Creating Community Instead of Just Customers
So I'm so excited to be here, and I want you to just think back with me to a story that happened two years ago. I was shooting a wedding, and it was the part of the wedding where they just finished, like the mother sundance and the groom with his mom and, like that's, a part of reception wedding photographers, they're going to understand this where you feel like you finally get to go get your diet coke and relax for a few minutes, like take a breather, which I had some diet coke with me right here. So I'm going to be said for the next hour and a half s o I was getting my diet coke, and I was like, hoping for just a break from the conversation just to kiss from breath, but this young girl came up to me and she came out to me and she said, caitlin, I just have to tell you this story, and I thought to myself, this is supposed to be my break, but instead I listened, and I'm so glad I did because she started to tell me about her grandma and how close she was to her grandmother and her grand...
mother was bedridden, and so she couldn't do much in her last. Few years and so after work, this girl would leave her day job and she'd go, and she'd sit with her grandma before she would work in the evening, and they have about an hour to together and they would lay in bed because that's all her grandma could do. And they would look at my blawg every day because I blogged every week day in that season, and so every single day they would sit together in the bed and their thing became looking at my block every single day, and so she said, caitlyn, I'm just telling you this because I want you to know that when my grandma passed away, she left me a little white envelope and on the front of that envelope, it said caitlyn james photography and then the inside of that envelope was it blank check to your business? And she said, one day, when I get engaged, I'm going to be calling you because my inheritance from my grandma was you. And from that moment, first of all, I didn't care about my diet coke anymore. Second of all, I realized that something different was happening in our business. Something was changing I don't think every photographer hear stories like that and so I realized ok what is happening in our business? What is changing about the way we're reaching people and the way that we're building into people's lives and becoming a part of the story even when they're not our clients yet something's happening in something is it's a good thing it's a good thing and I want to figure out what that is and so let me just give you a little bit of a back story this what our life looked like as of like three years ago so my husband my husband michael the one the middle hanging upside down was a high school youth pastor and I of course was the high school the pastor's wife this is me and my small group and we loved this season of life and the reason we love the season of life is because we should we could so tangibly see the impact we're making in people's lives most of those people consisted of crazy eighteen year old kids but this was our life and this is on a mission trip so we look a little crazy and a little sleep deprived but this is what our life was and so when we started realizing I think michael needs to join my business I think michael needs to become my other half and we need to become a husband wife team something something tripped in our minds and like, oh my gosh, we need something more from our business. We need our business to be more both financially and emotionally. I don't want michael and our life to change in us to walk away from impacting people's lives just to go take pictures that's not enough, and so I needed more financially needed to make more money. We were going to be paying our own health insurance. He was going to be losing his income, which we had lived off of all of the money I was making the business up until this point was just extra, so I felt no pressure. And then when michael joined all of a sudden, all the pressure is on me, so one, I need to make more money and to I wanted something more. I didn't just want to be a photographer that showed up and took pictures and then left I wanted to see life change happen, and so that kind of leads us to where we are today I'm going to teach you guys how we make that happen, and I don't know where you are what your story is, but I do know that if your photographer who is tired of the rat race, can we all agree that there's a rat race in the wedding industry there's certain things you feel like you have to do in order to make it or people teach you you have to be a good at this you have to be good at that and I some of the things I'm not good at and I was tired of it I was tired of trying to make it work with other people's instruction so I kind of made my own way and what I was trying to do is I was trying to get away from the idea that if you if I wanted to make more money it's a wedding photographer I had to be good at selling products I had to be good at selling in general and that's not my personality so if you're a photographer that spending your evenings going to sales meetings just to make an extra five hundred dollars and you're having a night away from your kids this course is for you if you are a photographer who feels like you're being undervalued you know maybe you show upto weddings and the bride and the groom is they just don't respect you they could care less about who you are you're literally just the hired hand then this course is for you and maybe you're just a photographer who everything's going great financially but you are so tired of just doing the same thing day in, day out and you want a business that changes lives you want to have an impact if that's the case in this course is for you so I'm excited that you're here and let's keep going this course actually had a free supplemental workbook so for those of you who are at home on the computer, you can actually go to this link it's my blawg caitlin james block dot com flash c l and you'll actually be able to just with one click injuring your name and email and you'll be able to have the supplemental workbook the reason why this is important is because I tell all my workshop attendees this the biggest loss for you would be to dedicate an hour and a half of your time to listen to this presentation and then never do anything about it don't you agree that that happens? Yes, all eight of you it happens all the time so I don't want that for you I want you to be able to listen to this presentation actually do something with it and this workbook will actually take you through a step by step process of how to make it a reality based on where you are in your business okay, so you can go to that link and you can download that for free so let's talk about the state of our industry if you're in the wedding photography industry, I think you would agree that there are a lot of us yes yeah there are so many photographers it's like when I started my business I don't know two years later it's like everyone especially young females everywhere I looked they were becoming wedding photographers and it was just