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How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 27 of 87

Document the Client Experience

 

How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 27 of 87

Document the Client Experience

 

Lesson Info

Document the Client Experience

Once it's mind mapped, this is where we wanna eventually end. This is, like, at the end of the 12 weeks, because it's gonna change and adapt, and it's okay that, you know, we kept the same message for five, six years until we adapted it to a new message and then to finally where it is now. It's changed several times over the course of our business. At each point when it changes, I want you to document it. This is called a standard operating procedure. Okay? A standard operating procedure, or SOP. This is, in accounting terms, the bane of my existence. These were what we wrote for companies all day long. Accounting procedures, all this. Where could things go wrong, all that kinda stuff. But you know what? They're pretty darn effective for you in your business. I'm gonna show you what an example of one might look like from the context of a table of contents, because they're too long to go over. But your first SOP should do this. By the end of this course, document your sales and client e...

xperience and process. Why? Because once you have your message and your vision down, I don't care if it's you or if it's your partner or if it's your employees or anybody in your company, you'd better deliver that message to every single client. That's who you are and that is your product. And without documenting it and putting it down on paper, everybody that walks in your door is gonna get something just a little bit different, right? When you go to... I hate conveying this to this, but, like, this is literally my heart right here. In-N-Out Burgers. Oh yeah. Yeah. I know. I don't miss it 'cause it's, like, right down the street, and I know every single location around me. But In-N-Out Burgers is a burger joint who have prided themselves, their core values, their core vision. It's amazing. Go look at it. They have turned down franchising opportunities, public company opportunities, everything in this family-owned business, they have turned down millions upon millions of dollars. Do you know why? Because in their core values and their vision statement states that they are about deliver quality product with the best sourced food ingredients and everything, which they fear that they would not be able to do with a rapid expansion model. How is that to turn down what would probably be these days billions of dollars because of a core value that you hold? Now, the end result is go to any In-N-Out and you have to stand in a what kind of line to get your burger? It's a line. And it's a fast food burger. That's the crazy part about it is it's a $4 burger, but they're fantastic. And the beauty is it tastes exactly the same when you get it in California, in Vegas, in every place. In every place you know exactly what you're getting. Now, my question to you is if In-N-Out in California tasted better and it was very different from In-N-Out in Las Vegas, when you went to Las Vegas, would you go? Would you have a different brand perception? Don't we all know restaurants where one spot tastes better than the other exact same restaurant? Yeah, we do. And that's the question I have, is if one of your clients goes to another client and says, "I had this amazing experience with them," and the next client comes back and is like, "So I don't feel like you gave me that experience." They're gonna compare and you're gonna get a bad review. So I know we all think of these things. Documentation and, like, taking the artistry out of it. I'm doing exactly the opposite. I'm trying to make it so that every one of your clients gets the exact same artistry. It doesn't mean that you have to read a script. Every time it should come from the heart. Every time it should vary. But it should be documented. That's an SOP. This is our Life Belongs in Print exercise. Then it goes into building a relationship of trust. This is the general outline. We perform the W.A.V.E., which we're gonna talk about in the sales chapter. We continue building value. We don't feature dump. Talking to you about how I lit something and how I shot this and using this megapixel camera and a full frame camera and all this kinda stuff, that's feature dumping. If you don't expect that in a Louis Vuitton store, in a Bentley dealership, you shouldn't be doing it with a luxury. That's why we talked about what kind of product do we sell? Do we sell a Honda Accord where we talk about the features and what you're getting, or do you sell a luxury product where it's assumed that you're using the best stuff, it's assumed that your product is good. You extend the offer, you resolve concerns, and then you follow up. This is an outline of our sales SOP. This is how it looks as an actual SOP. This is the service consultant SOP. You can see the level of detail. It's a 37-page document that outlays everything. We have this for every department, for every function, for everything that we do. And if you wanna save your own sanity, start creating this at the beginning of your business. Because there's gonna be one day, if you said I would love to have a multi-shooter studio, there's gonna be one day where you eventually hire somebody, and then what? You wanna train them ground up? What about when they quit? What if it's just your partner or your spouse that wants to come into the company? You wanna train them on every single thing that you've already done? Or do you wanna have a standard process that you follow that everyone else can follow in your company? You know what? It's also a great excuse when it comes to clients, because if a client wants a certain thing, you don't have to say no to them. You simply say, inside of our values and our vision, this is how we like to do things. And it's literally documented. You're going according to it. So for any organizational documents, I'm gonna say to you guys put them into Google Drive. It's simple. It's free. It has fantastic spreadsheets, Google Docs, everything. And for organizational documents, you can share them throughout your entire company. Anybody can potentially use them. You can use them yourself from an iPad, from your computer, from anywhere you want without having to install software and, like, do Word and all those kinda things. So it's much, much easier just to go via... Is everybody familiar with Google Docs, I assume? Yeah, it's kind of pretty ubiquitous for that. So this is where you're gonna draft your client experience. And I say draft because don't expect perfection right now. This is the first stage of putting together an experience that you wanna create for your clients. And I hope when you heard me talking about these things you heard the conviction in what I was saying to you all, because that's what I believe. That's what I've seen personally from my own children, from my own happiness in seeing these photographs on a daily basis as opposed to leaving them on a hard drive. Do you have any questions? How often do you update your documents? Like SOPs? Yeah. SOPs, once they're to that state, they're updated by the process owner. So once they've been drafted to a point where they're good, the process owner, the person that's, like, basically managing that area, would them update it as needed. But, like, once a partner, we'll, partners will generally create the SOPs for our company, and then we hand it off to somebody to handle from that point. So for individual studios, you shouldn't need to change it that often. You know... So, like, every time my process changes as it... Yeah, like, if you... I would expect your client experience to not change more than every few years. Like, your draft is gonna change, because this is a draft, right? In your first year, it might change several times as you formulate what you want to convey and the message you wanna give and your brand message and your identity and your vision, it's gonna change a few times. Once you get to that place where you have your product dialed in, you lock it and you keep it there, and that's who you are, basically. And re-evaluate it in three or five years, but not, don't change your experience every six months.

