Narrow Your Focus on Volume Photography
And the one thing that I left off because I want to bring more importance to it is the last thing we're really worried about was really we really thought we were going to die we thought we were going to basically just literally everything was going to be lost we thought we were going tio we really had a fear that we were not gonna be able to succeed in this and so that was a major problem we had sorry my battery power here had plugged it in starting to die on this I want to make sure we get charged and we really thought we were I mean, honestly it's probably what you guys are thinking my mouth overran my backside when I said yes to twenty one hundred kids basically plain and simple but I'm a real strong believer that when that door opens we run through it we don't let it close in our face because it might not ever open up again but I honestly thought probably bit off more than we could change I really did I didn't didn't have a clue so this is what we ended up with this is our set up f...
or our very first volume job main volume job we have six stations on on the stage if you check the umbrellas you can kind of see all six and that's our field light which will go over on it really it really was impressive, but the problem is we were so, so busy and worried about just going through the motions that we didn't even realize that it was impressive. We didn't realize we didn't take it back and just kind of looking go wow, that looks pretty awesome and we don't have a clue and it wasn't till like the third day of this set up, we're coming in in the morning when we finally are confident that we can do this, that our mind allowed us to see what we were doing, and it was really kind of a cool process. We'll talk about it a little bit, but if you notice our slide show right here, that was a big, big part of what we do for our marketing. We actually have a slide show going during photo day of our high and senior work, so all the kids from this is a high school, so the kids that are in ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade, twelve being there last year here in america just far, well, what students we do, a lot of high school graduation grads, photographs, and so we wanted to mark it, we have a captive audience what we're photographing them, and so we wanted to mark it to our high end work. And it really made a huge different that one little slideshow so those kids would come in and get photographs, sit down instead of causing problems or making fun of their friends, getting photographed, they would look over at the slide show so not only controlled them a little bit, but also made it fun and also, in a sense, brainwash them that they got to come to us when they're seniors, because we can't tell you how many clients come to us. How did you hear about track owes you took my seat, my freshman photo, I gotta come to you. Well, then, what was probably most powerful is that we used fresh and relevant senior scenes that we've done that year and the year before. So these were when these kids looked over, they recognize the face and say, hey, I know that person I've seen that person around, so it really it really captivated even mohr because it wasn't just seniors from a long time ago. Our seniors from whatever these air, their friends, people, they go to school with something like hey who's next then they captivated their attention to make them watch it more so don't ever underestimate every chance you get the opportunity in the volume business to market other aspects of your business. And we're going to talk about that as well that I wanted to bring it up since this photograph is here one ways that we do it and we do it in other ways too, which we're going to get into with the proof sheets and our flyers and everything else we're going to get to in kind of in this segment, this leads into it's a marketing was a big, huge part, so but before we got the school kind of backtracked just to kind of show you where we are today. Before we got the school, our main goal was to grow hot trick oh, seniors are senior end of tri coast. That was our main goal. That was when you look to the business plan, that was what we want to do at this point we don't want to be a volume photographer. Volume was an end to a solution was a solution for our problem. Our problem was we want to grow our scene market. This was a great way to get into it. It was paid our bills allowed us to do it so we don't develop the plan. The very first thing you want to do is define your territory what do you want to go after, what do you want to do? You said sport, she said school's fine what sports league what school do you want to go to the schools there? Public schools the private school is a day care I mean all these things you need to do and then you look at your area what do you want to go after much like when you're in the wedding of the portrait world photography world your wedding photographer if you're in the portrait's to shoot babies, you shoot high school senior what do yu funder of what your passion that's what you need to figure out right now before you do anything else to find your territory but don't do what we did like set within twenty, thirty minutes of us we have five high schools in our area and we went after all of them we could do it, we're going to do it we're gonna do it and we failed miserably miserably because it was too much we were too few and that was too much way just did way too thin a market we just didn't we didn't get aggressive enough again it's a talked about everywhere why were they allowed me to photograph their kids? They don't know anything about me okay? You're just another local photographer you're domine doesn't that coming every week that's all we were we weren't personal at all they didn't know anything about us and so we tried this for several years and just failed. I mean, we get a few jobs here and a few jobs there, but really, no one knew us and it's like every year, we were coming back to the same school to a new face, because