28 Days of Portrait Photography

Lesson 42 of 85

Day 27: Sales & Production

 

28 Days of Portrait Photography

Lesson 42 of 85

Day 27: Sales & Production

 

Lesson Info

Day 27: Sales & Production

Today's challenge is all about sales. Now so many of you are gonna be at different levels of selling, but today I want to take you through how I went from zero to $400, and the $400 to an average of $1850. Then I'm gonna take you through average of $1850 to an average of $3500. Whatever level you are at, you will learn something from this because this is how I learned. I could not make money when I first started selling my work. I had to learn how to do it, learn how to present it, and learn how to wrap it up. So today it's all about sales. Hi everyone, welcome to sales and production. This is a really important subject today. I've gathered together a keynote of all of the definitely most asked questions around sales and production that had really helped me, that I can now give to you, advice that I was given. The best sales advice that I was ever given that simply transformed me from struggling to be a $400 a sale photographer to a $3,000 a sale photographer overnight. I did not reali...

ze that I had so many blocks around selling my own work. Today we're just gonna talk about how I sell, how I went through my progression of selling. From being a nobody, nothing from making no money to suddenly making an income doing this job. So my first slide today is my price list. I know most of you have seen it, I'm just gonna put it out there for you all to see. I want you to listen to the language I use around my price list. Looking at this first slide, you can see my price list is on the left and my poem is on the right. The poem on the right is embedded into the floor and resined over as you walk into my beautiful studio. It is my philosophy. It's a Derek Walcott poem called Love after Love. It's one of my favorites and the reason that I have that on the card with my price list is I feel like people were more likely to keep it, if it had something beautiful on it. If I put an image of somebody on it, they were less likely to keep a photograph of somebody. The price list is really about simplicity. Remember my rule, a confused mind says no. In order to sell portraits, this is where you have to start. Today I'm gonna take you through the pattern of selling. For me, it's from the first moment I give them the price list. I learned, and as you would have listened in language and product and pricing, it's the simplicity with which you deliver this price list that makes it easy to say and it's the value you hold within yourself when you say it and you believe it. I want you to really, really work through, in this challenge, any blocks you have around the price that you charge and any blocks that you have around selling and any blocks you have around money. Today we're gonna challenge those and see how we go. My images start at $275 on the wall and the folio box starts at $1,200. When I was doing the pricing and product section of 28 days in Vegas, if you remember, if you watched that, I was quite taken with suddenly putting my price list on there and realizing my prices have not changed for 20 years but my average sale had. Really what it came down to for me with you guys is I know there were a lot of people in the pricing section that just didn't know what to charge. I said there is no professional that should be charging under $400 for a shoot and then $400, $900, $1,250. Remember go back to product and pricing for that. More importantly, if my prices hadn't changed in 20 years but my average sale has, that stands to reason that it doesn't matter what we charge as long as we value it because when we value it, our average sale goes up. Let's talk about that. The next price lis tthat I'm going to quickly show you is my folio box and that's how I price it. Six for $1,200, 10 for $2,000, 20 for $3,000. That works out and the reason I came to that dollar value is if you go backwards for one second, the 7x10 is the size of the image in my folio box and 10 of them at $2000 works out to be $200 each. If you go back to my price list, a 7x10 on the wall is $275. So to my client, it looks like they're getting a lot more value for their money. That's why I priced it at $ and that is why the image in the box is the size of my smallest wall portrait, because I want my client to think I'm rewarding them for buying more. My wall portraits start there and from here I'm just going to go straight into the nine 6x4s framed. The frame that I showed you was nine 5x7s. Whether you do 6x4, 7x5, whatever size you want to do it, make sure it's around the size of the frame 16x24 print because then it looks exactly the same size on the wall, but there's a reason this one here, the 16x24 is $620 and the one on the right is $2000. Because you're selling nine images. Again, higher value, more images, more income, more money, more profit, same size, just more for your money. That's how I set my price list. When you set your price list in your own mind and then you can start building the value of what you're giving away in your own mind, it helps sell your photographs right from the moment that you tell people what your price list is. This is why we have to go backwards in order to go forwards. Until you are set in stone with your price list and feel very comfortable with it, nobody else is going to feel comfortable with it. Let's sort that out now. I know one thing to be true and that is the sale, now, is done before the shoot. I used to, in my early professional days, work for another studio where I would do a full consultation as to what the prices where, how I was going to shoot them, and I used to do this in person. This is going back 21 years. Clearly we didn't have the internet. We didn't have email and it was so easy for someone to drive, park, come into the studio and do a consultation. We did this for 10 years. As we came into maybe the year 2000, people started to get email. It started to become a little bit too hectic just to park in the city and all of a sudden our consultations went to the phone. They went to the phone before they went to email. But it didn't matter because we were still telling people what to wear, connecting with them on the phone, and then telling them our prices. It wasn't until we went fully automated and to email, which was around 2003-2004 that we started to suffer. This was about the time that we stopped connecting with our clients face to face or on the phone and we started to just become this email marketing. Really, no connection. Too easy to delete. People weren't reading the emails. We became spam. We were also competing with each other on price, instead of product, and on service. It became really, so bad for our industry. We're trying to get everyone back into visual emails, PDFs, videos, connecting to Vimeo, YouTube, show reels, getting them back on the phone, enticing them, getting them excited so that we can talk to them, reconnect with them with both service and beautiful images. I know, now that my sale is set, my sales and price list are set, my product is set, that I can sell right from that moment that their first phone call comes in. That's what we've been working on. Getting your PDFs