Getting Started Q&A
I have a question for Amy and Dusty for starters and then maybe Nikki as well. Zoom Photo is wondering about, can we talk about, and are you okay with me just kind of jumping all over the place?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay all right. Zoom Photo, how do you get referrals from your current clients, like what do you guys specifically do?
Like weddings? Our clients love our work, and we give them $100 voucher, along with their order, but no one seems to take up the opportunity. Can you suggest how we make referral system a success? What have you guys been doing? And do you do it, and is it a success?
We have, we've done a little testing and we've given out referrals for years, and we've not given out referral credits for years. And there doesn't seem to be any difference, between who refers us and doesn't. If they love it, they become an evangelist, and they'll tell everybody about it. You know, some people are more vocal than others. People we've never given referral credits to, will ref...
er $22,000 worth of work for us over four years.
Well it's also crazy, some people that actually spend less with us will actually refer more.
They'll go out and tell the world.
And some people will spend a ton and we'll never hear anything again.
Won't tell anyone.
So when Nikki went and did that marketing show, she said, I'm gonna book 20 shoots, paid shoots. And I said no you're not. I said, you'll be lucky to book five. And she's like, and then instantly I watched this whole energy go like this. And I said, Nikki think about it, you're gonna book five paid clients, that will spend a minium of $1200, $1500, then they're gonna bring you all of their friends, you're gonna network your butt off at that event, because there's gonna be 20 other businesses there that wanna work with you and the ultimate would be the big picture is down the track. But you are right, what is comes down to is a personal connection. Now I can photograph some people and enjoy them, but not maybe, make best friends with them. And then you can photograph the next person and there's just an instant connection. And they send you 10 clients. That really comes down to, their experience with you. Not with how good the photos are, but their experience with you. Are you working on, the relationship that you're having with them? Because I, wouldn't you agree? They're the ones that really connect you? And send you work, because they like you. And if they like you, they send you more work. And always look at the big picture. Somebody may only buy two photographs, but send you five clients and they've just sent you $12,000. You know, don't look at the small sale. Look at what I can get, what is the opportunity here?
Always the opportunity. Always the opportunity.
Always. I want to switch topics a little bit to something that some other people are having challenges with and it would be also cool to hear your experiences, 'cause you've gone through 28 days and learning the bedside manner. Sue has a very distinctive way, of getting her clients into a zone. And I'm wondering if you guys feel that, you have some of that now too? Sue mentioned that she looks at Amy's images and she can see that connection that Amy has been able to create. The question is from Christina. I have the hardest time producing, a quality bedside manner, I suck at small talk, and I think that it's actually hurting my business. How do I become a better communicator? How do I help my clients feel at ease and therefore, more willing to refer me to their friends, as well as in the experience itself?
I've actually shot with all of these guys, and I feel that when they're with me, they don't talk and because I dominate anyways. So when they are on their own, their own personalities come out, right?
Yeah and also a lot of our glamour clients are actually our wedding clients as well, so we all already have like a reputation with them.
Amy giggles a lot.
That seems to get them giggling, and then it's all down hill from there.
They definitely like it, when I go, okay fake laugh, and then I start fake laughing.
And then they're all laughing, yeah.
And then they laugh for real at my fake laugh.
Yeah I mean, in terms of getting connection, I try to stay really calm, just 'cause I know they're really nervous. And if my energy's calm, they're gonna be more calm. Just constantly talking to them, reassuring them that they're doing the right thing, and this is great, oh keep it up and I learned from you, it's not beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, but really just affirming that they're doing a good job.
Yeah, you know something I feel that was really important, is I also suck at small talk. So that's why I don't like going to parties. And I really struggle with having small talk. And I just said the first time I met Nikki, I took her to Paris, because her friend had breast cancer. And the first time I met these two, we had a conversation about Amy's body image, with her husband, while I'm photographing them, in a hotel room in San Francisco. So, neither of them were small talk. And if you suck at small talk, that means you prefer deeper conversation. Well, people go pretty deep with me pretty quickly, even when they first meet me because I ask deep questions. You know, I'm not like, wow, how's that weather out there? I'm you know, I talk about body image. And then she talks about how she feels about her body, he talked about how he feels about her body. We talked about the difference between men and women and we had this insightful conversation about body image. I have a conversation with Nikki, that's not small talk.
One thing I learned from 28 days, which I often go back and reference, is to sit them down, when they get there, tell me how you want to be photographed, tell me what inspired you to have a photo shot today?
