How To Recover From Online ADD So You Can Grow Your Photography Business

Online ADD. That’s what I call it. And you’re probably a victim of it. It goes something like this …

You decide to build up your photography business, so you head online to start checking things out. You visit site after site, taking in whatever they are talking about. If it’s a great site, you sign up for all you can and start following the advice. UNTIL …

You find the next site. They look great too. So you sign up for their stuff and start following it. Put away the stuff you got last week … that’s soooo last week. And so you start following the steps it tells you to do. UNTIL …

Yep, you get the idea. Everything you read looks like a better shiny object. It seems more relevant to what you want to do today. They sway your decisions and make you want to start down the other path. You may even find yourself saying things like, “Well if he can make $1 million and have hundreds of clients just from a simple Facebook page, I can too.”

Can you see yourself here, or is it just me? Yes, I’ve done this way too many times before. I knew if I just kept reading, I would find the magic key somewhere. What I was going through was an information overload – the more I found, the more I tried to read, the more I wanted to try.

Too Much Of Anything Is Never Good

Do a quick search for things that apply to your photography business. I Googled a variety of key terms, and this is what I found:

Now think about that for a minute. If you wanted to start a photography business, you potentially have over 5 ½ million items you could look through to help you with the process. Once you start your business, you could look through over 451 million things to find the right advice to market it. Or 192 million results to determine what to plan for.

No one could ever get through that kind of content. Its information overload.

But its so easy to do, we Google things all day long.

If you went back 20 years or more, things were different. If you wanted information on building your business, you bought a book. Or you attended a seminar. You learned one thing and began applying it. The only way to increase your knowledge would be to go out and buy another book or attend another seminar. So chances are you invested in just a few things over the course of a year, and found a way to make sure they all applied to each other and helped you build a solid foundation for your business.

In other words, things were easier because you simply didn’t have access to enough information to cause you to go into overload mode.

The Key Is Focus

It was easier to build a business pre-Internet. Without excess information, you could really focus in on the next step, do it, and have results. Once you saw what your results were, you adjusted and tried it again from a slightly different way.

Likewise, prospects attention spans were also easier to capture. When we had a handful of television channels and everyone read the same daily newspaper, you pretty much knew where they were getting their information from. Now we have hundreds of television stations, thousands of options when you add in Internet and satellite channels, movies, DVDs etc. Newspapers are a thing of the past – your prospect could be relying on anything from radio to television, to Facebook or an online news source. People are actually more informed today then they ever have been in history. Which means to capture their attention, your work has increased tenfold.

Yet the solution isn’t trying a hundred or a thousand things. The solution is to focus even more, really narrow down to whom you are trying to reach, and do everything you can to attract attention to your business. Instead of jumping at the “latest and greatest” thing, you know instantly if your audience will be there, and use the best advice possible to make that work for you.

When you discover the next step, its important to spend all the time necessary to put it into place before you move onto the next step. If you are setting up a website, you need to focus on choosing the right  platform (WordPress) and developing the best website possible to showcase your business. Or if marketing is your weak point and you are trying to build up a referral plan, you need to focus in on creating the best program from beginning to end.

The only way to build a successful business is to follow in someone else’s footprints. They’ve done it before you and they will leave bread crumbs to help you along.

Only you can choose how you will do it. Will you constantly search and look through millions of results that pop up when you perform free searches? Or will you take the next step and work with someone who can help you get there twice as fast, and help develop your business as quickly as possible?

It Could Start With An Email

10 people. Yep, currently I’m opening up my email coaching program to 10 people. I haven’t publicly offered my email coaching program in over a year, and I don’t anticipate offering it again any time soon. With some major projects coming up in the summer/fall, it will be at least 2013 before I have any more opportunities for individual coaching.

So if you’ve always wanted a “marketing director” on your team, someone you could run ideas by, get advice from, and learn from, this is your chance. I’ve run 3 successful business over the last 20 years. I took our photography business from start up to over $250,000 in under two years.

If you are ready, now is the time. But with only 10 openings, you have to make the choice now … You can read all about it here.

4 Ways You’re Probably Looking At Money In The Wrong Way

One of the biggest reasons people never start their own business, or choose to migrate from a job to solo-preneur spirit is due to lack of funds. They simply don’t THINK they have what it takes to make the change.

