30 Days to Design Your Portrait Business

Lesson 3 of 53

Day 2 Bonus: "Setting Up Shop"

 

30 Days to Design Your Portrait Business

Lesson 3 of 53

Day 2 Bonus: "Setting Up Shop"

 

Lesson Info

Day 2 Bonus: "Setting Up Shop"

Today, segment is called setting up shop, and that doesn't mean that you have to have a retail location or an actual shop really these days, it's pretty easy to get going in a photography business, and it really doesn't take much to call yourself a pro, so what I want to do today is walking through the next steps you've already decided that you want to take your hobby to the next level, you want to be a pro, you want to start a business, and so really, what do you have to have in place? You know, in our digital world, everybody is a photographer. We know this there is a photographer on every corner of every street, every town, yusa and every other country that you're watching from there is a photographer all up and down every street that you're on, no matter where you are, and so we really have to set ourselves apart as a business to be able to make it in this industry. I actually hear a lot of photographers complaining these days, those that have been in business for several years, yo...

u know, fifteen, twenty, thirty years, they're complaining because it is so easy to enter this industry right now, but I got to thinking about it, and I started in the business fifteen, sixteen years ago, and, well, that's not like eons ago it is a long time ago, especially in our digital world it kind of seems like dinosaur years it was a long time ago, but fifteen years ago when I started in the business, you know things were different, it was a different market it was actually mostly men in the industry at that time was very male dominated industry. Now women have taken over yes, we have but at the time it was a lot of men and there are a lot of very traditional old school photography studios and so when I came on the scene running around in my backyard chasing kids even with a medium format camera I was, you know, looking down into this mommy a r b and seeing the image backwards, which is how it was in the day and composing that way and hand holding it cause I didn't know any better, you know, it was like, okay, crazy girl on the scene and it it really wasn't something that was done, but it was easy. I started photographing my kids just like many of you started in the business you either started photographing your kids or just friends maybe a friend got married and you were the one that had the nice camera and so you got tio got asked to shoot the wedding, but however you started it's really not that different then how I started I started photographing my kids and at the time I owned a hair salon and I was hanging pictures that I would take and hang them up there in the hair salon showing off my kids not my photography but my client started seeing the pictures and asking who took them and then when they found out that I took them they started asking me to photograph their kids and so that led you know one thing into another and one day I walked into their salon and just said I'm not doing this anymore I'm going to be a photographer at that time when I made that decision I went to work for another photographer I was in waco, texas at the time and I found my favorite photographer in the area his name was tim flanagan and walked in and pretty much just said I want to work for you I just want to be here I want to learn from you I'll do anything and I'll work for free and I did that for an entire year I worked there for free he did plug me into a lot of photography education which was amazing and I was introduced to photographers that I see still no and love people like tim kelly and tim and beverly walled in and darting drake and just a lot of the people that I feel like I grew up with in the industry and that was my introduction into photography, and really, I feel like that's kind of what photographers today miss out on is that introduction into the business and actually going to work for somebody else and learning the craft and learning the business and being a part of somebody else's world, somebody that really has done it and has gone through the trenches, you know? And so that that was something that I really felt like I gained a lot from and something that I do feel that photographers today are missing out on another thing that I did early on in my career was get my certification, I took my cpp test and passed the second time, I mean, past the first time, it was, you know, hard work studying and a lot of stuff that I felt like at the time really wasn't even applicable to what I was doing, and the test has changed a lot it's a lot more digital and updated now, but at the time, it was talking about zone systems and, you know, all this stuff that I didn't really know anything about, but I took the test and got my certification, and that was something that I was really proud of and still am to this day, I've kept it up all of these years and, you know, I really feel like there should be something like a certification test that photographer should have to pass before they can call themselves a professional photographer, but it's not the case we can all say that we're professional any day that we decide to call ourselves a professional and that is what I did sixteen years ago I worked for a studio for a year, and at the end of that year my family moved from texas to iowa where I am now, and when I got to iowa and made that move, I just made the decision that you know what with this move, I could be whatever I want nobody knows me, I'm starting fresh and so I am a professional photographer and so I moved and worked on location I didn't have a studio for several years but started my business that way, and I know that many of you are starting kind of that same way, and so I don't really feel like the time makes it that much different. The only you know, the big difference is is there is an over abundance and oversaturation photographers and just even consumers with professional level cameras, and everybody does consider themselves a photographer, everybody you know and that's something that I've had to learn t even work with with my clients, you know, if mom calls and she's talking about senior pictures and you know, she's she's letting me know you know how you know these prices air pretty hefty and my daughter's friends are all photographers she's got a teacher at the school who's a photographer now and she does senior pictures and, you know, maybe we should just have them take the take her photos and my response to that is going to be you know what? That is going to be a huge part of your daughter senior year she is gonna love being photographed, you know, everyday at all moments and those images they're going to go on facebook and on instagram and that's going to be so fun for her all year long, but what I want to do is I want to create something really special for you, something that you're going to enjoy every single day while she's away to college let's do something beautiful for your home, something that really shows off her personality and you know, something special that's that's for you and for her dad and so it's, you know, putting a little twist on things we know photography's a huge part of everyone's life, but we also know that in the digital world we live in, people aren't printing their images, they aren't walking away with a finished product that shows off the memories and the moments and, you know, used to years ago when we were film all of us we'd go on vacation and we took lots of snapshots and the kids would go off to school for the first day and we take lots of snapshots and family parties and get together isn't all those things we all had all the snapshots just like we're doing now but when that role is done we dropped that roll of film in the mail it went off and we got four by six is back in the mail and so we all had our four by sixes and we scrapped booked and we had those memory books of all those those great pictures and you know these days nobody is doing that anymore even avid scrap bookers our scrapbooking digitally now and you know and those are fewer and far farther between you know are we had a great scrapbooking store locally here in des moines and it closed there just aren't that many people that are scrapbooking anymore because nobody's printing anything and that's something that we can really really use to our advantage as professional photographers that we