to find the RIGHT 20 couples.

We are not Walmart. Or Target. Or any of those other big businesses that are looking for THOUSANDS of customers every single day.

Just like you, we are a boutique business looking for a very specific number of weddings.

Which means that we need to say ‘yes’ to very specific clients.

Which also means that we need to say ‘no’ to everyone else…


I’m not going to lie –  saying ‘NO’ is a SCARY proposition.


What we were doing with our associate brand and what I see many other photographers do – out of fear – is I see them create a ‘safe’ brand. They post lots of images with tons of different styles and weddings on their websites so they can be a catch-all for every type of possible client that could walk through their door.

They are afraid to get TOO specific.

They are afraid to turn anybody off.

Because turning somebody off might mean that you are turning away potential business.

I totally get this.


When you target everyone, you attract no-one.


I love what the folks over at say:

“Resist the temptation to be too general in the hopes of getting a larger slice of the market. That’s like firing 10 bullets in random directions instead of aiming just one dead center of the mark–expensive and dangerous.”

Instead, only post work on your website and blog that you absolutely love and that will attract your favorite clients. And be ruthless about it!

[clickToTweet tweet=”When you target everyone, you attract no one.” quote=”When you target everyone, you attract no one.”]

Will you turn people away? Absolutely.

But will also attract people that you LOVE? YES!!

Will it take time? Of course.

But even in that transition period when you aren’t quite there, but you’re working on building your Dream Clients, just the fact that you are specifically going after what you REALLY want will give you the crazy powerful motivation you need to get there.


Don’t view this as saying no to potential customers. Instead, see this as your opportunity to finally say YES to your Dream Clients. 


Strong brands turn off customers that are not a good fit, and its for good financial reason. Clients that aren’t the right for you generally take up more of your time and drain more of your energy than clients that you connect with and adore.

Dream Clients, however, value your work, trust your professional advice, and pay you more money because they believe in what you do.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t view targeting your ideal clients as saying no. Instead, see it as finally saying YES to your Dreamies!” quote=”Don’t view targeting your ideal clients as saying no. Instead, see it as finally saying YES to your Dreamies!”]

Take it from me – I have now experienced this work not just once, but THREE TIMES in all three of our photography businesses.

Getting specific and going after your Dreamies WORKS.


Do you think you’ve been too afraid to get specific and turn off not-so-awesome clients?

In this three-part series, I’m talking all about the Fatal Mistakes that I see photographers make when it comes to their Ideal Clients – which directly impacts your brand and your ability to book the weddings you WANT at the prices that you NEED.

Check out Five Steps to Discovering Your Ideal Client, the first fatal Dreamie mistake, and the third fatal Dreamie mistake for more FREE resources.




We teach photographers to build life-giving businesses that they absolutely love.

About Us

We're Jeff & Erin

We’re Jeff and Erin Youngren – and it’s our mission to help you thrive not just as a wedding photographer, but as a business owner. It’s time to set aside the stress and comparison of a hustle mindset, and build a life-giving business instead.

We met in college, got married, and started corporate jobs before we discovered (and fell in love with) wedding photography. But like many creative entrepreneurs, we were booking anything we could, strapped to our laptops and living dangerously close to burnout.

So we dug in and learned how to build a thriving business that supports our dream life – instead of a joyless business that runs a stressed-out life.

Today, we photograph only 10 Dreamie weddings per year, but we also run two other wedding brands plus a commercial studio in San Diego, CA. And we do it by only working the hours that fit into our life. The other hours? We spend those living a joyful life raising our two beautiful sons, James and Samuel.


Jeff and Erin

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