Marketing, Photography

How to 30x What Your Next Photography Client Will Pay You

There were 50 different ways I could’ve worded the title of this blog post. “How to 30x Your Client Spend After Only Ever Working With 1 Client” was in the running. So was “How to Go From a $75 to a $2,250 Client in 60 Days”. So you get to pick whichever one resonates with you, but you need to know a few things first:

  • This is the exact strategy I used within my first year of starting my photography business

  • My skill at my craft didn’t magically change in 60 days

  • But my way of thinking did

As photographers we convince ourselves that we all have to go through this same “rite of passage” in order to be legit. It looks something like this:

Timeline_camera_Timeline.jpg

Most of you are probably in between the “Charge $50” and the “What the Hell Happens Next” stage of business. Maybe you’ve upped that $50 session fee to a *gasp* $150. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you only want to offer mini-sessions because those are the only ones where you can make a profit (30 minutes for 4 8x10’s, right?). Most of you have convinced yourself that you’re not good at selling so you’ll probably only ever be a shoot-and-burn photographer. Has the lingo caught up with the modern version of this? Perhaps shoot-and-upload?

So the goal here today is to take you from “I could make more money working at Target” to “Holy sh*t I’m looking at a $2k+ deposit”. Ready?

Here’s what you have to promise me first:

  1. I will let go of any preconceived notions I have about selling as a photographer.

  2. I will let go of any assumptions I have about what my ideal client or market can afford to spend on photography.

  3. I will begin to separate my worth from my craft.

Ok, so now that we’re all here together let me point out some major wowza facts for you. Prior to switching up my technique with my clients (aka when I was only ever making $75 a pop) I was barely scraping by. But once I made the shift to putting my clients first and truly understanding how I could better serve them...things went bananas. Some will call this strategy In Person Selling or IPS. But I kinda hate that phrase. I truly never believed I was selling anyone anything. I was creating an experience for them. A journey. I was showing them the value of why they should and needed to invest in photography. And not only photography, but collateral. So for the sake of clarity let’s redefine this.

Can we all agree that shoot-and-burn (or upload) is a 100% valid way of running a photography business? Heck, even my own family photographer of choosing today uses this method. Let’s call this the SAB Method.

The method I want to teach you today takes it further than that. It only incorporates a few additional steps and touchpoints, but the pay off (and satisfaction) is huge. Let’s call this the VIP Method.

Here, look at the difference of my own business using the SAB Method and the VIP Method:

Timeline_camera_Chart.jpg

The $525 was made up of 7 different sessions from 2 different clients.

The $7,300 was made up of 2 different sessions from 2 different clients (neither were a wedding).

To demonstrate the difference in these two experiences (and why you can make a helluva lot more money by utilizing the VIP Method) I’m going to breakdown how each of them look step-by-step.

SAB Method

  • Connect with client and schedule a time to book the session

  • Client pays your session booking fee ($50-$75)

  • Client calls to chat about her ideas for the session (poses, outfits, setups, locations, etc)

  • You text the client reminding them about their session (they probably reschedule)

  • You finally show up to client’s location of choice and work through all the variations she has in mind and end up shooting for around 90 minutes

  • You leave that session and get started editing the 400+ images you took

  • You finalize between 75-100 edited images and upload them into an online gallery

  • You email or text that gallery link to your client

  • The end

VIP Method

  • Connect with client and schedule a time to book the session

  • You lead the discussion on ideas you have for their session including location, outfits and feel

  • Client pays your session booking fee ($100-$250)

  • Your client gets a formatted email reminding them of their session date and time, your reschedule fee, links to their Pinterest board you curated for them and some session expectations

  • You show up at the location at the time of your choice and shoot for exactly 60 minutes

  • You show your client some images from the back of your camera and talk about how you see them coming to life (in canvas, an album or a print)

  • You leave that session and get started editing the 200+ images you took

  • You post 2-4 on social media and tag your client

  • You email your client a formatted email that has a few teaser images and ask them to schedule their Viewing Session

  • You arrive at their Viewing Session and showcase their images in a video slideshow, you’ve brought product samples and dessert

  • You walk them through what to purchase and present them an invoice

  • They put 50% down that night or pay in full ($1,000-$2,250+)

  • You order their collateral and setup a time for your client to pick up

  • The end

You can see that the VIP Method has only 5 additional steps to the entire process from start to finish. So let’s break those down. Here are the main differences between the VIP Method and the SAB Method.