are printing a final product something that they can actually hold and enjoy and see every day on the wall so make sure that you're using those things to your advantage as a professional so that being said once it's timeto actually really make a business of what you're doing it's not as easy as just picking up a great camera and making a go of it, you know, there's a lot of things that we have that we need to put in place, the first thing to have in place is a business plan and that's something that's probably a little scary for some of you, but a good business plan is just gonna have you think through all the steps that you should be thinking through before starting a business so it's really important and you're all going to get to download my free business plan workbook go to photo talk dot biz that's photo talk dot biz and that's on your screen for you, but when you go there, you're gonna have that free download for you and that is a complete workbook to take you through planning out your business plan. There probably aren't as many people as geeky is me out there, but I actually love writing my business plan and I updated every single year, and so every year about january I sit down and I really take some time to sit and go through and to me my business plan is a living, breathing document. I wanted to be able to grow and evolve and change along with me. I want to look back through the past year and look, you know, forward and I get bored kind of easily, and so what I thought last year I you know want to be doing in three years or five years it's probably going to change by the next year and so I want to go back through that and I want to revise things I want to look at the goals that I've set for myself and I want to look at even my marketing plan what worked last year what could be improved on what I just want to do differently or what I want to drop all together I want to look back through product lines and what selling the most and what I need to just ditch and so the business plan is going to constantly be changing and I want to encourage you to do that as well don't think that when you sit down with the business playing workbook that everything has to be concrete you know you're going to write things down and you're just going to dream and plan a little bit because you do that and you change and grow involved that's okay your plan can change with you I'm not going to go over a lot of legal stuff with you because there is so much available online to you but a couple of resource is that I want to give to you r s p a dot gov and that site just has a wealth of information on starting up a business and all the legal documents that you need to have and have in place we'll go through some of those, but I want to make sure that I throw that out there is a back up because I am not here to give you legal advice. I'm just here to kind of walk you through some of the things that you need to be thinking about, and the other side is biz filings dot com and there they've got a tool kit that iss for a business start up and that's a really great resource is well, so I'll make sure that you have both of those resource is for you, and you can just click on those and go see all the things that they have to offer there's a ton of information on both of those sites, one of the first things that you're going to want to do after you've got that business plan done, and you've really thought through your business is to decide what your business name is going to be, and that may sound like an easy thing, and maybe you've already done that, but maybe it needs to change. We're working with carly right now, and, you know, revamping her business and her location and even her logo is changing, and we decided that with the change of her logo, letting it go ahead and change her business name as well, and her name was c nickel photography, and we're going to go ahead and add in carly instead of the sea so it's, carly nickel photography and I really like that a lot better see nickel, especially because her last name is nickel. It looks like nicole and a lot of people think that her name is nicole when they call her and so carly is gonna set that apart. Let people know that her name is carly she's, the photographer and her business name is now carly nickel photography now there's a debate between business people, whether your business name should be your name or it should be, you know, a generic name or maybe even a street name or a city name, you know, I could be court avenue photography because my business is on sixty eight use court, but the biggest distinction in my opinion is, you know, when you first start, we all want our name to be our business name. You know, my business name is lauryn ward's from studio, but you never think in the beginning that you're going to bring on a second photographer or a third photographer or, you know, branch out into other party your businesses, you also don't think in the beginning that someday I might want to sell my business, we just don't think like that as artist, but if you think about it long term you know really think about the possibility of those things and you know if you bring on a second shooter I've got a second shooter at my studio stacey you know does stacy want to be shooting for lorry nor some studio and does that make sense? I'm not sure it does you no, I'm incorporated as lifestyle gallery and there are times when I just think maybe I should just change the name back to lifestyle gallery well, those are all things to think about when you're starting and it's it's hard to think about in the beginning because we don't think long term a lot of times but you know really think that through and there's a lot of positives toe having your business name be your name because with that you are a walking billboard everywhere you go when you introduced yourself to somebody your your business and when you sign something your your business and so there are some positives to that that it's really it's attached to you and you you are identified with your business but there's also a lot of pros to naming your business name another name just really think it through and throw the name around to friends and family make sure that you're not choosing something that super cheesy or something that's going to put you in a box you know, I've heard some crazy names over the years and there are things sometimes where you know, somebody thinks that they're all about this one thing. When they started, they named themselves totally niche to this one thing, and then a year later, their stick of photographing that one thing, and now they're stuck, and so thank all those things to her and that's that's, really? One thing that a business plan can help you do is well, is to think a little bit more long term about what your goals are and really what your direction is. So once you decide on your business name, you need to register it, and that is just going to usually ah, local, your courthouse usually it's, not even a state thing. It's usually just the local thing. You're going to want to go on a register your business name, and you can register that you can set up a d b, a that's a doing business as your business name, and just get that registered. The other thing that you can do when you go register your business name is you can do a search for other businesses that are like yours, and, of course, with photographers there's a lot, but you could do a certain see other business names that are similar, or even the same one great thing, if you are going for your own name, is that you probably I will not run across the exact same name as a photography, so I'm probably not going to run across lorry nor chum studio although there is another lorry nordstrom that is a photographer, so I don't know if you guys knew that, but we've had contact with each other before and we've sent each other different things and for, you know, online friends, but that that could be an issue, especially if you have a common name and so make sure that when you go to register, you're really doing that research and thinking through what your name is. Once you've got that business name established run to get your domain set up, do it as fast as you can and what happens a lot of times when a business name is registered or a federal tax I d number is ready registered there are people who are out hunting for those names, and once those names are established, those web sites are being bought up, so make sure that you're going to buy that website