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Building Your Photography Business for under $3,000

Lesson 26 of 41

Develop Your Marketing Plan


Building Your Photography Business for under $3,000

Lesson 26 of 41

Develop Your Marketing Plan


Lesson Info

Develop Your Marketing Plan

Earlier we talked about time and money have a way of disappearing if you don't watch 'em really carefully. Same thing, we've got to write down what your plan is. And if you've downloaded the marketing plan bonus material all of these questions are in there. And so you need to really carefully think through all of these things, and then stick to your $3,000 budget. We have $200 applied to your marketing plan. That's it for right now starting out. And then stick to the plan even when your business is booming. And this is a huge trap that people fall into all the time, including me in my business. Whenever business is scarce, I am a marketing machine. I am like, "I am talking to everybody "on the face of the earth!" I'm going out I'm meeting people, I'm calling people ... Marketing machine. And then I get busy and marketing completely falls off of my radar. And I'm like, "Oh my gosh, "I have all these different things "that I have to do." So, if you can and make it a priority, you always ...

need to market to some degree. So my idea as a commercial photographer is I need to have at least 10 things in the works at all time. Because I know that probably eight of them are going to fall through. So you can look at this in all photography arenas though. Same idea is, if you have 10 prospective clients in the work, eight or nine of 'em are gonna fall through the cracks. So if you can constantly be working on these 10 prospects, moving them from a cold buyer to a hot buyer, all the things we spoke about earlier. Moving them through cognitive, constructivist, experiential, move them through those stages, probably one or two of them are going to stick with you and actually become a client. 'Kay? So your goal through this marketing plan is to constantly have at least 10 things going. And then hopefully one or two of them will stick. Okay? So even when you're booming and you're staying up late and you're working hard, don't let the marketing fall through the cracks that's why the plan is important, 'kay? Alright, so let's talk about this $200. How are we gonna spend it, what are we gonna buy? We've gotta have business cards as a business, because this is the way to get people to contact you when you meet them in person. And a lot of small business marketing is being out in the trenches meeting people. Letting them know what you do and hoping that you give them an interesting enough story that they wanna learn more about you or contact you. So you've gotta have a business card. You can get business cards for less than this, you can get business cards for more than this. Don't spend more than this. If you can spend less and you can give something that connects to your style and the quality that you offer, spend less. Then you can put that money towards other more important things. But make sure that your business cards align with what you're doing. That your customer feels harmony when they look at your card versus what you're telling them versus what they're experiencing when they interact with your business. Gift certificates. Hm, what a weird thing to spend money on. Gift certificates we have found to be critical to the way that we build relationships with people. I'm gonna walk you through in a just a minute how to use gift certificates. But this is a great way to say, "Hey, I care about you. "Check this out, I wanna give you a free session. "I wanna give you a free something, "here's a gift certificate. "Instead of discounting it, "let me give you a gift certificate to my business. "Try us out, see what you think." Your website, $120. So our first website was $10, when we first started our business. You guys can get an amazing, beautiful, custom feel on a website through PhotoBiz. $100 setup fee, $20 a month. Get out of here! I'll show you our PhotoBiz website in the next segment. And then social media channels, while these are free to set up you may want to boost some posts or do some ads. So I gave you a very small budget here to start out with, $40 to see how that works for you business. So this is your marketing budget until you make more money in your business. Then a good rule of thumb is 5 to 15% of your gross sales invested in marketing. So if you're a brand new business starting up, you can go as much as 15% of your gross sales to boost your name out there to develop your brand and your consumer recognition. If you're an established business it should be more like 5%. 10% if you're somewhere in between those two, but let me tell you this: We have never, ever in the history of our business ever spent more than 1 or 2%. Because I want all that money in my pocket and I am really good at going out into the world and telling everybody about what we do. And so, I would much rather go out and meet people and make a one-on-one interaction telling them what I can do. I found way more success with that than anything else that I've ever invested my dollars into. And we've tried everything, from magazine ads to commercials, to all kinds of things. And it seems liked the more money we spent on things the less return we got off of it. So that's my words of wisdom from trying everything. (laughs) Okay, so specifically on your business cards here's what you have to have. It's gotta match your business personality. So on my business card, you wanna guess what I have on the back of it? It's a picture of my family standing on top of our RV going like this with beautiful mountains in the background. That's my brand. That's who I am. That's who my business is. It represents me. On the front of it, it has my business name, Famagogo. Inspiring adventure family-style. It's across the top of it and then it has my name, my phone number, my email, and my social media contacts. It's all it needs to be, clean and simple. It's white on the front, big picture on the back, that's it. I see photographers make this mistake all the time. It has to be easy to read. The font has to be big enough and it has to be clean and crisp and easy. No scroll-y, no decorative things. Easy to read, that's the point. Name, phone, email, if you have a business address put that on