As photographers we convince ourselves that we all have to go through this same “rite of passage” in order to be legit. It looks something like this: Get Camera -> Work For Free -> Charge $50 -> What the Hell Happens Next?! So the goal is to take you from “I could make more money working at Target” to “Holy sh*t I’m looking at a $2k+ deposit”. Ready?  |  Boss Project

SET PRIOR EXPECTATIONS

You can see that one of the first differences right off the top is that within the SAB Method the client is the one to set the tone of the entire experience. When left unguided, a client can get particular. In my experience (and I’m sure you’ve seen this too!) is that my SAB clients (those who paid less and got less) were my most difficult and needy.

We’re talking 7+ outfit changes in one session. Backdrops, chalkboard signs, balloons, location changes and more. But I allowed that to happen. If we don’t step in as the expert that we are to set up the expectations the client will take over.

As soon as I switched to the VIP Method and set up those prior expectations early and often the entire process went smoother and my client was happier. I began to get firm on what days I shot, what time I would shoot and how long the session would last. These were non-negotiable so my clients didn’t even budge.

It’s as simple as changing your lingo from a question to a statement.

“What time would you like to meet?” turns to “I only shoot at Golden Hour so we’ll need to meet right at 6:30 to take advantage of our time together”.

“What would you like out of this session?” turns to “I see some magic happening in this area of the garden. So I’ll have your family meet me there and we’ll get some great shots.”

TEASE THE END RESULT

You can see that within the SAB Method there is a big disconnect between the session and the end result. The client is often left to wonder if there were any good shots captured, how did they look, was their kid covered in snot the entire time? The thread of excitement didn’t continue from session to delivery.

The opposite is true within the VIP Method. When I would shoot I would be immediately be talking about the products that a particular shot would look great as. I would ask clients throughout the session “Where are you hoping to hang these images in your home?” “How will you be gifting these images to family?”

I could then use their responses to tease the end result. If I knew they were interested in a gallery wall above their dining room table, I could make sure to achieve a shot that would work great as a large canvas. As soon as I had it I would show the back of my camera to my client and say something like “Oh my gosh! This is THE shot that we’re hanging above your dining table.”

If I got a wonderful picture of the kids I would show it to my client and say something like “Oh my gosh! These would be perfect as 8x10’s to gift to Grandma.”

This method gets the client involved in the process in a way that still has you in the driver’s seat. It’s getting them excited and expecting to buy more later.

CREATE AN ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE

Where do they buy these things you ask? In this VIP Viewing Session. Although this kinda exists in the SAB Method it’s definitely not VIP...it’s simply a viewing session. The SAB client views their gallery alone. On their computer or most likely their phone. Without you there. Lame sauce.

The VIP client has a complete additional experience to see their images for the first time. This is where the magic happens. There are a few key things I want you to note here in order to make your first Viewing Experience amazing.

  • The viewing sessions need to happen no later than 2 weeks from when you wrapped their shooting session

  • They need to happen in the evening, at their home, where no kids are present (typically once they go to bed)

  • Anyone that’s purchasing images or collateral needs to be present

  • You need to bring product samples and a treat (I’ve brought cheesecake and wine in the past)

The purpose of those stipulations is that you’re creating a high-end, intimate, grown-up, viewing experience. Everyone involved knows that there will be money spent in these sessions so the tone needs to be right for that (that’s why no kids!).

TELL THEM WHAT THEY NEED

So now we’re in the Viewing Session. Dessert is getting eaten, wine is getting drunk and mom is tearing up over the gallery you’re playing on your iPad. Right on schedule.

Now what?

As the client is viewing their images, try to make a note of which one she’s particularly ohh-ing and aww-ing over. After they watch your slideshow once go back through it again and pause on the images you deliberately captured for that gallery wall she talked about putting above her dining table.

