31 Questions You Should Be Asking In December

What do I want in 2012?

How did I end up where I am today?

Is this really where I want to be?

What three things are the most important to me right now?

What’s holding me back?

What don’t I believe I can do it?

What am I afraid of?

Has anyone ever tried it this way before?

What if I say yes?

What if I say no?

What is the worst that could happen?

Do I expect enough out of myself?

Do I expect too much from others?

Am I on the right track?

Can I choose a different path?

How do I define success?

Am I being too hard on myself?

What makes me smile?

How do I envision my life?

Are my goals and dreams big enough?

Have I always made the right choices?

What is the biggest major change I can make in my life?

Do I really want success?

Am I too comfortable where I am?

What do I want to achieve?

How can I make this work?

What are my options?

How can I stay motivated?

Can I make a difference?

Is all of this worth it?

What am I most thankful for in 2011?

Want To Advance Your Photography? Boost Your Creativity

Photographers are naturally the creative type, right? It’s a left brain right brain thing. And any time you are in the arts, you tend to be a bit more creative than the general population.

But overall, studies are showing that we continually are losing our creativity, even though we may be increasing our IQ and doing better on critical thinking. In fact since 1990, our creativity has decreased significantly. Yet our need for creativity is at an all time high.

Creativity controls your ideas. The more ideas you come up with, the more you’ll want to act on those ideas. And the more flexible you are, the more you’ll end up creating and inventing.

Creativity controls your ability to start a new business and take risks. It controls your ability to jump in to a new environment and play with ideas to see what will work and what won’t. And if everything has to be neat and tidy and in the right order, your chances of finding success in a completely new way continually go down.

So, is it time for you to boost your own creativity? Give these ideas a shot.

Take an art class

While I recommend a lot on this blog to head out and take a class or two, there is a difference between a small business marketing class and a pottery class. While both can help you grow, only one will spark your creativity. Get into that pottery class and get messy. Throw some clay on a wheel. Make an abstract figure. Play with the paints and get as wild as you can be. It doesn’t have to be perfect – you’ll never sell it. It’s just a way to release your inter-creativity.

Small Business Marketing

Marketing can be a lot of fun. Come up with a brand new campaign for your business – something that pushes you way outside the box. Find a book on creative marketing campaigns, talk with a marketing promotions expert, or find a class that teaches creative marketing techniques. Don’t stick with the “same old” techniques. Look for a way to completely set you apart from your competition. [Read more…]

5 Ways To Stay Married To A Photographer

There’s something about a photographer and his/her camera.

When they think of a new idea, take on a new assignment, or simply hear of “breaking news” across town, they are off and running with camera in hand.

That comes with the territory – its part of the job.

Unless you had a dinner planned, and you now have to cancel.

While every job has its ups and downs, a photographer tends to live and breathe photography 24 hours a day.

Yet that’s not good for you – or for your family.

As with every career, learning a few life balance tips early on can be the difference between having a family – or living life on the road alone.

Separate family time and work time

Even though you love what you do, and it’s enticing to head into the studio to Photoshop your last shoot, set up a schedule first and stick to it. While there will always be the little emergencies that come along, don’t make it a habit. Create a work and personal schedule and stick to it. We turn off our computers Friday night, and turn them back on Monday morning. While that took many months to train ourselves to stick to that schedule, we wouldn’t change it now for anything. We highly value our personal free time on the weekends. [Read more…]

7 Common Time Management Mistakes

So you work out of your home, and you’re wondering why the business isn’t as strong as it should be. Is your business really your top priority?

While I love working out of my home and wouldn’t trade it for anything, you have to be disciplined to make sure everything works.

Perhaps you feel overloaded, that there is so much to do you’ll never catch up. Or maybe you live for the crisis to appear, dreading it all the way. This is the first sign of failure. If you let this feeling of overwhelm seep in, you’ll quickly be on a downward spiral instead of building for the future.