it's, the low end of the totem pole, the very entry level job they're going to have us deal with, and I don't know anything about, so every year was like, I'm starting over because they don't know that we made nothing apartment interest to them, it didn't seem important to them, so then we backed up. We narrowed our focus again what we want to do. School yearbook, sports leagues, dance studios, daycares, what do you want to do? So when you're looking at defining your territory, think about that have a have a full territory that you want to go after, but within that territory, you pick after one or two things that you want to hit and go after first and hit hard and helps tremendously, because then you concentrate on one thing, and you do that job driving that job's going to spread to other jobs, and then job becomes easier, because now you have people, the community that support you, and so when you go into the next school, you can say I do this I do this sports league I do this school, I do this if you want to have a reference, please contact this person and they probably know each other and they'll be able to contact if not they understand each other they're going to communicate to call each other, so pick that one event that one thing and go after it really, really hard and studied every aspect of it every little detail it's like a war plan in the sense you're going to find its weak points and you're gonna go after time in with a quick absolute along the line you want y'all chime in anytime so tatiana asked a question about how she focuses well, she has got a broad focus so she does some like boudoir stuff she does portrait so should she have a separate a hole separate website for her school photography? In my personal opinion, I would say yes, I would I like to have a separate one because it's a whole separate entity it's much like booth wall two other things I mean, you have a lot of clients want to stay I love the work maybe don't want to know that you get that type of work, but they still wanted because it empowers women and all that stuff that's whatever volume too but for me it's a whole different entities holding from mindset and so if you go to try coast photo dot com you're going to actually see four sides you're going to see our our general portrait side you're going to see our high school seniors the seniors graduations let's face it you're seventeen, eighteen years old you're very egotistical it's all about me they don't want to see baby photos they don't want to see wedding photos I don't want to and I just want to see senior photos I just want to see stuff about them and then we have a workshop side but then we have a website and the volume side is just avoid when we have examples of our head shots and it's a whole different look it's a whole different styles that goal is completely different than a boot wall session or completely different than a wedding and so absolutely I think it helped separate you can have it under the same umbrella the same name even but I would definitely have a separation off that so when they go to it that kind of what they're getting, they know what they're going to expect have different contact information if you want whatever it just makes it feel little and so they don't have boudoir photos mixed in with photos of children it's exactly that's never good yep awesome thank you I think ross had a question as well we wanted to do school photography to build our seniors and how do you want to take on the world? And I'm wondering, how do you balance go, heidi, how do you balance? How much volume do you want your business to move towards without getting away from the weddings and the seniors? It seems like the more I mean, if you could take every school now, you no longer have time to do wedding. So how did you guys balance? How much of this do we want to give and give up on the other end? That's a great, great logical question. And it's gonna be different for everyone? Answer. Because it I think the one thing that we found especially cody, because cody is so maybe he's the perfect example. The movie up, squirrel. I mean, he's he's off doing another thing. And and so what? We found positive byproduct of oil when we got into it was very much what a lot of people creative lives we're talking about with us. Yesterday they got out of the office. They got out to, you know, r thio class was outside their normal rains and it's fun, it's different it's the same process, but it's different and that's. What long does for us? So just like weddings and that's, how we treat weddings now where we don't have to shoot those thirty weddings a year, forty one year to make them the money we can shoot five if we want to, we can pick and choose almost the ones we want, so those five are enjoyable way have a good time. You sure were sore afterwards. We're tired. We're still got the wedding hangover, but it's fun and therefore your image is going to be better. So to me, the best way to answer that once you start getting into volume, use it the way you want if you enjoy it for us, it breaks the monotony of just the everyday work holding a light stand, talking to a client, we love it don't get us wrong, but it's a job and there's sometimes on days of job, no matter how much you love, you don't wanna do it. And so the change of pace for us was a huge, huge advantage when we got the volume, so when we started, it was a small little bomb job here smaller volume job there. Now I want some really strong von jobs in september, I won't really strong volume jobs and in february beginning of march because both of those will help us go through this. Some of the winter months when it can be a little slow for us that's not it slows it up is up north, but like we're talking january when it's the coldest that we have, a lot of people don't want to go outside because all the trees lost their leaves and stuff, so it's slow for us so that september jobs carries through the december january, and then we start making money in the spring, and that carries us through the summer where