sorted, how are you PDFs going? We're coming to the end of our challenges here. I'm going to give you a checklist on April the 8th that is going to take you through the entire every challenge and what I'm going to tick off for you and I'm going to see how many of you have ticked through them. The PDF price list is going to be one of the biggest ones on there. Make sure you're working on that now. In order to make money in my studio this is what I learned the hard way. I had to define my product, my service and my price. I need you to do this for me. I need you to have a product, a service, and a price that you feel very comfortable with. I suddenly realized as I was building my business that I needed to start thinking in boxes and I could become very organized if everything was in a box. How much do you charge? That's in the pricing box. How much does this cost in this on email now? What am I gonna market with? These are my marketing images. What's my marketing process? It's right there. How many different genres am I marketing to? Two. They're right here. I found that every time I set something in concrete as my system, I could seed it out and I felt very comfortable about starting to say it, use the language around it, and market it. You need to consider any blocks that you have around money because once you set in stone your product, your service, and exactly what you're going to be giving, offering and for how much, and what your average sale is and what you want it to be, as soon as you set that then you really need to make sure that your service is following through with everyone of that. The services, how you speak to clients, how you answer your phone, how you answer your emails, how you follow up with your clients, how you follow up with production, how you follow up with their final sale, their referral, follow right through to picking up images, getting money off them, making them a lifelong client and getting referrals. We're gonna talk about that a little bit later in the segment on production. I need you to consider that your service is paramount and you need to refine the service because you will get a repeat client, you will get referrals, and you will get more money if you do less shoots and spend more time on one client producing amazing work and following it right through to delivering to the hand than you will be trying to choke your studio by getting 10 clients and doing a crappy service and a lower sale. You will get and build a higher boutique business if you do quality instead of volume and right through because that service is really the end of the sale and it's really important that you're following through. Now, what are your blocks around money? Once you've set all of that in stone, then a lot of the time the problem is around money. Let me tell you something I had to learn. One of the biggest problems with me was saying out loud how much the images cost. I have, in my sales room, an example of the size of the portrait but I just have it as a framed gator foam core sheet. It's not an image, it's just a size. I would walk up to the sizes that were leaning on the wall underneath my plasma and I would say, "This one is 275. This one is 620. "This one is 800. This one is 1,240." I wouldn't actually say the exact cost of them. I would just rattle it off like that. One day a guy called me up and he said, "Wow, $8.20 for a big shot like that." It's $820 and I didn't say $ because I couldn't even look at people and say the price. I didn't even believe my own product and my own price list and I'd been selling it for 20 years. So no wonder when I look back, could I not sell $400 worth. I was wreaking of scarcity. Every time I would say it, I wouldn't look at them. I couldn't look somebody in the eye and say, "My images start at $275. This is for a 7x10. "The 11x14 is $420. The 16x24 is $640." Etc., etc., etc. I could not do that. It took me a long time to be able to say that because it took me a long time to believe it. I need you to get over this hurdle also. I'm a over-giver. I'm an over-supporter. I have been like that all my life. I learned a very valuable lesson back in about 2004 when my business exploded. I learned how to receive money because I realized making money was not a problem, but receiving it was a big problem for me. It goes right down to a friend owes me $20. If I owe somebody $20, I'll say to them "I owe you $20." If my friend says, "Don't worry about it." I say, "No, no, no. I owe you $20." If they say, "Honestly, I don't care." I'll say, "Here. Look. Take it, take it, take it. "Take it, take it, take it." And if they still don't let me give it to them, I'll go and buy them something with that $ or I will wait until we are in a situation like a cafe and I will sneak, get the check, throw my money down, walk out. I find a way to pay that back. I am one of those people. I found certain friends of mine would be like, "I owe you $20." And I'd go, "Don't worry about it." And they'd go, "Okay." And I would burn inside. I would think, you're supposed to offer me that money like I do. You're supposed to give me that money. Just because I said, "Don't worry about it." I was just being polite. I realized that that was the sort of person that I was. That was constantly happening to me. Not only in my life, but in my business. I wasn't receiving. Left for leaving, right for receiving. Remember those are the rules, 50/50. You give and you accept money. So I was giving a lot of service, but I was struggling in the taking of money because I didn't feel worth it. I didn't feel like my work was worth it and selling for me became a huge block because I hit this block where I just felt so desperately uncomfortable selling my own work. I never understood why. It wasn't until I got to the open to receive part that I realized that I simply wasn't putting my hand out for myself or my family or my life or my future and saying, "Thank you." Don't talk. You don't have to say, "Don't worry about it. "Let me throw that in for free." You don't have to say any of that. You just say "Thank you. Thank you." I've given you this, thank you. "Oh awesome. Thank you." I really shifted a massive hurdle when I understood that I'm worth receiving. I'm giving and therefor I'm worth receiving. I shifted that in myself, almost over night I went from a $400 average to an $1800 average. It's a little bit of a funny joke because this is what happened. I went to a business consultant who knew nothing about photography when I started my business. He really, for $1500 a month for three months, and that was a lot of money and I was struggling to pay it and I felt sick about paying it, I would meet with him once a week for one hour and he never told me anything I did not know about the photographic industry 'cause I'd been in the industry for already at the time about 11 years when I started my own business. I thought, this guy's not teaching me anything. I'm paying all this money. I get the phone call, he's not teaching me anything. He's not telling me anything. There's nothing here that I need to know. He ended up giving me a great gift because he introduced me to another client of his who was a portrait photographer and she was running a business, a really high end portrait boutique business from home. She wanted