Take charge now. If any of these pitfalls are affecting you now, its time to make a change.

Mistake #1 Failing To Keep A To Do List

Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you are missing something? If so, you probably don’t use a to do list in order to keep things prioritized. Many people think to do lists are a sign of weakness, or a sign of a bad memory. Not true at all. Instead, a to do list keeps you balanced and focused. And helps you prioritize what you will do during the day, and what should take precedence over everything else.

Dig Deeper: How To Create a To Do List You Actually Stick With And Do

Mistake #2: Not Setting Personal Goals

It’s easy to establish business goals. In fact you probably have a list of them in your office. Even if it’s a short list, business goals come easy as we are focusing in on our businesses. But what about your personal goals? What are your business dreams going to do to help you achieve all you want out of life?

Business goals help you establish the type of lifestyle you’ve dreamed about. But once you have the funding within the business, your personal goals are what give your life meaning. Do you want a one month family vacation every summer? Or to be able to buy your dream house? Or maybe send your kids to the colleges of their choice?

Create both sides of your dream, and use it to define what you do every day. The bigger and more concrete your dreams are, the better chance you have of achieving them.

Mistake #3: Not Prioritizing

Everyone has things they love to do, and things they hate. When your to do list is filled with both, you’ll quickly move the things you love to the top of your list – unless you prioritize.

I once worked with a business owner who hated phone calling. In fact she would do whatever she could to avoid picking up the phone. She admitted it up front to me, so we knew that was her weakness. While I never advise anyone to take up cold calling, there are times when it’s important to call “strangers” and make a connection.

If this business owner has a task of “calling” on her list, it will always be at the bottom. Even if she has to choose between “taking out the trash” and “calling the potential customer”, she would prefer the trash.

When you realize this, you have to change what you do. You have to prioritize your to do list, and start doing the things you hate if they should be at the top of your list. It’s the only way you’ll grow. [Read more…]

Can Your Photography Business Be A Lifestyle Business?

Chances are you’ve been seeing the word “lifestyle” much more in the general media.

I’ve seen lifestyle malls, lifestyle TV, and lifestyle consumers. I’ve also seen it attached to “photography” and “business” again and again.

According to Wikipedia, they define:

Lifestyle Photography: a style of photography which aims to portray real-life situations in a controlled setting. Lighting is bright, airy and natural-looking. There are many commercial applications including magazine editorial and advertising usage.

Lifestyle Business: Businesses that are set up and run by their founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.

So when you combine the two, from my viewpoint you get: [Read more…]

5 Life Balance Tips For Busy Photographers

Weekdays. Weekends. Early morning. Late at night. If you are wondering what the difference is because you have every ounce of time filled up, maybe its time to stop and put more balance into work and personal life.

With cutbacks, layoffs, and general uncertainty in the economy, people are putting in extra time in a variety of areas. But even if you have a full time job and you can’t reduce your hours, there are ways to spend more time focusing in on what is truly important to you.

Here are 5 ways to help take back the control in your life.

1. Build more downtime into your schedule

Calendars are wonderful things. With a glance, you can easily tell all the things you have to do, and whether or not something new will fit in.

The problem is we tend to use calendars for scheduling other people’s events and routines. When your daughter’s school has a fundraiser on Thursday night, it goes on the calendar. Weekly soccer practices and games go on the calendar too.

But what about an hour for a daily run? Or a night out with your spouse for dinner and a movie? Or even a Sunday afternoon lying on the couch with a good book?

We tend not to put things like this on the calendar – we’ll do it when we have time. But the only real way to make sure you have personal time to do the things you truly want to do is to schedule it. [Read more…]

How To Establish A Time Schedule You Can Live With

This post is Day 11 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

“I know I shouldn’t complain, but it seems like I’m always working. I have clients call at 6 in the morning, and sometimes as late as 10 at night. I meet clients in the evenings and on the weekends – really whenever they have the time, I make time for them. I want to grow my business, and stay busy too, so I hate to say no to anything. How can I get my clients on a better schedule?” Michelle

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever gone to dinner with a friend, and had them take one call after another? How did it make you feel? Did you feel your friendship was important, and that your friend was truly a friend? Or did you feel somewhat let down? After all, you took the time out of your schedule to meet, why can’t he or she?