Yet in many cases, the money is sitting right there ready for the taking. The problem is most people focus on the wrong things instead of how to find what they need.

For instance, a person may say “I’ll start my own business after I’ve saved $10,000 to put towards it.” So they start saving.

Then a friend asks them to go skiing. So a couple hundred disappears for the day of fun.

Then the car breaks down. So they spend $500 on repairs. And maybe even determine an old car just isn’t good enough anymore. Several hundred dollars per month migrate into a new car monthly payment.

The problem is people waste time on the minor decisions of life – the things that people are faced with on a daily basis – instead of focusing on the big picture.

Small decisions make us feel productive. So they grasp whatever they can and feel good about this one simple decision.

Chances are you are already starting to see yourself in this line of thinking. I know I’ve been there a time or two myself.

Yet the only way to move forward with what is truly important to you is to really focus in on the bigger picture. If you want the life you’ve been dreaming about, you have to change what’s really holding you back. Let’s go over 4 things you can look at in slightly different ways.

Earn More

If your goal is to start a business or jump over from a full time career to a full time photography business, have you ever charted out how much money it will take?

Its easy to think about your current take home pay and try and mirror that in your sales. But that isn’t always the true necessity.

Instead, take a look at your bills as they stand today. How much do you need to survive every single month?

Then as you are working towards your goal of full time photography business, concentrate on making more money in the months preceding it to allow you to jump off into your new career. But don’t spend your new-found wealth. Just because you increase your income today by taking on overtime or getting a raise doesn’t mean you should spend it. Instead, tuck that away into a special savings account that will help you achieve your dreams.

Save More

If you try and save more on your current income, you’ll always find an excuse to avoid it. Yet if you find a way to make more, you now can continue to live your current lifestyle without having to trim back on the little things you love.

Once you see your savings building and your dreams becoming more concrete, you’ll automatically be motivated to see them through faster. This is when you can start cutting back on the “extras” in your life because you have more motivation to do so. Nothing will motivate you more than seeing your dreams get closer and closer as your savings begins to reach your goals. [Read more…]

5 Tips For Women Building Six Figure Photography Businesses

“One woman can change many things; many women together can change everything.”
Women for Women International

Today is the 101st anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day created to inspire women and celebrate achievements on a global level. The International Women’s Day tagline is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures. So this post is dedicated to the thousands of girls and women that love their cameras, are passionate about photography, and want to use their passion to change the world.

According to the National Association for Women Business Owners, women own 40 percent of all privately held firms here in the US, imply more than 13 million people, and generate $1.9 trillion in sales. Yet most – 97 percent – have revenues below the million dollar mark. In other words, women create businesses to replace their “jobs” that aren’t flexible enough to allow them to do all they need to do, yet don’t have what it takes to grow them into serious money-generating businesses.

While the idea behind this post isn’t to help you create a seven figure business, creating a six figure business is more than doable, and is something you can strive for within a short period of time – two years or less. What should you put in place right now to help you grow to the six figure level?

Watch your numbers.

Do you know what your current profits are? Your ROI? Your net sales? Your cash flow? How about how much profit you make on each product and service you sell? The more you understand your numbers and watch how well your business is doing, the more you can change things as they happen to keep your business on a straight path. You don’t need an MBA in order to understand the financials. Use a great accounting system – I use Wave – which will make it easy for you to track and watch your reports. Or hire an accountant who can keep you up to date on what’s important, without having to learn the accounting details yourself. [Read more…]

The First 4 Steps To Becoming A Wealthy Photographer

What is the number one reason most businesses fail? It isn’t lack of ideas, lack of enthusiasm, or lack of potential. People go into business for all the right reasons.

Instead, the one reason they fail is they run out of the one resource you simply can’t build a business without – cash. Cash is king when it comes to owning and operating a photography business. There are certain things you can do yourself to avoid using cash – market using Facebook and Twitter, do your own editing instead of hiring, or typing in your own data entry and tax information. Yet if you don’t pay a bill, it will have lasting implications. If you can’t buy product to finish a client’s order, it will impact the success of your business.