as soon as possible and it would even be smart once you've got your business name before you even register it, go and find out if that web domain is available to you and it's cheap to buy a website name for a year or two years, you can get him from twelve to twenty dollars usually and so you know would be smart to buy up a couple even before you go register your name, so think about that and go and make sure you've got that web domain and then please, please, please set up your email so that it's lori at nordstrom photo dot com and not laurie nordstrom at gmail, you know, or lauren morrison at yahoo or whatever. Don't do that. Get yourself a professional website name and a professional email address that's tied into that website after you've got your business name and your web domain name, start registering all your social media sites, so you're gonna want to look at facebook at twitter, at linked in at the five hundred fifty two other million social media sites and make sure you're getting your your name registered in all those places and that's important because you really want everything to tie together and I'll just, you know, tell you personally. When twitter started, I jumped on twitter before I really knew what twitter was going to be your what it could be, but I named it and I named my twitter name my website name, which I've had a website now for well since nineteen ninety nine and that was really early on for a small business toe have a website, I just happen to have an ex boyfriend who built website and so it was at the time of scanning wallet's in to go, you know, to send to him and haven't put those scanned wallet images on my website. I mean, that was how ancient this wass in nineteen ninety nine, but you know, at the time when I started my website and I wasn't thinking about all these things and I named it nordstrom photo dot com, which now I wish it was just laurie nordstrom or lori nordstrom studio or my business name, but it's norse info dot com. So when I started twitter, I wanted to tie it to the website, and so I did nordstrom photo is my twitter handle oh, I really wish now that it was laurie nordstrom, but I'm at the point where I have enough twitter followers and enough history on twitter that I'm not going to change it because I would lose that. So really, really think those things through and really think about how you're going to tie all those components together and make sure that they're very consistent, whether it's your name or a different business name, but make sure that they're all the same and consistent so that people can very easily find you and the next question to blogged or not to blogged and that is the question, you know, blogging can be very, very powerful, but it is so important that you're content is fresh and when you're starting, that's an easy thing because you're excited and you can build that into your workflow, but then when you get busy, if you don't have somebody else that's managing your blogged and you have to do it, they can become harder and harder, and I I will say that if you're going to set up a blogger a block sight, you know, block sites are great, even if you don't want to do an actual website. If you've got ah blawg site that you can send people to, that is a professional name that's your business name that's super, but make sure you're content, stays fresh, that's the whole point of having a blogged and make sure you've got a theme, you know, and your theme really shouldn't be here's the session that I did yesterday and here's, how great the pictures are, because there are so many photography websites out there, there are a bit gillian, and they're all the same, you know, they all post yesterday session with a sneak peak and a little bit about maybe the people that are in the and the images when really that's what it should all be about, it should all have content, and it should all have a theme, and so if you do want a post images from your latest session you know, make sure that you're telling people story get people interested in what you're posting, it cannot be about your pretty pictures anymore. There are way too many pretty pictures out there, so make sure that you're telling something of interest and if that's your thing it's telling people stories and you want to do that, you know, by blogging that as well, along with your image is that super, but if not, you know, it could be anything that has a theme that somebody might want to follow along with. So if you specialize in photographing kids, maybe you always have a theme going of, you know, talking about great places to take your kids locally, where places to take your kids to eat that are kid friendly events that are going on that are kid friendly, whatever you give your block a thing, maybe it's written from the perspective of your cat, you know, who knows, but make sure that it's got something that's, that's consistent and it's exciting for the people that it reaches to want to keep coming back and you're good at reach in and keep people coming back that in that mark it's going to be small, but make sure that that small market is somebody that's, it's I mean it's something that's very, very niche, too and it's something that people are interested in and when they are it's going to grow because they're going to tell other people who are interested in the same thing, you know, people that are excited about something, you know, maybe there star track people are a dog, people who knows what but there's something that you love and that you're interested in, that you can get followers from and it's very, very hard these days to get follow her followers just because of your images, you know, you've got to be really, really something special to get people to follow you just for your images. So think about that. If you're thinking about creating a blawg, um, just tow maybe think about a theme and also make sure that you're being consistent and keeping everything fresh. Next, you're going to want to look at your zoning restrictions, especially if you are a home studio. You've gotta look at the zoning restrictions for your area and that's really easy to do. You can just go online, you can call your county courthouse, but look and see what licenses thatyou might need or what permits that you might need for running a business out of your home or another location wherever you are, and then also even for shooting into certain areas in some states. Some cities there are very strict licenses that you have to have zoning permits that you have to have for going and shooting in public places so think about that I don't know if you've ever been on vacation and like new york or even certain places in d c for for sure, but there are places where if you're shooting and even if you've got a nice looking camera that's not a average point and shoot you are going to get track down because they do not want you shooting in those areas and you have to have special license is an permits to do that so you know, make sure even if you're in rural midwest iowa, that your you are checking those things out of making sure that you know where you can shoot, where you shouldn't be shooting and how you need to be licensed or zone to be able to do either run your business or be ableto do your sessions where you want to do them. The next thing is more legal junk that I don't like to talk about, but we all have to do this. And one of the things that's a really, really important is to make sure that you're set up to pay sales tax and, you know, there are only five states that don't have sales tax I'm gonna read them, they don't have these memories, but the five states that don't have sales tax r alaska, delaware, montana, new hampshire or in oregon so if you're not in one of those states make sure that you are registering for a state sales tax and that you're set up for not only collecting that sales tax but then paying it and you can do all of that online you can register you can file and you can pay online and so you know just get it set up to do that and if you aren't you know willing or able if you just hate that stuff it's okay your accountant can help you with that but make sure that you are set up with an account and I will say I would put that in one of the top things of setting up a business is making sure that you've got a good accountant if that's not something that you love and enjoy most of us don't and most of us don't even have a spouse that loves or enjoys accounting and bookkeeping and so you know bookkeeping