Establishing Goals: Advice for Beginners
So where are you going no matter your skills years of business that requires knowing where you've been history cannot be ignored that's why it's so important to me that you constantly look back not look back and like it's a monkey on your on your back right look back and just know where you've been don't forget about where you've been don't forget about where you've come from it's very very important to understand the future of your business and that's important to us three ways to look at this newbie two years or less in business okay so if you're a newbie I consider you as we move forward to the day when I say new I'm talking to that person who's two years or lives intermediate two to five years and established advanced studio five or more years we saw from those stats one of the first that I showed you that making it past the five year mark you have you have gone past fifty five percent of your competitors in your business so that's a good mark to be out by the way all of you we sha...
ll wear you out in your business how many years I am well I was doing it full time with a full time job so technically two years so you're only in your third year yes okay you're still but I know you're doing a part time but that still counts where you at how many years um on the books like the irs isn't coming for yeah off the books to two three ok where you out you guys three years just over to just over two one one year seven seven years right so we've got a medley of people in the room and that's a good thing right? So each of you you know where you fall into this one but when I'm talking about it all right so let's keep going so that newbie you've got no money no budget no clue you don't know what you should be doing where you should be doing it it's all it's all new t it I've been there man when I was starting out I have no freaking idea what I was supposed to be doing and no one to tell me where to go right? I didn't in the beginning for me here's where I made my mistakes I didn't trust my entre venereal instinct instead I was looking to what other photographers were doing and by the way all of you out there that is probably one of the worst things you can do because we're all agreeing that photographers are not very good business people so unless you're going to align yourself with a photographer or look up to a photographer who is a good business person you're following somebody into you know blindly and it don't waste your time don't worry about what your competitors are doing we're looking to leapfrog our competitors we're looking to set right the stage set the tone so don't look to your competitors because you're going you're gonna leapfrog them when I was new I got into my town and there was one photographer this is no lie he waas everywhere I mean everywhere every venue I went to I saw his pictures on walls I'm like I want to beat that guy okay? I want to be that guy and beat him and beat him I want all my stuff on the wall and when end up happening wass fast forward three years later he's out of business went bankrupt. He actually did a news report on him because he was the eight hundred pound gorilla. And why do I say that I don't celebrate his failure right it's bad for all of photography instead though the competitive side of me okay, I see that and I think opportunity right? And I also think how do I stop that from happening to me? Think about the horror stories in your local market I don't want to be that studio on the on the news right on the six o'clock news bride after sixteen months still doesn't have our wedding images right? I don't want to be that studio on the six o'clock news and so I use that is kind of motivation but sweat equity man sweat equity is the one thing you all have if you were in this two year window because you're not busy because you don't know what the hell you're doing yet your business hasn't taken off yet. You've got sweat equity success is not guaranteed. This drives me nuts, man. This entitlement mentality in our industry in our world drives me frickin bonkers don't look at what I have and think oh, south so lucky he you know, he's got a great studio. What are you talking about? To this day? We work eighteen hours a day in my studio, so when anybody looks at me and they and they begrudge me for what we have and what? Because we have or think we make it look easy, I'm so glad we make it look easy, right? All of you here who were having your own success. It ain't easy. It's hard. We work eighteen hours a day nonstop to continue to be successful. You are not entitled to be successful. So all those photographers in your community, we just bitch, you know, the ones I'm talking about right there going the news groups, they go online and they just look for something you're doing wrong. They just want to complain about something you're doing look at the left hand the placement on that it looked so fake right? Well go scratch man right you know what I'm talking about right? So at the end of the day why are they complaining because they're failing they can't figure out they're way out of the back there in a paper bag they can't figure they're way out it has to be your fault it can't be their fault and that's the one thing you guys better not do don't blame anyone else if you're successful if your failure it's because of you right you have to accept the success right? I can't be like yeah my business is great it's on my uh it's all my doing and then when something goes wrong it wasn't me was it may it is damn well may when something goes wrong it's me and when something goes right it's me it's me and my team and so you have to start operating that way no more excuses we've got to be more aggressive this's the newbie we got to get our name out there and get more experience you're probably just getting started still working that full time job okay and you're starting to break into photography what's your launch point we talked a little bit about this if you're doing that if you were working that full time job and you want to punch out that's totally fine write it down. What is the launch point? When are you launching and going full time. What does that number look like? I'm not gonna tell you what the number is everybody's different we all have different bills, different family situations but that number has to be written down marketing budget is almost non existent. Doesn't exist right? We have no money. We have no income so there is no marketing budget so we got to get creative that's where that sweat equity comes in you're doing everything yourself, which is okay for now. Nothing wrong with that. But as you start scaling, what does that plan look like? Consider some pro bono work. Get