me to go and teach her Photoshop. The best thing I got from this business coach was this connection. I went along to this business and this woman was a power house. Her prices were three times more than mine. Her average sale was $3800. She was kicking it out of the park every single day with contemporary portraits of kids and families and mostly kids and babies and really just rocking it. She gave me three pieces of advice that changed my world. She did it in about a minute and this is what happened. We were talking and I said, "I think I have "a problem selling my own work." She looked at me and she said, "Why?" I started to give her all of these excuses and she goes, "You know what? "You don't need to tell me why. Just try this." These are the three things that she taught me because price is only an issue in the absence of value. If I value myself, it stands to reason price will not be a problem. She told me these three things here. The best sales advice I was ever given. She said, "It goes like this. "You educate your client before they're photographed. "You educate your client after they are photographed. "Then educate them again when they come in for the viewing. "When they come in for their viewing, "they sit down and you know that they've seen your prices. "You know they've had a great experience "with you so you say to them, 'Here's my price list, John and Margaret. 'These are your beautiful portraits. 'What would you like to order?' "And stop talking." I considered this and I thought, okay. These are your beautiful portraits. This is my price list, these are your beautiful portraits. Let them look at them. What would you like to order? All of a sudden, all the chattering I'd been doing, all the getting in my own way, just suddenly disappeared. Then she said, "Shut up. Stop talking. "The next person who talks is buying it. "So if you want to keep talking, you're buying it." So I just stopped talking. For a moment, there's an awkward silence and then inevitably what happens is they say one of two things. "What are my options?" Or "Okay, I like the sound of this." So just like that I had gone from nothing to a big sale. It gets better. She then said, "When you write out the order "of what they would like you say 'That comes to $3240.' "Stop talking. "You don't say 'That comes to $ 'and I can upgrade your enlargement for free 'and give you a CD of everything you've purchased.' "Because that's such a lot of money and obviously "you might want to break down that payment "and blah, blah, blah. "Just stop talking because the next thing "that they will say is, '$3240. 'Okay, what can you throw in for that?' "And then you can say, 'I can give you a CD. 'I can give you double prints for mum.' Etc., etc. "Or they'll say, 'That's too much money. Let's cut it down.' "But why would you offer to cut it down?" I was saying, do you want to keep going cutting it down or is $3,200, $3,400 you know, is that... I would just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk my way through it. So you stop. You write out the order. You say, "Right, you picked a beautiful "16x24 image for above the bed. "You've got a folio box. "You've bought a gift folio box for mum. "That comes to $3,300 including tax." Stop Talking. All of a sudden everything changed in my world. The third piece of advice she gave me was, "All you say after that is 'How would you like to pay for that?' "You're not offering a sales plan. "You're not offering anything. "All you're asking them is how "would they like to pay for that. "Why would you assume that they have no money to pay for it? "Maybe they have oodles of money. "So when you say, 'You could put down a deposit 'and you can pick up the rest...' "99% of the time when I say, "How would you like to pay for that?" "They produce a credit card, immediately." This is how much it changed my world. I left that meeting, I told my business partner what had just happened. We were struggling in our first week, two weeks to say our prices. We knew we were learning, we just launched our business. We've got this business coach. We went into our shoot, we'd been shooting for around our second week, coming into our third week of sales in our new garage studio at my place and that night I sat with three couples. A mother and daughter, a mother and daughter, and then a husband and wife. I did exactly what I was just taught. "These are your prices. These are your beautiful portraits. "Let's have a look at them. What would you like to order?" Not, "Let's delete them." "What would you like to order from them?" Then I let people go, I let them go, I let them go. I shut up. I stayed out of the way. Then I wrote up the order and I said, "The folio box with the beautiful image." That night for the first time in my life I did three $3,000 sales. My business partner sat at the back of the sales room through all three sales and she sat there taking notes. When all three clients left, I turned to her and we sat there and just talked til midnight about what had just happened. We finished selling at about 9 p.m. that night and we sat down and cried because in my little garage in Karaka, we had just done $9,000 worth of income in one evening and had more than doubled our projected income. Imagine if we could if we could make $4,000 a week in this new business. Those three pieces of sales advice blew me away. Please take them onboard, listen to them. Absolutely mind blowing. You're the only person standing in the way of you pricing, valuing, and selling your own work. Price in only an issue in the absence of value. I cannot tell you how important it is to start valuing what it is you do and give. It's one of the hardest things to do. So like anything, one thing I learned going back to leaving and receiving was it's not so much valuing, it's about accepting money for it because I find that everybody values their work in an egoic style way. When I say value your work, you start to look at other photographers and compare yourself, then you're competing from a place of ego and competition as apposed to a place of just valuing what you give. I learned this, when I received gratefully, then I actually valued what I did because I allowed people to pay me and I say "Thank you" and I took the money and I felt really good about it. That exchange shifts everything within you. It's quite powerful. Step one, create a product you value. By doing that, the folio box for me was about creating a beautiful box set with 20 images in it that I could work towards shooting 20 amazing images. I gave away a free 16x24 enlargement with that box because combined, that box is $3,000 plus tax. To me, in myself, I feel very comfortable now that that is my package. It's wherever you feel comfortable. Going back to my first business sales night where I did $3,000, we then dropped back to an average of $1,850. Some people spent less than $3,000, some people spent $3,000 but our average was $1,850. We maintained that average for four years. That's a good average to have in a studio that's pumping out five to 10 shoots a week. So we were always trying to once we got bigger and bigger and built the city studio, we were always trying to average $20,000 a week in income. That was our goal and we built up to that in our first year and then maintained it