slow because it's too hot and so the von jobs really helped balance out your business and then allows you to be the artist in other areas that you want. I loved in weddings, I just don't want to do that many anymore, and so that's, how we use it every business is going to be a little different because every business is gonna want some different needs, but you will get excited when you do that first ball job and you rocket and I mean, you just have this natural high because so much preparation and you do it and photo that goes off well and you and you do it and get through it and you're just excited and you're gonna want more, you're gonna want more, yeah, just just taking on what you can handle don't do ten volume jobs and all in january yeah, I mean it's his height he looked over at him so that I think he just basically said no to hide it good to have a good product makes like michael san I mean we're pretty diversified we don't I wouldn't want to weddings every day I wouldn't want to volume everyday but it's going to do a wedding this month and then next week do a high school and then in the days in between do some one on one portrait it keeps your I mean I don't like doing the same thing all the time, so I like to kind of jump around and keep things fresh and fun but then again, you just need to know what what your studio is capable of and don't because that although I'm saying and they're gonna be within volume jobs ones you don't like it much as others you might not not like dance studios and you love a school or you might not like schools but you love sports and so you're going to have to kind of switch feet wet dippy toes in the water and see all the types that you like and you don't like and then it comes to well, I don't really like it but I gotta make bills but I know how to do it so then you have to you know, there's sometimes if that's the case to we still do that so each one is different. Each one is unique again for schools. From a business standpoint, you usually make more money with the younger kids because they're puppies. When they're older, you'll make more money with extra curricular aspects, either sports of the band or or whatever else there in from extracurricular because that's what the parents been time on, that's what they pick up their kid and take him to all these extracurricular activities, and so they're going to rather have that over school portrait, or they'll buy a bigger package in that. So get into the sports and getting into the extracurricular stuff can be very, very good parent just flat out school photos, so we know this, so we look at ways that why don't you know when we do the underclassmen not tenth and eleventh grade, the cells of the lower but that's also, as we said earlier from marketing, which is we're getting into that's us initializing telling them they need to come to track us because our contract is only good just for the yearbook photos. It's not good for everything or some people out here in here and people watching that one contract is good for the entire district, so you have everything. And that is a matter we need to know these facts you need to go into but the work flows to say the logistics is the same just more of it so if you have multiple things you need to cover, you need to figure out what you're all gotta cover for the contract and make sure it's covered but the work flow is the same, so you need to go into that so you're thinking maybe one school, but if you get the whole district you're looking at the school photos and fall maybe spring opinion on it then you and if it's a high school you're looking at football, soccer, all the extracurricular sports one school could little toby for two years and a full time job all year long and so before you bite off more than you can chew, you need look at exactly what that school covers if it's just the school photos and fall or is the school photos all in spring or all the sports do I get everything and with everything does that come with like school board head shots? Does it come with like when the principal has awards together, you need to be there to take photographs up all this could be a little and the little riding and if you only have that one school that's also customer service that's stuff that the national change can't compete with but you also have to balance it. You don't give so much to do with freebies that you're out there all the time you're never back in the office to do work. So that's, why I say, don't bite off more than you can choose or actually, cody said, because it'll hinder you gonna hurtyou mawr it will help you by going too big, too fast, too soon. So this one job was all we could handle at that point. So again, so we identified all the possible counts using the websites internet, social media, all those things and there's so much information online that you could do research. So once you narrowed down your attack, the person you want to go after, then you social media and the websites to find their weak points in a sense you find out who did the who's doing their photograph, dr teachers that you know, there, if it's a school because it is a sports league, see if you know anybody that's on the on the on the board and those board member there all volunteers, they're going to change every year. So if the board doesn't like you this year, they might like you next year, the board lecture this year, they're probably like you next year, I mean, it's, just a cycle that continually goes and so you it's a constant battle I mean it's a constant work once you have a contract doesn't mean you're always gonna have a contract, you have to constantly keep it up and you will lose them. I promise you you will lose some contracts because as we said earlier, they don't know any better and someone comes in it's making the decision, especially in the sports leagues, where they're all volunteers, they're going to bring in the friends they're going in your you have to know sometimes you just gotta take it, take your lumps and move on to the next one in next year when you