Slideshow shadow

#1 Habit of Successful Photographers – Focus on YOU to grow your photography business

Today I would like to share with you the #1 habit of successful photographers (as I see it). Obviously this is my opinion, and not based on some highly touted scientific research, but it is based on the 15+ years of running a profitable photography business. You are not going to read this anywhere else, because this is not what most people want to hear. There are lots of photography business gurus on the internet touting their “7 easy steps to” this and their “5 custom phases” for that.  And,  I am not saying that their steps are wrong or flawed in any way. Heck! I myself give away a 4 step process on my blog. However , the way that things are marketed these days has led us, as business owners, and as human beings, to be convinced that we can have instant success… instant results… and instantaneous prosperity. We have been duped into believing that instant is the way to go, and that is is preferred to the “old school” values of integrity and hard work. But unfortunately, that simply isn’t how the universe works. You can’t lose the 20 pounds you gained over a two year period, in two weeks. You can’t spontaneously manifest a skyscraper, and you can’t create a stable and profitable business overnight… using 5-9 easy steps.

If you really want to build something of value, you need to focus on the place where you  have the most amount of power and influence… on YOU. When you are a photography business owner, YOU are your business. You might have employees that work with you, but YOU are in charge of the vision for your company, and that means that you  have to work on YOU. You need to develop yourself into a leader if you want to lead a great organization. (Even if that organization only consists of one person). You need to develop yourself as an artist, if you want to be known for your art, and you need to create the mindset of prosperity and success, if you ever hope to manifest that in your life and in your business. And you have to take care of your mind and body so that you can have the energy and focus necessary to really make an impact on the world.

As we approach 2015, now is a great time to reflect on what’s missing. Not to focus on it, with fear. That will just create what you DON’T want. But to root out what is going wrong, so that you can focus on that which will transform it. January is a great time to plan out your year, and the end of December is a wonderful time to reflect on the previous year to help you create an effective plan.

Ask yourself, What is missing in ME, that if I developed it, my business in 2015 would create more success and prosperity? Whew! That’s a big question… right? Even with the level of success that I have been able to create, when I ask myself that question, I get lots of answers to “what’s missing?” So you probably will too. The list might even have you feeling overwhelmed. But that’s ok. After all… overwhelm is probably one of the things that you need to address. So, if overwhelm is your immediate feeling, then you have already rooted out a major issue. Facing that issue head on is going to start the process of transformation. The fact of the matter is that most photographers do not have the skills needed to run a successful photography business. Most photographers like to take pictures. It is, after all, what drew us to photography in the first place. But most photographers are not skilled business owners or leaders. And those skills are MORE important than photography skills in creating a successful business. Entrepreneurial skills are critical to building a business that works. And, for a creative person, those are probably the last things you want to focus on. But here is the good news. Those skills are the exact things that will free you up to do your photography. If you can build a stable business that works, you will have your time freed up to concentrate on your art. Unless you are extraordinarily talented as a photographer, you will never be a successful profitable photography business owner until you develop yourself. Even most of the incredibly talented and famous artists didn’t become popular until after their death. And, you certainly don’t want that!

I don’t usually share videos from other coaches, but this one is so good, so timely, and so relevant to you… and to me, that I had to.

If you can take some time to listen to, and implement the advice in this video, your 2015 could be AMAZING! Develop these 5 habits in YOU, and watch your business SOAR! (And lest you feel like I am contradicting myself… these aren’t 5 “easy steps”. Creating powerful “habits” is all about YOU. The time that you spend focusing on improving YOU will never be wasted. Even if you decide later that being a photography business owner is not for you. These powerful productive habits will be with you as long as you are on this earth. And, who knows, maybe they will even come in handy after that).

 

My thanks go out to Evan Carmichael for this video.

 

Share

Busiest Event Photography Weekend

The first weekend in December is always the busiest event photography weekend of our year. It’s actually a madhouse! We do more revenue in the first two weeks of December than we do in the first or second quarter, so planning for them all takes a huge amount of focus and intentionality. This video shows what our portrait studio looks like when it has been taken over by the huge amount of equipment required to pull off the dozens of events coming up. Being a speaker, trainer, educator and coach is a lot of fun for me, and I really love it. But I am a professional photographer too, so this time of year is as busy for me as it is for all of you out there. Forgive me for my lack of videos lately, as I have been focused on working with my coaching clients, preparing presentations for upcoming speaking engagements, and prepping my businesses to serve my photography clients for the holiday season. After December 15th, things will slow down a bit, and I can rest up for the new year.

I can’t wait to see all of you in 2015! It’s going to be a fantastic year, and I hope you will come along with me for the ride.