The solution comes in the form of cash flow management. And if you put these few steps into place, it could easily help you move from a struggling business to a six figure photographer.

Measure your cash flow

Instead of sitting around waiting for the checks to come in or new clients to materialize before your eyes, take a look at your situation instead. Create a cash flow plan to see where you will stand next week, next month, at the end of the quarter, and over the course of the next year. Cash flow plans are not solid numbers you can use as a guarantee; instead they are an educated guess that will help you keep track of where you are and where you will be in the future.

The easiest way to develop a cash flow plan is to sit down and look at a number of factors already in place. What customers do you have on the books that haven’t paid? When are they scheduled to pay? Do they pay on time? What payments do you owe to vendors? What expenses do you know you’ll be facing in the coming months? By looking at your receivables and your payables, and tracking them according to when they are due, you should be able to develop a rough timeline that will show you when your cash is coming in, and when it is going out. [Read more…]

Why There Are So Many Photography Experts

I hear 20 year professional photographers say it all the time.

“A few years ago, I was one of just a few photographers advertising in this magazine. Now the pages of photographers goes on for 30 pages. There’s no way I can compete with this many photographers out there. So I’m lowering my prices and doing what I can to survive.”

Being an expert at photography is a lot like being an expert at social media.

Over the last two years, everyone has been jumping on the social media bandwagon. They sign up for a Twitter account, sign up for a Facebook account, read a little, build up their accounts to a 3 figure friend level. And then they start thinking.

“Hmmm, I’m not making any money at (whatever it is they do); maybe I should see if I could make a hundred bucks or so selling a Facebook page setup to business people.”

I can go to any networking group in town and find someone who fits that description. In fact I just received an email from a lady who has been selling an MLM product for the last couple of years – she is now a social media expert and will design your Facebook page for you.

So the question really is “what does ‘expert’ mean?”

Because you can buy the camera, the lenses, the “professional” looking bag, and have a pile of gadgets. You can read several books about photography and get a pretty good idea of how to take a decent picture. You can be the shutterbug in your family, fire off a bunch of shots, and probably end up with one or two that are pretty good.

But having the stuff doesn’t make you the expert.

You have to walk the walk.

Being able to design a Facebook page that ends up with a few hundred friends is easy. Its having the nohow to design a great page that brings in the right people, that converts as many people as possible to paying clients that matters most.

Instead of firing off a hundred shots, hoping you’ll get one or two great ones, an expert has the ability to fire off a few shots, knowing they have a few great ones. Every time.

Dig Deeper: 5 Reasons Not To Quit Facebook

And knowing you can rely on that photographer to give you expert results in every condition, no matter what the time of day, or what’s happening around you – that’s what changes a person from someone who loves it, to someone who is an expert at it. They don’t think; they do.

So how do you sell expertise? First, you have to be a true expert. Then question your potential clients. Make them curious about the so called expertise in the “cheap” photographers. Make them question whether they want to rely on someone who needs a few hundred shots to get a few good ones. Or whether they want to hire someone who gets great shots every time, no matter what the conditions.

How To Look At Your Money Life

A couple of years ago, we began looking at our life a little differently.

The economy was heading downward, with little end in sight. Businesses were changing, with many of them going out of business, or simply putting little value on the traditional “employee” model.

And we started looking at where our money was going, and what we wanted to do with it in the coming years.

Yep, we had a great life. Large house, great school system, lots of things to do in the area, and the occasional vacation. But when we really started analyzing our life, we discovered we weren’t quite where we wanted to be.

What Does The Future Look Like?

I often mention here on this blog that you should plan goals, think about where you want to be in the future, and then take the necessary steps to achieve it.

When we did that for ourselves, we discovered that even though we had the American Dream, our vision of the American Dream had slightly changed.

Sure, we had a great house. But did we really need that much space?

And we went on the occasional vacation, but were two weeks here and there really enough?

The answer was no on both accounts.

So we started looking at what it truly means to own a home.

Part of the American Dream was to own a home, have it go up and value, and use that appreciation to finance different phases of your life. But is that even possible anymore? In the short term, we found ourselves saying no.