Yeah, not just assume.
Yeah, and you never know what you're gonna get. I mean, I had a client who said to me, I've always been the ugly sister. I have three sisters, I've always been the ugly one.
Don't you love that about women? Tell me how you want to be, tell me how you want to be photographed. I've always been the ugly one! (all laughing) All my life! (sniffles) (all laughter) I'm here today, to be the beautiful one! Oh really, just the back light, black dress. (all laughing)
But you know, she gave me that. I never would have known that!
But that's the beauty of women,
I love it they tell you everything, and they apologize for everything! It's like they meet you, oh I am so sorry I'm 43, you know, wish I'd done this 20 years ago. Well, I wasn't shooting 20 years ago so you know, it's like, I'm so sorry, I've just put on 7 pounds, though it doesn't look like it but it doesn't matter. You know, oh I'm so sorry my hair's a bit dry, or I've just cut my hair, or I'm sorry my skin's so dry.
Ugh, happens all the time, I know.
We apologize for everything, but the best part is what we do is, is we sit down, instantly vulnerable. Instant vulnerability and every now and then you get the super hard, like I'm not giving you anything. It's like, I'm going to go to a clairvoyant, and I'm not going to give her anything, because I'm going to see if she's really a clairvoyant and they sit there going, and then they go, she knew that, isn't that crazy? And I was like, well no, she's a clairvoyant. Aren't they supposed to know stuff like that? But you know the truth is, is the rapport you get, it's not about warming people up. Don't say gorgeous, darling, sweetie, darling, sweetie, darling. What do you want today Nikki? What are you here for? You'd like a beautiful photograph for Facebook. Here's another question somebody wrote, somebody on, no in (mumbles) with Sue in 28 days wrote the other day, my client rang and said, I just want one portrait. How do I deal with that, do I turn her away? No, you just tell her to bring in one outfit. This is a good one for women, they'll bring in three, but you've given her one outfit choice. She just wants one beautiful portrait, so you can do your shoot in half an hour. And you just say, so for your one shot, how would you like to be dressed? And if she, you bring in your best outfit, and we'll photograph that. And if she gets one killer portrait and doesn't buy two more, she just walks away with one, that will be framed on her wall, for the next thirty years. And that's called marketing. So, think smart and go, sure! Let's do your one beautiful portrait. What do you want? And if I only earn $100 dollars that day, I'm gonna make sure I shoot it in half an hour, I'm gonna do a killer job. I'm gonna entice her to buy at least 20 more and I'm going to get something I can use for my wall, or my folio and if not, know that she will send me more work, from that one beautiful portrait. Okay, don't discredit them.
Sue, so many questions that are still coming in about getting started. Shelly I have a number of questions, but perhaps, the biggest, where to start? What should my main focus be as I move towards this new chapter is it bettering my skills? Is it working on the marketing aspect? Is it getting over my self-doubt? And there you've got that chart up again. So of those, is there any one that's most important?
The first thing you need is a folio. You can't put up a website unless you have a folio. A lot of people spend all this money on their website and their folio is not very strong. And then they're not attracting any work. And I've looked at so many websites and one of the hardest things as a photographer, is I wanted to look at them, and say your work's not strong enough. And they're already at the marketing stage, and failing at that. How do I know my portfolio is strong enough? Next question, you know with creative people, it's called how long is a piece of string? How long is their ottoman? And we maybe got 1200 emails after our first workshop, to ask how long the ottoman was. And I don't know, CreativeLive bought it from Ikea, it was long enough for a woman to lie on. But how long? And how tall was it? And how long, you're kind of missing the point. It's what we were doing on the ottoman, not the ottoman and it was kind of how we were directing the woman that was on the ottoman and she could also do that on the floor. What color floor? (all laughing) You know what I mean, so we get lost in these logistics. And then it's like, but people tell me my work is good enough. Well, are you showing your mother? People tell you by buying it. And it's really, really important that you work on getting your folio up to par. And you can compare it to the photographers you admire, you can compare it to mine you can compare it too, but at the end of the day you've got to see it as a client. And stop comparing, so you spend the first half of your career comparing and the second half of your career, not comparing anymore, and doing your own thing. And that's a really hard, I don't know how to add to that. Get a mentor, pay a mentor, work for a mentor. I knew when my work was good enough.
Yeah, I mean that theme keeps coming up. Jackie Moreno, my biggest fear is, what if I can't get great shots, that they will actually like?