is one thing but if you know even if that something that you enjoy fine a good accountant that you can turn that bookkeeping over two when it comes time tio paying and filing your sales tax paying and filing your federal taxes will make sure that you've got all those ducks in a row so that you're not in trouble and you know not having good books is one of the easiest and you know fastest ways to drown yourself to really get into big trouble if you don't have that taken care of so I highly havea recommend hiring a new accountant even hiring a bookkeeper I would never do my own books these days I have to have a bookkeeper less not something that I enjoy it's not something I want to do and it's really not something that I'm perfectly capable of I just don't like it I don't want to do it and so if I'm left to do it it's not going to get done and then I'm going to be in trouble yuri I n is your federal employer identification number and that's something that you have to have in most states if you're going to be set up as a business if you move away from a sole proprietorship, you've got to have that e I n number I highly recommend getting that even if you're in the sole proprietorship stage and making sure that you've got that taken care of because that's something that is going to separate you personally from your business and what that means is that you're going to be able to use that e I n number instead of your social security number on your paperwork and your filing and that's going to separate you from your business which is a really important thing once you do get into business because you don't want your social security number attached, all those things that can also get you into into trouble and it's much easier for somebody too do the identity theft with us. So security number than it is with an e I n number yuri I n number is going to be free for you to go online and register for and that's the same as your federal tax I d number, so make sure you go on and check that out and that's going to be used to identify your business as an entity let's talk about insurance and I know you don't want to talk about this, but we're going to so make sure that you've got insurance for your business before you start doing business, and this is really, really important. I've seen people get really hurt by not having insurance and, you know, there's, a couple of different insurance is that you want to make sure that you have equipment insurance is the most, you know, that's, what kind of what we think of first is ensuring the expensive equipment that we've purchased and definitely want to do that. If you're a p p a member, you're going tohave equipment insurance built into your membership it's free all you have to do is go and register for that, so make sure to take advantage of that if you are a people remember if you're not a people remember, I would highly recommend it and we'll talk about that again when we talk about joining your professional organizations but think about that equipment insurance is one you're gonna want to think about general liability insurance and your general liability insurance is going to protect you about accidents and injuries and that could happen you know, at a session somebody could walk in your door and trip and fall they could get knocked over the head with your tripod, who knows? But you know it could happen, and you don't want that to be on your personal insurance it's not going to cover it if you're doing business at the time that it happened, your personal insurance will not cover an injury that happens. Your homeowner's insurance isn't even going to cover it. If you are doing business in your home, you've gotta have a separate business insurance, so general liability is the first professional liability is going to cover you for the services that you provide and that's a really kind of normal thing for wedding photographers to think about because, you know, if something were to happen at a wedding, a lot of times we can't go back and re create it and so professional liability is going to protect you against those things that you really have no control over but could get sued for, but it's not just for wedding photographers, you know, you you may have an extended family grouping that's together and say you're photographing this family and something happens, and next week grandma dies. I mean, who knows whether it could be a child in a car accident? I mean, something could happen, and you cannot recreate this event and you have ruined it for them because you've lost a card or your camera was damaged. Or whatever happens, you need to make sure that you're protected for these things, and professional liability is going to do that for you. Commercial property insurance is going to protect you from any loss of property and property. That kind of the definition is really loose with the insurance policies it's gonna protect you for loss of wages or, you know, really anything that's going to affect your location and where you are, as well as your computers and your client files and those types of physical things that you could lose in a fire or flood or something like that? So make sure you're looking at commercial insurance but also talked to your interest provider and make sure that you're getting their recommendations for your needs because everybody's needs are going to be a little bit different so be sure that you're really explaining the nature of your business exactly what you're doing higher doing business, whether it's all in your home on location in a retail location, however you're doing that and explain it thoroughly to your insurance provider so they can tell you exactly the coverage that you're going to need and then there's also home based insurance policies that are going to protect you for your home base business and again you're homeowner's insurance is not going to protect you doing business out of you're home you do have to be protected separately for that, so make sure that you're talking this through with your insurance provider and make sure that you're covered for all of these different things as a last note, one of the things that I learned years ago when we started doing installations and clients homes when I started hanging wall portrait's and going to people's homes and actually taking those portrait's and hanging them I called my insurance provider and I just said, you know, hey, I'm going to be doing this. This is something different and new that we're doing in our client's holmes I'm going to be hanging portrait's nailing things in their walls, taking heavy pieces of framed art into their home is there something else that I need to be covered, something else that needs to be covered and you know, sure enough there was an installation coverage that they just it's was like a writer on the insurance policy that was like two dollars a month it was very nominal, but I'm so glad that I have that and so far knock on wood I've never had teo use it but you know, it's even ah it's a service that I can let my clients know if I am going to go do an installation, I can let them know that I'm insured for that and that really puts a level of confidence in the mind of our clients that you know that we are professionals and that we're insured to do these things if you don't want to do those installations yourself, you can know that any contractor builder in your area probably has people on staff that are insured to do installation, so they're going to be insured teo, you know, hang light pictures and whatever else in the hall mirrors who knows what? So they're insured to do that? And so you could actually hire a contractor or a builder to do this or have his employees do this and so and that's something that I've done in the past as well was just worked through a builder who, when I needed something done and somebody's home I would just send them the printout from preview and let them know you know here's where everything needs to go they can see it right on the wall finished in our preview export and so they could go and then I'd have those frames piece is waiting there for them and they would go on install it for me and they're insured so, you know, just make sure either way they're either using somebody that's insured or you get insured to do that one of the next things on your list and starting your business is going to be your education and finding a mentor and that's finding a mentor is a big part of your education and that's something that if you don't have someone