there. If you don't have a business address don't put it on there. I don't even have an address to put on there. And then your social channels. Because you want people to be following you on social media because you are gonna weave a beautiful story to tell about your business through your social media. And it needs to be professional. Don't print out a wallet as your business card. It's a bad idea. Get a professionally-made business card. There are some beautiful ones. Simply Color has some beautiful ones, there are other ones that you can get online. All kinds of options. Make sure they look clean, professional, elegant, high-quality. Enough said about business cards. Alright, let's talk about gift certificates, 'cause this is really cool this is one of my favorite things to do. So again, it has to match your business personality. Would I put a picture of me standing on top of my RV on a gift certificate? Maybe not. Would I put a picture of a portrait client that I am going to give this gift certificate to that represents my favorite kind of work that's one of my best images? Absolutely. I want to hit my target. I want them to see something they can relate to. If they see an image of me it might not be as relatable as it would to another family that I've photographed. 'Kay? Make sure it matches your business personality and it hits your target. Easy-to-read font, I can't say this one enough. Name, phone number, address, and social because you want to use this as a marketing piece as well. You want 'em to follow you on social media, you want 'em to reach out to you, easy to contact. Now, on gift certificates you have to have this little dude here, terms and conditions. And some of the things that you need to think about are an expiration date. Earlier we talked about doing things that motivate people to do things right now. An expiration date will do that. So when I give a gift card, I typically give it with a 30-day expiration date. Because otherwise it gets shoved in a drawer and forgotten, and they'll call you six years later and say, "Oh, I just found this gift certificate, "is it still valid?" I'm like six years later, really? No, it's not! Because I don't even live in Boulder anymore. And so an expiration date is really important to put on there. You use it to motivate your client to do what you want them to do, which is book a session right now. You also need to clarify what the card can be used for. So in our business it's good towards any of our products or services. So it can count for their session fee, it can count for an album, or a print, or anything that we have to offer that gift certificate can be used for that. What it can't be used for is to redeem cash. So you need to be sure to put on your gift card, "No cash value". It's really important. And then are there any limitations? Are there any things that you don't want to include? If it's a gift card, can it apply to a wedding? Can it apply to a portrait session? Can it apply to fine art? Can they give it away? Can they give it to somebody else, or does it have to be used by them? What are the limitations? Think through these carefully, because once you give it out you're gonna get all of these questions. "What is this good for?" Be sure you're very clear on there. It can be tiny, fine print but it needs to say it explicitly on there, okay? Now, what do you with these gift certificates? So it was one of the few things that I packed in the RV whenever we left. I had a huge stack of gift cards and space is scarce. And so my idea originally was that whenever I would go to a new place, I would hand out these gift certificates. And say, "Hey, you look like somebody we wanna photograph! "Do you know that we're doing sessions "in Central Park next week?" So I tried that a few times and people in New York thought I was a little creepy doing that. So that didn't work. But what I have found that works really well is if there is an event coming up that we're going to, I can contact the event organizers and I can make a donation to that event. And then I am benefiting an organization that I'm interested in already. It's a charitable contribution. And it puts me in front of every single person that is at that event. So when we had our home studio and we were a part of the Boulder community, there were all kinds of charitable organizations that we worked with that we wanted to donate to. And instead of donating cash we donated our services to them. And so I could donate a $1,000 gift card to 20 different organizations where I could have never donated that much cash. 'Kay? So we donated to different organizations in their silent auctions or their fundraisers, however it fit in that particular event or organization. And they would sell it. I talked to the person who would run the silent auctions and said, "Okay, this thing expires in 30 days. "Make sure that the person who purchased it knows that. "And better yet, would you please send me "their contact information "so that I can followup with them?" So then bam, I had a new hot prospect that liked our work, had already invested in it and were ready to call me. But instead of waiting for the phone to ring I got their contact information and said, "Oh congratulations on winning "a gift certificate to Holcombe Photography. "We are so excited to photograph you. "What do you have in mind for these portraits?" And then you go into the initial phone call that we spoke about earlier. 'Kay? So I have a hot prospect right there. So I can donate every single time, I always get a prospect. Because I've already paid money that comes into my business and books a session. So what I donate changed over the years. Sometimes it was a session, sometimes it was a session and a print. For my business, what I found is if I donate $1, I could almost always get a $3,000 sale on the backend that would still leave me some profit. It gave the organization a good, solid donation and those customers I could almost always book for life. I built a relationship with them and they kept coming back again and again and again. So for my business, $1,000 was a sweet spot. You're gonna have to try it out in your business and see what that sweet spot is. And it was easier for me to donate a dollar amount than it was for me to donate a specific product because all of my clients like different things. So guessing which product they wanted was hit or miss for us.

