The Only 7 Assets Your Photography Business Should Strive For

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 7…

The Only 7 Assets Your Photography Business Should Strive For

What does a healthy business look like? Lots of customers. Lots of sales. Lots of profits. There are many different ways of looking at it.

But some things matter more than others.

What if you were suddenly forced to shut your doors and move 2000 miles away to a place you’ve never been before? And you were only allowed to bring seven things with you. What would those seven things be?

All you would really need is the essential foundations of building up your business. You need the assets that turned your business into a successful venture.

Assets are the foundation of a healthy business.

And while there are many things that could be lumped into the asset column of your business, different assets have different priorities in your “take” list. Yes, your camera equipment may be an asset. But cameras are replaceable. If you lose it today, you can buy an identical one tomorrow. And the moment you purchase it, it begins to depreciate in value – meaning it won’t sustain you for the long term.

So … what would be on your asset list to take with you across country?

In my mind, your real business asset are the things you’ve built yourself and have complete control over – no one can ever take them away from you.

1. Your content

Your content includes a variety of things. It includes your portfolio of images. It includes the letters you’ve written and the brochures you’ve created. It includes the content on your blog posts and the articles that have been published about you in the local newspaper. Your content is what defines you and what turns you into you.

2. Your list

A business is only as good as the people on their lists. It may include your past customers. It may include people that follow you in your social sites. It may include vendors that you’ve worked with in the past or would love to work with in the future. The more thorough the list, the more successful your business will be. [Read more…]

10 Ways Your Sales Presentations May Be Hurting Your Sales

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 10…

One of the hardest aspects of running a photography studio is the sales process. Most of us aren’t born with sales skills. And though we can learn it over time, it may be the one thing holding you back from success. If you can’t sell, your business can’t thrive. Take a look at these ideas to see how you can improve your sales process.

1. Your selling process isn’t defined

What do you hope to accomplish during your sales process? How long is your sales process? Do you have clearly defined goals along the way? The only thing that builds and grows your business is sales. Yet that’s probably the one area you leave to chance and just “go with the flow”. You take classes to become a better photographer, and to learn how to market your business. Why not take a sales class too?

2. Your selling process isn’t planned

Instead of leaving it to chance, create a program that puts your sales strategies down for each stage of the process. How will you introduce your services? How will you get them to say yes? What will you do to keep them happy with their yes decisions? How will you get them to say yes to more throughout the process? The more you define in your strategy, the more successful you will be with it.

3. Cold selling has evolved

Remember the days of getting a list, picking up the phone, and making a “cold” call to someone? Nope, me neither. That’s because traditional cold calling hasn’t been around in a long time. Yet that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – we just approach it different. Thanks to the Internet, the customer is now more educated than ever before. They do their research, they understand your business, and they educate themselves on exactly what they want. Your job is to be the expert and help them bridge the gap between what they know and what they need to know in order for you to close the sale. [Read more…]

What Should You Be Trying For: One Big Customer or Many Small One’s?

Imagine your business in this manner. You have one great client that you love. They love everything about you and they pay you dearly for your services. Whatever you need to survive each month ($1,000? $10,000?), that’s the fee they pay you to photograph for them.

Sounds pretty impressive right?

What if we imagine your business in another light. Instead of one great client, you have 100 great clients. Every single month just enough of your great clients come in to give you the perfect amount of income you need to sustain your lifestyle. Your pricing is set up perfectly and they are happy to pay what you charge.

Now here is the question.

Which one of these situations is better?

I bet you instantly went one way or the other. And for good reason. There really is no right or wrong answer. Everyone has a different customer philosophy. Every business is built a little differently. Let’s look a bit further into the big client philosophy.

Some photographers head out looking for that one big client they can work for week after week, relying on them as their primary income source. Yet when you rely on one customer, that one customer becomes your world.

The one that pays the most towards the bottom line has the most control over you.

If that one customer decides they want to try something new, they can let you go literally overnight. Your income source drops out of the picture in one swoop. You lose it all instantly.

While the one big client may seem to be your “meal ticket”, it can also cause the most stress in your life.