already that you're learning from and that you can connect with and even be accountable tio I would really highly recommend finding that person there are many people in our industry who have great business is successful and profitable businesses that do mentoring programs or do one on one consultations and so, you know, seek those people out and yes, it is so worth it to pay for those type of mentorships and that's that type of personal one on one education there's really nothing better, I don't think and that is something that from very early on I've been willing to invest in as a business person is mentoring and consultations and, you know, business mentors, I've even looked to business mentors outside of our industry that I've learned from that I've you know I've spent a lot of money and invested a lot of money to work with and train with and learned from business mentors and you know, e myth mentors and you know, whoever it's been along the way that I've been able to hire and work with and you know you feel like you have a team and you feel like you have that person that you can be accountable teo and that you have to be accountable to and that's something that's important as well I think that when you know somebody is looking out for you you really you want to perform you want to do the right things because you've got to report back to them and I think that's a huge part of having somebody that is someone that you're you've got that mentor ship and consulting relationship with so seek those people out and then as you're looking for other educational opportunities make sure that you're really look for things that are a good fit for you there is so much available to you these days you know there's a ton of information out there there's a ton of education out there there's a lot of free education out there but don't become one of those education junkies that is always buying the next thing and you know following the next thing or even if it's free you know you're spending a lot of time watching and learning and reading and whatever it is but never actually applying and so you know really think through your educational opportunities and I would highly highly recommend you know, whether it's this workshop or another creative live workshop or you know maybe a professional organization that you belong to whatever it is make sure that you are at least applying one thing to your business before you move on to the next educational opportunity and that's a hard thing when there are so many things available to you right now but really, you know, put some action steps in place and make sure that you are taking at least one thing from each of the educational opportunities that are available to you and then applying that what? You know what you've learned to make sure that you are really making use of the opportunities that are available to you there are several professional organizations that you can be involved in here in the states we have professional photographers of america that's p p a and people dot com house a wealth of information for you right there on their website also, if you remember there's peop e a e t u which is their educational site with lots of videos and training there's tons of text documents and things to read so you know, check out people dot com there's also w p b I which is wedding in portrait photographers international and there are state organizations here in the united states on in every state there is a professional photography organization so make sure that you are looking out for those things and getting tight in and you know I'll tell you that you first of all can never get to the end of your learning cycle there's always new things to learn but really even more important to me with professional organizations are just the relationships and the networking that you have available to you that's built right in no I know with our iowa group nor iowa p p a is an amazing amazing group of people that I love I've grown up with in the industry and I you know I trust I can rely on and they I hope feel the same way about me but you know there are people as soon as I moved to iowa got plugged in with our iowa people a and so that was nineteen ninety seven I think when we moved to iowa the first time and so you know I've been a member there for ever and some of my best friends in the industry have come from there I've had some of the best education that's come from there and it really is a great network and support of people and you know so look at the organizations that are just right around you and what's available to you and there's local groups or state groups and of course our national groups and international group so you know, there's lots available and just checked those out and see what feels like a good fit after you've gotten all the paperwork out of the way and you've written your business plan and you've talked to your insurance agent and you've hired an accountant and all those things, you really have to think about your equipment and what you're going to invest in because it really isn't just azizi is picking up a camera even though we all kind of you know think that that wow everybody and their mother and their uncle joe can be a photographer it really does take more than just having a professional camera because we do have to think about the rest of the equipment that's involved you know, we've gotta have a decent enough computer that's going to run heavy image files and that digital processing that we have to do so there's computers involved there's camera cards if you've got a computer, you need to be calibrated to your lab and so having a professional calibration system is going to be important. We use the spider puck in our studio and that's something that, you know, it just happens every single week in the studio we are calibrating and making sure that we're seeing exactly what the lab a seeing when our images get there so we know what our prints are going to look like before they leave and that's something that I feel is really important. I also feel that it's important, that if you're going to call yourself a professional, you should have professional tools, and that means and sorry, I'm not punching anybody in the face. But if yuri on photo shop elements that's not a professional software for you to be using, invest in photoshopped, invest in the tools that you need to be able to call yourself and work as a professional, you know, hopefully by the time you get through this thirty days, you're really gonna have thought about it, you're pricing structure and being profitable. How to communicate with your clients and create value for your clients and no through all those things you really need to believe in yourself enough to invest in those professional tools. So think about photoshopped thing about light room some of the other software is that we have available to us, you know, portraiture. We love that sticky abla mes is not along those lines, but that's, another software that I highly recommend it's, a great tool that we can use for marketing with our clients and even customer service, and then you're also going to want to think about where you're going to shoot and if you need to invest in professional lighting. And light equipment, so and if you are, if you're in the studio or even in a home studio, if you're inside shooting, you're probably gonna want to invest in some good lighting equipment, and one of the things that I recommend is just keeping things simple. I like to keep my lighting very simple you maybe somebody who want to learn or does shoot outdoor off camera flash and that's great, but, you know, depending on what your style is, if you want to just go for simple traditional riel and clean and clear studio lighting it's it's not that hard. I love my one one light studio set up and that's, just a photogenic light and it's fitted with a four by six larson soft box, and I used one reflector sometimes to reflectors if I've got a family or if I'm shooting on our white sweep, I might use to reflectors, but also super simple set up it's not that expensive you're going to pay for it in a couple of sessions, and so, you know, I would recommend investing in that if you want to have that good clean studio lighting, don't be shooting with umbrellas or, you know, you know, stuff that's, just not it, it doesn't give you a clean, professional look. Really think about the image that you're putting out there and what you want a project and if you want to have that