All posts tagged Marketing

The Big Secret to My Successful Photography Business

 

Christine Tremoulet's big secret to her successful photography business - be sure to read it!So let me tell you a little story which leads to me discovering the big secret to my successful photography business. I live in Houston, Texas, which is the 4th largest city in the United States. Back in 2008, When my photography business was still focused on weddings (with some boudoir), I asked another wedding photographer if he wanted to share my studio space.

He looked at me like I had grown a second head or something. “But … but …” he stammered, “we are competition?!?”

I just looked at him, a little shocked. Once I finally found the words, I asked him, “Have you looked at my clients and looked at your clients? They are not the same people at all! If someone comes in, sees your photograph on the wall, and says that they have to book you over me because of that photograph? They were never my client to begin with!”

  • His clients: early 20s, fresh out of college, planning elaborate weddings paid for mostly by their parents.
  • My clients: late 20s to late 30s, have had a career before getting married, sometimes it is a second marriage, they paying for most of or the whole wedding themselves.

We had complimentary styles, design aesthetics, and brands, which was why I offered to share my space with him, but we were two VERY different people. His clients are just like him. My clients are just like me.

There are only 52 weeks in a year. Most wedding photographer only want to book 20-30 weddings* a year. There are only 12 months in a year. Most portrait photographers only want to book 10-20 portrait sessions a month*, or 120-240 a year. (Math is hard, yo! I had to bust out a calculator for that. #sadtruth)

You don’t need everyone in your market to love you! You only need to connect with the right number of people for your goals.

When I launched my photography business, I was successful (profitable + booked) from the start. I booked up my first year, and I made over 6 figures.

Want to know the big secret to my photography business success?

I had a long-time established personal blog before I booked a single photography client. I had a presence on Social Media that involved only sharing about myself, not selling a single thing. People knew me – or at least the me that I shared online – and connected personally with me.

I can’t tell you how many times people have walked in to my studio and told me that I sound in person exactly like they imagined I would from reading my blog. (Oh, and they read my blog – all the time! Not just my business blog, but my personal one.)

Use your blog. Use social media. Tell people who you ARE, not just about your latest work. Tell them about the things that make your friends love you. You represent your personal brand at all times. Brand: YOU. Find your VOICE.

Do all your blog posts sound the same? “This is my favorite client ever … I love them so much … this day was just the best…” over and over again? How boring do you think this must be for people looking for a photographer? (Hint: Snoozefest!)

Do you share your story?

Your potential clients are clicking along, visiting one photographer’s blog after another. (After all, the blog is the part of your website that gets the most traffic.) “I just loved this session!” is on repeat and their eyes are glazing over because that is all they are reading on every blog. *yawn* Then they come to your site. You have also written about your latest session, but you’ve talked about why YOU loved this session. Truly why you loved it, sharing a personal story of your very own. “The way mom looked at her son with love in her eyes, you could tell that she knew these moments were fleeting — and as the mother of two yourself you completely understand. It seems like only yesterday they were babies, and now they are off to kindergarten and third grade, and those moments are over in my house.” Pass the tissues! *sniff, sniff*.

Know what that potential client is thinking? “Oh, look! THIS photographer? I can relate to her. I mean, I know exactly how that feels, and I just have to know more about her. SHE GETS ME”

WINNING!!!

This works for EVERYONE. Talking about YOU in your voice? Your authentic story? It is a disruptor. Most people in your market are not doing it, but even if they all start tomorrow? Your story is still unique. You need to share it with the world!

For example, I talk a lot online about my geeky addiction to gadgets. Which reminds me, I need to share reviews of my Livescribe 3 and my new iPad Stylus, to go along with the review I wrote about my Misfit Shine. Telling you these things about myself? You get it, I’m a geek. Which is probably why I’ve worked with so many engineers over the years, they love the geek stuff too! Which makes for a much stronger connection with my ideal client. We bond over these things.

Do you know who YOUR ideal client is? Can you tell me all about them, what they love, what car they drive, where they eat, who they are — and how you can connect to them over those things? What stories do you have to share about your life that people can relate to and embrace?

Find your voice. Talk about yourself. I promise you, it is OK.