Class Description

The content and opinions expressed in this course are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem

AFTER THIS CLASS YOU’LL BE ABLE TO:

  • Start a photography business
  • Develop the ideal business structure and business plan
  • Research competitors and the market in your area
  • Build a short-term and long-term strategy
  • Create a marketing plan and marketing materials on a budget
  • Confidently conduct an in-person or phone sales session
  • Manage small business tasks from accounting to strategy

ABOUT PYE'S CLASS:

Professional photographers aren't just people with a knack for photography and a good camera -- because launching a small business on nothing but passion is a sure-fire way to fail spectacularly. Layer business savvy, marketing know-how, professional grit and more onto your existing passion and learn how to start a photography business. Take your hobby, vision, and creativity and build a career -- whether you are looking to run a full-time business or just a side gig.

Led by a photographer that's also a certified public accountant, Pye Jirsa, the class teaches the ins and outs of launching a photography business from the ground up. Along with three full days of instruction, Pye shares a 12-week plan to get your business up and running, a business expense calculator and more inside the class workbook. Understand what gear and skills you need before you launch and how to build a portfolio by photographing family members or organizing a stylized shoot.

Stop feeling overwhelmed by the monumental task and tackle one task a day in a 12-week plan. Brainstorm names for your business and learn the different types of business licenses available. Secure a domain name and build a website that's easily searchable. Develop a marketing plan with little investment. Master in-person sales and book your first session.

Whether you want to venture out in portrait photography, commercial work or any other client-based type of photography, learn the "business" in photography business with Pye Jirsa.

WHO THIS CLASS IS FOR:

  • Photographers ready to launch a business
  • New professional photographers looking to grow a young business
  • Photographers interested in working in weddings, portraits, newborns, maternity, families, seniors, engagements or commercial photography

ABOUT YOUR INSTRUCTOR:

Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer with Lin & Jirsa photography -- but besides running a successful photography business, he also has a background in accounting, creating the perfect blend for teaching the ins and outs of running a photography business. Along with working as a photographer and educator, Pye is also one of the founders of SLR Lounge, an online resource for photographers.