That's gonna happen to you. It still happens to me, I did a shoot last year and I failed, it happens to me every year. Twenty five years, be prepared. It hurts like all hell, you're gonna suck. They're gonna tell you you suck. And then you'll cry about it, or whatever you do, eat a pound cake, drink a bottle of vodka, all of the above. And you know, I will never be good enough for me, ever. And if you think, if you walk out going boo-yah, nailed it! You're an asshole and it's gonna be reflected in your sales. Because a creative, the doubt is just always there. Is this good enough? What if I fail? Is this good enough? That's when you do your best work.
Why do you think that's when you do your best work?
Because you try harder.
You don't get lazy.
And you are not cookie-cutting, you're out of your comfort zone and you're pulling stuff out that you didn't know you had, you're sweating, you are crying about it, you're in pain, you're in a world of pain and then you get, then you're just like, I just absolutely ruined that. And then you look at it and it's one of your best images.
So where does confidence come into that equation then?
What is confidence? Ego, you mean ego? I'm confident that when you're in my space, I'm going to try and take the best photograph you have ever seen of yourself. I'm confident that after all my experience, your body shape will not trip me up. I'm confident that I am 99.9% will get your expression. The only time I ever fail is when I am in a foul mood, or I'm tired, or I'm overworked, not you. So, I'm confident, that when I'm in my flow, I'm going to sell you beautiful portraits. And take the best photograph you've ever seen of yourself. But am I ever confident that I'm a brilliant photographer? No, nobody is! You're either confident that you're good, I would like to think I'm good at business most of the time, but I still drop the ball on my service. I'm happy to admit that. So confidence, what is confidence? You know the first thing, people describe me, as being a very confident woman. I'm like, seriously? I'm not a confident woman by any stretch of imagination. I'm assertive, but I don't think I'm confident. Confidence is bravado, you know?
It's an interesting way, yeah, yeah that ego. But I really like how you explained the difference of what you are confident of, versus not. That's really cool. I had a question in here, I'm not finding it right now, but that was about, what do you do, when you're just not in the mood? When you're just can't bring it. Or what do you bring or how do you do that?
I've walked into the kitchen at my studio and one of my staff members had broken up with her boyfriend and she was crying, for like the fourth time that year. So you know, I was kinda like, and I remembered looking at her, and I said, you can cry, but, in 15 minutes, you're gonna put eyedrops in, and then you walk out there and you give that client the best you've got. And I said, and don't you ever, bring your personal crap to my studio ever again and somebody said to me, sorry Sue, but we're just not robots. And I remember thinking, I've had this way of always being able to push aside, no matter what I'm going through `and try and give them my best. And I still fail at that. We are emotional human beings and you will definitely bring your emotional baggage to your shoot. You just have to manage it, the best you can.
And then move on. That was from Kathleen.
You're right, Kenna, and sometimes I've done a shoot where I'm so sick, or so tired, or in physical pain over something, or in emotional pain over something and I haven't been the nicest person and it's reflected in my referrals, and reflected on my sales and all I can do is, it's really interesting is, when they come back for their viewing, it's be in a better space, and give them lots of love and attention. I spend more time with them, than you normally would, take them out for coffee. Because you'd be amazed at how you can bring people back from, unless you've offended them, you can bring people back from attention. All human beings want is to be seen, to be heard, and to feel special and as a service provider, if you can't see them, hear them, and make them feel special, you've failed. That's all human beings want. So when you come back, you can, I've been honest to clients. I've said, look, I'm so sorry. I love your shirt, I'm so sorry I was so grumpy. I've had so much going on that day, and I really loved shooting you, but I know that I was just really struggling that day. And I've told the truth, like girl talk, when you're in the viewing room together, and I was like, I just had a big fight with my boyfriend and anyway, your images are so beautiful. Or don't say it, and just give them more time, love, and energy right now and watch them just turn around. I've also done really stressful shoots, where I've been snapping at my staff, you know they'll drop a reflector on the client, blow the hair across the lip gloss, get in my way, I've been like, get out of my way, get out of my way! And I know that I've been like that, through the shoot and you know, I think to myself, oh my goodness, afterwards, that was so stressful for me, that shoot, but when the clients see their photographs and they love them and I give them this amazing viewing experience, they'll go, that was the best day of my life! And I think, really, 'cause I'm barking at everybody, and I'm all stressed out, but she remembers it as being way better than I did. Lori.
