Episode 100! Whoo hoo!
I want to thank you, the listeners, and the pro photographers I’ve had on this show. It’s been a group effort, and I look forward to many more episodes in the future.
Presenting the top 6 lessons I’ve learned from the pro’s I’ve had on this podcast:
1. When you’re running a photography business, it’s 80% business and 20% taking photos.
Business tasks include marketing, crunching your numbers, entering leads, scheduling emails, writing emails, answering emails, scheduling emails, making sure your client is prepared for their shoot, editing the photos after the shoot, follow up communication with the client, keeping in touch with them long term, and so on.
2. You don’t have to do everything yourself. In fact, I personally recommend you hire some help after a certain point, especially if you’re really trying to grow your business.
Otherwise, if you try to do everything yourself, your photography business will only be able to grow up to a certain point because you can only do so much. Even if you’re awesome at time management, it can only get you so far because you’re only one person. I’ve learned this personally. As a result of this podcast, my photography business has grown tremendously, to the point where I’m hiring a virtual assistant to take care of the administrative tasks for me, such as entering leads, managing emails, preparing clients for their upcoming sessions, and making them feel appreciated after the shoot. If you want an up close look into my workflow, check out the episode before this one, episode 99, where I talk about this process, and how I needed to hire someone to help. And quick update: I have chatted with multiple candidates since then, and have selected one to do a test month with. He’s awesome, he’s skilled, and he has a passion for helping photographers. We’ll see how it goes as we see if we’re a good fit for each other. I’m excited.
3. The best time to be marketing yourself is when you’re busy.
For me, I’ve had to take this lesson to heart, especially since, as of this summer, I’ve finally hit the same income I was making at the motorcycle magazine years ago, and I’m busier than ever. In this busy time, it’s super tempting for me to not go to networking events like I used to, and not look for new customers. I’m even guilty of this the last couple months. However, I’ve had to give myself a kick in the pants and get back into it. I’ve had several interviewees on the show warn me in past episodes that you should constantly be looking for new clients, because that will be your future income. If I did no prospecting, I would run out of photo shoots to do, and that’s not good.You may have the question of, well, how do I find the time. For me, I’ve had to become more efficient, and this includes hiring an assistant, and streamlining my workflow.
4. For portrait sessions, in person sales is an added-value service to my clients, and pays off in dollars.
Time and time again the portrait photographers on this show have told me that in person sales are great. Scary at first, but great. Portrait Photographer Brent Watkins in one example of this, from episode 95. He even projects his clients’ images up on a wall nice and large, so that it’s more impressive. Clients can experience the rush of seeing their photos for the first time while he guides them through it. I’ve just started doing in person sales this year, and – no joke – the first time I sold just over mid 4 figures in wall hangings. Granted, I was nervous. To be exact, I was nearly hyperventilating on the way to the post-session sales session at my client’s house, and when I got there, I felt physically sick. I’m an introvert, mind you, and I don’t naturally enjoy talking about money. However, I knew I had to try it sometime. So I showed up and walked them through the presentation on my laptop (I don’t project them onto a wall yet). I was able to see their reactions first-hand, and noted that they particularly enjoyed seeing the photo mockups of their photos placed on living room walls, which I did in Photoshop. By the end of the meeting, they told me what they wanted, and I stumbled out of there with a large deposit in my hands, bewildered.
I’m not saying this will happen to everyone the first time you do in person sales, but on average, I would bet my camera that in person sales, when appropriate to the situation, will bring in more money on average than simply sending your clients a link to a photo gallery. I do have to add that today I do in person sales for my senior high school, family portrait, and equine clients. For my corporate head shot photography, in most cases it’s more appropriate to select the best photos for them and send them a link to their online gallery, which they seem to prefer in order to save time. So it depends on the type of shoot and the type of client you’re working with.
5. As photographers, we’re all in this together.
It’s all about collaboration, not competition. We need to help each other. This podcast has caused me to go out and network with other photographers. Not just via Skype, but in person. I generally don’t view other photographers as competition, because I believe there are enough customers for everybody. In fact, it’s nice knowing photographers in my area I can send customers to that are not the best fit for my skill set.
6. If you’re just starting out as a professional photographer, find a mentor.
I can’t stress this enough. Mentorship is great. You need it, because you don’t know what you don’t know. It also makes you feel less alone and isolated. And it’s wonderful to have a cheerleader on your side. This year, I’ve been mentored by the one and only Scott Bourne from episode 33, and it’s been awesome. He’s shared his wisdom with me, given me tips on my business, helped me to analyze myself, and has taught me to think bigger. Scott, if you’re listening, thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m honored to call you my mentor, and my friend.
Finding a mentor doesn’t have to be complicated or hard, by the way. You could reach out to a photographer in your city that you look up to, and proposition them — in a non-creepy way, please. It’s as simple as asking them if they would share some of their knowledge with you. Or, there may be a photographer online that you like. Reach out to them. The main thing is to reach out and ask. They won’t always say yes, but all you need is one yes.
Now let’s go out and build the photography business of your dreams!