Show her the options for that gallery wall. Does she want to go with canvas or prints in frames? Awesome. Walk over to the dining wall with her. Let her know what size you’d recommend getting in that canvas due to the size of her wall. Awesome. Now, let’s pick out what the other images are that will surround this staple piece.

Notice that you are expertly guiding her through what choice she should be making. Remember that you are the expert here! You know what sizes images need to be. You know how small an 8x10 looks on a 2-story wall. You know that gallery wrapped canvases look better than foam mounted prints.

Your client is trusting in you, the expert, to tell her what to do and what to get. Every buyer innately needs this guidance. It’s your job to provide it. And if you do it right, the pay off will be great.

To complete this process you simply need to collect payment, order their products and get them in your clients hands. Those four steps that I outlined above are absolutely crucial to creating a true VIP Experience for your next client.

It will be the thing that can enable you to 30x your client spend. But it not only brings in more money, it brings a better experience. For the client and you. The fulfillment I, as the photographer, would get when I started offering the VIP Method vs. the SAB Method was tenfold. I began to find more joy in my work. More purpose. More drive.

I challenge you to make these simple tweaks in your process for your very next client. And let me know how it turns out for you. Come back here and leave a comment with your results or questions.


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Email Marketing, Marketing

Email Marketing Basics for Creative Business Owners

So you keep hearing the following statement, “As a business you should probably get around to sending out some ‘professional’ email.” And you may be wondering where the heck you should start or if it is even worth your time.

Email Marketing has some powerful benefits, but to be successful it has to be well thought out and carefully managed. Today, we will cover some of the benefits, how and where to get started and then the ideal anatomy for your newsletter.

Email Marketing has some powerful benefits, but to be successful it has to be well thought out and carefully managed.  |  Think Creative Collective

The Benefits are Hard to Deny


Build Know, Like & Trust

By sending branded, beautiful emails your potential client or customer continues to get to know you better. They generally like you more. And they definitely are more likely to trust your business. Find out how to turn that trust into a sale here.

Boost Your Sales

Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (source).  Hello, why wouldn’t you nurture them then? That’s like throwing away free money.

Stay Top of Mind

How many times have you stumbled upon a gold mind only to forget the name, lose the address or fail to save it for later? Trust me, people who come across you will accidentally close a tab, won’t bookmark the page or restart their computer in the middle of reading no matter how awesome they think you are. If you can manage to capture people’s information then they are way more likely to remember just how amazing you are. Email marketing is one of the only ways to guarantee your entire audience will be exposed to you. Social media is not guaranteed and posting a blog post all by itself is like a shot in the dark. Email marketing forces your name to show up in their inbox again and again!


How to Get Started


Increase Traffic

As much as we would like to assume people magically show up on our email lists the first step to any marketing tactic is to grow your exposure. You can organically increase traffic by creating killer content on a blog (you stopped to read this didn’t you).

Here are some surefire ways to increase traffic on your website. And this includes some super simple SEO tactics to help push your company to the top of search engine results.

Setting Up the Forms

Before you begin collecting email addresses, you need a way to capture this information. Here is a basic step-by-step tutorial to set up your forms in Mailchimp.

Enticing Someone To Sign-Up

Do you willy nilly give out your personal information? Absolutely not! You have to trust someone, and they have to give you a pretty legit reason for you to hand over that coveted email address. The secret sauce to having someone sign-up is using a super valuable opt-in. You can learn all about what goes into one here.

Or if you just need a gold mine of ideas. I have 101 irresistible headline ideas waiting for you in my FREE e-book. Snag your copy back stage.


Anatomy of the Ideal Newsletter


So you finally have a list of people dying to hear more from you because you already gave them some of your juiciest knowledge. But what do you send them? What goes in your “newsletter” of sorts?

Personalize & Customize

Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10% (source). Consider adding someone’s name to your subject line and addressing them in your email. In Mailchimp you simply do this by adding the tag *|FNAME|* which refers to that field on your list based on the email address.

