QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
I thought it would be fun to also add questions into these income reports because many people had asked questions on the last one I posted on Facebook. I'll add some of the ones that were often asked as well as those that were asked before posting this. As always, I love talking about business and if you ever have any questions send them my way!
My plan is to update this specific post with future questions and answers and then link it under my individual income reports (this way it won't make those income reports to long!)
What to include in print packages (strategically)?
Anything you love. There's a huge difference between people who "sell" something they love vs those who are trying to sell it because they just need to sell it. No one likes a sales person, and people will avoid using people that they feel are trying to 'sell them' on something they might not even stand behind themselves. On the flip side, when you see someone talk about something they love, something they believe in and are in all honesty recommending because they love it, people love it. They see the passion behind it. That person's eyes light up, and you can just see it. I don't care if you want to be a photographer who sells luxury albums, or prints, or one that sells them an online gallery with digital files as long as it puts that spark in your eyes. THAT'S what you want to include in your packages strategically. When you sell something you love yourself, it basically sells itself.
What does your "sales" category involve?
The sales numbers are gross income from my entire business which includes sales from my online store modern market, my portraits, weddings, and product photography. I look at my business as a whole and have used the same business success steps and marketing strategies for all aspects of my business. The way I currently have it set up is that anything I make that is paid through my site is reflected in the sales amount. ( this is anything from digital products, physical products, portrait sessions, weddings, etc.) I do list my Photography Business Class income separately because I currently have that set up separately so I don't have to go in and dig around to find out specifically what I made of one type of item. I am in the process of separating income earned from portraits and wedding, but it's all mixed currently.
How do you find your clients? I started photography at the beginning of the year, and my main source for getting clients is thumbtack.
Word of mouth and Facebook. I built my client base quickly with creating loyal clients. It's always amazing to look back and see how everything is connected. This is one of those things that most photographers struggle with, and I enjoy teaching that strategy to those who are in my Photography Business Success Class. Facebook has also been amazing, especially when it comes to finding people in new places. It seems like anywhere I go, I can easily connect with someone new, and that's thanks to Facebook making it easy to have a way to connect with people around the world.
How many sessions made up that $40k???
Answering that will require a little more information. The income earned this month from sessions isn't necessarily from sessions I shot in the month of November. My clients have the option to pay in full, or make payments over a period. Often they choose to make payments which work out perfectly for them and me since they have the flexibility of making payments over time. Any income that was made in the month of November from portraits or weddings could have been from clients in the past year, or those in the upcoming year. I actually shoot very little during the November-December time frame. I used to be completely swamped with work during these months and had a really hard time enjoying my own family during the holidays. I decided that instead of being overly booked during November and December I take that time to do more work for my store and business coaching which I can do 100% on my own time at home.
When is your next class?
The class is 100% online and available every month. I do accept a limit amount of people into the class each month to make sure that to get started they can get enough attention from me personally and so I can make sure to answer all their questions as they take the class.
Is this a 12-month program or do you purchase a download?
Absolutely not. Building a successful business takes time, that's why the class material, community, and personal support will be there forever. You can sign up for the class with a monthly payment of $37 and get instant access to all the class material and then pay off the class over 12 months while you see real results. This way you're literally able to apply the steps, grow your client base and have the class pay for itself over and over again.
Is that sessions only? How long were you a photographer when you started making this much per month? Was it a slow steady progression or did success happen suddenly?
No, sales include all income earned from portrait sessions, weddings, products, online store and business coaching. I jumped into photography in 2009, and started my business in 2012. I tried a lot of different things to get my business off the ground until I decided to really fine tune what worked for me personally and then built onto that over the years. At first, It was definitely slow and steady and required me to put a ton of time into trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. Once I figured it out and saw that it worked it was easy to implement those strategies, and it quickly helped my build my client base and allowed me to grow my business to what it is today.
What is the price of your sessions?
My regular portrait sessions are currently $1500. I like to keep my pricing simple and only offer one all inclusive session for all types of sessions I offer.
What do you use for bookkeeping?
I use Quickbooks, and my accountant handles all the official filing and making sure everything is being done correctly.
Do you make this much because you do IPS?
I've actually never done in person sales due to having clients that will come see me from anywhere from 3, 5, 10+ hours. Having them come back to view their photos would be a lot to ask. I think it's a beautiful structure for photographers, but I love offering my clients and all inclusive session which includes their digital galleries. Often they will purchase additional products such as professional prints after their session which is all done online. I've taught a lot of photographers who offer in-person sales, and plenty who offer all inclusive sessions. I really believe that as long as a photographer sells what they love, building a strong income with it is totally possible regardless of someone choosing to do in person sales, or all-inclusive digital packages.
How do you find clients willing to pay what you charge?!
By creating work I loved myself. Everything changed when I started creating worked based on what I loved. I spent more time doing casting calls and shooting sessions for free and had full control in making the sessions how I had them in my head. Once I was able to show the vision I had, I was able to find clients who loved it as much as I did and saw the value in my own work. Often photographers struggle to find clients who value their work because their not yet creating work that they love and value themselves.
Ins and outs of Facebook advertising!!! Does it work...how much revenue came from that advertising specifically?
I might need to make a special class for those that are interested in learning more about Facebook advertising specifically. There's so much that goes into it, and it's a very easy to do incorrectly. Does it work? Only if you put in the heavy lifting before ever spending a pretty penny on advertising. Many people think they can open a business, put a quick ad together, add some money to it and will instantly get a return from it. If this were the case, everyone would use Facebook ads and see amazing results. So when do Facebook ads work great? When you build a business correctly, and have a well-rounded business plan in place based on strategies that are proven to work. Any type of advertising will only amplify what your current business is doing. If your business is doing good, it will do better. If your business isn't doing good, you'll end up losing a lot more money.
