Are You Going to Ruin 2013 Too?

As I spoke with one of my coaching clients, I flat out asked her something that very few people would ever do.

“Are you going to ruin 2013 too?”

2012 had been a difficult year for this client. She charted the last five years of her business. Up, up, up, down, WAAYYYY down. In fact she was so far down, she wondered what 2013 would bring.

“Should I quit and get a job?”

“Is there even a hope for photographers anymore?”

In short, she was having a pity party.

Are You Going to Ruin 2013 TooSo we started talking about the obstacles in her way. I grabbed a pen and paper and asked her to tell me about all the marketing methods she tried in 2012. What specials did you run? Where did you advertise? How many connections did you make with your previous customer base?

And she sat there with very little to say. “Ummmm…”

And pretty soon you could hear her crashing into her “a-ha” moment. She saw the light and began to see where she went wrong.

Five years ago things were doing well. She was making a lot and enjoying her business and her life. She marketed her business in a variety of ways.

Three years ago, things were still doing well. She went on a few vacations and stopped a couple of her marketing methods. She closed down one of her “specials” because she was out of the country. Things began to fall.

Two years ago, she dropped a few more marketing methods and specials.

Then with her lack of funds, she dropped out of a few more last year. Life happens. Things change. And she didn’t change with it. She let life happen to her.

Now everything was crashing in around her. The past three months have been “sweat time” – maybe you’ve experienced it too – the feeling of sweating it out hoping a large enough order comes in by the end of the month in order for you to pay your bills.


I stopped her in her tracks and started turning her focus to 2013 and all of its potential.

“When was the last time you spoke to your best clients?”

“Back in October, I found out one of my best clients was pregnant again and her baby was due the first of the year. But I heard this from a friend of a friend. I’ve done her first two kids, so I was hoping she’d call me for this one too.”

And there was her first problem.

Instead of calling and touching base with this client – a great client from the past – she put the potential on the client.

She put her sales strategy on a busy mother-to-be of three!

“Nope, not going to work,” I said. “You’re not going to ruin her 2013. Instead, you’re going to connect with her today and make sure she hasn’t missed the greatest opportunity of her life. She has newborn portraits of her first and second child, imagine how she will feel the rest of her life if she misses out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience with baby number three.”

And we created a plan. A phone call. A card. A visit. A gift. We brainstormed all kinds of ways she could connect on a personal level with this very important client.

And once we got the ball rolling, the ideas started flying.

We quickly had a plan for all of her other clients she’d “lost” in the previous year.

We created several new promotions to take place in the first half of 2013.

We jumpstarted her 2013 marketing plan so much, she spent the next 24 hours busy at it, connecting in ways she hadn’t done in months.

And it worked.

In less than a week, she had great ideas and a new zest for her business.

What about you?

Are you going to ruin your 2013?

Or are you going to do something about it.

Choice is yours. You can do it. But it’s all up to you.


Have questions of your own? Ready for one-to-one advice that can put you back on track for 2013? You may be ready for my personal coaching sessions. With one-to-one coaching, its all about you. You decide where you need help. Together we put you back on track to improve your chances of success in 2013 … and beyond.

5 Secrets That Make Some Photographers Successful … And Some Photographers Fail

I bet you’re like this:

If someone asks how your job is going, you say okay. You may elaborate a little, but it’s just a job. Nothing exciting. It pays the bills. You worry if you’ll get a raise next year, or if your job will even exist next year. But for now, it gives you the income you need.

But I bet if someone asks you what you really want to do, something different will take place:

You’ll get that spark in your eye, you’ll sit a little taller, and you’ll feel a little excitement way down deep. You’ll talk about how you’ve been shooting for a while now and really love photography. You met a photographer (or found them online) who is doing something close to what you would love to do. You’re dreaming of turning that idea into a reality … but it just hasn’t happened yet.

So, did I touch any buttons?

I love chatting with people that have a dream. I know because I was once there too. I hated my corporate job and couldn’t imagine doing it for any longer than I had to. I wanted something else I could do that I truly enjoyed. And so I did what many, many people don’t. Andrew and I started it up as a side business.

You see, there is a big difference between dreaming about it and doing something about it. It’s easy to get home at night and sit down completely exhausted from your day, only to say “tomorrow”. But if you keep saying tomorrow, it will never happen.

Instead, we spent nights and weekends learning all we could about business and photography. That’s where most photographers fail – they love learning about photography, but without the business skills, they are almost 95 percent guaranteed to fail.

And that’s what truly set us apart, and allowed us to move to the top 5 percent income earners in the photography field in under two years.

There really is more to a photography business than simply taking pictures. Yes, that’s the fun part. But unless you have just as much fun planning your business, marketing your business, selling to clients, and more, you’ll never achieve success.

Which is why I thought about it and came up with 5 secrets that help people break through the barriers of “just another hobby” to actually start building a successful business model.

1. Think Like A Five Figure Business Owner

There is a big difference between a small business owner and someone with a job.

When you have a job, “the boss” takes care of everything for you. You do your job and get a paycheck. So you don’t see the entire business model under a microscope. You don’t see the marketing, the planning, the accounting, the legal aspects – everything it takes to run the business. You simply do your job and get paid.

Once you start up a photography business – no matter how much you choose to make – there are dozens of things to consider. Do you have insurance to cover your mistakes? Are you bringing in enough prospects to turn them into clients? Is your business set up in the right legal manner?

Yep, you can no longer think like an employee; you have to think like a business owner. And that thought might never have crossed your mind before.