 

Share

Photography business tip – Speak to grow your business

Today’s Photography business tip is to speak to grow your business.

This week I had the honor of speaking for the Digital Divas of Precision Camera here in Austin, and it reminded me of one of my favorite photography business tips… Public speaking. Public speaking has been shown in studies to be higher on the list of human fears than even death. So don’t be surprised if the idea of doing this sort of thing on a regular basis makes you break out into a cold sweat. But, if you really think about it, the fact that speaking to groups strikes fear into the hearts of most people , is really a business advantage…To You.  Since setting yourself apart from all of the other photographers is quite possibly the best way to grow your business, if you can learn to speak, then you will have a distinct advantage over them.

Ther are lots of opportunities and reasons to speak as a photography business owner. Here are some of my favorites.

Opportunities: PPA Guild Meetings, mother’s groups, event networking groups, photography enthusiasts groups, photography conventions,mand wedding and bridal planning events.

Reasons: networking, be seen as an expert, become known as someone who gives back, share ideas with other speakers and photographers, earn additional income, and many others.

This January I will begin teaching at Precision Camera. While this is a great way to position yourself as an expert, you don’t necessarily need to create a course or formal class to gain big from speaking. Just developing a twenty minute presentation to a mother’s group can be a great way to find new clients.

And, if speaking does scare you, you will get the added bonus of overcoming your fear…which can give you a great feeling of accomplishment…not a bad bonus!

My speaking experience this week was a ton of fun! What a fabulous group. These ladies sure know how to throw a party. And, it didn’t hurt that it was a Halloween party, and most everyone was dressed up. I can’t remember the last time I spoke in front of people when I wasnt nervous at all… Well maybe a tiny bit. But all those costumes kept me from having to picture the audience members in their underwear.

If you want to grow your photography business by speaking, you can start slow. Join a networking group and ask for five or ten minutes to tell the other members about what you do. The more you talk in front of groups, the easier it will be, and someday, like it has for me, it may even become fun!

Share

Photography Business Tip – Set Boundaries

Photography Business Tip – Set Boundaries

I don’t have time to create a video today, but I wanted to get this post out there while I am thinking about it. It’s not often that you hear a photography speaker bring up the term boundaries. Typically that word is reserved for more personal matters… emotionally charged relationship issues, for instance. But after being in business for many years, both as an employee, manager and business owner, I have come to realize that many of the challenges photography business owners run into are actually boundary problems. Monday night, at our APPA (Austin Professional Photographers Association) meeting we had two amazing photographers and speakers present to our group. Mary Fisk-Taylor and Jamie Hayes, two incredibly knowledgable professional portrait photographers from Richmond Virginia gave us some terrific tips on sales, marketing, PR and setting up your portrait studio for success. And, during their presentation, Mary brought up boundaries. She mentioned that she and Jamie have really clear boundaries in their businesses (they own and operate two different types of portrait photography businesses… one high end, and one more mid-range). Her comments really got me to thinking about boundaries in business, and I have been mulling things over in my head since Monday about this concept.

Then today I got a call back from a potential client about an event we have been discussing. It was at this point that I came face to face with the legitimate difficulties that we, as professional photographers, face every day with setting business boundaries. This potential client wanted something from me, but it was something I had already determined I was unwilling to give… as a business owner. Giving her what she wanted was going to put me in a position where I would have to take a big risk, and that risk likely had no up side. So, what did I do? Well… first of all… I took a deep breath. Pausing and breathing helps me focus and relax for the difficult conversation ahead. Then I re-stated to her my original answer to her question, which was basically what I was willing to do, but which clearly gave her a “no” to what she was asking for. So it wasn’t an ultimate no… like I do not want to work with you, but it was a no to how she wanted to arrange things.

Now, if you are speaking with someone who accepts a “no”, then this is really all there is to setting a boundary. First off, you have policies that you stick to so that you don’t get thrown from the very beginning. Then, armed with the knowledge that the boundary is necessary, you state your answer, and you wait for their response. Often the response will be something along the lines of “I understand”, and I appreciate you considering my proposal. However, most folks will not give up this easily. And this particular lady works for a non-profit organization, and is especially adept at pulling on the heart strings. So she persisted. She explained why it needed to be done her way, and I listened. Luckily, I have many years of experience with folks asking for free photography, so I have learned a thing or two about how to handle it. This starts with being able to empathize with them and hear them out, so that they feel like I understand where they are coming from. This step is incredibly important, because our emotional response to someone asking for us to work for free, and attempting to (essentially) emotionally blackmail us into doing so, can cause us to emotionally react. The two most common emotional responses are to either 1. Call them on the carpet, and tell them why they are wrong, or 2. Give in. When your emotions are all triggered, these seem like the only two options. But, if you can breathe, slow down, hear them out, and repeat back to them what you hear them saying… if you can empathize with the fact that they don’t have a budget for a photographer, and that they really need your help. Then you can leave them in a space where they may be able to hear your response.

