Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

 

Lesson Info

Product Lines: Business Plan Part One

We of course are going to start with products because products are the key. But the neat thing about the business plan that we're about to write is that it's really just the roadmap. You guys have been formulating this picture of your business for the entire course and now we get to write it all down to make it a reality. So I mentioned earlier that a business plan, you can write a business plan to get a loan from a bank, and that's more like an encyclopedia, but the business plan you're about to write is three simple pages. It's gonna be easy to review on a regular basis and it's gonna guide you, it's gonna be your guiding document for your business to make sure that you make the living that you need to make in this profession. So, let's get started. We're gonna start with product lines. We're gonna do the workload. How are you gonna balance all of these sessions that you're going to market and get to your business this year? What kind of sessions are they gonna be? How are you gonna ...

spend your money this year? And what kind of clients are you going to attract to your business? So, this little piece of paper here is your business plan. If you haven't already downloaded it be sure to do that and get started on it, and here we go. Part one is about your product lines. It's the foundation of a business and we talked about grouping products into categories or departments in your business so that you can get information about that department in your business. We talked about having weddings as a product line. Portraits as a product line. Seniors, commercial, editorial, those are all the big group departments in your business. So they can be grouped according to three things, the cost to make those products, the photographic requirements like a location session versus a studio session, or by different marketing groups. You would never market same same way to a senior as you would to a family as you would to a bride. So as you're finalizing your product lines for your business, keep those things in mind. So the very first line on your business plan, write down the product lines that you're gonna offer to your clients this year. And remember keep it simple. You can always do one thing really well. Most people can juggle a couple of things. More than that it gets really complicated. And when our business really saw success is when we pushed aside all those things that weren't part of our brand, that weren't what we enjoyed, that weren't who we were, that's when things really began to take off for us. And so for us that was weddings. Specifically mountain weddings. So be specific when you write these down. What are you gonna do? What do you wanna do? This is where you get to say yeah, I'm gonna be a mountain wedding photographer. Write it down, commit to it. Okay so this part one is all about your product lines and what you're going to create. So, you've written down what your product lines are, now if you're brand new to this you probably won't know the second question, which product line provides the most income for your business? We talked yesterday in business basics about doing the math, figuring out how much income each product line generated and figuring out what percentage of the total dollars that was. So now we're gonna go back to that and if you haven't done the math to figure out which product line is most profitable, that's on your salsa list, your hot salsa to do next. If you're new to this, if you're just starting a business you're not gonna know the answer to that, and that's fine. What you need to do is just make a decision on which product line you're gonna focus on and charge at that. The dollars will follow. So skip it if you don't have that information for now. And when you do start building the information, enter that because it's really important. Be sure to write it down. The next question is as you look at these product lines that you wrote down, which one do you like the most. Do you love what it is that you're spending your time on? And just like Abby said earlier, you're a grown up you get to choose, you don't have parents telling you what to do, right? So be sure that you choose to do the work that you love. If you're finding you're spending time doing something other than that start to shift your efforts towards the things that really make your eyes sparkle. That's where you wanna be driving this business so where do you love spending your time? Write it down. It's like magic it happens when you write it down. Okay so now it's time to commit. Which product line are you going to focus on? What is your number one product line? What's it gonna be? What is it when you go out and photograph that makes you sing from your heart (laughing)? And commit to it. Now is there any information that you need to know about that product line? Are there subcategories? For example if it's weddings are you interested in doing destination weddings? Are you just doing local weddings? Do you need to know the dollar difference between the two? Are you gonna offer engagement sessions? Are you going to do pets? Are you going to dogs versus cats? I wonder which one would be more profitable? Hm, I never thought of it that way, but maybe there's a difference. Maybe cat owners invest more than dog owners, or vice versa. Who knows, it would be interesting to find out. So, what subcategories in this product line that you're gonna focus on, do you have questions about? Do you wanna find information out about. Write those down. And then the big question that we've been working on through a big majority of this class is which products are you going to offer? And there intentionally are just four lines in this space so that you don't go over the top and offer too many products. If you can't fit it in this space you're offering too many products. So remember, think about products that make you say wow, that's beautiful I love that. Products that they can't get anywhere else. Products that make it easy for them. Those are the filters that we're putting on as we write down the products that you're going to offer to your clients. And then we have to balance that if there are some products that your clients demand. What are those things that they come to you asking for that you have to provide for them? Those have both gotta be included in that product offerings. So keep working on that and fill it in as you have time. Now, this is a hard question I think. What about this product line is appealing to your client? What is it that makes it unique? What is it that makes it different from what they can get anywhere else? What is it that makes them say oh my gosh, thank you so much for creating this for me. It's kinda a hard question to answer, but it's a question that has to be answered so that when your client says well I could go to so-and-so down the street and they're way less expensive. If you can answer this question you'll be able to keep them and make them your client, okay? So what is it about this product line that is appealing to your consumers? All right. And what is unique to this product line? What's interesting about it? What's special about it? These are all things that you need to be able to articulate because your clients wanna know. As they're choosing you over somebody else, these are the questions that have to be answered.

"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.