get on and we're gonna talk about that as well about howto handle that it's simple things but we seem to forget about especially in the digital age we never wanted seem to get away from our computer. We just want to write an email or send a text message is we want to separate ourselves as much as we possibly can from the personal aspect when in reality you should jump into the personal aspect you want to make it personal is possible with your business because it's very easy for someone to say no to an e mail but it's a lot harder for them when I go up and shake their hand, look him in the eye for them to say no to me and the more they get to know you even harder becomes to say no, but that takes time and that's what a lot of people don't want a lot of people want this just happen overnight and as I said, another teaching classes there's no magical pill it's hard work and you got to take time to build relationships. Every relationship you've ever been in took time if it was a good one and that's the way it's going to be with volume it's got to be a good solid volume relationship keep using ralph around here is an example, but when we were down there, he took me to a restaurant local lunch restaurant in new orleans and it's the only time I've ever seen a catholic priest come up and actually shake ralph's hand. Most people go over to the priests and say hello this man when he saw ralph come in, he actually got up to come over to shake his hand. And just because what raffle does for his school and the children in the school? And it showed me that's what a business should be about you find your community and your support community not because you have to with your business because you want to and it really opened up my eyes took away lama ego simplified me as a person toe what is really important your community, your family, your friends and that's how you start your bowling business? So we developed it. We went after it and one school we wanted to go after was our largest won and his prize would high school the one that I went to it's um it's our main school. It is our main school. We still shoot other schools and we love those schools. But this is our main one. We enjoy it. I enjoy talking to the principles I enjoy helping them solve their problems. I enjoy being part of their work flow both the good and bad and it's not because I do it for our business is because I do it for our community and that's just us that's, what makes us up? And so even if that's not you, you need to realize it needs to be part of you because that is businesses. Well, just don't be fake at it is that he was going to show up but I love being part of the solution to the problems. They have meetings about the school volunteer for him. I show up and I want to be there. I want to see these people. I want to help them with issues because lots of times knowing for my mother being a teacher, my sister being teacher they only see the teacher wei just like anything else if you do your job, you only see a photographer's way because that's what you're thinking you don't we so over analyze I work all the time instead of the parent looking at it going oh my god that's my baby! You know we forget about the simple things is a photographer we're looking at the lighting there's a shadow under their eyes look that no shadow the parent didn't see any of that they just see their baby and that's. So when we volunteer for these things, we really can help out our school, our board or whatever because we're coming in with a fresh set of eyes and a fresh set of mine, and again it builds those relationships. So we went after brasses, wood and again, you're going to hear me say this for the next two days we making it personal. That is the most important piece of advice I can give you in the ball and world is making your job personal and you could take that over and roll it into any other type of business you want, because again, we're in the business of photography, not the photography business, so we're all about making a business and you need to make your business personal at every step of the way every piece of marketing you want to have the school logo on it you want to have your name on it? You don't want to look like a generic piece of paper you want to make it personal because anyone gets two notes that's one it's handwritten and one that's written out on your word processor which one's gonna be more important before you even read it? The hand written one because it's personal and that's what you got to do with your business we have a few questions in the tack room about how much how often you keep contacting them if you haven't heard back so where do you keep the person the personal touch but not be too persistent where you push people away? That's a great question we're going to really get in detail in the third segment today when we really just go through every single step of developing a plan and and being turned away but generally I like to contact him two, three times a year and it could be either for sure one of them is going to be personal one I was going to go to the door but they might have a no soliciting so you need to make an appointment you don't break any laws and you need that's part of the research you need to understand that they have no soliciting go by there's a big sign you don't do it but most schools have at least a lobby area that's open to public. You can go in private schools, have that do your research, but I like to contact them three times and at least one being personal, so they know my face. They put that logo, that business package with the face and that's important, because, again, as I said earlier, we have the more withdrawal it is, the easier it is to do so, and senator email is a lot easier. Senate, a texas easier than a phone call, and there's a there's. Great ways to do that, and that is a very valid source of marketing. But when it comes to something like your children and protecting children, are karen to you? This subject is gonna be better if you dress up nice and you go down there.