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Free Coaching Session

July 16, 2014 in How to start a photography business, Photography Entrepreneurship by admin

In an effort to improve my blog and provide my listeners with the most relevant and up to date photography business tips, I am giving away free coaching sessions to the first 20 folks who click on the Mini Coaching Session button here on the blog page.

To receive your free coaching session, you will be subscribed to my blog list. Don’t worry… you can always unsubscribe very easily later if you decide it’s not valuable for you. This is simply the only way that we can legally email you.

Be prepared to bring to the call your most challenging business problem, so that we can transform it together.

So, if you would like a free coaching session, click on the link. And… feel free to send it along to your friends if you like. There are only 20 spots… so Don’t Delay!

I look forward to speaking with you soon!

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Cha, cha, cha, Changes

July 15, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship by admin

Changes are coming to my photography and business tips blog. Exactly what that looks like is still being created, so I can’t tell you what is going to happen, but I can tell you why things will be changing.

Providing value is only possible when the provider understands what the providee wants and needs. With so many different photography business models and specialties, it has been a challenge to provide photography and business tips on a daily basis that will be relevant to everyone. For example… I can give you the tip to set up profitable pricing, but without knowing your level of experience, your comfort level with sales, your market, your financial goals, your Cost of goods, I cannot, in good conscience, offer you a detailed pricing model.

One of the most powerful things about having a coach is that they know you, your business and your goals, and that makes it really easy for the two participants… the photography business owner and the coach… to design a plan of attack that will create the biggest change in the shortest amount of time. Up until now, I have tried to provide pretty general photography and business tips without getting into much detail. My hope was that the tips would be valuable to most photographers who found my blog. But I am finding that sharing the “what to do” is less empowering than sharing the “how to do it”… which is what I provide as a coach. And… to do that I need to understand where each person is coming from.
So how do I do that on a large scale? That is the question that I am struggling to answer, and I would appreciate any feedback that you can give me while I look at how to improve my blog for the benefit of my subscribers. What type of programs appeal most to you? Do you prefer webinars, one on one phone calls, mastermind groups? Would you rather pay an hourly rate to get expert one on one assistance or would you like a small monthly fee to have access to a membership site that includes lots of programs to help with specific topics? What are your biggest struggles right now in your business? And what would it be worth to you on a monthly basis to solve those challenges? I want to know more about you guys and your businesses, so that I can find the best ways to help you succeed.

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Photography Business Tip – Get a support team with outsourcing

July 14, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, Photography Tips by admin

Creating a great support team is not only about hiring employees. As a matter of fact, unless you really have the volume for employees, I don’t recommend you hire any at all until you have to. Employees bring with them their own set of business challenges, and there are lots of ways to get some of the less fun and more detail heavy items handled without ever having to hire an employee at all. Nowadays, many of your photography business details can be handled online. Companies like Fiverr ¬†and Retouchup can be great resources for outsourcing things you may not like to do or don’t have time to handle in your photography business. The truth is that, as the business owner, you shouldn’t be handling things like retouching images or copyrighting (that’s writing copy… not image protection)… things that you can outsource online. You should be focusing on creating your photography, growing your photography business, and serving your clients. Outsourcing can be an inexpensive way to get some of your time and life back. Make a list of all of the things that you could turn over to someone else, and then start with the thing you hate doing the most. Maybe that’s getting a virtual bookkeeper. Trust me… it will be well worth setting some of these systems up, and it will make growing your photography business a lot less painful.

If you want to read a great book on this Timothy Ferris’ book The Four Hour Work Week is a great read!

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Photography Lighting Tip – Look for light in the environment

July 11, 2014 in How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

Todays’ photography tip is to look for the light that is naturally occurring in your environment, and find creative ways to use that light. Leave all your flashes, strobes and reflectors at home, and go find creative ways to use the naturally reflective and subtractive surfaces in your environment to create the lighting you desire. The more you can practice being resourceful as a professional photographer, the better you will perform when you are under pressure in difficult photographic situations. So practice finding the light. It’s good to know that you can always add light if you need it, but you can leave those flashes in the car from time to time, and push yourself to create what you want with what is already there.

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Photography Tip – Switch to In Person Sales

July 9, 2014 in How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

If you are experiencing issues with low sales or other problems related to online sales, the solution to your problem is In Person Sales. Get your photographs off of the web! You will never be able to do your client or your work justice by selling them in an online portrait gallery. You are the expert as the professional photographer, and most, if not all, of your clients are not knowledgeable enough or skilled enough to plan out an appropriate display of their photographs. Most of them cannot visualize how amazing a 30×40 or beautiful series of three 20×20 framed museum matted portraits would look on their wall. Most of them would have no idea how to pick an appropriate size or frame for their images. And, even if they do, there is hardly anyone who has the courage to order a large framed wall portrait without the support of a professional telling them that it’s going to look great. Online photo galleries take all of the emotion out of the purchase, and emotion is what sells portraits. It’s the emotional connection that they get from seeing the images for the first time, and being excited by how fabulous they are going to look on their walls. When you put those same images online… they lose something. Now your client can look at them everyday. It’s like my momma used to say “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” They have no motivation to purchase, and to create any motivation, you have to give them a deadline, which makes you the psychological bad guy… not to mention all that time it takes for you to repeatedly follow up with them. Do yourself and your clients a huge favor and spend the time to take them through the process. Help them make their selections. You know the best way to display the images you have worked so hard to create for your clients, so don’t leave them out on a limb to purchase them by themselves online. And… that doesn’t even cover the other major issue online… copyright infringement. All I have to say about that is… if the photographs aren’t online… they can’t steal them.
As a caveat to my entire rant… let me add that even with a topic like this that I feel passionately about… there are always exceptions to the rule. When we photograph graduations, if we are unable to convince our clients in the value of delivering those photographs onsite, then we will upload them to a web site gallery. Disseminating 400 5×7’s to 1200 family members in the 30 minutes between the end of graduation and the time the venue closes is not my idea of a fun evening. So, even though we always make considerably more and run into far less customer service concerns, when we deliver onsite, in these type of events, we do upload to an online gallery. But NEVER for a single family. That family is going to get my full attention, and they are going to know that in that moment, they are the most important client in the world to me. I am going to be present, and I am going to do everything that I can to use my expertise to their benefit. I want those portraits to be a source of pride and joy for their family for many years, and I know that isn’t going to happen if they order two 5×7’s and 8 wallets from my web site.