Even if they use the line, “I have to take this call, its business, you understand right?” It still leaves you feeling a bit let down. Yet it’s almost the way of the world anymore. Everyone is connected; everyone has a phone. And with smart technology coming on full force, it’s not likely to decrease any time soon.

But there is a better way. You don’t have to be at your clients’ beck and call. You don’t have to available 24 hours a day, just because technology makes it easier. Instead of being at technologies mercy, you simply have to establish your own internal priorities, and stick to it.

Start With Priorities

If you were to list the priorities in your life, what would they be? Think about your day-to-day actions. Who and what would you put on that list? What would go at the top? For me, I would say:

  • Husband/Daughter
  • Family – mom, in-laws, siblings, etc
  • Friends
  • Health – exercise, etc
  • Business
  • Entertainment

So for me, I would drop everything if my husband or daughter needed me – they are my top priority, and I would put everything else aside. Likewise, when I spend time with them, I give them my undivided attention. Unless I’m expecting an emergency phone call, my phone is turned off and left on my desk or in my purse.

I’ve been to many restaurants where the family is all in their own worlds. The parents are texting and talking on cell phones. The kids are texting or on gameboys. We even sat next to a family a couple of weeks ago where they put the kids into the corner of the booth, and pulled out a portable DVD player, and turned a movie on for them. Really? There is very little communication going on within these families. And my daughter always comments on how sorry she feels for them. Whether we eat at home or out at a restaurant, we have lively discussions about world events, politics, education – pretty much everything.

We’ve made it a priority that our mealtime is spent together. No distractions. No outside influence. It’s our priority so that we can connect and learn about each other’s day.

What are your priorities? Have you ever thought about what you would put at the top of your list? And once you have your list, how do you nurture the items on your list?

If you put your family above your business, and you take calls during a family dinner or outing, are you really showing your family they are top priority? You aren’t putting your family at the top – you’ve now moved business to the top. If that’s your priorities, that’s fine. But if its not, then you need to start questioning how things are running.

Establish Time Periods

Once you have your list of priorities, then its important to give everything the time it needs and deserves. Even if your family is at the top, with business falling a step or two behind, you still have to dedicate time to each activity. So you learn to control what timeframes you dedicate to each priority.

Then watch how you handle each situation, and learn to put life balance steps into place.

Make your working hours convenient for you and for your clients. You may need to dedicate one night a week for clients – i.e. Wednesdays until 9 pm. Or work Saturdays until noon. Specify it. Make sure your clients know your working hours, and your family and friends know you won’t be available for them during that time frame.

But once your business hours are completed, put it all aside. When you spend Saturday afternoons at the kids soccer games, or Friday nights out with your spouse, put the phone away. You can even get different cell phones for different usage – one for business, one for personal. That way the business phone can be put on your desk until Monday morning.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Clients Will Change

If a person calls at 6 am and can get a hold of you, you’ve now established the precedent that you are available at 6 am. So they will keep calling at 6 am because it’s convenient for them. The same applies for the clients that call at 10 pm. If they call and get you, they learn to expect it.

How do you change? It’s very simple. Establish your working hours and stick with it.

I answer my phone between 9 and 3 Monday through Friday. Unless I’m meeting with a client or on another line, I will answer the phone during that time frame.

I’m usually at my desk by 6 in the morning, and pop in and out for breakfast, exercise, and bringing my daughter to school. However I will very rarely answer the phone because this is my time. I’ve chosen to work and get things important to me done during this time frame. It’s not a client timeframe – it’s my timeframe. So I don’t answer the phone. That’s my priorities. And I stick with it.