Learn from a founder of a photography business that photographs more than 300 weddings a year. Pye's Los Angeles and Orange County wedding photography business has been named among the top 100 wedding photographers by Brandsmash.

Lessons

  1. Class Introduction

    Go from nothing to a booked client or grow a young photography business -- that's what students should expect from this course. Learn what's ahead in the course in this introductory lesson.

  2. Common Myths & Unknown Truths

    Bust the myths and set appropriate expectations for running a photography business. In this lesson, Pye shatters some myths, then lets photographers know what to expect before launching a business.

  3. The Road Ahead

    There are easier ways to make a living, Pye says, and the expectation that photography is easy money is setting yourself up for failure. Find out what the average studio spends on costs and start calculating rough numbers using an easy spreadsheet included in the class workbook.

  4. Find Your Passion

    The reality of working as a photographer, Pye says, is that 10 percent of your time will be spent taking pictures -- and 90 percent will be running the business. Pye redefines the passion that you need for business.

  5. The Lin & Jirsa Journey

    Go behind the scenes of Lin & Jirsa Photography and learn the story for how Pye's business launched.

  6. Part-time, Full-time, Employed, Partners?

    Walk through the different options for running a photography business. Learn the pros and cons of working as a photographer part-time or full time. Dive into options for working with a partner.

  7. Stop Wasting Time & Money

    Can your clients really tell the difference between an f/1.2 and an f/2.8 lens? Between a good camera and a high-end camera? No -- which means you shouldn't be wasting money on gear that you think that you need. Instead, re-focus on what clients easily notice.

  8. Your 12 Week Roadmap

    Getting a photography business off the ground can be done in as little as 12 weeks. In this lesson, Pye shares the roadmap for a 12-week launch, using the included class workbook to build your plan of attack.

  9. Great Plans Still Fail

    Strategies won't protect you from failing, but those failures can still take you somewhere. And you're not alone -- in this lesson, Pye shares some of his past failures.

  10. Strategy Vs. Planning

    Don't make the mistake of jumping right into business without first planning. Slow down, Pye suggests, and develop both a strategy and a plan.

  11. Mind Mapping

    Jump into step one for strategy and planning with mind mapping. Use this technique to brainstorm and build ideas using nothing but a sketchpad and a few minutes of time.

  12. Select a Focus

    Develop a focus to make the task of launching a business less monumental -- and launch a business that's better poised to compete. In this lesson, learn the importance of developing a focus then narrow down the focus of your business.

  13. Competitor Research

    What are your competitors doing? Professional photographers shouldn't burn up all their time comparing businesses, but researching competitors is an important part of the process. Learn who's really your competitor, develop a research strategy, and understand what to look for.

  14. S.W.O.T. Analysis

    Analyze your business environment by looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats -- or S.W.O.T. Adapt this common business practice to photography and learn how to apply the analysis to your own business launch.

  15. Strategy & Long Term Goals

    Where do you see yourself in three years? Build a long term strategy by looking at your ideal work-life balance and lifestyle.

  16. Values, Vision & Mission

    Developing your business values, vision, and mission creates a foundation that helps your strategy and goals fall into place. Whether you work alone or with a team, pinpoint your values, vision, and mission.

  17. Effectively Managing Your Time

    Business owners that work from home often fall into the trap of neglecting to set a schedule. Learn how to effectively manage your time as a business owner when you don't have a time clock to punch, from setting hours and goals to tools to help you track your time.

  18. Artistic Development

    Part of the 12-week business launch is education and developing your skills as an artist. Learn tricks to catching up and developing skills as an artist.

  19. Create Your Plan

    In this lesson, develop a plan to ensure the fundamentals of photography are in place before your first shoot. Craft a plan for improving your technique, no matter what genre you plan to shoot in.

  20. What's Your Product

    In this lesson, define what your product is as a photographer. As a photographer, your product is a combination of you, your photographs, your experience, your website, and more.