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My Story

July 8, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, Photography Entrepreneurship by admin

There’s really very little value in listening to tips if you don’t trust that they will help you. So, today I am going to talk a little about my story, so that you can determine for yourself whether my experience will be useful for you in your photography business.

Having run portrait studios for other companies with significant success, I started my own event photography business in 1999. That was a tough time in the industry, as digital was just starting to take hold. Other photographers, long time pros in the industry were skeptical of digital, and many were vowing never to switch. The technology was extremely expensive and changing rapidly. I was forced to upgrade very expensive equipment on practically a yearly basis to keep up with the changes, and with hardly anyone else in the same field (delivering portraits onsite at events) I had to make my own way. The five years experience I had from managing studios for a national chain gave me a pretty good leg up, but Wow… was it ever hard without anyone to follow or network with! That business is now 15 years old, and going strong. And two years ago we added a portrait studio. This time there was tons of education and successful businesses to emulate. And that’s exactly what we did. Getting a business up and running successfully in two years is a lot better than 15. I have learned a ton along the way in the photography industry, and most of my lessons were painful. I don’t want you to have to struggle the way I did to figure things out. My tips are short, and they don’t have a lot of detail. If you follow them, you will find that you are probably going to need additional information to implement them. But that’s ok. The tips will help you avoid the land mines that you didn’t know were lurking below the surface, and with the basic concept in your mind, you will be able to go and get the education you need from the experts to fill in the gaps.
If you need help along the way, you can always make comments on my blog. And… if you need one on one coaching, I would love to be your coach. Just give me a call @ 512-997-7429.
Soon I will be offering some online training that goes into a lot more detail than I can cover in these short daily videos. If you have suggestions for classes you would like to see offered, please let me know.

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Photography Business Success – Know your numbers!

July 7, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, Photography Entrepreneurship by admin

Not only do you need to know your numbers for where you currently are, and where you have been, you need to have goals for where you want to go. PPA has great resources for education in every area of running a photography business, and numbers are no exception. If you are not currently a member of PPA, and you consider yourself a professional photographer, then you really need to be. PPA has great benefits that will be extremely valuable to you as a professional photographer… and one of those benefits is their education. If you are a member of PPA, some of the education that they provide is even FREE to you as a member. They also offer ongoing, more in depth courses that you can take on particular subjects. PPA is a great place to go to find out where you stand compared to other professional photographers, throughout the country and in your local area. They have set standards for where your numbers should be. They have percentages for cost of goods and profitability. If you don’t already understand how to read a P&L and a Balance Sheet, then PPA is a great place to start. And they can give you additional resources for anything you need that they cannot provide to you directly. Knowing where your photography business is financially is absolutely critical to the success of your business, and reviewing your numbers on a regular basis will help you keep track of where you are in relationship to your financial goals.

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Photography Web Site Tip – Include testimonials

July 3, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

To increase the impact of your images, it’s always much more effective to include testimonials with your photographs. While the photographs are important and necessary to your photography web site, testimonials are what is really going to connect your potential client emotionally to you. They don’t care as much about the fact that you can create a pretty photograph as they do about what is in it for them. What will they get out of the experience of working with you? That’s what they want to know, and that’s what testimonials provide… a glimpse into the experience of being photographed by you. And… as you already know… it’s the experience that is going to elevate your photography business above the commodity based photographers who are all competing on price.

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Photography Business SWOT Analysis

July 2, 2014 in Business Tips, Goal Setting, How to start a photography business, Photography Entrepreneurship by admin

Today’s photography tip is to perform a SWOT analysis on your photography business. With this being the beginning of the third quarter, now is a great time to do some planning and some analysis of how far you have come thus far. A SWOT analysis looks at your photography business from the perspective of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Looking at your photography business in this way, will help you to narrow your focus to accomplishing those things that will have the most impact on your bottom line.

Here is an example of a SWOT analysis that you can use as a guide.

SWOT analysis

If you would like another great tool for improving your photography business, grab your free copy of The Cure for Shiny-Object-Syndrome below.

The Cure for Shiny-Object-Syndrome


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Photography web site tip – It’s not about traffic it’s about conversions

June 30, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Marketing Tips by admin

Is your photography website converting? Do you even know what that means? In many businesses that have web sites, a conversion is simply a sale on the site. Traffic comes in, and the conversion percentage is the number of those people who actually buy a product on the site. But when you are a photographer, a conversion is not so impersonal. Your photography web site needs to effectively convince your visitor to contact you… hopefully by phone, because this is your best chance to book their photography session. And traffic does you no good at all if nobody is doing that. A lot of photographers have really pretty web sites that are completely ineffective. Their photographs are nice, but there are components missing that keep visitors from picking up the phone.
Does your photography web site convert? And, are the people that call you the target market you are going after? If not… you may need to re-vamp your photography web site a bit.
Tell me what your biggest challenge is with creating an effective web site. What questions do you have about your photography web site. Then… on Friday I will announce the winner of a one on one web site analysis for the best comment and/or question.