I’ve had people complain, ask about my whereabouts and even ask me to change for them. But I hold true to my timing because it’s important to me. It’s my priority. And it works.

Will I miss out on a client? I haven’t yet. I’ve never found anyone to be in an immediate emergency to hire me. When I call or email in a few hours or the next day, its usually more than ample timing, and it ultimately comes down to my business and my customer service that makes the difference anyway. And if they truly are that demanding, do you really want them as a client?

Create Your Own 24 Hour Time Span

Sit down today and list out your perfect day, and your perfect week. Let me show you an example.

Monday

  • 12 to 6 sleep
  • 6 to 7 social networking and planning
  • 7 to 9 breakfast with family
  • 9 to 3 work and client meetings
  • 3 to 6 work and planning period
  • 6 to 9 family time
  • 9 to 11 personal time
  • 11 to 12 sleep

Your week may be slightly different, which is why I suggest mapping out a week. For me, Saturdays and Sundays are 100 percent family, friend and personal time. I may schedule in some business planning time, or attend a conference over a weekend. But I never schedule business time where I connect with clients. I also schedule my Fridays a little different, as I usually incorporate personal time into my Friday afternoons.

Once you have your week in place, try not to deviate from your schedule. If you find something not working, adjust it accordingly. Then stick with it. Turn the phone off, or leave it in your office. Be present in every aspect of your day, and you’ll soon come to appreciate every piece in a newfound way.

30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography

With only a few days left in 2010, and a New Year right before us, you may be starting to think about what should be different in the coming year. We can all wish and dream, but putting things into reality can be far more complicated.

As I’m sitting here writing out my own 2011 goals, I started thinking about a plan, and what it truly takes to create the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. I know everyone has a different dream, but if you are reading this blog, chances are somewhere in those dreams is photography and the ability to make money with your photography.

So I’ve decided to create a new series of posts starting in January to help you create your own plan.

I’ll be posting practical, real world steps you need to take to get from where you are today, to creating a photographic lifestyle that gives you everything you need in 2011.

But in order to do that, I need your help. While I’ve been writing here at Virtual for years, and have a ton of tips and ideas throughout the spectrum of owning a photography business, I want to know what your real world questions are today.

  • Tell me what your current problems are.
  • Tell me what questions you have.
  • Give me your story, and what’s holding you back. The more details the better.

Post your stories in the comments below. Or email me, tweet me, or even put something on Facebook. Whatever you preferred method of contact is, get me your information and I’ll use it to build my 30 ways program.

Then check back in January to start following my new series.

Also be sure to bookmark this page. I’ll be updating it along the way with links to the evergrowing series as they are posted.

What would it take to redesign your current lifestyle for 2011?

Posts

Day 1 Making The Mental Shift To Do Whatever You Choose To Do

When I decided to run this series a few weeks ago, my main goal was to help real photographers with real problems. So I went right to the source, and started asking what issues you have as we move into 2011. [A special thank you to everyone who participated – I was overwhelmed with how detailed and thoughtful your responses truly were.]

So over the holidays, between outings and parties, I sorted your responses into piles, read through all of them multiple times, and put together this 30 day series based on the trends that I saw throughout.

So with day one of this series, we’re obviously going to start at the beginning. read more>>

Day 2 Is There Any Such Thing As An Impossible Goal?

Throughout this series, I’ll use a variety of questions, stories and comments that were presented by my readers. Let me start out today’s post with a story.

“Luci” wants to start a specialized portrait photography business. I won’t get into all of the details here, but because of issues within her own family life, she hopes to build a portrait studio catering to families with unique family dynamics. She’s been thinking about this for a long time, and has done quite a bit of planning. She has designed a logo, has business cards, created a website and has worked on marketing ideas. She has no studio space in her home, but she’s decided it would be best to work on location and in her clients’ homes, so she has that worked out in her mind. She’s well on her way to starting her business. read more>>

Day 3 OMG, I Can’t Really Do This, Can I?

