3 Lessons I Learned Building My Wedding Photography Business Past the $100,000 Level

A few years back I started doing research for a book I was writing on photography. And I was shocked to learn that in the photography industry, the top 10 percent of all photographers earned in excess of $53,900 per year. That meant 90 percent of all photographers where earning less than this. I knew then something had to change, and my entire VirtualPhotographyStudio concept was born.

building a wedding photography business

Inevitably when I teach or am around a group of photographers, someone always asks about my lessons learned.  “What do you wish you knew as a start up that would have helped you jump to the Six Figure faster?” So here are my top 3 lessons learned.

1. Getting To $50,000 is much harder than getting to $100,000
The most difficult thing about building a photography business from the ground up (or any business for that matter) is figuring out what it takes to make it a full time success. If you are earning $10,000 or $20,000 per year from your photography, you have to have a supplemental income from somewhere. But once you hit the $50,000, you’re beginning to look at it more with a full time status. (Yes, there are still all of your expenses you have to subtract, but you’re still earning a pretty decent fee.)

In order to grow from $0 to $50,000, you have to put your systems in place. You have to build your marketing materials. You have to build up a good clientele. You have to have your prices and your products well defined. And you have to devote enough time to everything in addition to your supplemental income source.

Once you move past the $50,000, things are in place – it’s just a matter of taking it to the next level. If you’re struggling now to break into the $50+ level, what do your plans look like? How are you going to achieve it? Make sure you’re thinking at a full time level to achieve full time success.

2. Clients that spend $10,000 are much easier than clients that spend $1,000
Let me tell you a tale of two clients.

The first bought our lowest package, yet wanted the world. She was Cinderella for a day, and wanted everyone to love her day as much as she did. Whenever we gave an inch, she took a mile. We spent more time and work on her wedding than we did for most of our larger clients. And she complained the entire time.

The second found us through her wedding consultant, and hired us based on our referral and looking around our website. She accepted us as the professional, and put her faith in what we did. She booked our top package, and made little changes to anything we suggested. She was busy with her own career, new we were the professionals, and relied on her skill at picking professionals to guide her into what was right for her.

Are $10,000 clients always easier than $1,000 ones? No. But the key is to understand that you have to define your client and stick to what you offer. Know where you’ll profit, and make sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth.

3. Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.
If something works, do it again. And then add to it.

I’ve sent out newsletters for well over 15 years now. They’ve changed along the way. But I’ve never stopped using them because they work.

I’ve gone from phone book advertising, to advertising in wedding magazines, to devoting my time to websites, blogs and social media sites. Where I put my advertising changes, but never my dedication to investing marketing in some avenues.

Now with the economy in the shape its in, you’ll hear frequently how people are laying off marketing professionals, and stopping different advertising methods. Yet that’s the worst thing they can do.

Build it. Find out what works. Stick with it no matter what. And always be on the look out for something that will work even better.

Are You Asking This Question Before You Hit Publish On Your Blog Post?

When you start planning out a blog post, what goes through your mind before you start writing? Do you just let it flow, or do you start out with a plan?

For me, I always start out with a question:

Can my reader learn one important point by reading this post, with no more than three supporting sub categories?

And I start writing from there.

People don’t want to read through pages and pages of information to learn all about one subject. That’s what we have books for. Instead when they come to your blog, they come with one question in mind. Your blog post should be the answer to that one question.

If they wonder, “What’s the best macaroni and cheese recipe for kids” your post entitled, “The Best Mac N Cheese Recipe For Kids” will surly get them what they need.

If they search for, “Using Twitter For My Consulting Business” and your blog post is titled, “4 Ways Consultants Can Use Twitter To Bring In Clients” they know what they’ll quickly learn by reading your post.

If your title is clear, chances are the content will be as well.

From there, I make sure I don’t drift off into territory that’s not directly related to my title. People come for one reason only. They get what they came for and move on. To provide more in that one post dilutes your message, and doesn’t allow your reader to develop a relationship with you in their own time.

If they want to learn more, they’ll click around. If they like what you have to say, they’ll do more research. Or sign up for your offers. The key is they’ll do it in their time and in their manner, not yours.

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clientexperience@todaysgrowthconsultant.com' About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • I appreciate what was shared in your post. Stick to what works and building on that platform is a good idea. Every five years redefine yourself to stay on course.

  • Great post and excellent advice. You are 100% correct about over $50,000 being the top 10% and harder than reaching $100,000.

    I really like what you shared about advertising. Great thoughts.

    Rosh

  • I just ran across this post thanks to Rosh, and the initial information was sort of shocking to see…that the top 10% are the ones earning more than 50K a year. Very grateful that you shared these three things; they gave me a lot to think about. I always thought it was an odd inverse relationship between the amount the client is paying and how demanding they are. Not 100% of the time, but pretty darn close!

    Thanks again for sharing!
    Phillip

  • It is so true that lower paying clients seem to want the world. Very frequently it is because the amount of money that they’re spending is so much more significant for them than it is for those who can afford more expensive packages. The rough part it, it’s hard to get to the high paying clients without doing a bunch of low paying ones first.

    Also an interesting point #3. I’ll have to keep that in mind when I blog in the future… I tend to write too much.

    As Ever,
    Matthew Gore