Owning a home today means paying a mortgage, knowing full well the value might just come down. We’ve owned for almost 10 years, and as we are leaving, we’re walking away with a small profit. That profit has dropped considerably over the past 4, yet we’re happy to walk away with some.

Is owning a home truly where its at? Or are there other opportunities?

We started digging a bit deeper.

Where Is The Money Going Today?

Have you ever sat down and calculated where your money goes each month. And then really sat and thought about it? While we “write the checks” and knew exactly what we were paying, we never really thought about it.

Then we started putting it down on paper. [Read more…]

What It Takes To Maintain Success

When you’ve been in business for yourself for as long as I have, occasionally someone will come up with the question, “What’s the secret to your success?”

In truth, I have to say its actually pretty simple. There are no secrets. I’ve never had luck standing on my door, or a secret guide that’s shown me the magic path. But what I do is consistent with every business I’ve started, and works again and again because it’s systematic.

I Read

Every morning I get up and read through my favorite blogs via my Google Reader. When a trade magazine comes in, I sit down and read it. I buy books and check them out from the library every week. Yep, I’m what you’d call an information junkie. I have my favorite books – How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and the Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer, which I read over and over again. I also watch the top 100 lists to choose new titles from. Every time I read, I gain a new idea. It doesn’t matter if the book was just published, or is 50 years old and I’ve read it 10 times. Because I’m always at a different place in my life, and I always have new issues to deal with, I always learn something new. I’ve also found the older I get, the more I read, the better my business gets. Any correlation?

I Write

Yes, I do write for my blog every day. But “I Write” in this context focuses on what I learn from my reading. You see the only way to remember what you read, and retain the very best ideas you come up with is to write them down. It doesn’t matter if you use them now, or save them for a later timeframe. If you have an idea that could impact your business or change your life, you have to write it down. Than quantify it. How can you put it into place? How can it help you build for a better tomorrow? The more action you take on it, the more you’ll reap the rewards.

I Collect Ideas

Whenever an idea comes to mind, I write it down. The trouble with ideas is they can “pop” into your mind at any time, day or night, so it’s important to be prepared. I keep a notebook and pen on my nightstand for the 2 am ideas that wake me up. I know if I don’t get them down, I’ll be up all night trying to remember them. I also have a small notebook in my purse. If you’ve ever been out running errands and had nothing to write on, you know the dilemma. Instead of finding a napkin or an old receipt, I have my small notebook at hand, ready for all my ideas. And of course now, I also use my iPad – Evernote is a great resource that allows you to collect just about everything, from sites, to content, to photos.
[Read more…]

Cost vs. Value: Would You Spend $25,000 To Grow Your Photography Business?

Around the world, most people think with their pocketbooks instead of realizing the impact something could have on their futures.

They focus in on the cost of everything that is presented to them, instead of on the value the item presents to their lives.

For instance, if I said you have the opportunity to spend one week with the top minds of the world, learning all you can about business and improving your life, but it came with a price tag of $25,000 for the week, what would you focus on?

The chance to spend one on one time with brilliant minds that have grown major corporations?

Or the fact that there is no way you could ever afford $25,000?

Would you concentrate on the value you would receive from spending time with people that have succeeded at everything you’ve ever dreamed of?

Or would you concentrate on the cost of the program?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

I have spent thousands of dollars to attend seminars in the past, and when I talk about them with family and friends, the response is predictable:

“What, are you crazy? How could you spend THAT much?”

Because they are so focused on the costs, they miss one crucial point.

You can’t learn million dollar strategies from someone who has never made one million dollars. You can’t learn successful business strategies from someone who has never built a successful business. And you can’t learn successful lifestyle strategies from someone who doesn’t have the lifestyle you are trying to emulate.

So when I see someone holding a multi-thousand dollar event, I look at it and say, “Hmm … I wonder what they know that I don’t?” I look at the people in attendance, their reputations, their resumes, and what they have to offer to the group.

While the big price tag of $25,000 probably got your attention, the same holds true no matter what the price tag. People have different thresholds, and while some declare $25,000 to be outrageous, for others it might be $500, or even $50.

One person may say, “OMG, you paid $1,000 for that? Really? I’ll give you “advice” for half of that, give me $500 and I’ll tell you everything I know, wink wink.”