Okay, I just want to interject, with what you're saying now, and what someone asked a few, a couple questions ago about how to have a relationship with your client, as you're working with them on shooting day and there's five of us I think here, that have been photographed by you, and what you have shown us, when you teach us is different, than the real experience. And working with you, I mean, I'm sure I'm gonna talk to Tori I guess, you know, I wanna interject with her, that you come to us, like the softest kitten, and you're not like, I'm sure you've had those experiences, but that's not your mainstream, or what you're doing, is barking at your staff and so forth. Your staff, knows how to work around you. And when I was with you, there was probably four people, right in that shooting space, but your focus was only on me. And I was the only person in that room and I know--
We put one under this armpit and one blowing under this armpit and one holding the reflector down here and before you know it, you're surrounded by this little mane of people, but yeah, you're the only person, you're the only person in the room.
Yup, you're not looking, I mean, you do speak with them, but you're not, you're really right back on your subject. You're looking in their eyes, and you have love in your eyes, because you know what you're doing, you know what your mission is and you know she'll come in, and she'll actually look at your hair, and just look at you lovingly and give you that confidence that she really cares about what she's doing. And I'm gonna listen to her. She's not looking at her camera, she's not thinking, oh my camera settings are wrong, and she's not talking about that. She's talking about me as the client, Tori as the client, Nikki as the client.
So that's being seen and being seen, and feeling important.
Yes. Okay so being heard is when you talk, before and after the shoot, when you go to lunch afterwards, or when you have a coffee afterwards, that's being heard, because there's not a lot of talking, that goes on during the shooting. Really important, I say it to everybody, don't do the long talks during the shoot. Get the shoot done. Talk before about what they want. Talk after about the experience, and getting to know them a bit better, because then you build that rapport. But when you're shooting, shoot. Let them be seen, and feel important while you're shooting them. Let them be heard before and after. And then when they come back for their viewing, let them be seen, heard, and feel important, because they've given you money in this moment. When they comeback for their pickup there, to pickup their work, seen, heard, and feel important. Where do I fall down on my business? Production and service and turn around. That's one of the most important parts, 'cause that's where your referrals come from. That means they're not being seen, heard, or feel important after they've paid me money. That breeds contempt. Okay, this is where I fail. If you fail there, you need to change that. You really need to change that. Where do I start? You know that you keep asking where I start and people say that where do I start, where do I start, where do I start? These guys started with weddings. They started the same way all wedding photographers did. They started charging a couple hundred dollars, to shoot backyard weddings and then, they learned their craft, and built it up. They built a wedding business to 43 weddings a year in five years. Nikki's built her wedding business in parallel because she's a one woman team. They're a couple with two staff. So Nikki's a one woman team, that can do 10-15 weddings a year, and take 12 portrait shoots a year. They both have already told you, what their business goals are. You can hear what their business, how many shoots do you want a month, for portrait?
We want what, like--
Four a month during wedding season, and eight out of it.
Okay so two a week out of wedding season, one a week, okay, that's your business goal. That's gotta go on the wall with an average sale of?
$1800. (all laughing)
Outstanding, I want you to write that, nice big poster above your desk, yeah?
12 a month, 18--.
12 a month?
And I have my vision board, and it looks like a kindergartner drew it, but it is there! (all laughing) Yeah.
It doesn't matter how good you are at drawing, just put it up on paper. Remember, I don't create, I posted this this morning. Somebody actually tweeted this about me last night, I don't make vision boards, I do what I want boards and I then make it happen every single day. Okay, think of more questions for these guys. You're starting to know where they're at, in terms of their startup, where they're at with their goals. I'm gonna get them to do a quick business rating. You're gonna do a quick business rating on those 10 steps. First slide can come up right now. We'll go to break. And I want you to, I can't really tell you how important this is and yet I put up this sort of first thing, on my first CreativeLive two years ago. So I know a lot of people aren't actually delegating it, so when you say where do I start? Start there and give yourself a rating. And then choose one subject at a time. And whether it takes a day, a week, a year or 10 years, work every single week, on getting every one of your ratings, up to 10. If in eight years time you're sitting here, teaching a CreativeLive class, you're on the same track as I was. It's not gonna happen overnight. You're not gonna be an overnight sensation. Ask yourself one question at morning tea, what am I trying so hard to achieve? 'Cause I think you might be, a little bit misaligned, on where you think you're going. Why am I pushing myself so hard, for what?