Here's an example for photographers:
Photographer A has a business, their work is good, their pricing is set up correctly, and they are slowly but surly building their client base with strategies that work. If this photographer continued everything they were doing, and then created an ad to promote they could AMPLIFY what's already working for them.
Photographer B has a business, their work isn't yet where it needs to be, their pricing isn't nearly where it should be, they have no idea how to get more clients to their site, let alone to book a session with them. If this photographer continued everything they were doing, and then created an ad to promote they will simply waste a lot of money on a strategy that wasn't working, to begin with.
Sorry for the super long answer on this one, I really love teaching about business and the importance of setting up a business up currently, this way any type of advertising can help someone boost their results.
What advertising strategies have worked best for you and which ones are not worth the ROI?
I have tried everything from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Ad words and always come back to Facebook. I think this will also depend on what you are selling, and who your audience is. Personally, I have used Google ad words and did not find that to have a very great ROI, but that's not to say it wouldn't work great for someone else.
When do you know it's time to increase your charges?
Most photographers (me including) start their business not knowing anything about pricing themselves correctly. It's one of the hardest things new photographers will face and sadly it's something that ends up sticking with many photographers for years. After getting to the point of creating work you love and see the value in it yourself you should price yourself 100% based on personal goals. READ ARTICLE ON PRICING HERE When you have your pricing aligned with your goals you'll guarantee keep building your business until you hit those goals without ever having to double guess your pricing. Eventually, you'll get to a point where instead of raising prices to connect to the right clientele, or to reach goals you might end up having to raise prices simply due to demand. If you are "running out of time" for sessions which is a good problem to have you might want to raise your prices to actually slow down bookings. And remember, just because you are slowing down bookings doesn't mean you are making less, most likely you will probably end up making more at this point. Check out the Pricing comparison sheet to read a little bit more.
What is your main marketing tool?
My main marketing tool is word of mouth and Facebook. My most important marketing tool is all of it. When it comes to marketing, it's crucial to never put all your eggs in one basket because you have no idea what might happen. Your #1 marketing strategy is to use many different types of marketing tools that all lead back to your website. You should be using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Email newsletters, your website SEO, everything that's out there to build content that will bring potential clients straight to your site. When you use all marketing tools at once, you'll see the best return and know you can fully count on any future changes that might arise from different marketing tools.
Can you tell us sometime about how you got started? (Financially) Right out of college and into marriage and I have zero funds! How long did it take you to start your business and make it stable?
Of course! Like many photographers, I got started when I had my daughter. I fell in love with photographing her and quickly fell in love with portraits. Photography is amazing because it's something you can jump in with very little. It's also the most frustrating feeling knowing that a better camera body, or upgraded lens could help you get to the next level and not have the money for it. It's also a little painful when your own dad loves photography as well and has multiple high-end camera bodies and lenses that he lets you play with. You can literally see the difference and then put it aside because there's no way you could spend that much on a camera and lens. A big bonus with my dad was that he gave me his used Nikon D300 (it's like $250 used) and a 50mm. I shot with just that one camera and lens for a LOOOOOOOOOONG time. I mean a long time. My clients would look a little confused with me showing up with one camera and lens (totally left my camera bag in the car...oh wait...no...this is all I have) I rocked that camera and created some great work it. Work I'm still proud of that work today. I never let a 'cheap' camera stop me from growing as a photographer. Eventually, I booked enough clients and was able to upgrade my gear and then, later on, made the switch over to Canon.
My advice for you? Use what you have. If you want to shoot portraits, get a good prime lens like the 50mm and rock it until you can upgrade. Learn as much as you can about posing, lighting, and create work you're proud of. Don't let the limitation of having high-end camera bodies or lenses stop you in creating beautiful work because it's totally possible.
Now let's also talk about when it's time to upgrade. If you're creating great work, booking more clients then spend the money and get that dream camera body and lens. You deserve it! Expensive camera gear won't make you an incredible photographer, but if you're a great photographer and then upgrade to your dream camera or get that lens you've been swooning over it will help you create more beautiful work which will, in the end, allow you to attract more clients.
Are the Facebook ads that are successful the ones you are using to market to other photographers or for actually booking photography clients?
I have used Facebook ads successfully with promoting all my photography sessions, weddings, workshop seats, products for photographers, online classes I teach, literally anything you could think of, I've tried and tested. I've found facebook adverting to work wonderful if it's done correctly and targeting the right people.
That sums it up for this months income report and Q&A. I had a lot of fun answering all those questions so if you have any at all, feel free to leave a comment below, or in a comment on facebook, or message me personally on facebook, so I can be sure to answer it in the upcoming income report!
Turning dreams into reality is my specialty! I teach photographers and creatives how to build their dream business. With strategies they can implement right away to build a striving business that has an income they can count on! This class is for photographers who are truly ready to build the business of their dreams and learn the important steps in developing a strong business, brand, and client base. When I first start my photography business I had to learn a lot of important things by trial and error. After years of building a business of my own I'm excited to share all my business knowledge with those of you that are ready to build something you are truly proud of. Something that will make you independently strong as a person and as a business owner. If you have a dream and are willing to work hard at it then you'll absolutely love this class -- It will completely pay for itself over and over again after implementing my business plan and strategies!