professional per sana in the marketplace you know go for the professional equipment and the professional lighting and that maybe that's something that you have to think about before it's time to actually say I am a professional I'm opening my doors is a professional photographer you know what is the investment that you're going to have to make in lighting and software in camera equipment and you know in all these other things your business licenses and your insurance and you know how things that it takes teo be a pro and and to have your shop set up so you know think those things through and some of those things you're going to work through right in that business plan workbook and you know, that's a great tool to just be able to go through and really think about the steps that it takes to really get you where you want to go the next thing you're gonna want to think about and this is a little more fun but think about your marketing expenses right from the beginning there's probably a few things that you're going to want to have on hand and you know it may not or may not be business cards right now but you should have something on hand at all times to be able to physically hand to someone I can imagine that a year or two from now we're all just gonna be bumping our phones and you know, crossing that information over when we meet people but there are still people believe it or not who don't have iphones and don't have that capability and it is great to have something on hand at all times to be ableto hand to someone and you know I was just I was actually at costco just a couple weeks ago and there was this mom going through costco with these four little towheaded girls and they all look the same age I didn't ask her if they were quadruplets but they were at least twins or triplets and another and but they all they all really did look alike and look the same age but I saw her trolling through costco and I was like oh my gosh I want those little girls in my studio and you know went up to her and just said exactly that I said your girls are beautiful and I hope you don't feel weird I've been kind of stalking you in here but you guys are you know just so cute and I would love to photograph your girls I have a studio over and winterset and I handed her card and was able to just talk to her and she still hasn't called yet but I'm hoping that she will or at least remember me when it comes time to have her daughter's photographed and I told her, you know, the sessions on me, I would just love to have him there and, you know, and that's something that you, you know you really can't do if you don't have a card on hand. So business cards are one thing that you might want to think about right away as well as thank you notes, I always want to make sure that I have a stack of note cards that I am ready to pick up and send out at any time we've got several times throughout our client process that will send those personal hand written notes, but, you know, I want to make sure that those air always available, so no cards are another thing, and then you might want to think about having some actual gift cards. And so whether you do the plastic gift cards, it looked like they are credit cards or you just have a business card size printed like a gift card, but something that you have on hand that's going to be a complimentary session with you or maybe it's ah, print credit or something, but something that you can use when you're networking with other businesses because that's going to be really important to your startup. Is making those networking connections and getting referrals because that is, you know, so important especially in the beginning we want to make sure that we are really generating that word of mouth getting people talking about us getting people excited and getting out those complimentary sessions I will do a free session any day of the week any time for the right client I'm going to target my client and I'm gonna know who that client is before I'm handing out that free card but I will do it any time for the right client that client that I know is going to come in and be a good fit for the studio and we'll talk through all of that as we move on through this workshop we'll walk through defining your target client will walk through networking and different marketing opportunities that you'll have for you but start thinking about that right now and think about the collateral that you need to have on hand in order to make those things happen. Another thing along those lines are stickers and labels this is something that I love I love the stickers with our logo on them and our branding on them those can go on packages on cards, on bags, on anything that we need to brand with our logo and our business name and and on that note I didn't even mention logo I know it was on my list in here and I skipped right over it. Make sure way back in the beginning, you're thinking about a logo and that brand for your business. Once you figured out your business name logo is going to come next, and I highly highly recommend having a professional graphic designer create your logo and I will tell you, I'm kind of inserting this but it's really important to me that you know, a good graphic designer is going to get to know you before they create your brand. And so somebody who's, a great graphic designer is gonna be asking you about your personality, about your business and about who your target market is there going to be talking to about all those things so they can create something that is really you? So make sure when you're looking for a graphic designer that you are being asked those questions, and if you're not, I would move on, I would keep looking, and but a logo is going to be really, really important to creating that professional presence on both your printed pieces and online. Next is thinking about the forms that you're going to need to have on hand when you start your business, and the first and most important thing to me is a model, release and notice of copyright. That is something that I have every single client sign before I will photograph them we're going to sit down we're going to go through the client profile where they're going to fill out some information or check the information that I've already filled out for them and make sure that it's correct but then they're gonna read through the model release sign that and then read through our notice of copyright and initial that so that's something that I can sit down with every single client we can go through it together I could explain the model release and I can explain what copyright means which is important to me and we go through that together and I think that if you don't have anything else as a form that is you're one must have item tohave and so model release and notice of copyright I am not a big contract person and that is going to be totally you know, based on your personality and who you are and how you're doing business I for my business have never had a contract for anything except a wedding and of course for weddings we have a very, very simple contract and you know it is a contract I feel like we do have to have one for weddings but it is so simple it basically says you're going to be married on this day I'm going to show up in photograph it and you know let's sign here there's a little more need tell them that but it's super simple but I just personally to me anything that I want communicated with my clients I really believe needs to be done verbally and so I have felt that way with the contract thing to me signing a contract for just you know professional services is to me it's kind of a put down I and it's it's just personal there's no right or wrong here I am definitely don't leave here saying laurie told me not to have contracts because that's your thing I want you to have a contract but I haven't even had contracts for like the display partnerships that I have I know a lot of people that have been burned through their displays and feel like it's really important to have contracts and if you do that's great but for me it's just been more of ah personal relationship thing and I feel like if the relationship is intact then you know it's I'm kind of old fashioned I guess I kind of believe in that handshake where if we're agreeing on something and if we're communicating properly and I'm taking care of that person there not going teo you know bring in another photographer on top of me and in a display or you know if I've contracts to me during a portrait