the thing to do and don't get me wrong I love new photographers that's why I'm here I love helping photographers and I think if we continue to help if we continue to raise the tide everyone is going to be able to charge more and build their business to a greater level because there's such a great sense of education in our industry so it's not the problem that there's so many photographers but it kind of because the more photographers there are, the more competition there is and I have found that over the years sometimes it becomes impossible to rise above that you know, if you're charging twenty, five hundred and three girls down the street are charging twenty five hundred even guys tio because guys that's good, but especially in our area it is really oversaturated with young female photographers and there's a struggle there you know that twenty five hundred dollars and you're all shooting with mark three's and fifty millimeter lenses you're in your work starts to look similar and so standing out becomes harder to do and I think most photographers depend on their image quality to make it they depend on their images to be the on ly thing that sets them apart and so for michael and I as our business continue to grow and as like I said before, we start to realize that I really wanted more of a personal impact in my client slides and I need to charge more because he was joining me we realize something that works and that something is community it's a really different concept I understand it's really it's far from with the traditional marketing strategy is but it works and so I'm going to give you an example of what it looks like to have a community based business and a transactional customer base business so here's some of the differences so in a community brides are all about the experience they actually care about every little part of the process whereas customers they want a fast hands off transaction there the brides that go to the bridal shows you know what I'm talking about, they go to the bridal shows and they literally they just want a deal we've all experienced that yes head nods yeah, so if they just want a deal, then they just want to swipe their card and they want to be done with you and I've totally experienced that multiple times, so community brides care about the experience customer brides want a hands off transaction they don't want anything to do with you community brides want to get to know what they care about the fact that we're husband and wife team, they care about the fact that we share about our dog, we share about our business and our life together, whereas customers they could care less who we are, they need pictures, they don't need a relationship community, you have brides that trust our ideas and customers come to you with the shot lift, you know, the brides that say, oh, I just really want to make sure you capture the the first kiss at the ceremony and I think to myself, do you really do you think about what you just said? Do you really think I'm going to miss that? Oh my god. So when I have scenarios like that, I realized that a customer base business is all about get in, get out, give me my pictures were done where a community based business is more about the entire experience working with someone you love and trusting them along away last one at least the community sacrifices to book us where a customer is looking for a deal. I think everyone, I don't know where you guys are or all you guys online are, but I think everyone goes through a season where everyone's asking for a discount, and I think for us the beauty of our business was that we started forming this community at a perfect time to where I got to a place where people were respecting us and I didn't get burned out because everyone's asking for discounts and so my hope for you is that as we go through this course, you're gonna start to understand why that's still happening to you and we can avoid it. So when I look back at my business, I want to explain to you why it was important for me to do community instead of having just transactional customers on my stories a little bit unique eye right now, I'm twenty seven years old, I started my business seven years ago when I was a junior in college, so for those of you who are starting in your mid twenties, it's going to look a little different, but it doesn't change the fact that this worked for me then, and it can work for you now. So the first reason why community was my only option was because I was a college student, I was a college student and I didn't have the ability or the time or the resources to run a business like a normal wedding photographer would a normal wedding photographer would take every single client and everything'll inquiry, and you'd meet with him it's, starbucks or you meet with him in your home studio? I was living out of a dorm room I literally was doing all of my editing on top of my sock door because I didn't have I didn't have a desk it didn't have room in my dorm room for a desk, so twenty seven and I'm back on top of socks that's what my business looked like and so I couldn't do the whole let's go meet up at a coffee shop one cause I didn't have time and two I couldn't have them in my home because I didn't have a home, and so the next reason why community was my only option because I knew experience in sales I'm not that girl, I'm not the girl that can just walk into a room and make everyone believes something or sell something to someone I know that some people are born with that gift, but it wasn't me and so I didn't want to have to go sit down and sell myself a coffee shop. The next reason didn't have time for sales. I mentioned that before I also didn't have a budget for advertising, so the transactional traditional business model is you pay to put an ad in a bridal magazine or you pay to put an ad online, maybe you become a vendor for a certain wedding block that you have no really concern, you know, no strong connection tio maybe that's your way of advertising, I didn't have that money I literally was buying a twenty six hundred dollars camera body and I need to pay it off. The next month, I couldn't give up three hundred dollars a month to pay for the not so we love the not we love them. But I knew that paying for advertising online was not going to bring me the type of clients that I absolutely loved. And so that's. Another reason why I had to find a way to build up my community and not go with just the traditional route. Last but not least, I was attracting a young audience, so I was attracting twenty to thirty, like that was the age group of my brides. They were online, and I think what happened in our business was I started marketing online. I started building at this community, right when these young, this generation of young bride needed to feel like a personal connection was happening between them and their wedding vendors. And so now you know what I was up against and how community saved me from being able to run a business. Despite all of my many road blocks, I want to talk about why it could be great for you, ok, so how we doing good, okay, had not so good, I like, head nudge.