in our second and third. Now, in order to get that sort of volume you're gonna have to have staff. If you want to take it back to a real number, two shoots a week at say a $1,200 average. $2,400. Work out your profitability on that. Or two shoots a week at $900, whatever. Just work out your business profitability, etc. on your average sale. You're gonna create a product that you value. Whatever you sell, you have to feel comfortable saying it, you have to feel comfortable believing it and you have to feel comfortable knowing that when somebody buys it, that you can gratefully receive money for it and feel really good about it. As soon as you shift that energy in yourself, everything changes, everything changes for you. Trust me on this one. Step two, educate your client on what that is. I don't need to hide my price list from someone. I am a portrait photographer. You know it. You know my work. You've seen my website. In order to get photographs done by me, it's going to cost you some money. The exchange is, I'm going to take incredible photographs of you and give you a great experience. It's that simple. As soon as you sit comfortably with that and you can say it in a way that you feel comfortable with it, then you can exchange that really easily. Educate your client, never hide money from them. This is where your sale is done, right now. Then deliver the best service you can. Obviously step three. Step four, your production turn-around and after sale service will increase your business tenfold. Not quite tenfold, it's more like fivefold. I found that this was the biggest block in my business as I grew. I found I could not follow through with my after sale service and I found that when I did follow through with my after sale service, particularly personally, I would get up to five referrals from that client just by following through right to delivering the product in their hand and having having a coffee with them. The more time I spent in my after sales service, the more money I make, the more clients I attract to myself. The selling is still being done. You're selling from the first email and the first phone call. You're selling from the first consultation. You are selling from the moment your client walks in the door and you show them a product and ask them how they want to be photographed. You are then giving them the experience that they've always wanted inside of your studio and then you are selling from the moment they come back for their shoot. You get them to sign a sales contract and then you are producing their work and when they come back and you rack up that sale, you take their final dollar amount or they've already paid. You give them exactly what they asked for. You follow through with your service. You're still selling at this point. You're still selling your business and yourself because when they walk away with their portraits, they are going to refer you to every single one of their friends. The higher level that you can achieve all of that sales, sort of string, right through your business then trust me, you are going to get an amazing referral system. It will boost your business at least fivefold. Products and pricing touch-points video, scripting language and pitch are all connected. You've heard about scripting and pitch. I've actually got lots of feedback about script and pitching, so I'm gonna write it out as a script over the next two weeks and post them as PDFs along with the course. It's about you guys listening to how we say things, how we deliver that money, how we deliver that price. Okay, that's really, really important. It's all part of the sales process, so I want to extend on that because people are saying more. Tell me more, I want more words. Give me more words on how to talk about money. Give me more words on how to pitch in my sales and give me more words about touch points. My first year in business my sales. My first year in business I started out struggling to get around $400 for a CD. When I built the garage business I wanted to sell al a carte portraits just like I had at the studio for 11 years. But I didn't own that studio. I was just an employee. It's so funny, isn't it? You can sell $7,000 worth of portraits when you just have a job, but when you leave and it's your own business, you suddenly can't do it. Your images have not changed. I realized then that that block only came from me. I wanted to sell al a carte, I instantly got a business coach to help me through that block. He hooked me up with that woman who gave me the three best pieces of sales advice I've ever heard and from that day on in the second week of my business we went from a $400 average to an $1,850 average overnight. We maintained that average for four years. It was only after I left my first studio in New Zealand and moved to Australia to open a second studio, that when I got there I didn't want to employ staff, I wanted to run the business by myself for the first three years. Which is what I did. I thought, I can shoot. I can sell. I can market. I can retouch my own work. All I need to do is rent a space and let the industry know that Sue Bryce has arrived and who I am and what I do. Inevitably, my first year was very hard. I made $94,000 in turnover my first year. I suffered very much going back through my ego. I suffered through my value and I couldn't sell my work again. I realized there was a period of time in my first business when I built that big business where I still wasn't valuing who I was and I still wasn't receiving personally. I was hiding behind my staff. That was my biggest learning curve because I had the worst year of my career when I essentially should have been having my best. At that moment, I saw what I was doing. I had stripped away my staff. I'd built a new studio in Australia and I'd realized that I'd gone back as a default setting, back into I'm not good enough to make money. My images aren't good enough. You know my images are good enough. If I've experienced that and lose all that money. I lost $50,000 out of my savings account. I struggled. I hated what I was doing. I was working from a place of scarcity, struggle, fear, apathy, small thinking, ego, competition. I was looking at other photographers that were way more successful than me and going, "Why are they so successful and I'm not?" I had my hate face on, my hate game on, and it was being reflected in every single dollar that I was repelling for that entire year until I woke up and I went how did I get here? I was almost at rock bottom financially again. I was like how did I build a business that made two million dollars in its first three years and come back to here? This is where I learned what I had not dealt with in my own self. Value what you do. Value receiving. Value what you're getting and everything shifts. It's like magic. It just happens. I suddenly shifted my mindset. I realized what my value was. I reconnected with photography. I reconnected with the service to my clients. I reconnected with taking beautiful photographs. I reconnected with who I was as a photographer and a person and everything changed in my second, third, and now fourth year. Since that moment of learning that shift, I have had three of the most successful years photographically and that was before I started to even