Dig Deeper: Making Peace With The Enemy

In order to succeed as a business, you have to think like a business. And that means changing your mindset to move from an employee to an entrepreneur. [Read more…]

7 Things You Gotta Have For A Successful New Year

1. How sincere are your messages?

When you send out an email, post on Facebook, or send out a tweet on Twitter, what is your ultimate goal? If its to sell, you have it all wrong. So many people today take the old way of thinking – “sell, sell, sell” – and try and incorporate it into new technology. It doesn’t work, nor will it ever work. When I see the message come through, “Hi you don’t know me but I have a great product…” its straight to the delete button. Messages need to be from the heart, offer value, and convince a person you are the right one for the job. People know how to find you and will make the sale when they are ready.

2. How is your customer service?

When was the last time you flew? Traveling used to be fun. Now its an incredible pain; something you only want to experience if you really have to. You can find your deal and buy your plane ticket months in advance. Yet you know your costs are anything but over. If your bag is a millimeter too big or an ounce overweight, you’ll be slapped with a fee. And don’t expect it to change any time soon – the only thing you can be guaranteed with is more fees. But is that really the way you want to be treated? Do you really want to give your money to someone you really don’t like? Or do you want to hand over your money to a friend? Someone who understands you and is willing to give you 110 percent all the time? This will continue to be the year of incredible customer service – only businesses dedicated to it will survive.

3. Does everyone want your products?

There’s a Starbucks in our area that does an unbelievable amount of business. It’s a free standing coffee shop with a drive thru. I have never driven by that place without seeing a minimum of a half dozen cars waiting in line – at all hours of the day. And if you go into it its one of the largest in the area, with tables, sofas and chairs spread out by two fireplaces. A little closer to my home was a local coffee shop that recently went out of business. The coffee was okay and they had few options for snacks and other beverages if you weren’t in the mood for coffee. To tell the truth, the only reason I frequented it is because you could always find a table. The difference is in the quality. If your products are average, there is no incentive to make the purchase. But if you make someone say “WOW” you’re on your way to success. [Read more…]

How To Be An Exceptional Photographer

There is only one way to be an exceptional photographer:

Find out what makes you exceptional, and use that to build your business.

The reason we have the great photographers of the world is because they have leveraged their unique talents in such a way that they “get known” for what they are great at.

If you jump in and try to be a general photographer, taking in whatever prospect calls in and offers you money, you’re not building your greatness.

If a business offers you money for a product shoot, and it’s to develop a catalog for car parts, it may be a lucrative venture. But if you love working with babies and new families, and car parts are the furthest thing away from how you picture spending your perfect day, you’re not building up your greatness.

Be Aware Of Today, Get Excited About The Future

If you’re just starting out, you may not know exactly what you want to do. And that’s okay.

When we started out, we were generalists. Then we moved into weddings. And then we added babies and families as our wedding couples started having families.

We started out as generalists because, well, that’s pretty much how everyone starts out.

But we became exceptional photographers when we narrowed down our interests, and really focused in on what we wanted to be good at, what we wanted to develop over time.

If you don’t know what your unique talent is yet, don’t get discouraged. In all reality, unique talents change, build and grow over time.

I know what worked in the past. We loved weddings, and all they had to offer. We loved capturing one of the most exciting days in a couple’s lives.  So we made it the focus of our business.

I know what works now. I love marketing and coaching, and have found a unique way of incorporating that into my life through VirtualPhotographyStudio.

And when I look at growing towards the future, I simply sit down, and ask myself a few questions. [Read more…]

The 5 Traits You Need To Succeed In A Poor Economy

It’s hard NOT to wonder what the future holds. The news is filled with gloom and doom: riots, debt crisis, failing businesses, and unemployment at all time highs. And depending on whom you believe, a quick fix isn’t around the corner. This may take months, even years to fix, not just a few weeks.

If a poor economy is likely over the coming years, do you have what it takes to create a business that is strong and thriving? Just as many successful businesses are created during hard times as they are the good ones. So it is possible. But there are telltale signs that pave the path to success. Do you have the traits necessary to move forward in a positive way?

Hard Working and Smart Working

While a lot of business advice focuses around the “4 hour work week” concept, the truth is it does take more than 4 hours to establish a new, successful business. It takes a lot of hard work to build a concept to the point of it becoming profitable, and give you the wealth you need to sustain your lifestyle.

While hard work is necessary, you also have to find ways to work hard on the concepts that matter the most – and that’s where you really can learn from the “4 hour work week” concept. The idea is to work smarter with the hours you are given. Instead of spending hour after hour working on things you don’t like or aren’t good at, give that to people that can do it, freeing your time up to do what you love.

When you combine the two concepts together, you can quickly know which concepts will earn you money, and which ones will waste your time. You’ll see which ones will move you forward, and which ones will hold you back. [Read more…]

The Photographers Guide To Handling Business Growth

This post is Day 26 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.

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.

Before you get to that point, lets look at the most common ways a business owner can become overwhelmed, and what you can do about it today.

Lack of cash

One of the most significant reasons a business fails is they simply run out of cash. Demand is high, yet your outlay is not keeping up with the demand. This can happen easily in the photography field, especially when your booking rate is high one season, and your production rate is high in a different season.

As wedding photographers, we saw that all the time. Our heavy booking season came during the first few months of the year; and our production season cam in the last half of the year.

Instead of looking at your bank account during the heavy intake times, and spending accordingly, you need to take into account final production as well. In general, you will quickly learn how much it takes to fulfill an order. Open up a savings account, and deposit that much into savings for every client that comes through your door. Only move the funds when final production is in place, and you are completing orders.

This can also work for other areas, like marketing campaigns and advertising budgets. Use a simple spreadsheet to track each of your expenses, and budget your incoming funds accordingly. Many finance programs also have capabilities of tracking funds in different ways. Only move funds back into your checking account when you are ready to spend on a specific item. [Read more…]