creative, there's nothing. What is wrong with working for free that's? The other thing that drives me crazy, you know, many other industries operate that way. You have to take your lumps. You have to cut your teeth somewhere. So you want to be a wedding photographer? You're telling me you don't think you should work under anyone and you're just gonna be like, hey, I got a camera. My friends told me I'm a pretty good photographer I should go shoot a wedding that is the most irresponsible thing you could ever do okay, so instead work under someone work on someone's back work for free, you had somebody tell me they wanted to work under they want to work under me and this isn't when we're at this stage of our career our names out there this is probably going back three years ago someone told me they wanted to learn photography that they don't really do weddings or learn weddings I'm sorry they don't really do weddings they want to learn more about weddings how the day float I mean think about the complexity of a wedding if you're breaking into a wedding what scares you the most I know when I was starting out with freaks me out the most was like how do I tell people what to do? But I had no idea how to communicate or what the flow of the day look like so somebody told me they wanted to learn I'm like well, great I can use somebody on my bags like well how much does that pay what you want me to train you and pay you I don't know how that works exactly so if you want to learn and you're that newbie and you want to you want to get out there and learn the business get on someone's back learned the business shut your mouth and observe everything going on and it will be the you're lucky I don't charge you to work on my back right because I'm training you how to be my competition and so you have to understand that you're lucky to have a photographer a wedding for tarver take you to a wedding with them that's right that's my point it's like you you have to understand how lucky you are unfortunate don't be looking so what if I pay you one hundred bucks and you'll do it that doesn't make any sense right? You should be paying me money for the experience you'll get in all the corners you're getting t cut I mean I had I was very fortunate when I started out I had a buddy who was willing to help me he was at microsoft as well and he was kind of getting into photography uh he had weddings booked a couple of years ahead of me in business and he let me work as a second shooter form he let me work on the back form pay me right I was there I was their learning and observing so we just gotta understand understand all that stuff and by the way, while you were just going on about the hammering it home sweat, sweat equity and just, you know, making it that the hardwork choke teri says I want a hug salary I have one's feeling it out there thank you awesome yeah I mean guys just real talk man you know it's you've got to understand that I look at are the educational side of what's happened us right we've got we've got thrusted into the limelight this isn't where we wanted to be or how we saw things going and ultimately for us I feel like if I'm going to teach and help you guys and help you guys out there I've got to be honest with you I've got to be straight with you uh not give yu all this flop so you're going to find that tough love I love our industry I love what we do every day we get all of us out there for tarver's come on man, who has a better job than us? Every day we get up we get to be creative we work for ourselves we can pick and choose our clients for the most part and we don't have to work you know, for someone else who's trying to tell us what to do so I feel like we have the best job in the world and so uh we got to get our name out there so some goals be willing to work for free but here's some goals if you're that newbie just starting out get your name out there that's what it's all about right now no one knows who you are uh they have no idea they've never heard of you uh press releases their free charity and booster club work also, by the way even if you were that ten years studio these air ideas that will work for you right? We still do press releases to this day all the time charity and booster club work do we? Does everyone understand what I'm talking about when I say charity a booster club work right? You're talking about like the high schools they have ah charity event, a booster club event where they're trying to raise money for a cancer societies for dog kennels anything like that, they're always trying to raise money so what do you do? Donate a ah free photo session for them set up a nice little stand don't just put a little gift certificate that says free photo session that's not going to get anybody's attention that's not super creative get in eleven by sixteen printed, matted framed put on an easel on the table with something that says win a free photo session now that's something that you just put a product out in front of them that's going to get everybody excited and so in the beginning I want to say we did probably there was a point where we were doing almost twenty or twenty five of those a year the charity booster club work to get our name out there okay now was that a huge money maker for us no didn't make money force yes because we only gave a free session we don't really give a free session plus digital negatives plus all this other stuff, so we have a free session valued at whatever the number is and we on and then that brings them into your studio and then hopefully they're going to buy prints from you. That's again the ultimate goal press releases to this day we still do press releases when we launched our new building, we did a press release, okay, saboteurs and kind of a tired feet tio be in the new watcher building, okay, so the building we're in is very historical. I won't bore you with all the details, but it's exciting the history of the building with the town well, the local newspaper got wind of it they've since written three stories about the building that is good publicity. You know what that cost me to get full page articles in the in the newspaper? Zero all the town is abuzz with what's going on in that new building they drive by every day. I have random people it's kind of ah blessing and a curse at the same time I walk in someplace and pay right, so now I can't be a bad tipper, I got to be a good tipper um, I'll pay for something like, oh, do you own that new building? That is really good publicity for us, right? But now we've got all these people who know who we are, and we don't know who they are, and so we've got to be aware that that's a whole new set of challenges but that's a good thing. Press releases will have local businesses