Friends buy from friends. All things being equal, people buy from people that they like.

Are you taking the time to be friends with your clients? Are you being vulnerable with them so that they can relate to you and trust you enough to be vulnerable with you in return?

How many clients do you really need?

Look, I get it. When your calendar is looking pretty empty and you’re stressed out over it, it is terrifying. You feel like you desperately want everyone to like you.

Stop and think about it though. Do you really only need 10 clients a month? 120 people a year? Unless you are in a town of only 200 people, 120 people is a pretty small number. I’m in a city of millions – every person out there doesn’t have to love me. They don’t even all have to know about me. If the right people know about me? They will tell their friends. They will come. I can honestly say that they have every year for me.

You can compete on price, or the style and way that you photograph, but you will always have to be reinventing yourself. People will always be copying you. You will always have competition, and competing on price is just a race to the bottom.

Or you can Brand: YOU — and always stand out from the crowd. Your former competition now becomes your peers. No one, no matter how hard they try, can ever be you. They don’t have your stories to share with the world. They don’t see life the way that you see it. They can’t. You are unique. You Are Enough.

I’m going to be writing a lot more about this. (Hopefully not all long, rambling posts!) It is topic I am SUPER passionate about. I believe that through the power of blogging and social media you can share your stories with the world and work with clients that you love, all while building a photography business that is wildly successful.

You can have an awesome life & an amazing business — and I look forward to helping you get there!

PS – if you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for the email list in the sidebar. I’ve got a whole big series – ok, several series – planned out on giving your blog lots of love, growing your social media presence, and bringing it all together to rock out your business. I want to make sure the posts get to you!


* Ok, for some of you those numbers (30 weddings a year or 240 sessions a year) may seem really low. Maybe you want to have a huge volume studio with 20 photographers, 8000 sessions a year, or whatever crazy numbers you’ve got in mind. I start to feel an anxiety attack coming on just thinking about running a business like that. Soooooooo not my thing – but kudos to you! Branding You probably won’t make that much sense. That is cool. I’d still love it if you stick around in case you want to learn more about blogging, social media, and all that good stuff.

Review: The Easy Client & Money Manager from The Modern Tog

Easy Client & Money Manager

As we are about to spend time talking about workflow and In Person Sales, the timing of the launch of the Easy Client and Money Manager by Jamie Swanson of The Modern Tog couldn’t be more perfect! This easy-to-use Excel workbook organizes your money and your client workflow all in one convenient place!

I’ve talked to many photographers over the years that guess at what their sales averages are, how much profit they are making, or any number of profit related questions. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t start my photography business so I could spend time crunching numbers. That is definitely NOT my specialty!

When Jamie first talked about doing this with Excel, I was not so sure. Excel is not my thing, but Jamie is a spreadsheet guru. She has worked hard to create this system to help you keep track of the financials related to your studio. With the PDF, it is all laid out and easy to follow along and use. I’m converted! I can use Excel like this!

There are many other software solutions out there that do similar things, but this is a simple and effective option, and it is one low cost instead of monthly payments. You will receive the Excel Workbook, the User Guide (a super-detailed PDF) and several how-to videos will get you up to speed in no time! If you forget something, there are reminders throughout the workbook that help keep you on track.

It Isn’t Just About Accounting

This workbook is so much more than just a simple spreadsheet. You’ll be able to:

  • Keep track of each sale and expense in one easy place
  • Get a snapshot of your income & expenses at any time, allowing you to make smart business decisions
  • Make filing Sales & Use Tax reports a breeze, as you’ll have everything you need in one convenient place, right at the click of a button
  • Create invoices & track sales with ease all from within the workbook
  • Never forget important details about a client using the Client database
  • Track your client workflow so that everything gets done on time, giving you satisfied clients that refer you to their friends.
  • Keep track of networking efforts with vendors by adding notes & reminders so that you never forget to follow up
  • Easily track your business mileage and equipment sold throughout the year

There is also a BONUS Reminder worksheet, which will keep you from forgetting important things throughout your year, such as reminding clients when payments are due, avoiding late fees by paying expenses on time, and tracking client birthdays & anniversaries.