  21. Luxury vs Consumer Products & Experiences

    What's the difference between luxury and consumer, besides just price? In this lesson, Pye walks through the different qualities that tend to be associated with luxury brands compared to consumer goods -- and how that relates to photography.

  22. Quick Break for Econ 101

    Economics play a big role in business. Dig into a few economics basics and how those concepts apply to the photography business.

  23. Your Target Market & Brand Message

    Identifying your target market and brand message is essential to building your business. Dive into the topic with an example using Pye's own photography business.

  24. What's in a Name

    Choosing the name of the business is a tough decision. Weigh the pros and cons of using your name for your business or coming up with a unique business name.

  25. Your Client 'Why'

    Craft a simple statement that builds the experience, or the why that you want for your clients. Learn what that "why" is in this lesson.

  26. Crafting the Why Experience

    Clients choose photographers for the experience. Identifying that why experience, then building that experience is an essential part of growing your photography business. Learn how in this lesson.

  27. Document the Client Experience

    Writing down the client experience helps ensure every client gets the same careful attention to that client experience. Work to document your client experience in this lesson.

  28. Business Administration Basics

    Work through the basic business tasks you'll need to tackle, from gear to business management software. Tackle registering your business name (including checking for an available domain name) and opening a business bank account. Learn why an LLC is often best for protecting personal assets, and the different types, such as a sole proprietor.

  29. Book Keeping Management

    How often should you look at financial statements? How should you keep track of what you are making? Tackle the bookkeeping best practices for your business.

  30. Create the Logo & Branding

    Build a logo that represents your business. Learn the qualities of the ideal logo. Then, jump into additional branding materials.

  31. Portfolio Design

    Learn how to show off your work in a portfolio. In this lesson, Pye shares why less is more, how to choose the images in your portfolio, and more.

  32. Design Your Services & Packages

    Design a pricing structure that suits your business and your goals. Learn what to do -- and what not to do -- when building your photography packages. Stop upselling and create a package that you -- and your clients -- will love from the start.

  33. Pricing Fears & Myths

    Continue building that pricing structure by dispelling the fears and myths surrounding pricing your work. Stomp out pricing fears in this lesson.

  34. Three Pricing Methods

    There's no right way to price -- in this lesson, Pye shares three different methods for pricing your work. Adapt these pricing frameworks for your own business.

  35. Package Pricing Psychology & Design

    Setting a "price anchor" helps your mid-way price point feel less expensive. Learn similar pricing psychology tips in this lesson, along with all how to name and develop your package prices.

  36. Psychology of Numbers

    Presentation matters -- even the font of your price can play a role in how potential clients view your prices. Learn best practices for presenting your prices.

  37. Pricing Q&A

    Expand on your pricing know-how as students like you ask questions during the live class.

  38. Grass Roots Marketing

    How do you create a marketing plan when you have no marketing budget? Build a plan to market your business on a budget, including network marketing and social media. Then, adapt your marketing plan as your business grows.

  39. The Empty Party

    Continue developing your grassroots marketing strategy and learn how to get people talking about your business. Use SEO, social media and word of mouth networking to grow your business.

  40. Friends & Family Test Shoots

    Taking test shots with a purpose both helps you practice your skills and expand your marketing efforts. Learn about brand ambassadors and organizing test shoots.

  41. Join Groups

    Joining online groups helps build a team of support, a resource for critiques and more. Learn how to make the most of online groups in this lesson.

  42. Second Shooting Etiquette

    Working as a second shooter is a great way to get your feet wet. Create more opportunities from second shooting by treating the task with proper etiquette.

  43. The Listing & Classified Hustle

    Directory listings and online classifieds are a simple, inexpensive way to get your name out there when you are getting started. Master some best practices for using online classifieds and similar options.

  44. Make Instagram Simple

    Continue working on social media marketing with tactics for using Instagram for your photography business. In this lesson, Pye shares the basics of using Instagram to find potential new clients.

  45. Your Automated Pinterest Plan

    Most brides use Pinterest more than any other platform to engage with vendors -- and the platform is important to other genres like family photography and newborn portraits too. Tackle Pinterest and learn to make your clients work for you by adding a simple plug-in to your site.