cut out of the paper. Say, congratulations on your new building and send that to us. Think of the buzz, all free model shoots to build your portfolio. We're back to sweat equity. You want to do a wedding? Do wedding for free? The first two weddings, I did work for five hundred bucks, hardly proper, but got my name out there got my portfolio built. You want two high school seniors for a graph? A few for free, you want to do families you want to do glamour? When we launched into I would say, we're an established studio when we launched our glamour line, right? We've all been inspired to start getting into glamour by super rise, right? I love what she's doing with glamour, we're trying to take what she does and apply to our market, right? I don't want to be supervised, I want two thousand kata, but I want to take her principles and do it in our local market what we photographed fifteen women, I think. In a three day window we ran a casting call on our website talking about what we wanted to do we did it for free, we gave them a free a free digital image in a free print something like that and then we photographed all these people for free that cost me nothing just my time. So how am I a six year, seven year mark? And I'm still doing this stuff for free because it doesn't matter where you are even though this is newbie stuff sweat equity still sweat equity and I put my sweat equity into it to build that part of the business do your first bridal show get out there, man you wanted to weddings, you've gotta do bridal shows anybody who tells you bridal shows don't work mostly because they don't know what the hell they're talking about a broader shows do work we do anywhere from five to seven bridal shows a year just depends on the year depends on our book my calendar is but if I want to book weddings guess where all the weddings are right don't let the word out but that's where they go that's where the brides go that's why we go to a bridal show do your first wedding, get out there work for free get on someone's bag stop making excuses mork growth you should be looking if you're that newbie okay when I was growing my business in the first two years we were doubling our business almost every year, so fifty percent growth is what you should be looking at so if you're fifty thousand dollar business right now you're just starting out or you're twenty five thousand dollar business what do you growth targets? Remember I said what's our goal our goal I'm giving you your goal you should be looking for fifty percent growth if you're not looking for fifty percent growth, I'm gonna question how serious you are about going after this right? We can't go after ten percent over your growth you'll never get where you're trying maybe it'll never happen you've got to get aggressive fifty percent growth you gotta price aggressively I was starting out I can't be like yeah, I'm charging ten thousand dollars a wedding that's not gonna happen that's ridiculous, right? It sze laws of supply and demand still exists in our business, right? So our work we'll look at my work, our work it was not where it needed to be at that point in time so price aggressively to get that work and then over time you'll be able to raise your price is right, but if you do twenty weddings because you've been priced appropriately your first year and some of that might be sweat equity in there right, you might be just undercutting some other photographers and trying to get your work in your portfolio if that's your ultimate goal to get your portfolio I say there's nothing wrong with pricing aggressively because that's going to get your portfolio your confidence your name all out there do not shoot and burn to get work you are going to shoot the wrong clients you're going to refer the wrong clients and it is this vicious cycle you cannot run a successful business back to the cupcake mix back to starbucks selling coffee beans a grinder and some water and saying go make your own coffee okay if I want to do that I don't need to come to you okay I can hire front family friend to do that if you want to grow a sustainable business may be sustainable is the right word it can't be done just shooting and burning you can only charge so much for digital images how will you get where you want to be that is what I wanted to see and hear and feel from you guys how are you getting to where you want to be all right so if you say to me my goal is to do twenty weddings next year all of you have kind of been picking on in here and out there my goal is five weddings next year ten weddings next year how are you getting there? We're just talking about it or you riding in on that board and marching to the beat every day because every day if you're not doing what it takes to get to that be you're failing your failing your yourself and I want to see you find your success and I'm giving you a ways to go after that charity booster club model shoots bridal shows these are the things you can do now when you're starting out I don't want to be I don't want you doing charity and booster club work now the only time you're gonna find me doing charity and booster club work is if it's really for a good cause that I believe in okay? Not that all causes aren't good, right? I could see the chat rooms I enough right now my cause isn't that good? No, your cause is great, but you understand what I'm saying? We've got to be a little more selective in what we're picking and choosing to do that work with questions on this just, uh we're gonna let you keep going, but just one quick clarification for cat tankersley and perhaps other people what do you mean by shooting burn? Can you define that to me? Shooting and burning is you are photographing an event, okay, mostly weddings are seniors or maybe portrait work and all you're delivering to that client is a cd of images that is a shooting burner to me. We deliver digital negatives and we're gonna have a whole conversation about digital negatives. We deliver digital negative store clients I don't want nobody believe we don't. We do, but that is not an option where you can come into our studio and just get digital negatives. That is not an option, and I'll go back to starbucks. You can go to starbucks and buy beans, correct, you can go to starbucks to make your own coffee, but they still offer a complete service, which is a cup of coffee and completely brewed the right way cup of coffee. And so if I want to go home and make it on my own because I want to be a barista for the day, I could go do it. But if I want to pay somebody to make me my cupcake or whatever the case may be, that is an option as well. So we it's photographers. His artist cannot be just shooting burners. There is not a sustainable business model.