Have you reached this point yet? It’s the sudden realization that you are making a change in your life – a BIG change – and the weight of it all comes crashing down on you like a ton of bricks. You may momentarily start questioning your overall sanity. You’ll probably ask things like:

  • Am I crazy? What was I thinking?
  • Nobody around me does this, what made me think I could?
  • I’m screwing up my entire life.
  • I don’t know any of this, there’s no way I can make this succeed…read more>>

Day 4 Overcoming The Traditional Mindset

Do you read a lot? I do. In fact if you came to my house, you would find a stack of books practically everywhere. I have books all over my desk, in my family room, and stacked by the side of my bed. I’m also starting to amass quite a collection on my iPad. While I do end up buying a lot of books, I also check out the majority of them from my local library. Then when I find really good one’s that I want to refer to again and again, I purchase them.

Over the holiday’s I reread my copy of Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Work Week, and I also picked up a copy of another book, Chris Guillebeau’s The Art Of Non-Conformity. I highly recommend both.

They aren’t photography related. And to a certain extent they aren’t business related…read more>>

Day 5 Moving From Hobby To Business: What It Takes To Get To The Next Level

A hobby can be different things to different people.

It might mean taking a camera along on vacations and to family events, snapping up a few images.

It might be taking a few portraits or shooting a few weddings for people you know, making very little, and doing it more for a portfolio.

However you define it, I tend to look at the way the IRS defines it…read more>>

Day 6 Developing a Strong Presentation Piece or Marketing Kit

A person forms an opinion of you and/or your company in a matter of seconds. Once that opinion is formed, it is very difficult to sway the opinion one way or the other. Which means those first few seconds are crucial in turning a first opinion into a customer.

First opinions come in a variety of ways.

If you meet someone in person, it may be formed by your appearance, the clothes you wear, how you look, your neatness (or lack thereof), your timeliness, or even your attitude…read more>>

Day 7 How To Create a To Do List You Actually Stick With and Do

As I was gearing up for today’s post, I went over to Google to see how many results would rank under “to do lists”. Close to 600 million entries appeared for this search phrase. And the suggested related searches ranged from “printable to do lists”, “to do lists iphone”, “to do lists templates” and “to do list software”. Obviously there are many issues related to just a standard to do list, and it really comes as no surprise.

As a society, we’ve achieved overload. We try and accomplish more in one day than people were doing in a month a few decades ago. It is estimated that a week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century. We are at information overload, and we simply don’t know how to control it all…read more>>

Day 8 Setting Up Your Photography Business In The Right Way

It’s a big step to go from “job” to “entrepreneur”.

When you have a job, everything is built into the structure of the work environment. They pay you on a regular basis; they take out money for your taxes, insurance, retirement; and you can count on having weekends, holidays, sick time and vacation days. Not so with a photography business.

If you rely 100 percent on your photography for your income, you are in charge of everything. Creating enough sales to provide your salary. You have to take out the taxes and forward them to the appropriate agency, find the best insurance policy, workman’s comp issues if you..read more>>

Day 9 Setting Up a Workable Budget

In many industries, when people decide to set out on their own path and start a business, the first thing they look for is a financing option. They determine how much they will need and find a source for it, whether it’s through credit cards, dipping into a retirement fund, borrowing from family, or taking out a loan.

But for some reason, I’ve found photography to be one of those industries where the same doesn’t hold true. Maybe its because many photographers start out as hobbyists, have a bunch of equipment on hand, and decide to turn it into a business at that point. In any case there is a long stretch between having some equipment on hand, and running a profitable business…read more>>

Day 10 How To Create a Studio Anywhere

Maybe you don’t want to open up a part of your house to customers – you want your house to be your home. Or maybe your city won’t let you run a business out of your home where you have clients come on a regular basis.