session you know it would be you agreed to pay for this well I mean if I've done the right job and they love their portrait's and they love what I've designed for them for their home they're not gonna leave me hanging right I think probably and I don't know fifteen years of doing business I can think of one or two clients who didn't end up coming back and paying and full at the end and it was very bad personal situations in their lives why it didn't happen and so you know to me those one or two times over fifteen years I'm willing teo eat it rather than going through a process with my clients of having them sign a contract and you know going through this thing that just doesn't feel like a good personal relationship to me on again that is just me I am not telling you not to have contracts but for me personally it's just been something that I haven't incorporated into my business and now fifteen years in I don't imagine that I will another form that you'll want to have is a print release form and that's going to be for any digital files that you are selling or giving to your clients you want to make sure that you are giving them a print release and not a copyright release you hold the copyright to your image is at all times do not ever ever give that away so a print release is really important for digital files and while digital files are not my main product, it's not what I want people to concentrate on, I do know that our clients want them, and so we have them available, and when they're purchased, they're going to be given a print released, oh, and then when you're setting up shop, you want to think about using professional vendors? That's another thing that's really important to me is to make sure that the vendors that I'm using my print lab, my album maker, are framing our photo jewelry and all those things, if I'm giving a product to my client, I want to make sure that I'm using the very, very best vendors that I can because, you know, my stamp, my name is going out on that product, even if I'm ordering it from somebody else. So I need to make sure that I'm using people that I know that I can count on, and those vendor relationships are going to be a lot like your client relationships, make them personal, make it be people that you can actually talk to and communicate with, and, you know, make sure the customer service is great that's why we choose different vendors is based on customer service is based on the people it's, just like the way your clients are choosing you, you know, it's, not because I have better pictures than the guy down the street, it's because of the relationships that I'm building with my clients and it's the same for you, you know, people by you that's actually a book that I love, I highly recommend it. What it's all about, you know, we are our brand and it's the same for the vendors that we're using, it's it's about those personal relationships that were building we want to know it's people that we can count on now we can rely on and that we can actually communicate with when there is a problem. So make sure that you're looking for those kinds of things when you're looking for those professional vendors, and I'm going to recommend to you that you get away from using online vendors that any consumer khun go to make sure that you're using vendors, that you have to go and set up a professional account to be able to go in and see their pricing, to be able to go in and order from them and that's going to be something that's gonna set you apart and last I want to talk to you about setting up your home studio are working all on location if you're ready now, tio, jump into a retail space, then you're probably past. A lot of the planning and thinking through how you need to set it up and what is all needed so I'm going to concentrate on the home studio and working on location but we will also talk in a later segment when it's time to go to a retail studio or even if you should so we'll walk they're all that and a later segment but right now let's talk about setting up your home studio and kind of just the perfect case scenario for doing that this is perfect case scenario so not all these things are going to be available to all of you but if you can let's make sure that your entrance to your business is a separate entrance than your front door maybe just a separate entrance than your kids are going to walk through and so if you can give it a separate entrance that is going to be the best thing for the business to really separate the spaces and the more you khun separate living space from work space the better make sure if you can that you've got a separate bathroom that's designated just for clients you're also going to want to make sure that you've got plenty of storage space you know we know as photographers we liked to collect things and so make sure you've got that storage space so that you're not stacking things up in the living room or a bedroom and making the rest of the family mad about your business because you've taken over the house, so if you can make sure that you're not taking over living space, what the kids know where they can be and let the business no where it needs to be. When I had a home studio, one of the things that I did was I designated certain days that we did certain parts of the world workflow and so, for example, on thursdays, I would place all of my orders to the lab, and so I knew that by tuesday everything would be back from the lab. Some of it would come on friday, so move would come on monday, but everything was there by tuesday. And so on tuesday afternoon, every tuesday afternoon, I had a boy that came over from the high school, and he did all of my framing, and we would put all the framing tools on a rolled out piece of carpet that went out on the dining room table, and he would do all my framing on that afternoon. And then after it was done, everything went back on the carpet and it got rolled up and it went underneath my bed, and so, you know, it was designated times that I knew, you know, during this time there would be no one else in my kitchen because the kitchen table was now the workspace for framing, but that was a time that the kids were taken care of and that we designated for that so you know, think about it in those ways if you've got certain areas of your home that need to cross over, make sure that you've designated certain times for it and that you can, you know, clear it out or make room for the family again when you're done with those things, if you're all on location, you're going to want to make sure you've got a checklist that goes along with you when you're leaving your home so that you make sure that you have everything with you every single time. One of the best examples that I know of this are my friends troy and heidi eifert, and they're over in eastern iowa and have had a location portrait business for several years. They now have a retail space, but when they were all on location, they had such amazing system for making sure that they had everything that they need when they hit the road. And I'm going to show you a picture here of the back of their car, which is so completely organized I'll say how organized but e I mean, it was so organized, and they mean, they made sure there was a place for everything and a checklist so that they made sure that every single thing went with them every time that they hit the road and, you know, I would highly encourage this that if you're on location, make sure that you've got our great system in place so that you could make that client experience fantastic every single time you're not forgetting things, you're not leaving things behind, make sure you've got that system for making sure things you are being charged and ready for when you leave and cards air, you know, clean and downloaded and you know, just all those things are so important to running your business efficiently. So just a couple little tips on having either a home studio or on location and again, we will talk a little bit more in depth on another segment about when it's time for a real retail location. Thank you for starting this journey with me and I'm looking forward to hearing from you. I want you to keep in contact with me on photo talk forum we do have a place there designated just for the thirty days workshop and that's free for you. You can log on whether you purchase the course or not, you can go and follow along with us there and make sure you go and jump on photo talk dot biz to download your business plan workbook.