Big clients can be a great way to run a photography business. Yet they also put you at the most risk, and can ultimately cause you the most stress, especially during hard economic times.

There really is no set rule to the number of clients you should shoot for in your business model. However, I’ve found to reduce stress, I look for no more than 20 percent of my income from any one source. So for my monthly income, that would mean I would need at a minimum 5 different sources to supply my income. Here’s why.

If you lose one big client and they supply you with 100 percent of your income, you literally can go from having a business to being out of work overnight. You can’t afford your bills if nothing is coming in.

If you have five clients each supplying you with 20 percent of your business, if one client decides to leave, it is still a 20 percent hit to your bottom line. But its much easier to absorb that shock for a few weeks while you find a client to take over that position. You can tighten your belt and spend quality time looking for your next client.

For me, that’s less stress.

Sound better to you? Or does the thought of losing 20 percent of your income still make you a bit queasy?

What if instead of having 5 clients provide you with 20 percent of your income, you went with 10 clients providing you each with 10 percent of your income? Or 20 clients providing you with 5 percent of your income?

The more clients you have, the less meaning each will have to your overall bottom line.

Before you get too excited with the numbers here, its also worth thinking about how your stress will move up on the other side.

When you have one client providing you with 100 percent of your income, you spend all of your time thinking of ways to satisfy that client. You provide them with top quality customer service. You look for the best products and services available to please that one client.

Everything you do is built for that client.

When you add other clients into the picture, you have more to think about. You no longer have to satisfy one client, you have to satisfy 5 (or 10, or 20). The more you have, the more you spread yourself out. Instead of focusing your energy on one thing at a time, you now must be good at multitasking. Client A may be coming in for a photo shoot, Client B may need a sales presentation, and Client C’s work may be in production mode requiring editing in Photoshop.

Each client demands your attention in a different way, every single day.

So what is the best answer? Big clients or small clients? The choice is yours. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I good at multitasking?
  • Do I get bored easily?
  • Do I enjoy working with lots of people or seeing the same person again and again?
  • What are my stressers, money or tasks?
  • What do I prefer to do every day?

There is no right or wrong answer. Only the best answer to suit you. Yes you may end up leaving money on the table. And yes, you may have the occasional problem along the way with either choice. But the key is in your overall strategy. Doing what’s right for you means you’ll always approach clients in a manner best suited for you. You’ll be able to give them the right amount of attention to fit the situation. They will love your business because you deliver what you promise.

And that’s really all we can hope for.

1,000 Ways To Say No … or Should It Be Yes?

“Would you like to co-chair this committee with me?”

“Can you work the school auction?”

“Why don’t you plan the family reunion, you’re so good at it.”

Are you the type of person that people come to when they need something?

Is it because you do the best job? Is it because you’re reliable?

Or is it because they know you won’t say no?

Yep, I’ve fallen into that trap many times myself. Its easy to do when you love to help out when you can, and you’re committed to a cause. Whether its being a part of your children’s schooling, being a part of a family, or even being in business, its hard to say no when you feel a sense of community.

But saying no isn’t a bad thing; it’s the perception we feel it puts on our shoulders that we’re afraid of.

“Will they think less of me if I say no?”

“Will I miss out on hidden opportunities if I say no?”

All kinds of things run through your mind.

In truth, saying no isn’t a bad thing. In fact it can be beneficial.

Consider the cost of missed opportunities

If you say yes to something you’re heart isn’t into, and you would rather not do, you may find yourself having to turn down other things that would have more benefit. Especially if you’ve signed up for a long term project.

Planning an event or sitting on a committee takes time. You’ll spend hours working on the outcome, and even more hours driving to/from and attending meetings. What if a new project comes along for your business and you can’t accept because you don’t have the time?

Always ask yourself if you are using your time as wisely as possible.

Look at the alternatives

When someone approaches you with a new idea, don’t answer “yes” right away. Even if you like the idea, ask if you can respond in a day or two with your final answer. Then look at it subjectively over the course of the next day or two. Do a little research to find out how much time this project will truly take. Ask people that have been in the position before how much time they truly spent on the project. Also consider what you could do if you don’t commit to this project. Make your decision based on what you feel is the best thing for you at the moment. [Read more…]

How To Follow The Path To Failure

What’s the most common question people have when they decide to become professional photographers?