You can’t afford to lease a commercial property – how do you go down that road when you barely have enough clients to make ends meet?

So what do you do?

In today’s world, it’s easier than ever. Not having a studio isn’t a detriment; in some cases, it can actually be a distinct advantage….read more>>

Day 11 How To Establish A Time Schedule You Can Live With

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever gone to dinner with a friend, and had them take one call after another? How did it make you feel? Did you feel your friendship was important, and that your friend was truly a friend? Or did you feel somewhat let down? After all, you took the time out of your schedule to meet, why can’t he or she?

Even if they use the line, “I have to take this call, its business, you understand right?” It still leaves you feeling a bit let down. Yet it’s almost the way of the world anymore. Everyone is connected; everyone has a phone. And with smart technology coming on full force, it’s not likely to decrease any time soon…..read more>>

Day 12 The Easiest Way To Come Up With Dynamic Marketing Promotions

Have you started planning out your special promotions for 2011? If so, you probably have the standard ideas on the calendar. Valentines Day, a spring promotion with chicks or bunnies, pumpkin festivals in the fall, and of course Father Christmas come December.

Not only is it standard, your prospects and clients can easily expect it as well. And while they may be open and receptive to it, chances are it comes somewhat of a given in their lives…..read more>>

Day 13 Creating a 12 Month Marketing Calendar

In Day 12 of this series, we talked about finding different types of promotions to use during the year to promote your photography.  Special promotions allow you to find new clientele in a out of the ordinary way. But special promotions are designed to be above and beyond your normal marketing. They are designed to work in conjunction with your normal marketing routine.

On Wikipedia, one of the definitions for marketing is:

the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising

I like that definition because it stresses two things……read more>>

Day 14 Why Every Small Business Owner Must Now Be a Content Provider

I’m a huge fan of learning from the biggest names in the business. From celebrities, to business owners, to politicians, I’ve always felt if they had what it takes to make it to the top, they must have a tidbit or two of insight on how to get there. Even if you only pick up one important fact from each person, together it can add up to incredible advice.

So you’ll find a lot of biographies on my nightstand. And I love watching interviews on television and online. But something amazing has happened over the past few years.

If you watch or read about anyone from the early baby boomer generation and older, they usually provide a comment along the lines of “if I had to start again today, I’d never be who I am today. The competition is just too intense these days.”…..read more>>

Day 15 What Skills Do You Need As A Photographer?

I went back and read through many of your responses again, and read through them with a different idea in mind. As I read through each story, I started picking out pieces that would tell me what skills today’s photographer needs to survive. Is it the same as in the past? Or has it completely changed?

And as expected, I found a full array of support for many different types of skills.

I found questions and comments about final output – “Do I provide high or low res images?”…..read more>>

Day 16 Niching Your Photography: Choosing The Right Specialty For You

So you want to be a photographer. You want to start a business and make money doing what you love. Once you make that decision, the next most obvious question is “What will you photograph?”

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I could find a million examples of people that have found a niche and are making money doing what they love. In fact I even highlight ideas in my One Great Idea series.

However thinking through the question first has its advantages. If you start out as a generalist, you’ll be climbing an uphill battle against hundreds of other photographers in your area who are doing something similar – and in many cases doing it better or receiving more recognition for it……read more>>

Day 17 How To Get Photos Published In Magazines

In Day 16, we worked through the concept of Niching your photography business, and why it’s so important to focus. The more you focus, the clearer your vision, and the more results you’ll have.

I decided to provide a post on why I thought niching was so important to your success first, and then follow it up with a series of posts that were specific to fields within the photography profession. A great majority of my emails and responses were from people that had specific questions on types of photography. Whether you currently have an interest in a particular field or not, read on. I’ll cover a variety of items that can be taken from field to field, and can help you when you look at growing your own photography business……read more>>

Day 18 How To Compete With Stock Images

“I love to photograph food, products – things for commercial use. I would love to sell my work to companies for hanging on their walls of for them to include in company magazines, brochures, etc. But I’m finding more companies are turning to micro stock, and I’m having trouble getting my foot in the door. Is commercial photography still a viable business? Or should I shoot micro stock myself?” John

Great question.