Class Description

The strongest portrait photography businesses have one thing in common: a dedicated, strategic plan for artistic and financial success. Join creativeLIVE instructor Lori Nordstrom as she goes through 30 Days to Design Your Portrait Business, an intensive course that will give you the step-by-step tools you need to survive and thrive as a portrait photographer.

Over 30 days, you will work with Lori to develop a plan of action for marketing, branding, and pricing that will keep your clients happy and your business growing. Lori will outline the lighting, posing, and shooting skills she uses to make sure clients come away from a session with photos they’ll love. During each daily segment, Lori will discuss the topics covered in her 72-page workbook (included with purchase).

By the end of this course, you’ll have the concrete skills you need to attract clients, build a successful, satisfying business, and deliver stunning results every time.

Lessons

  1. Day 1: So You Want to Be a Pro Photographer?
  2. Day 2: Setting Up "Shop"
  3. Day 2 Bonus: "Setting Up Shop"
  4. Day 3: Getting Organized for Success
  5. Day 3 Bonus: "Planning"
  6. Day 4: Studio Image
  7. Day 4 Bonus: "Studio Image"
  8. Day 5: Defining Your Niche
  9. Day 5 Bonus: "Your Niche"
  10. Day 6: Defining Your Target Client
  11. Day 6 Bonus: "Your Target Client"
  12. Day 7: Marketing Part 1
  13. Day 7 Bonus: "Marketing - Part 1"
  14. Day 8: Marketing Part 2 Ideas For implementation
  15. Day 8 Bonus: "Marketing Part 2"
  16. Day 9: Networking
  17. Day 9 Bonus: "Networking"
  18. Day 10: Pricing For Profit Part 1
  19. Day 10 Bonus: "Pricing Part 1"
  20. Day 11: Pricing For Profit Part 2
  21. Day 11 Bonus:"Pricing part 2"
  22. Day 12: Projections for 2014
  23. Day 12 Bonus: "Projections"
  24. Day 13: Scheduling and Planning
  25. Day 13 Bonus: "Scheduling & Planning"
  26. Day 14: The Inquiry: Handling Emails & the First Phone Call
  27. Day 14 Bonus: "Initial Inquiry"
  28. Day 15: Client Education & Customer Service
  29. Day 16: Defining Your Product Line
  30. Day 16 Bonus: "Product Line"
  31. Day 17: Packaging Your Product
  32. Day 17 Bonus: "Packaging"
  33. Day 18: The Portrait Consultation: Designing & Planning Session
  34. Day 18 Bonus: "Consultation"
  35. Day 19: Photographing at the Client's Home: Shooting for the Wall
  36. Day 19 Bonus: "Wall Concept Shoot"
  37. Day 20: Shooting On Location: Client's Home with Older Kids
  38. Day 20 Bonus: "Mandi Shoot"
  39. Day 21: Shooting On Location: Client's Home
  40. Day 21 Bonus: "Dryden Shoot"
  41. Day 22: Adding Video to Your Portrait Sessions
  42. Day 22 Bonus: "Adding Video"
  43. Day 23: Shooting with Studio Light
  44. Day 23 Bonus: "Studio Lighting"
  45. Day 24: Portrait Workflow
  46. Day 25: Sales
  47. Day 26: Handling Objections: Finding Your "Yes" Answers
  48. Day 27: Special Events & Mini Sessions
  49. Day 28: Charitable Events: Give & Get Day
  50. Day 28 Bonus: "Charitable Marketing"
  51. 29: When Should I Hire Help? When Should I Go Retail?
  52. Day 29 Bonus: Skype call with Lori & Carly
  53. Day 30: Goal Setting & Motivation

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