But a smart person knows better. “If this training teaches me one important tip that will help me generate $1,000 into my business next month, I could keep earning that $1,000 for the life of my business.”

The Key To Photography: Connection

Have you ever watched Ted? They have the most amazing speakers. I head over there all the time and watch one (or two or three) to be inspired and learn something new.

Yesterday I was in my Ted watching mode, and I found this wonderful talk by Brene Brown called The Power of Vulnerability.

As a human researcher, she spent years out in the field studying humans, and why we’re so afraid of one of the most key characteristics we face – vulnerability. It’s worth watching:

In it she talks about a variety of things, and it brought several aha moments to light, including one on connection.

Ultimately we as people want to feel connection with those in our own community. Connection is why we’re here – its what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. We want to fit in. We want to belong.

On the opposite side of connection is disconnect. If you are vulnerable, you end up with shame, or the feeling of being disconnected. And that’s something we all avoid like the plague.

We never want to “not fit in”. So we do whatever we need to do to make those around us happy. Even if it means putting our own feelings and beliefs in jeopardy.

As an artist, as a photographer, this can be hard to take.

  • If you’ve ever created an image that you love and your client hates, you understand vulnerability.
  • If you’ve ever created the perfect package, only to find none of your clients are willing to buy it, you know vulnerability.
  • If you’ve ever put together a wedding album that you simply love and you feel tells the complete story of the wedding, only to have your client rip it apart, you know vulnerability.
  • If you’ve ever put the business on hold because everyone around you tells you how risky it is to start your own business, you know vulnerability.
  • If you’ve ever struggled with vulnerability, and tried to numb it so you would be more liked, more accepted, find a way to push back.

Do one thing today that shows your courage. Do one thing that helps you take that crucial step to believing in yourself, and connecting with people that truly love what you do.

Are You In A Dying Industry?

Have you ever watched the Amazing Race? The concept is simple. Take 12 teams of two, and have them race around the world as they accomplish different tasks along the way. Then at the end of each leg of the race, you eliminate the team that comes in last place. The winner wins a prize of $1 million, and the honor or being first in the Amazing Race.

As the teams race, they end up in some pretty incredible places. And they also have to do tasks that directly relate to the area they are in to experience the lifestyle and the culture of the people around them. This season they had to do a search and rescue at the top of the mountain, looking for a “dummy” under piles of snow. And they enjoyed heading under water looking for buried treasure amongst a sea full of mermaids.

If you watch the show, it’s easy to be captivated by the race, and end up with a desire to travel beyond the typical tourist attractions. So of course there are many people that would love to experience their own “amazing race”.

Enter Nextpedition.

Nextpedition is a custom made mystery trip based on your travel sign. You uncover your travel sign by taking an online quiz, which walks you through a series of questions to determine what your preferences are. Do you like visiting museums? Or hiking in a rain forest?

Once you’ve determined your interests, you can select your level of enjoyment – three four or five start accommodations. You can also choose where you want to travel – US or Europe. Then they put together a mystery package, and you’re soon on your way.

Over the last few years, the travel industry has taken a huge hit. Most travel agencies no longer exist, thanks to the tools of the online world. Who needs a traditional travel agent when you can search and get exactly what you are looking for online?

But if you tweak the old concept, and come up with a new twist, you can create an amazing new opportunity. American Express through so, and created Nextpedition.

Why did it work so well? It’s all about the experience. Head over and watch some of the videos. They all talk about the experience, and how they could have never have achieved the same results themselves by walking around the city. What made their trips special was having insider tips, guides and opportunities as they traveled from place to place.

Okay, how does this apply to photography?

One of the top debates in the photography realm is whether you can still make a great living at photography, or if it’s a dying industry.

Photography in its old format is dead. You can’t revive the way photography used to be – digital and the Internet changed that forever. People now like to experience things for themselves. They have their iPhone on them all the time, and can post photos and videos from every location in the world instantly on to Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

But you can change the experience. If the travel industry can, so can the photography industry. You’re not just a photographer; you’re a visual storyteller.

What sites have you found that have revived a dying industry? What photographers do you know who are changing things up, and making it big in the new economy?