So back to the story. After hearing her out, and repeating back to her what she had said, and letting her know that I understand how difficult it must be for her to raise money for her organization… then I was ready to craft my own response. Again… deep breath. Whew! I won’t go into detail, because I don’t want to give away any personal information about this particular call. What I will say is that it went something like : “I would really love to help you, but this is why I am unable to do so.” Then I explained why the proposal was not a Win Win for me or my company. I explained that I have costs that need to be covered, and that this is a very busy time of year for us, and I cannot afford to risk paying events for events that likely will lose money. Then I did my best to offer her solutions to her problem that she might be able to live with. Solutions that would be a Win Win, for her and for me. I even made suggestions for how she might be able to raise her needed funds without me, and save herself a lot of time and heartache.  Then I asked her to think about my proposals and let me know by a certain date and time, and graciously attempted to end the call.

You would figure that the call ended here, but it didn’t. She and I went through this same process another two times, before she was willing to let me off of the phone. The solutions I offered her were not what she wanted, but they were what I needed. And they were fair. So eventually, she did allow me to get off of the phone, without either of us feeling taken advantage of.

Now… I don’t always handle things like this as well as I did today. It has taken me many years of practice… setting boundaries in business and in my personal life. And I fail to do so perfectly many times still. But, today was a success. And, for you, in your photography business, you won’t always do it perfectly either. But boundaries are a learnable skill. You have to be able to say no sometimes in business to be able to succeed. You have to be able to turn down business when it is not the right client for you. You have to be able to negotiate solutions that will work for all involved. You have to be able to deal with difficult personalities and people who are very persistent. Boundaries are one of the keys to being able to create a photography business that you love, and that supports everything you want to create.

There are lots of great books out on this subject if you want to learn more. My most recent favorite is called “Crucial Conversations”. There are also several books on boundaries by Townsend and Cloud. You can get one of their books by searching with the words “boundaries, townsend, cloud”. Any of these books, and many others are available on Amazon.com .

And now I’m off to go photograph a cool green screen event. Wish me luck! 🙂

 

Share

Mindset

I talk about mindset a lot more than I think you would expect for a photography and business tips blog. Mindset doesn’t seem like a business tip, and certainly not a photography business tip, but mindset is really everything. I don’t care if you are doing everything else right… and I mean EVERYTHING else. You can have the perfect brand, the best products, the most gorgeous photography, the ultimate sales process and the most fabulous follow-up system imaginable in your photography business. But if you are working with the wrong mindset, then you are doomed. Your belief system, and your mindset effect how you do everything. They are what infuse your actions with passion and purpose, and that is what leads to effectiveness. Every day you need to be working on YOU. You are your business, and creating the right mindset at the beginning of your day will carry you farther than anything else that you can focus on in your photography business. I make sure that I start my day with exercise, fresh air, a big glass of cold clean water and a focus on the positive impact that I can make that day. I listen to CD’s or books that inspire me. I get myself into the right mindset to make a difference in the world, and that helps me to stand up against the things in life that try to knock me down.

I ran across this fantastic quote from Rocky today, and I thought I would share it with you. Reading this kind of thing to start off your day can really help protect you from the slings and arrows of life. Here’s to your success!

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth! But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And no pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!” 

Share

Photography Business Tips Blog – Feedback Wanted!

Thank you everyone for being patient with me. I had intended to take one week off from video blogging in order to provide some time for reflection and planning to determine the direction of the blog from here on out. That one week turned into almost two, as a health issue I have recently been dealing with took over most of my time and energy the last two weeks. So… I apologize for being gone so long.

My blog’s new direction is still coming together, as much of my energy is still being directed toward resolving the migraines that have crept into my life the last three months. The problem isn’t that I can’t figure out what to do or how to do it… but that I have so many ideas, I am running into difficulty deciding which ones to do, and what to do first. (The fact that my head is constantly pounding isn’t making the decision-making process any easier). I even tried to create an update video yesterday, but the lights were so bright that I couldn’t concentrate well enough to put two sentences together.

Don’t worry… the blog is not going away. I will be back recording more videos as soon as I am able. And, in the meantime, I will write until I can stand the bright lights without  getting that piercing icepick feeling where I feel like I’m going to pass out.