Class Description

When starting a new business, you will make hundreds of decisions, and many of those can be costly and affect the future of your business. Most photographers have little direction available on how to take these critical first steps to set themselves up for success.

Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter have built multiple photography businesses over the last 15 years. Kathy will share what they have learned so that you won’t waste time, money and resources trying to find the perfect formula.

You will learn how to:

  • Define your brand
  • Set up social media channels and a business website to support the vision of your brand
  • Develop an effective strategy for marketing to your ideal client
  • Develop a product line and profitable pricing structure
  • Develop a sales strategy to maximize your time and sales average

This class is for anyone who is standing at a crossroads, wanting to start a photography business, but not sure exactly how to go about it. You’ll not only learn how to get you started but also how to turn a profit through your photography in your very first year of business. Skip years of trial and error and invest your precious startup dollars in strategies, tools, and equipment that will immediately start making you money.


Amanda Beck

Kathy was a wonderful instructor. She was engaging and someone who was precise and incredibly helpful. We have a full time photography business and are always looking for new ways of running our business. Her information was insightful and forced us to have conversations about our business that we have haven't had in several years. She is fantastic and someone who has the information needed to help you start or expand your business. Thank you for a wonderful class!!


Thank you Kathy for yet again another very thought provoking class. You are such an inspiration, teaching us the right questions to ask ourselves so we too can be brilliant photographers / entrepreneurs. I was a fulltime RVer for seven years, traversing 44 states and seeing some of the most beautiful places on our planet. It gave me a great opportunity to meet some extraordinary people and to hone my photography skills. Now I have put down roots in Stapleton - Denver, CO and am soon to launch my own Family Lifestyle Photography business. Your course has definitely given me the courage to just charge ahead and go for it!

Jeph DeLorme

Another top notch production from the amazing team at Creative Live! Kathy Holcombe, aka FAMAGOGO did a great job of covering all the basics along with the associated costs involved in starting up a photography business. However, you don't need to be a beginner to get great info from this class, it's packed with ideas and tips that even an experienced pro can put to work and take to the bank literally the next day. I highly recommend this class.