I’m currently reading a book I Live In The Future & Here’s How It Works by Nick Bilton. I’m only about half way through it, but something Nick wrote in the first chapter has stuck with me, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it the past few days.

In it he speaks of the unraveling of Playboy Enterprises Inc. (I know, Playboy? You have to read the book to see how it fits in to a technology book.) Anyway, between 2004 and 2007, Playboy’s revenue was between $330 million and $340 million, and the company was turning a small profit or just breaking even. But in 2009, revenue slid to $240 million – a 30 percent plunge. The company’s stock slid from $25 to $5 a share. And its outlook isn’t encouraging……read more>>

Day 19 Becoming A Fine Art Photographer

Have you ever walked into a gallery of fine art photography, and thought, “I could do that.” How great would it be to have a huge gallery that inspired millions from around the world?

Fine art means many things to different people.

  • Fine art might be selling a few images at a local craft fair.
  • Fine art might be selling your art as calendars, journals and books.
  • Fine art might be selling your work at art exhibits.
  • Fine art might mean ending up in a museum……read more>>

Day 20 How Do I Become An Event Photographer

Over the past few days, we’ve been covering the idea of specializing, and why it’s so important to really focus on what you want to do. This post is in my 30 Ways series because when people mentioned event photography, it was usually associated with one thing.

One reader mentioned she’s done a few Quinceaneras and would love to do more of them within her family portrait business. One reader mentioned her love of horses and her desire to spend more time within that community. Still another talked about his love for weddings, and his desire to take it to an entirely different level.

While you may love working events, there is a huge difference between working with horse shows, and photographing weddings. Different clientele. Different vendor sources. So specializing is just as important here as it is overall……read more>>

Day 21 Building A Successful Preschool Photography Program

If you have photographed a number of years, I’m sure you can look back and recall your favorites.

For us, we have favorite wedding clients, favorite engagement shoots, and favorite family sittings. We also branched out for a couple of years into the art of preschool photography, and I have one location that became my favorite.

We worked with a private preschool that taught 3 to 6 year olds, from preschool through private kindergarten. It was in an upscale neighborhood, and they weren’t looking for the same old school portraits for their children; they wanted something different.

This preschool was in a beautiful building that had an educational atrium filled with plants and mini-waterfalls. Trust me on this – it was a photographers dream….read more>>

Day 22 How To Get Your Foot In The Right Door

If your goal is to bring in portrait or wedding clients, you quickly understand that you must advertise to the right people, and bring them in one by one. But what if you are looking for bigger jobs? What if you are looking for a few large clients on more of a corporate level in order to fill your studio for the year?

If you are just starting out, that can be a daunting task. I heard from several of you facing this type of situation.

“What is the best way to approach a company to try to get them as a client when you already have photos that are applicable to them? … How should I go about contacting the companies? ….read more>>

Day 23 Convincing Your Spouse And Family To Support Your Photography Dreams

You’ve been dreaming of the day you tell your JOB goodbye, and work at photography full time to support your lifestyle. And while your dreams are real – you live, breathe and dream them every day – you tend to keep your dreams to yourself. Will your family support your decisions? Will your spouse accept your new goals?

One of the most difficult situations you can deal with is to start out in the entrepreneurial life, especially when no one around you has done it before.

“It’s too risky.”

“You’ll lose your benefits.”….read more>>

Day 24 How To Grow A Photography Business On A Shoestring Budget

Have you ever noticed how many photographers describe their marketing budgets? “I’m trying to do it all on a shoestring budget.” I hear that all the time. So I started wondering where that term comes from and what does it truly mean?

