1. Outsource Everything:
This is one of my favorite things to talk with photographers about because it is one of the best ways to free yourself up for what you do best – photography! My advice is to outsource anything and everything that you don’t do the best in your business while leaving the things that only you can do at the high level you want. For example, you wouldn’t hire another photographer to photograph your sessions in your style because that is why your clients come to you. However, are you an accountant? No? Then why not outsource your monthly bookkeeping and yearly tax return? My philosophy is to outsource work to the best professionals for the job, and if that person is me then I’ll do it. But, when it comes to bookkeeping, printing my work, framing my work, or even retouching it, I send it to the best in the business. Not only does that free me up to do more of what I love (photographing babies and fur babies), but it also leaves me with a sense of calm knowing that it is going to be done correctly. Not to mention, I won’t have to do it! This is a great way to take some of the business tasks off your plate and freeing yourself up to be more creative.
2. Have a life:
Since you’re a photographer you work evening, weekends, pretty much all the time, right? Well, that sounds pretty awful. Why do people think that photographers work 24/7? When did that misconception arise? Working anytime for anyone is a sure way to burn yourself out and fast, which is why it’s important to have boundaries in your business. You need to have a life! What do I mean by boundaries you ask? I mean you need set studio hours of when you work and how you work. If you close at 5:00 pm, be closed! I know most photographers are afraid if they don’t adjust their schedules to accommodate their clients then they won’t have clients. But, I will tell you that the people that are actually your ideal clients and want to book you because of your style, you as a person, and the fact they like and trust you, will figure out how to make it work within your and their schedules.
My studio is open Monday to Thursday between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. I book clients during those hours only, and I do not book on weekends. I have two small kiddos, and if I book up all weekend I don’t get to see them. Gotta prioritize a bit. So, when I tell my clients when I’m available, I also let them know that most people either take a lunch or half day off of work to see me. Once they hear that’s the norm it’s not a problem. Stick to you guns with your studio hours and policies! I also don’t answer emails outside of business hours or take calls. These boundaries are key to staying sane, having a life, and avoiding burnout. It’s not that hard to start doing this, and did I mention it’s totally worth it?? One more nugget on this… If you’re time is precious and you’re not available at the drop of a hat, you start creating a demand for your work because they supply isn’t endless…. Think about that for a minute!
3. Pricing for Profit:
Knowing your numbers and how they relate to your day-to-day business is key. This is probably one of the areas most photographers hate because, let’s face it, we’re creative people not business people! But, if we don’t know our numbers, it can be pretty hard to know if we’re even making a profit. How do we fix this? This is something we have to do once to get the process started, and then after it’s done, all we need to do is update it yearly.
The first piece is looking at your cost of sales for each product you sell. Make an excel spreadsheet and input each cost that goes along with each product. I know this is a bit labor intensive, but once you set it up you are set. Once you know what each product costs, you can actually charge what you need to in order to make money in your business. What a novel idea! Let’s make a profit and stay in business! But, remember, each year our labs and vendors alter their prices, so we need to update this cost based formula yearly to make sure our prices are in line as well.
Another great aspect of knowing what your products actually cost and what you need to charge for them is that it takes a lot of the emotion out of selling them. If you know you have to make “X” on product “Y” to be able to pay yourself and stay in business, it makes it a lot easier to stick by your pricing and any client objections you might face.
4. Attracting your Ideal Client:
This is a hot topic, and it should be because it’s so important. If you have honed in on your ideal client and know who they are, where to find them, and how to reach them, then marketing to them should be a piece of cake. But, the big question is who are they? One of the best things you can do for your business is take the time to figure out who this ideal client is and where to find them.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is thinking that anyone with money is your ideal client. Well, no, that’s not true. It’s not true because just because someone has money doesn’t mean they value photography or what you do. You have to find like-minded people that value your service and believe in what you provide. For example, when I tell people “I am an intimate photographer for babies with and without fur” people either says, “Oh I love that!” or “That’s nice”. The ones that say, “That’s nice” are definitely not my client because they don’t get what I’m doing.
Finding your ideal client is more than targeting a certain demographic – that’s easy. It’s about targeting a certain mindset. Go back and look at the clients that really get what you do and the ones you have loved working with. Don’t jut go back and look at the ones who spent the most money with you. That’s doesn’t make them ideal. Look at the ones you connected with and why. Uncovering that within your client is what you need to attract more of the same. If you figure this out and start attracting your ideal client, you will be working happier and producing work that you love because your ideal client wants your style and, most importantly, you!
Let’s face it… Being a photographer is awesome! We love how every day is different. We get to meet new people, photograph things we love, and, hopefully, pay ourselves. That last one doesn’t always work out for some though because we focus too much on being a photographer versus running a business. This is why I’m sharing my 4 Business Tips so you can be more creative. These four tips are just a start to help you on the way to getting your business to a place where it can almost run on auto pilot. I don’t want you to think this happens overnight. It takes time and effort on your part to get it there. It is my goal to help you get your business set up correctly and on the right track so that you can focus on doing more of what you love – being creative!
If you want even more tips on how what you need to do in your business to free yourself up to do more of what you love, sign up for my newsletter and receive my To Do List for your Business Right Now! It has my top things you need to do in your business right now that will help take some things of your plate business wise. I also have some of my favorite vendors contact information that I personally outsource work from.
I would also love to hear from you if you have any tips you would like to share about positive changes you have made in your own business. Please leave a comment if you have any advice or tips for the rest of us!