  46. Facebook Because You Must

    Pye cautions against relying on Facebook -- or any single source -- to build your business. But, Facebook is still an important part of your social media marketing. Learn Facebook marketing best practices.

  47. Giveaway & Styled Shoots

    Once you've built a quality portfolio, giveaways and stylized shoots can help boost your business. Learn why giveaways and stylized shoots are so important and how to make the most of them.

  48. Content Marketing & SEO

    Longterm, content marketing and search engine optimization is an important part of sustaining your business. Learn what content marketing and SEO is and how it plays a role in photography companies.

  49. The Monster: SEO

    SEO feels like a daunting task for photographers -- but in reality, it's just something that's simple once you learn how to do it. Master the keyword by understanding what keywords are.

  50. Selecting Your Keywords

    Now that you understand what a keyword is, how do you use them? Which one do you choose? Learn how to choose the keywords that will work best for your business in this lesson.

  51. Testing Your Keywords

    Just how viable is that keyword idea? In this lesson, learn how to determine if a keyword is good or not --and gain new ideas -- using the free Google Keyword Planner tool as well as options like Moz and SEM Rush.

  52. Grouping Main & Niche Goals

    Armed with your keyword ideas, determine what options should be your main focus and what should be a niche. Determine the main search goal, then build smaller niche goals for creating a searchable website.

  53. Your Content Road Map

    Build a strategy from those keywords and start building website content to bring potential clients in through search. Learn where to plug in those search terms and how to organize your web content using keywords.

  54. Content Marketing Q&A

    Gain additional insight into building your website content through questions from students during the live session, from how long web content should be to blogging tips.

  55. Inspiration to Keep Working

    Website content isn't a one and done thing -- but you shouldn't feel overwhelmed. In this lesson, find the inspiration to keep building your business when the tasks seem monumental.

  56. How to Craft Your Content

    Once you have your focus and keywords, it's time to start building your website content. Learn how to write better website content, where to place those keywords, and best practices for building content that will get noticed by Google.

  57. Internal Linking Basics

    Links play a role in how Google sees your website -- so how should you structure your website? In this lesson, learn tricks to building the links on your page.

  58. Back Link Building Basics

    What about links that originate off your website? Backlink building helps boost your website in the search results by building authority. Learn the basics for building authority by getting links on other websites.

  59. Link Value Factos

    All backlinks are not created equal -- so what determines a good link value? Master the basics of determining how to use backlinks to build the most value.

  60. Measuring Link Value

    Dispel misconceptions on link building and see how search engines value links differently.

  61. Link Building Strategy & Plan

    Develop backlinks to your website by building a strategy. Learn tricks like writing guest blogs as well as how often to work on backlinking.

  62. Link Building Plan: Vendors & Guest Writing

    Vendor websites are great places to build links -- and it's as simple as sharing photos with the vendors used on your shoots.

  63. Link Building Plan: Features, Directories, Comments

    Expand link building opportunities with features inside publications, as well as directories and comments. Learn how to target a specific publication.

  64. Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool

    Avoid shortcuts like buying links and unnatural link exchanges. Then, learn how to use the tool Backlinkwatch.

  65. What is Sales? Show Me!

    Sales is a life skill, no matter what industry you are in. Gain insight into the sales process as Pye roleplays sales sessions with students.

  66. Your First Massive Failure

    As Pye says, you can't sell to people that aren't in your target market. In this lesson, Pye discusses failure and how to qualify and differentiate your work.

  67. The Sales Process

    Walk through the process of selling your work in a simple four-step process. Learn tactics for selling your work.

  68. Your Second Massive Failure

    Avoid pitfalls to the selling process by tackling the most common mistakes, like sharing the price too soon.

  69. Understand Buyer Psychology

    What's going through that potential client's mind when considering your work? Build your sales process by understanding the psychology of sales.

  70. Step 0: Building Rapport & Trust

    Sales start with a relationship. Establish that trust by starting a conversation with the client -- and not about photography.