teach you guys what I had done. I started to just tune it individually and I could really track it right down to the last dollar. I still fall down in one area. I don't fall down in what I'm worth anymore because I know my value and I love doing what I do. That will never change. I learned the hard way. I still fall down on taking on too much work and not following through. When I don't follow through my clients complain, I lose money in my after sale, and I don't get the referrals. This still happens to me now as an experienced portrait photographer. This is where my business suffers. This is where you need to stay vigilant. You need to stay vigilant on what your default setting is. My first year in business I managed to apply those three pieces of advice to my first year in business and the sales. Right, next slide. One of the most important things that you can tell me right now is what is your average sale. This seems to be a really big problem for most people. Most people can't tell me what their average sale is. Maybe they're just starting out. Maybe they're, you know... But most people have been shooting and taking money for over a year and most people can't tell me what their average sale is. Your average sale really comes down to how many people you shot last year and how much income you made from all of those shoots divided by how many people you shot. So if you made $90,000 and you did 90 shoots, then clearly you have an average sale of $1,000. Now, if some of them were no sales and some of them were huge sales, it doesn't matter. I just want to know what your average sale is. Your goal long term as a business owner is not to increase your price list so much unless it's really low. Your goal is to increase your average sale. How are you going to do that? You need to increase your service. You need to increase your value. You need to increase what you're giving away in each of your packages and if you are too low then you need to shave your lowest price off your price list. It's really important that you start working on gaining your average sale and making your average sale higher. I took my average sale, when I moved to Australia, my average sale went to $3,300 immediately. What did I shift in myself? First of all, I was at $1,850 in the studio. Then I moved to Australia with my bad year. Struggle town, struggle town, struggle town. Realizing I wasn't valuing it. Redid my price list that suited me more and came up with the $3,000 package which was the folio box, the wall portrait, and the CD. I was so happy in myself with this package and that it gave everybody everything that they needed. Then I started to sell that from a place of value and then that, as I educated my clients, instantly translates into sales. I do less shoots for more money and it's the happiest I've ever been instead of doing more shoots for less money and really struggling through. It's all about lifting that average up and every month working out what your average was this month and then asking friends, staff, family, partners "What can I do to lift my average sale? "This month I'm at $900. I'm really happy with my progress. "Now I want to take it to $1,200. "Let's adjust my price list accordingly. "Let's adjust my mentality accordingly. "Let's start giving more for our money "and start upping our service and upping our value." And inevitably it goes up. Next slide, how I sell. So now you know my trick to selling. I've gotten to the stage now in my business where I'm so not afraid of saying how much I cost, that by the time it comes to do the viewing, I no longer sell my images, all the selling is done. All I'm doing is guiding them through their final choice. All the pressure that I used to have when I went into the sales room is gone. The sickness I used to feel in saying a price, gone. The feeling I used to get when I didn't want to look at people and I had to tell them how much my portraits cost and I would talk like this because I was so nervous and upset, now is gone. I know that nobody is coming to my studio unless they know that it's going to cost them this much money. Once I got to that stage, (sigh) it changes everything. It makes it so easy to present, sell your work. Do I get clients that don't buy? Yes. Last year I had two. I dropped the ball and I didn't do a very good job with their shoot. I was over worked. I didn't put in enough effort. They didn't feel the love and they said, "I'm not happy. I don't want to buy these photographs." One I re-shot, the other one I gave the photographs to and let walk. That happens, I'm not perfect. Okay, do I even get people that want to spend less than $3,000? Yes. Do I let them? Yes. I sell al a carte, but I direct them towards the $3,000 package. If they don't want, I also get people that spend more than $3,000. My average just evens out to $3,300. That is my average, okay? That's the whole point. You will get people that spend less. You'll get people that spend more. It's a numbers game. When you walk out of your sales room, remember. You don't cry and say, "They only spent $200" or "They didn't like my work. They didn't buy anything." You did something wrong. You either didn't educate them, you didn't tell them how much. You did something wrong. We know that. So learn from it and make sure you don't do it again. Don't fist pump, "Yeah, I just did a $9,000 sale. Yes." 'Cause you didn't. You just did your average sale. That's the whole point of doing low sales and high sales. That if you're a business, if you're in commerce, the idea is you're just looking at it as numbers. It's not a motion, it's not crying and fist pumping. It's just your average sale everyday and how do I lift it up. That's good business, that solid business. That will take you into a future of business. All right, how do I sell? I do everything before the shoot. I do everything at the shoot. Then I present the images. If I can not be with my client, so if I'm traveling and shooting, I will do my viewing on Skype. I will not put up a gallery. I will not send my images. Too easy to screenshot and then they have them and they want them. When they're on Skype I can see them face to face, I can talk to them, and I can screen share my own computer. That is the best way to sell on Skype. You're doing the sale there and then. It's not, "Can we sit with these images for a few days? "Email them to all of our friends, put them on Facebook." No. We're gonna do this sale face to face on Skype. Bliss Skype, absolutely incredible programs, so easy to use. I like to sell it remotely and I think it really works. The biggest question I get asked is do I have the sales software? The studio that I worked in used Pro Select. Pro Select, to me, is one of the best sales software in the world. Do I use it? No I don't. I've never needed to use a portrait software. I have a lot of friends that use Pro Select and the reason I'm saying that is because I think I'm one of the only photographers that do not have sales software. I've never required it because I kind of pre-sell the packages at 25, so to me I'm really just showing 25 to 30 images. If I was selling albums, designing albums, designing kids albums, or baby books or anything like that then Pro Select would be my choice of software. For what I do, I feel like I'm the 