A shoestring budget refers to a very limited or small amount of money to spend on something. While the origin of the term is widely debated, one resource relates it to a “shoestring gambler” or a gambling game. Another theory is that shoelaces are low to the ground, and very inexpensive, so the idea of “low budget” and very inexpensive may have been built into the connotation.

In any case, shoestring budget simply refers to….read more>>

Day 25 How To Add Your First Employee

One of the most magical points of running a business is when you realize you can’t do it all yourself; the only way to move forward is to take on an employee.

“My challenge is how to grow from a one-woman show to the next step. Do I just hire an office/production manager? I have found that networking and shooting and selling are my favorite things and could let the rest go. Am just having trouble with making it happen.”
Laura

Document Your Month

As a solo business owner, the first step is realizing you need help and are willing to let some things go. The second step is determining what is practical to let go…..read more>>

Day 26 The Photographers Guide To Handling Business Growth

You’ve done everything right. You’ve created your goals, and are on target to put everything into place. You’ve produced a marketing campaign that’s bringing in a steady stream of clients. You’re bringing in enough income that photography is your full time career. Everything seems to be going as planned. Now what?

How do you handle the growth you are experiencing? How do you keep up with it all, and keep your head above water? Its fun at the moment, but the last thing you want to have happen is to feel like you are in over your head. Overwhelm is not something you choose to experience again…..read more>>

Day 27 What Great Networking Means In Today’s World

When I say the word “networking” what do you think of? Everyone has a slightly different slant to the connotation of the word.

You may have thought about a particular group you go to regularly, and how you interact with people that are more then business owners – they’ve become friends.

You may have thought of the word fear – you hate walking into a group of unknowns, and be expected to walk up and start a conversation.

You may have thought about online networking – yep, Facebook and Twitter, wondering how you can gain more leverage by using social networking sites…..read more>>

Day 28 How To Build Wealth As A Photographer

Shocking right? Over 72 percent of all wealth in America is in the hands of the top 10 percent. So what does that mean for the rest of us?

Right now, we’re seeing that wages are increasing at about 3.4 percent on average per year. That is if you happen to be lucky enough to be in an industry that is currently giving raises. Add in the fact that job security is at an all time low – will your job really be there next year? And expenses are growing at a much faster pace then our income could ever hope to keep up with.

Okay, I’m not using all of this to bring you down. Just the opposite in fact. I’m using these numbers to bring you up.

See statistics also show that the only way to build wealth right now in America (and the rest of the world too) is to start and build your own business. When you are in control, you also control how much you bring in….read more>>

Day 29 What Photographers Don’t Get About Marketing

I love time travel movies. It’s so much fun thinking about the possibility of being able to leap into the future to see what its like. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the world is like in 50 years? What technology will we be using? What will our daily lives be like?

Unfortunately, we can’t make the leap today, and know instantly what we should be doing to make our future successful. And in today’s world, even a few short months can bring about drastic change.

Think about what we do today compared with what we were doing five years ago. Would you have ever predicted spending your time on Facebook? Statistics show that the average person spends over 10 hours per month on it…..read more>>

Day 30 Moving Forward – Where Do We Go From Here?

The questions raised by today’s photographers make you wonder what’s happening to the photographic industry. And rightfully so. Is there a future for photography? Can you still make a decent living as a photographer?

Huge amounts of photographers are coming on board because of digital cameras. It’s easy to buy one, easy to understand and process an image, so it’s easy to announce you are becoming a “professional”.

With so many newbies on board, they take the easiest way possible to make a few bucks. They shoot, give the images on a CD, and then wonder why sales are diminished…..read more>>


Author’s Note: This concludes the 30 Ways in 30 Days series. Still have a question or problem that wasn’t addressed here? I would love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment on any of the 30 days posts, or email me directly at lori@virtualphotographystudio.com. I look forward to hearing how this series helped you grow as a photographer.