Tell a Story

People want to connect with other people. They get plenty of “ads” in their inbox from big box brands. Don’t spam them. Act like they are a part of your life, you have them over for a cup of coffee and you want to tell them a story. Connect it back to something going on in your life or business.

Call to Action

Give your readers something to do. Perhaps you challenge them. Maybe you ask them to read something. Go and sign up. You can even ask them to buy (don’t do this every time or you will wear out your welcome). Always end your emails with a call to action.

Extras

It is completely appropriate to throw in some extras at the bottom of your email. Consider adding some of the follow items.

  • Blog Posts – What is your newest content you don’t want them to miss?
  • Social Media – Where do you like to hang out online?
  • Promoting Products or Services – What is available to them right now?

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Social Media, Profitability, Planning

How to Get People to Follow, Like & Buy from You

Sounds pretty dreamy right? Someone finds you online. They are interested in what you have to offer and learn to more about you. They like what you do, say, and sell and eventually buy. Well folks, to make this happen you really have to focus on a couple of key things.

Sounds pretty dreamy right? Someone finds you online. They are interested in what you have to offer and learn to more about you. They like what you do, say, and sell and eventually buy. Well folks, to make this happen you really have to focus on a couple of key things.  |  Think Creative Collective

Plan

Do you think any Fortune 500 company started growing without a plan in place? Seems totally obvious, but also extremely easy to skip. Here are a few of my best suggestions to help you put a plan in place:

Post

Next you must generate content both on and off your website that showcases your expert abilities, knowledge and crazy awesome skills. 

Authenticate

No one likes buying from any ordinary “company.” They like buying a story. They would much rather purchase a “persons” goods or services, instead of some mythical 3rd person. Make your brand personal. Use an authentic voice. 

Sell

I know what you are thinking. I am not a sales person. I just want to be creative. Can someone just pay me without me having to give them that icky sales pitch? You can skip all the slimy steps if you focus on getting your audience to know, like and trust you.

The Hard Lesson

What I learned the hard way was if I want my dreamiest of clients to find me, follow me, like me and later buy, I need to know who they are just as much as they need to know me. This meant I have to turn on the hyper focus switch to grow my email list! In 2 months, I quadrupled by list by implementing some simple strategies.

 


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Profitability, Instagram

How to Sell On Instagram Without Feeling Like a Slimy Cheeseball

If you’re a product-based business it’s probably no surprise to you that you can make sales from Instagram. You probably do it all the time and it feels natural. However, to those of you that are service based (with a potentially high dollar price range), selling on Instagram seems like a long shot. Who would’ve thought that after less than one year of being very intentional about our Instagram game that we’d see actual, real life, high-dollar clients from it? Well it happened for us, and it can happen for you too. Luckily, it’s not rocket science. 


We’re breaking down the three key areas that we KNOW have an effect on attracting the high-dollar client, and more importantly, how we closed the deal with them (in less than 72 hours!).

If you’re a product-based business it’s probably no surprise to you that you can make sales from Instagram. You probably do it all the time and it feels natural. However, to those of you that are service based (with a potentially high dollar price range), selling on Instagram seems like a long shot. Who would’ve thought that after less than one year of being very intentional about our Instagram game that we’d see actual, real life, high-dollar clients from it? Well it happened for us, and it can happen for you too. Luckily, it’s not rocket science.  |  Think Creative Colelctive

“Sell” Without Feeling Like A Slimy Cheeseball

First of all, as any type of business owner (whether service or product based) you have to make it clear that you have something for sale. Second of all, you have to make this clear in a way that feels authentic, non-spammy and approachable. We’ve learned that by telling a story, whether it be our own or the stories of our clients, it has a much higher impact on our audience. Instagram first captures its audience with a beautiful image, and then keeps them engaged with an enticing caption. 

We are big story tellers, so it usually comes naturally to us, but if you’re at a loss for words here are a few tips to get you going. Ask yourself:

  • How can this product or service change the lives of my clients?
  • How has this product or service impacted my own life?
  • Is there something unique about my product or service that I can brag about (such as it being handmade, 1:1, organic, some proceeds go to charity, et cetera)?
  • What’s the story of my business? Has it grown from my basement to a large warehouse? Did it start with just me and now I have a team?