28/5 image wonder. So I show 25, I'm gonna sell all 25. I really just present them on the preview on my computer. That is the honest truth. If you don't have a studio, you can sell remotely on Skype. You can go to their home and plug into the plasma. You can buy a big screen and travel with that, or you can buy a 17 inch Mac and you can view on that. I have done sales in Starbucks on a table and had somebody write me a $3,800 check. You can sell anywhere, but if you want professionalism the only person that really ever feels that is you. I would rather sell on Skype or go to their home than meet in a cafe, but if you really do need to have with you examples of what they're going to buy, going to someone's home where there's dogs and kids probably not ideal in the evening, but you know. There's businesses all around the world, billion dollar businesses, home ware businesses that have gone into people's homes for years. Some people might want to talk to you about where to hang their portraits. "You're in my lounge right now, let's have a look. "On the wall, what would I hang here? "What size would it be?" I brought some samples with me. There's always ways to get around it so just think creatively 'cause there's always an answer to your question. I am a soft seller. I am educating on price and I'm enticing with product. I entice with experience. What I want is to sell the sizzle and not the steak. That comes from the fabulous George (mumbles) live. He was teaching me that as an amazing marketer and sales business, "You gotta sell the sizzle, not the steak." I was like, that is such a good analogy. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. You sell the experience of looking and feeling beautiful. You sell the experience of having a photo shoot. You don't necessarily sell a portrait because they don't know what your portrait's gonna look like yet. What they want to know is how they're gonna feel. How are they gonna feel having their portrait taking? How are they gonna feel when they see their photographs? How are they gonna feel 10 years down the track when they look back at their photographs? You sell that sizzle and it's so true. So I'm a soft seller. I'm very honest about my price list now and I'm very honest about what I do. I will say on the phone to people, "There's no obligation for you to purchase anything. "I take photographs of you that are "gonna make you want to buy them. "If you don't like them, you don't have to buy them. "It's my job to take photographs of you that blow you away. "My images start at $275 and go up from there. "My folios start at $1,200 and go up from there. "What you spend is entirely up to you, "but I do have a really awesome package "that's $3,000 plus tax and basically it's a beautiful "folio box with a 16x24 portrait "and a CD of everything you buy. "That's what everybody purchases. "But at the end of the day the final choice is yours." I say that at the first consultation, then I follow it through with this. "What I'm gonna do is get you in here "and I have a full time professional hair "and makeup artist and because you're "bringing your mum and your sister, "I'll get my second makeup artist to come in too. "You bring in four or five outfits, "right down to the shoes, whatever you want to wear. "It can be as casual, dressy, funky, gorgeous, lingerie. "Entirely up to you, they'll give you a gorgeous hair "and makeup and we take your photographs. "Then you go out that night looking fabulous. "Any questions?" Sell the sizzle. Very, very important. I put no limitations on what people will buy. I gave them a price list from $ and I put no limitation on what they had to purchase and no limitation on what they could purchase. I put no threats in there. "If you don't buy this by the 6th of April, "we're gonna throw them away." Why lie? That's a bad way to do business. I don't do any ultimatums. "If you buy this now and sign up now, "we'll give you this discount. "If you don't, that discount doesn't exist." Why lie? You look like a shark. You look like a bad sales person. If you are not educating your client and enticing them with experience and enticing them with perfect service, you are not doing your job correctly. If you tick all of those boxes, trust me. You will make it work. Closing the sale. The best advice I ever got was, "How would you like to pay for that?" "How would you like to pay for that?" A lot of people say to me, do you let people pay them off? Yes. Do you let people pay them off over time? Yes. Do they get their portraits before you pay them off? No. People will always find money when they want something. What happens if somebody paid you a deposit and then never turns up for the balance? Cancel the order, keep the deposit. Really? You don't take them to debt collection? No. Why? I don't want that juju on my business. Bad juju. Don't want it in my business. Why would I force somebody to pay for something that they don't want? I would not start an order unless a deposit has been paid. As far as I'm concerned, I've still made a little bit of money. I do not need to force the payment of something even if they've signed a sales contract. I let them walk. The first 10 years I was in my studio, I had over 300 people in debt collection. 300 people at debt collection hating us for making them pay them off $5 a week. Yet, when I started my business in 2004, I refused to put a single client into debt collection and that, I think in the first three to four years of our business we maybe canceled three orders. No debt collection. I refuse to have that energy in my business. That is your personal choice. You might disagree with that. That's okay. That was just my choice. I stuck with it and I'm glad I did. I still would to this day. It is more important for me, if my client was upset by me in any way, disappointed by my service in any way, it is more important for me that I cut my loss, take the money that I've got and make up with that client immediately so that they leave with my reputation in tact because the social media with which people blow you up, will also destroy you if you are doing hard lined business. Let them go and don't just let them go, let them go in here. You're the one that made a mistake. Accept that you made a mistake. Work out what it was. Don't tell me it was them, because people don't just ring you up, go to the effort to do a shoot, get disappointed, pay you a deposit, and then just walk away and decide to hate you for no reason. Okay? It's something to do with what you offered in your service and you didn't deliver. Yes, sometimes it sucks and sometimes it's a horrible feeling, but you must let them go. Do not get on Facebook and complain about them. You're the one that looks (mouths the words "like an asshole"). Oh. Do they just bleep that out? (laughing) The sales contract. The sales contract is the fastest way for you to teach yourself when you sell something. You have the sales contract that says this will be picked up within four weeks. I will honor my part of the agreement. You will honor your part of the agreement. Whatever your sales tax is for your state, your area, or your country. We'll sign it on the doted line. I agree to pay this, bye. Thank you very much. This is your final sale. You guys will endeavor to create these