Normally $129, right now through April 18, 2013 you can get all this for only $89! Get your copy of the Easy Client and Money Manager today!

Purchase the Bundle with The Photographer’s Pricing Guide Workbook

The Photographer’s Pricing Guide Workbook is the perfect companion to the Easy Client & Money Manager as it will help you learn exactly how much you need to be charging to make your desired profit goals. No more guessing at what you should be doing!

Right now you can get both the Photographer’s Pricing Guide Workbook ($99 value) and Easy Client & Money Manager ($129 value) for only $139. That’s a savings of $89! After the launch period is over on April 18, 2013, the bundled price will be $189. So get them both now before the price increases!

Is the Easy Client & Money Manager Right for Me?

Do you dread dealing with the financials of your business? Have no clue where you are at financially? Then this is definitely something you should look in to using. Jamie has a number of reasons that you should consider it listed on the Easy Client and Money Manager page. Best part? It comes with a 14 Day Money-Back Guarantee! See the site for all the details.

Requirements for the Easy Client & Money Manager

This workbook does require Excel. It will not work properly with other software like Open Office. It will appear to work correctly, but the complexity of some of the formulas will be broken.

You also need to be in the United States; this version is optimized for the United States and its tax laws. They hope to release a version for other countries (such as the UK, Australia, and Canada) in the future.

Would I recommend it?

ABSOLUTELY. I wouldn’t be writing about it here if I didn’t. I will still be using ShootQ for my client management system, where I keep my contracts and client details, and ShootQ automates my invoicing. Where this fits in for me is tracking financial information; ShootQ only captures a portion of that for me. With this, I can track so much more and get a better snapshot of where my business is at financially. The Easy Client and Money Manager will be a huge asset to tracking your financials and your clients, and will make up for the cost with the huge profits you will be making in no time!

Disclosure: I was provided with a free review copy of the Easy Client & Money Manager. It is freakin’ AMAZING. This review is my personal opinion, I wasn’t told what to write. The links in this review are affiliate links and using them helps keep me pay for my gluten-free red velvet cupcake habit. YUM.

What Business Do YOU Want to Create?

What Business do You Want to Create?

I’m about to start a series on my workflow process, which will dive in to how I proof my images, how I do in person sales, and more. Before I start this series, I want to talk about one very important, crucial thing in your business: YOU.

Your business is like a blank page in a notebook. Full of possibilities and dreams, with maybe some anxiety thrown in for good measure. What kind of business do YOU want to create? What does YOUR dream look like?

I see it all the times in forums: we are so flooded with information on how everyone else does things, that we start to doubt ourselves. To question ourselves. Doing things that don’t feel right or genuine or true to who we are, all because we were told that was how we had to do it.

Pricing. Products that you carry for your clients. How to take photographs. How to pose. How to edit. You have been a consumer all your life. You have instincts that are strong, believe in yourself. Trust that you know what to do that is right for you.

“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” – John Mason

This is my disclaimer post. Just because I do it a certain way doesn’t mean it is the ONLY way to do it. It is just how I do it. I’m not always right, and I’m always willing to learn new things. (Matter of fact, I know I’m wrong sometimes – see my previous post on how long I fought doing in person sales sessions!)

These are the things that work for me. They may work for you too. If you’re unsure of what to do, feel free to try them. If they don’t feel right for you, or they don’t work in your business, do not do them.

Your business is just that — YOURS. I’m sharing ideas here of what work well for me. I’d love to hear your ideas as well. I plan to feature other photographers in the coming months who will share how and why they do things as well. Some of them do things quite differently than I do them, and that is ok.

There are some crucial thing you must do in your business. Stay true to yourself. Be happy. Make a profit. Serve your clients well.

Trying to run a business that is a copy of someone else’s will only wear you down and cause you stress. It is like wearing cute shoes that don’t fit right and give you bad blisters and cramps in your toes. Really soon, you are not going to want to wear them any more. Running a business that way will have the same impact on you, it will soon make you hate it.

If something I suggest helps you out, fantastic! Consider this post my permission to use all that I’ve learned and to not use anything that doesn’t fit you properly. If you have learned something along the way, please share it with me as well!

Photo Credit: this lyre lark, cc license.