When you tell these stories to your audience they get to hear about your business and the things you sell, but it’s structured in a way that’s giving. Your audience then wants to become a part of that story by purchasing what you offer. They want their lives changed in the same way in which yours was, or to be on the same level other people who buy your product are. They want “in” to the dream.

Stay Engaged With Your Audience

Ideally, once you begin storytelling you will have others sharing similar experiences on your feed. You can’t ignore these comments! Engage with your followers, ask them more questions, provide support, and share the love. If people are taking their own time to comment on your posts, they will feel so supported when you reciprocate. The more you are engaged with your current audience, the more it will grow! Instagram notices when certain posts get a lot of comments and moves it up in the line to show it to more people. 

To promote more engagement, consider asking open ended questions or give direct call to actions. Here are some examples.

  • “Tag your friends below if you know they would love this!”
  • “Share this with your friends who are trying to eat healthy!”
  • “What’s a wild and crazy goal of yours for 2016? We’d love to cheer you on!”
  • “About to binge on Netflix - what are your suggestions?”

We like to mix in business related call to actions with lifestyle call to actions so it doesn’t feel like we’re always surveying our audience. Just by being known that you ask questions and will engage in the comments is a big driver to build knowledge, goodwill and trust. This is the key that will convert your followers to buyers and brand advocates.

Reach Out and Follow Up

If you find that you have some “regulars” that often like or comment on your feed, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. If you are a product-based business, consider mailing them something small that you know they will share (and tag you in a post). If you are a service-based business, offer to set up a quick phone call to talk about your specialty.

Pro tip: always approach these relationships from a truly authentic place of giving. Don’t go into it prepared to ask for a sale or even hoping they will buy. Consider this thanking your VIP’s and passing out the love. Whether it turns into something like a purchase or booking is truly icing on the cake, not the end goal. 

We recently reached out to some of our active commenters who happened to be small biz owners, just to ask them how it was going. We wanted to know all about their biz, their struggles, and challenges, and what we could do to make it better. We got loads of ideas for future content just from one phone call! We want our audience (clients or not) to know that we are in their corner. 

Don’t feel nervous about reaching out! Most people love to put a face or voice to the name or brand that they love. 


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Facebook, Instagram, Social Media

Busting the Top 10 Social Media Myths

We have taught thousands of creative entrepreneurs from all over the world. We teach what we know, what works for us, and the strategies that are totally doable for you and your small business. We teach not for you to get a flood of thousands of followers, but a flood of followers that are authentic and totally “your people”. We haven’t fallen into the “follower obsession” and we don’t want to make you fall into that negative space either. We only focus on finding truly targeted, amazing, and engaged followers who will become brand advocates, clients, and online friends.

We have taught thousands of creative entrepreneurs from all over the world. We teach what we know, what works for us, and the strategies that are totally doable for you and your small business. We teach not for you to get a flood of thousands of followers, but a flood of followers that are authentic and totally “your people”. We haven’t fallen into the “follower obsession” and we don’t want to make you fall into that negative space either. We only focus on finding truly targeted, amazing, and engaged followers who will become brand advocates, clients, and online friends.  |  Think Creative Collective

By following the same steps that we use to grow our audience you will curate a tribe of dreamy clients and forever friends. This is why having a social media game plan is worth it. When you put your energy into growing the right tribe, it will pay off in referrals and sales. Period. We see it happen constantly for us so we know the engagement is ready for you right around the corner. 

So here’s the giant list of excuses you pull or the myths you buy into when we talk about social media. Spoiler alert: we bust each and every one of them. 

Social Media is not worth my time: Connecting with your audience, providing education, or making sales isn’t worth your time? Yeah, right. All of those things happen when you focus on being present online. There are collaborations, sales, referrals, and relationships that we would not have today if we didn’t spend time on social media - mainly on Instagram. We love getting to respond to you guys in the comments and see what you’re up to online.
 