“How do I become a successful photographer?”

Yet that question is impossible for anyone other than the photographer to answer. And if I tried to answer it for them, I would quickly put them on the path to failure. Here’s why.

You see, everyone has their own vision of success.

One person may see a business that brings in enough income they can stay home with the kids. They photograph portraits a few times a week, and charge just enough to bring in enough income to pay the bills.

The next person may choose to become the most well known photographer in the world. They want to travel around the world, sell their images to the best publications, and give presentations in the highest places possible.

These two people would both be considered a success if they achieved the goals they have for themselves. Yet if I tried to define success for them in generic terms, I could never have  accomplished it.

So, if you want to follow the path to failure, buy a guide to success from a photographer and try to follow his advice down to the detail.

But if you want to create a path to success, use these strategies to move you forward

Read as many success guides as you can, and use them to define your own goals

The easiest way to find success is to follow in someone else’s footsteps. Let face it, its all been done before. Someone has made a lot of money as a portrait photographer, a wedding photographer, an app developer, and an album designer. If you can think it, you can find someone who has found success doing what you’re dreaming about.

Even though they have blazed the trail before you, you probably have key issues with the way they do things. You may be targeting a different set of clients, be in a different area, or have different desires. Because you are starting out now, and they may have years or even decades of experience, you’ll probably approach things a bit different. That’s okay. That’s what gives you your unique twist on things, and will help you blaze your own trail. [Read more…]

How To Make Your Facebook Page Attract Customers

Putting up a Facebook Page is easy. Click on the Create A Page button, and it walks you through a few screens to add content.

The challenge comes from turning your page from a stand-alone, no one knows you’re there Page, into a Page that brings in new clientele every day. After working with Facebook steadily for a couple of years now, I’ve discovered there are four key steps that will help you move from a Page know one knows about, to a Page everyone raves about.

Use The Features

One of the reasons Facebook is so popular is its user friendliness. You can check in on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone. You can use your browser window, or use an app. Phones, cameras and video equipment now come with “push one button” technology that allows you to go from concept to sharing in a matter of minutes. And in today’s me-society, that’s powerful stuff. Everyone is a reporter. Everyone stays connected.

With Facebook features, all of this is easy.

It may seem overwhelming at first, but most features can be enabled and used in a matter of minutes. Start with the basics. Then commit to trying something new everyday.

“I’m scared to post anything. I know it will be there forever, what if I make a mistake?”

I had a client ask me that recently. So we talked for a while. We had just set up her page, and she had 25 people liking her page – most were friends. With 25 friends, they will be forgiving. So I had her start out small. She photographed a few images on a hike, and sent them to her Page with a simple caption. She included photos of a conference she attended, and learned to tag the people in the photographs. And she made a couple of “mistakes” – spelling errors, and incomplete thoughts. But she learned, and is now much more confident about posting. And her friend base is growing in the process.

Develop A Strategy

What if I asked you what your marketing strategy is? What would your answer be?

I’m betting you would have a variety of ideas in place.

  • Advertise in the local magazine every month.
  • Monthly mailers to my client base.
  • The local bridal show.

I’m sure you have a number of campaigns and tools in place in order to keep clients coming in all the time.

Now let me ask what your Facebook strategy is? Hmmm… [Read more…]

10 Signs You Are On The Road To Success

How do you know if your business is on the right track, and is heading towards success?

1. You have a profit at the end of the year

The first and easiest sign of a successful business is taking in more revenue then you’ve spent on expenses. If your business shows any profit, you know you’ve achieved the first skill required for growing a successful business.

2. You receive referrals from a past client

When someone sends a referral to you, you know your products, services and customer service have reached a level of appreciation by your clients. They think enough of you to put their trust in sending family and friends your way.

3. You receive referrals from vendors

The majority of our new wedding clients didn’t come from brides and grooms, they came from wedding planners and reception sites. While a bride has a certain level of expectation, multiple that tenfold within the industry. When you get this first vendor referral, nurture the relationships like it is gold – they can be great referral partners for life. [Read more…]