Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

 

Lesson Info

Know Your Sales Average

So here's how you calculate your sales average. It's a really simple formula, sales average equals all of the dollars for a particular product line. So all you have to do is look at your invoices for weddings, add those dollar amounts up, not including sales tax, and divide it by the total number of sessions. K? It's really simple. And then you know what your sessions are worth. Whatever sessions you've done this year, if you don't know what your sales average is, put that on your hot salsa list, you gotta know that. You gotta know what it's worth. You never take a job not knowing what you're gonna get paid. This is how you know what you get paid. Okay. So... Every week, I call it happy hour Friday, (laughs) every week you need to go in and you need to track each product line's sales average. Just make it before you can go do something fun on the weekend, or maybe Monday morning, whatever time is best for you, you need to go in and you need to run your numbers. For Peter, who doesn't g...

et to go kayaking, until he knows his numbers and that's his reward, right? For me, there are all kinds of things. I don't get to go kayaking either. So, you've got to keep a running total for each product line category by the month and by the year-to-date. So what that tells you, if you know your sales average by the month, if you change something in your pricing strategy, and you compare the next month, you can see if it worked or if it didn't. It gives you power to know what's working. So you track it by the month and you track it by the year. You want to know cumulatively over the year how this is working. And it will tell you how to proceed in your business. Do you need to try a different strategy? Or are things working? Are they going up or down? Trends are what tell us information in business. And then, you need to go back to what you thought you needed, your projections, and compare what's happening in real life to what you planned to happen. So as you're building your sales list, you have that target sales average, we know that, now you have to compare that to what you're actually collecting in real life. Hopefully they're the same or what's happening in real life is better than what you projected. Mkay? If they're the other way around, you better be careful because you're not going to be able to pay yourself what you thought. So here's what it looks like. So this is just one particular product line. You would have a sheet that would look similar to this. A lot of accounting softwares do this for you, QuickBooks, and things like that, will run all these numbers for you if you entered the data correctly. But you can do it on paper, it's really not that hard. So the way it works, you have your product line and you have your product line category. I like to break it down by product line category so I can get the numbers that we talked about earlier. You add up the total number of dollars that you collected for that product line category, and you look at the number of sessions, we've got happy math here again. So if you brought in $35,000 dollars for weddings, and you did 10 weddings, that means that you averaged $3500 per wedding. Mkay? Pretty easy, and that it's 35% of $100,000 dollars total. So if you had a bunch of product lines, you would add it all up to this total dollar amount at the bottom, and that's how you could calculate the percentage. Remember the percentages that I showed you on our business? We did 40% commercial partnerships. That's how I calculated that number. And what that tells me, the first time I ran these numbers, it was probably our second year in business, and somebody told me I needed to do this, and I was like, oh, okay, of course I gotta go do that. And I ran the numbers on our business, and we were spending about the same amount of time doing weddings, portraits, and seniors, we were pretty balanced in our workload. And the first time I ran our numbers, I realized that 80% of our income was coming from weddings. But we were only spending a fourth of our time working on weddings. That's huge! From that day forward, every bit of energy we put into marketing our business went to weddings. Less time spent, more dollars brought in and we loved them. If that had been the case and we hated doing weddings, we would have gone a different course. But that gave us a huge amount of power and where to divert our dollars and our energy to bring the best bang for our buck, or our time. Right? Best buck for our time? (laughs) So it's just a really simple sheet like this that can tell you so much information about where you are and where you wanna go. Can everybody do this? Yeah! This isn't hard math. I promise, even when the numbers aren't happy numbers. So at the end of this, when you fill out that sheet for your business that looks like that, which is included in your bonus materials by the way, you don't even have to make the sheet, you'll write down your own product line, your own product line category, and then you just fill in the dollar amounts, and then you can compare where the dollars are coming in for your business, and then you can make those decisions. Do you wanna go after weddings? Do you wanna go after portraits? Do you wanna go after commercial work? What do you wanna do? See if what makes your eyes sparkle in the work that you love matches where the dollars are coming from. And if not, why not? Can you see the power of this? You know, everybody always goes into numbers and business like, ugh, gotta go figure out my whatever. I mean, when you get these numbers and you're like, yes, I'm on track! Yes, I'm doing what I love! Yes, I'm making a great living! Wine Wednesday is awesome! (laughs) So... Figure out a system in your business, whatever it is that makes you happy, do this right before that. Make sure you're on track and make any changes that you need to, and just make it a part of your daily business life, at least your weekly, or monthly, business life. It's really critical.

"If you're struggling to figure out the business process of photography, this class is one of the clearest and most concise I've ever seen. If you're experienced but the business side and pricing are eluding you, you will find clarity here. I own at least twenty CreativeLive courses and hands down, this one explains pricing and strategy better than any others I've purchased or watched live." - Julie, CreativeLive Student 
 
Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - start ups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. This class will cover: 

  • Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living 
  • Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses 
  • How to write and create your business plan 
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business. 

 
 
 
 

Reviews

  • I started my business a year ago with little formal technical photography education. It's hard to admit but I've been winging it, figuring out each small task that goes with photographing a session, editing one, and working with clients as I go. I may be doing things backwards, but now that I feel like I'm more comfortable in those small, specific parts of business, I need to figure out how to make this business sustainable and profitable. Kathy's class felt perfect for this time in my business to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what I want to focus on and where I want to go (and how much I want to pay myself!). She uses realistic, specific numbers: something that's SO helpful and I feel like I rarely see in the photography community. And she breaks everything down in an organized and easy to understand way. The classes were easy to follow along with and Kathy's positivity and patient manner is inspiring and motivating. The fact that she used to be a school teacher is clear. Thank you so much Kathy (and the rest of the Holcombes)!
  • I am so glad I was able to attend this course in person and receive all the wonderful and practical information Kathy shared with us. I also really enjoyed the connections with other audience members and side conversations with Creative Live peeps as well as the Holcombe family. What an inspiration this family is--lots of practical info, but also a great pep talk to not sell yourself short and get out there and do what you love, but use sound business practice while doing it. Thanks so much for these incredible two days.
  • Fantastic course! Very helpful instruction and how-to guide for anyone considering starting up a photography business. Kathy was an excellent instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I gained a good understanding of the practical everyday aspects of running this kind of business, and how to create my own vision.