Being active on Social Media will suck up all my time: We used to think this as well! Luckily, the more you do it, the better you get. Also we’ve made some worksheets that make scheduling, posting, and curating content for Social Media even easier! If you can spend just 10 minutes every morning, mid-day, and evening online (which is more than manageable for most people), you will have a great impact on your tribe. (Also, you can save time and create consistency using Later.)
 
You can’t make sales off Social Media: Whoa, we’re about to bust this one right quick! No joke, we’ve booked a 2k client straight off an Instagram comment and have since made thousands on our courses. The inquires on our website that keep coming in most often cite “Instagram” as how they heard about us (despite us no longer taking traditional clients). And we don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers!

All the “big” accounts have paid for their followers or likes: Now we can’t speak for everyone, but for us and a lot of other creatives, paying for followers is a big no-no. Not only does it cost you money, it curates a following of spammy and inauthentic people (that is, people that will in no way become clients or customers). This is obviously a waste of money. Now, paying for ads on Facebook (or Instagram) that directly impact your “likes” or “email subscribers” is something else entirely. When you pay for those ads you pay to specifically target an audience who is into what you’re putting out there. Win-win.

Only professional photographers can have a pretty feed or graphics: Well, if you’ve been around these parts any you know that this isn’t true. Sure, having a professional camera or training can lend to some amazing creations, but it isn’t the end-all. The majority of our feed (as in two out of three images) are shot with our iPhones and edited in our favorite app. There are certainly tricks of the trade that you can replicate so it’s definitely worth perfecting, because a pretty image sells well! Try our Instagram Bootcamp Challenge now and we will walk you through how you create “pro” images without thousands of hours of training or equipment.

People don’t want to hear about my personal life on Social Media: Although there is a dynamic to this, this statement isn’t true overall . We are all humans (even those puppy or miniature pig accounts that we follow) and as humans we connect with others best when we can relate to them. There are totally ways you can bring in your personal life into your feed while also referencing your business, service, or product. Ask yourself how you can share the “why” part of being business or the “how” - what you offer can impact lives. Sharing a bit of your personal life puts a human face to your business which is often forgotten when we follow businesses online, and it helps to break up the posts where you might be “selling” to your audience.

No one cares what I have to say / No one reads what I post: So, this one might be true (for now). Ha! But, guess what, it’s okay! When you’re just starting out growing a presence online you might only have your mom and your best friend listening. The more you post and the more you write for your audience the more impact you will have on those readers. Someone out there right now needs what you offer. They won’t find you on day one, but keep doing it for them anyways. Ready to change the game? See you how you can Snap, Style and Sell here

If I’m not on every social media channel, what’s the point: Social media overwhelm is a real thing, y’all. It’s why we pretty much quit Twitter and why we put Periscope on the back burner (because let’s be honest, Facebook Live is starting to rule the roost). We knew we could only handle two to three  channels well. So we chose Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. We’ve gotten into a groove with these channels now, so we might be adding in some live streaming channels soon. The bottom line is, don’t feel like you have to be everywhere right now. Choose the ones that you like and that you know your audience is hanging out on. Master those and see if you want to add more in the future.

There’s constantly something new to learn about Social Media: Even though Facebook does change their algorithms practically on the daily (or at least it feels like it), this doesn’t impact the foundation of your presence on that platform. Other channels do change some features, but remember that they are generally geared towards making viewer experience even better, so we can’t blame them for that. You will never have to fully relearn how to be on a specific channel (unless you’re considering MySpace, ha!) so don’t let the “tech” part scare you off. 

Being on Facebook is pointless these days: It’s true that not all of your audience will see your posts on Facebook. It’s true that Facebook is charging you to “boost” your posts to the people who already like you. All of that aside, it’s still super beneficial to be on that platform. We also have to remember that to have an account is free and the reward for using it properly can be super powerful for a business. We are on Facebook for two major reasons. One is so we can stay engaged with our private group that’s for members only. We see so much engagement in that group and love that they can feel comfortable to ask questions and share personal journeys, since it isn’t public. The second is so that we can run targeted ads to a very specific audience, so we can grow and be in front of people who are interested in what we’re putting out there. You have to have a Facebook Business Page to run ads, which are powerful in growing your audience - so it’s definitely not pointless to be there!


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