beautiful images for you. You will pay it by this certain time. That's a sales contract. You have that because that is a legal document and a good business person crosses their T's and dots their I's. Because I'm a "creative" and I'm not very good with my T's and I's, I always say dotting my T's and crossing my I's because it's the same as tax. It must be done. If you do not have a model release. If you do not have a sales contract. You are opening yourself up to being sued and to not looking after your own business. These are two things you must follow through, even if you don't follow through with debt collection or enforcing your model release, you must have control. You must have rights. You must sign that before it's done. Don't make a big deal out of it. Just make it part of your service and part of your system. All right, Vogue September issue. There was a movie called September Issue and it was about the September issue of Vogue. It was a documentary and they followed through. They created something in Vogue September issue and that was there's a wall and it's a backlight. They bring the transparencies up and they stick them on and you can see the entire Vogue magazine as it's laid out that will be the next issue. As I saw that, this idea just sparked in my brain. I thought to myself, imagine if you walked into a studio and there was a big lit up wall and you could see your entire shoot, the top 25 images up there, back lit, or beautifully lit so not so much back lit in transparency but more printed already as 7x10s on the wall. All 25 images beautifully lit and your entire shoot was on display right then. All you had to do was make the decision of which of the 20 you would buy and we would pop them into a folio box for you and wrap it and you would pay and walk out with it right then and there. No more waiting for production. This is what I call the dream come true. This would be the dream way of selling to people. Think about what that would cost. An average 7x10 is around $3, $4 if it's printed well. You're looking at 25, so $75 to $100 plus tax. You would have to retouch them to perfection. You would have to print them and expect that your client would want to buy them. This is something that I am now going to move towards. I want to take it up to that next level. I want to be able to create a wall viewing that when you walk in, your entire 25 images are collaged right there and you could choose which one of them you would have as your enlargement, which we would then order and send to you in the next two weeks. But right now you get to take them with you as we speak, and the CD, your 25 images or 20 images. They're boxed, down to the wraps, signed, sealed, bagged, delivered, and walking out with a big smile on your face. This is where I'm going in my sales now. I'm always evolving my product, my service, my style of photography, and the way I sell. So stay tuned because I will keep that as open and when I create that for you, I will show you how I do it and how amazing I can make that. Okay, I'm gonna finish up with how I run my production. I'm going to show you a two minute edit from RAW on a Photoshop video, next week's challenge, on how I edit in under two minutes so that I can sell my images already edited. I also open them from RAW, camera RAW onto Photoshop and I edit them in two minutes for two reasons. One is that my clients never, ever see un-retouched images and two, by the time they place the order the images have already been opened, set in RAW, and the first two minutes has already been done. Basic cloning, dodging, booting, and basic body contouring has already been done. All I have to do is finish any more art examples. So I'm actually gonna do a full challenge on that. But that is a really commonly asked question for me, is how do I process that. Really, if you are outsourcing your production and your Photoshop, this would probably be one of the most hotly contested subjects, do you outsource and when you are new, how do you outsource? This is just something that you are going to have to suffer through until you start getting money in the bank because my biggest complaint that I constantly hear is I can't outsource my Photoshop. I can't pay somebody else to do this. I have to do it. So one of the biggest lessons I had to learn when starting my business was to how to delegate. Delegating is one of the hardest things you have to do, but also outsourcing. You can't outsource until you get some money behind you because you constantly feel, why would I pay somebody $300 dollars to do this job when I could do this job in a night? The problem is you lose a day and a night you could have been shooting. So I sat down and I re-consulted this way. I now outsource my retouching. I've got a great girl that I trained. It took a long time and I love what she does. I realized that she can work for eight hours a day for $ And I can work for eight hours a day and make a lot more than that. I worked out that roughly when I'm shooting and selling, I'm worth $500 an hour, so when I look at my hourly rate compared to hers, I know that I can pay her and how I re-consult that is whenever she is retouching, I take exactly the hours that she's retouching and I make sure I apply those hours to marketing and shooting 'cause those are the two avenues of my business that make me money. I also read Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Work Week, where he says what gives you 80% of your income for 20% of your effort and not the other way around, how do you outsource the other 80% that's giving you 20% of your income to make sure that you are spending your time on A, the things you love and B, the things that actually make you money because that changes everything. The final presentation, the final collection, the final payment of your images. I know we've talked about that as one of the most important things you can do. It's where I fall down. It's something I am constantly working on. I want to do the September Issue wall because I feel like I will turn that pick up collection around, that my viewings will be longer 'cause I'll make more of a coffee schedule and you'll get to see your beautiful portraits. I'm really excited about trying out this new phase of selling. I'm gonna film it and show you so that you can watch and experience something new with me. Today, just to recap. This is all about selling from the minute you meet someone. Isn't it interesting, you got in this business to be a photographer and it turns out you're a sales person? You're gonna be selling yourself, selling your portraits, selling your home, selling your studio, your experience, your products. Selling every part of your service and your product. You're a sales person before you're a photographer. This is one of the hardest things that you will ever have to get your head around. Like I always say, if you hate selling you need to pay somebody else to do it or you need to learn to get through the blocks that are stopping you from making money. Go forth. Remove your own blocks. Shut up. Get out of your own way. You can do this. You can make an income, a really good income selling the beautiful portraits that you create. Trust me 'cause I've been there. I know you can do it. I believe you. (mouths "I believe you")