A couple of decisions have been made. The first is that I will be doing less video blogging. It has come to my attention that daily posts are not the best way to provide value for you. So I will be doing only one or two videos per week instead of 5. This change should make it easier for you to tune in to each one of them, and not have you feeling guilty if you simply don’t have the time to watch 5 videos every week. We are all overloaded with information these days, and I don’t want to be part of the problem… I want to be part of the solution.

Secondly… I am going to continue to do some photography and business tips, but I am going to change things up a bit. Every other week there will be a tip. And on the following week I am considering creating a sort of reality show of my own businesses. What does that mean?… you ask. Well… I have studied many many people in both business and photography for more than 25 years now, in hopes of gleaning the information that could help me to excel in my own life and business. I have learned a ton of information from the books, classes, online courses and interactions I have had with these successful men and women. And… I realized that I don’t really read blogs very much myself… especially photography blogs. They pretty much bore me. Why? Because most of the ones I have seen either post “Rah Rah… look at how great I am” or offer information that is so technical that it would put an engineer to sleep.

So, I spent some time thinking about what I would want to read or watch on a blog about photography and business. I asked some coaching clients, and I talked to some friends. What I decided was that I would want to know what it’s really like for successful photographers to run their businesses. I know what they tell me it is like in their classes, but I would want to know how they really work with real clients and how they really do their marketing on a daily basis. I would want to know what they are thinking about the industry and where it’s heading. Now… maybe the reason I don’t see blogs like this is that it’s not good for business to be so completely transparent. Maybe it’s totally freaking SCARY to bare it all in such a public way. Actually, just thinking about doing this is kind of freaking me out. Maybe it’s just too much to expect that blogs tell us the truth… not just about the successes, but also about the failures. But, that is what I would want to see, and that’s what I am looking to create. I am going to tell you what we struggle with, and I am going to tell you what we are doing right now in our business to overcome challenges. I am going to give you real numbers… real sessions… real sales averages… real actions for today. NOT the photography business tips that served us 15 years ago, the stuff that we are doing TODAY. And I am going to share with you the results of our efforts. I am going to seek out successful photographers to interview to get the “up to date skinny” on what is really working RIGHT NOW!

What I haven’t yet decided is how the format is going to work. Will it be a membership site, like an exclusive tv channel for my coaching clients and followers? Will I charge for it? Maybe I could do the Creative Live type model, where it’s free for a limited period of time and then goes into an archived system for members. I don’t know yet. I haven’t worked out the details. And, I don’t know how much time and effort is going to needed to be put into it to set this whole thing up. So, before I do set this whole crazy thing up… I have a favor to ask. Please tell me what you think of my idea. Would you rather that I just continue to give you isolated tips on photography and business, or would you like more detailed information? What do you think of following me around via video camera in my own business? Is that just ridiculous, or do you LOVE  IT? If you have been in the photography business for any length of time you already know that it takes about 10 times longer to implement something than originally planned, so I don’t want to create a whole new format if it isn’t going to serve you. I want the process to be fulfilling for me, and I want it to be valuable for you. So… Please, Please, Please give me your opinions. Even if you’ve never left a comment before… please do so. Even if you think it’s a terrible idea… heck… especially if you think it’s a terrible idea. Because if I’m going to risk falling flat on my face in front of everyone, then I want it to at least be worth it. 🙂

Share

Free Photography Business Coaching Sessions still available

I still have a couple of free photography business coaching sessions left, but they are almost gone, so click on the mini coaching session button the right to register and claim yours today!

We will be taking next week off to implement on some things for the new blog direction. We are very excited about where we are going, and we hope it is going to be hugely transformative for your photography businesses as well.

If you came to see a photography or business tip, we have lots of previous blogs still posted that you can review by just scrolling down. 🙂

If you registered to receive a coaching session, but didn’t receive the phone number to book your appointment, feel free to contact me at our studio @ 512-997-7429.

See you in about a week!

Share

Photography Business Tip – Get a support team with outsourcing

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!

Share

Photography Business Tip – Set clear expectations up front

I have noticed in the professional photography forums a trend lately where photographers are complaining about client issues that they are having, and are desperate to fix. Having client satisfaction as one of your top priorities in your photography business means that you are going to need to set clear expectations up front. Most of the issues I see photographers wrestling with could have been completely avoided had they set up clear expectations from the very start. How do you set clear expectations up front? One great way is to have clear policies for your photography business. They need to state how your business does things. For example… will you be offering digital images on CD or not? And, if so, what will the clients be able to do with these images? Things like this need to be spelled out and gone over with your client prior to the portrait session. You don’t want to end up getting to the sales presentation and then finding out that your client is going to be very unhappy with a policy that you have in place.

Share

My Story

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.

Share