  71. Step 1: Identify Need or Want

    By identifying the client's wishes early in the process, you can create the best pitch tailored to that individual. In this lesson, Pye shares the system he uses to get to know what a client is looking for.

  72. Cognitive Dissonance

    Cognitive dissonance in sales comes in when weighing the price against the quality of the product. Walkthrough how cognitive dissonance plays a role in the sales process.

  73. Steps 2 & 3: Value Proposition & The Solution

    Based on the conversation leading up to this moment in the sales process, it's time to present your package that best fits their needs. Learn how to create a value proposition and present a solution.

  74. Step 4 : Close, Make the Ask

    Most new photographers find the task of presenting the price and getting the actual booking daunting. Learn how to be bold and get that client in step four of the sales process.

  75. Step 5: Follow Up & Resolve Concerns

    Build your follow-up process to avoid losing those leads. Here, Pye shares his process for following up after a client conversation.

  76. Family Photography Hot Seat

    While sales is similar across genres, the process can vary slightly based on the type of photography. In the series of hot seat sessions, watch students improvise client meetings.

  77. Business Example Hot Seat

    Next on the hot seat, sit in on a business sales session. Build a list of dos and don'ts with a sales simulation focused on commercial photography.

  78. Boudoir Photography Hot Seat

    Sit in on a simulated sales session with a boudoir photographer. Learn ways to improve when meeting with a client and build your people skills.

  79. The Best Sales Person

    Fine-tune what you've learned about sales so far with tips to become a better salesperson and improve your charisma as you meet with clients.

  80. Your Mindset, Vibrations & Frequency

    Continue refining your sales skills by adjusting your mindset on sales.

  81. Always Positive, Always Affirming

    As you meet with clients, Pye suggests always staying positive and affirming. Learn how to integrate positivity through body language and more.

  82. The Second Money & Dual Process

    Booking a client a second time is easier than the first. In this lesson, Pye walks through how to book the first sale or the minimum package while allowing the client to upgrade later.

  83. Chumming the Price Waters

    What happens when a client pushes for the price first? Pye walks through "chumming the price waters" and getting potential clients to see your value first.

  84. Creating Want or Scarcity

    Looking at both right now and in the first five years of your business, Pye digs into techniques for creating a want for your work.

  85. Timeless Advice on Being Likable

    How do photographers get clients to like not just their work, but themselves as a person? In this lesson, Pye shares tips on building charisma and starting a relationship with clients.

  86. Selling Over The Phone

    Many sales start with a phone call. Learn how to start a relationship on the phone and other tricks for working with sales when you're not in an in-person meeting.

  87. Forbidden Words in Sales

    Word choice matters in sales. In the final lesson of the course, learn what words to avoid and what to use instead.

Reviews

Angela Sanchez
 

This class has been an eye opener for me; a point of change in my vision as photographer. Pye is and AMAZING, INSPIRING, GENEROUS instructor, with an, authentic desire to help people and to share with them the best of his knowledge. I will not have enough words to say thanks to Pye Jirsa, as a teacher and as a human being, and thanks to Creative Live who allows us to benefit from the experience of such a knowledgeable, educated, well-versed photographer and instructor. 1000% recommended!

Yenith LianTy
 

Been following this guy forever. Pye Jirsa may be well known in the wedding & portrait photography world and if there is something that this guy knows it is how to create a business, a sustainable one. The workbook he provided is comprehensive, and I honestly wish I had this when I first started out as a photographer! I love that he talks about his failures, keeping it real and honest for anyone starting out. He is definitely one of the best instructors around, super humble, down to earth and with a sense of humor to boot. The course is worth it! THE WORKBOOK is AMAZING! SUPER DETAILED!

Tai Hsin
 

I saw the live broadcast and it was amazing. Pye is one of the best instructors and inspirational photographers.. there are two type of ppl.. one who has the knowledge and doesn’t know to teach another who has the knowledge and knows how to get it through.... I still didn’t purchase this as I am saving for my daughters entrance fee for collage... :) Anyways he’s one of the best instructors and a good friend.... very humble and always cracks jokes.... Keep inspiring and keep teaching.... my blessings are always with you pye.