Class Description


Sue Bryce's 28 Days is the all-in-one portrait photography class that teaches you posing, shooting, marketing, selling, and everything else you need to know to run a successful contemporary portrait photography business. 

This series begins with two sessions of intense instruction on business, pricing, and overcoming your fears. Following the kickoff, Sue delivers short sessions exploring 28 different topics essential to any successful portrait photography studio. Sue covers flow posing, connecting with clients, posing and shooting groups, marketing to your key demographic, sales, and more.

In this comprehensive series you'll learn Sue's inspiring approach to styling, posing, marketing, selling and so much more!

Lessons

  1. Teaching 2 Photographers in 28 Days
  2. First 2 Years: The Truth
  3. Rate Your Business
  4. Year One in Business
  1. 28 Challenges
  2. Fear

    Don't let fear hold you back. Sue talks about devastation – real and imagined and how to pull yourself together and push past it.

  3. Price & Value
  4. Checklist, Challenges, and Next Steps
  1. Day 1: The Natural Light Studio
  1. Day 2: Mapping Your Set and Outfits
  1. Day 3: One Composition - Five Poses
  1. Day 4: Flow Posing
  1. Day 5: Posing Couples
  1. Day 6: Capturing Beautiful Connection & Expression
  1. Day 7: The Rules - Chin, Shoulders, Hands
  1. First Weekly Q&A Session
  2. Day 8: Rules - Hourglass, Body Language, Asymmetry, Connection
  1. Day 9: Styling & Wardrobe
  1. Day 10: Shooting Curves
  1. Day 11: Posing & Shooting - Groups of 2, 3, and 4
  1. Day 12: Posing & Shooting Families
  1. Day 13: Products & Price List
  1. Day 14: Marketing & Shooting the Before & After
  1. Day 15: Phone Coaching & Scripting
  1. Second Weekly Q&A Session
  2. Day 16: Posing Young Teens
  1. Day 17: Marketing & Shooting - Family First Demographic
  1. Day 18: The Corporate Headshot
  1. Day 19: Glamour Shoot on Location & Shooting with Flare
  2. Photoshop Video: Glamour Shoot on Location & Shooting with Flare
  1. Day 20: Photoshop - Warping & the Two Minute Rule
  1. Day 21: Posing Mothers & Daughters
  1. Third Weekly Q&A Session
  2. Day 22: Marketing & Shooting - 50 & Fabulous Demographic
  1. Day 23: Shooting into the Backlight
  2. Bonus: Shooting into the Backlight
  1. Day 24: Marketing & Shooting - Girl Power Demographic (18-30s)
  2. Photoshop Video: Girl Power Demographic (18-30s)
  1. Day 25: The Beauty Shot
  2. Bonus: Vintage Backdrop
  1. Day 26: Marketing & Shooting - Independent Women Demographic
  1. Day 27: Sales & Production
  1. Day 28: Posing Men
  1. Bonus: Pricing
  2. Introduction
  3. Photography, Style, Brand, and Price Part 1
  4. Photography, Style, Brand, and Price Part 2
  5. Marketing Part 1
  6. Marketing Part 2
  7. Money: What's Blocking You?
  8. Bonus: The Folio Shoot
  1. Photo Critiques Images 1 through 10
  2. Photo Critiques Images 11 through 27
  3. Photo Critiques Images 28 through 45
  4. Photo Critiques Images 47 through 67
  5. Photo Critiques Images 68 through 84
  6. Photo Critiques Images 85 through 105
  7. Photo Critiques Images 106 through 130
  8. Photo Critiques Images 131 through 141
  9. Photo Critiques Images 142 through 167
  10. Photo Critiques Images 168 through 197
  11. Photo Critiques Images 198 through 216
  1. Identify Your Challenges
  2. Identify Your Strengths
  3. Getting Started Q&A
  4. Rate Your Business
  5. Marketing Vs Pricing
  6. Facing Fear
  7. The 28 Day Study Group
  8. Selling Points
  9. Interview with Susan Stripling
  10. Emotional Honesty
  1. Sue's Evolution
  2. 28 Days Review
  3. Student Pitches
  4. 28 Days Testimonial: Mapuana Reed
  5. How to Pitch: Starting a Conversation
  6. Your Block: Seeing is What You're Being
  7. Your Block: Valuing and Receiving
  8. Building Confidence: Your Own Stories
  9. Building Confidence: Your Self Worth
  10. Pitching An Experience
  11. Pitching An Experience: Your Intentions
  12. Pitching An Experience: Social Media
  13. Final Thoughts

Reviews

Claude Bossel
 

Based in Switzerland, I am an advertising/commercial photographer since 20 years and I am still learning everyday. I have bought several courses on Creativelive, all are great and inspiring. This one is also fantastic, thanks to Sue and her incredible experience and wisdom, you will improve your personality, your attitude and skills that will bear many fruits in your business and personal life. I highly recommend anyone who loves photography or dream to become a full time pro to invest in courses like this one. Thank you Sue, thank you all from Creativelive.