Establishing Goals: Advice for Intermediates
I told you we were loaded, man who's ah, a lot of stuff to go through today. Alright, so intermediate, right? You're finally getting your legs on the year that three to five year mark it's starting to figure things out. You're not dealing with the same challenges in your first two years. You think you know the direction you're going money's coming in, you should be somewhat profitable. Profitable does not mean you're making a million dollars a year. Probable just means I got more income than I do expenses, right? So your first two years that's gonna be a struggle? Remember what I told you my first two years? I was bankrupted my family, and so this is where we started getting our legs under us and figuring things out. You're still growing, but you've got to reinvest. This is the biggest challenge when you start hitting that three to five year mark because you're like, dude, I got it figured out let's just keep doing it, just keep doing what we're doing. No, that cannot be the mind set. ...
We've got to reinvest back into the business, and so that first three, four, five years we're reinvesting back into the business, ah lot all our money was going right back into it, it's time to raise prices gotta raise him and even if in your first two years you were a shooting burner because that was the only way you knew to get growing at this stage when you hit that two and a half three, four year mark you've got to get away from shooting and burning remember what I qualified shooting and burning eyes as your only option so the only option that you're offering your clients is basically hey for five hundred bucks you can come in, I'll shoot your wedding I'll shoot your event and give you a cd of ah of images that can't be the offering that you're making you've got to get away from that you've got to stop competing on price when you get to that three to five year mark competing on price has to end there's no more reason for you to go suzie down the streets charging two thousand dollars for wedding I'm in charge nine ninety eight that's got to stop because at the three to five year mark you should be establishing your name your brand your look your feel and now you start attracting the right kind of clients it's time to master you craft okay I know a lot of us how we all got started right? We took pictures of our kids we took pictures of ah ah family friend or a wedding or senior or something like that and somebody gave us this inkling in our brain that we were good photographers and therefore our business was launched right? That's how a lot of photographers out their moms with cameras, whatever you want to call him it doesn't matter I don't care how you got into this business I care where you go with it, okay? And so if you're a tte this stage of the game, that means you're getting pretty serious about becoming a professional photographer, right? So now it's time to start mastering your craft focus on things like composition posing, lighting you'd be surprised how many portfolio reviews I do off people who are three to five years in business and that their fundamentals not of business but a photography or so off okay, we've got to take a step back we can't consider ourselves professional photographers just because we have a camera what makes us professionals is chasing the pursuit none of us are ever going to be perfect as retirees world going to make mistakes, I still critique my work I still make stupid mistakes or I got a tree branch coming out of somebody's head right on my tournament. How did I miss that? Right? And if you don't know what I'm talking about out there, you should never have a tree coming out of the top of your client's head that's never a good thing right its fundamentals we've got to invest in the right equipment it's time to make that investment and start getting the right equipment if you're a real studio you can no longer be shooting with a canon rebel you got to get away from that man you got to get away from the seventies you got to start moving towards full frame sensors why this is important not only is it gonna perform better and little light if you're a wedding photographer we need low light I'm not in a church right those days of going into a church you got the big brackett up top and you're like, you know the bride's coming down and you take the big flash shot gone my clients don't want that it doesn't even match my look and feel I'm shooting in church no flash whatsoever well, I couldn't pull it off if I don't have the right equipment all right so you got to start making that investment in the right equipment got to get our website in order and I want everybody's really realizing look at all these slides for the just the intermediate this is a lot of work here this your three to five year window when you're at that at that point in your business this is when it it's make it or break it it is that pivot point for your business you either are going to be successful or you are going to fail and if you want to be successful and launched this is where it all matters this's when you're doubling down, you're putting everything back into the business so we got to get our website in order another challenge again when I'm doing portfolio reviews for you guys is photographers. One of the things I do is I go to your website I'm constantly disappointed with what I'm seeing on your website right? It just doesn't match your brand you just slopping pictures up there guys your website think about your website for a second and I know when we did the marketing one we talked a little bit about about your website but let's think about this for a second as photographers what is our business come from? Does it come from people walking by? Is that how people book us like? Hey, I was just walking by your studio can you can you do a family session right now? That's not how it happens, isn't it? So are we don't have a retail storm so so to speak right there not just walking by son an impulse purchase. So how do clients make decisions on photographers? They might walk, but I seen my name, my new building that my pal okay he's a photographer but where will they go? My website, right? And on my website that becomes my storefront would you leave your storefront if you if your business was cupcakes, for example let's go back to cupcakes hopefully somebody's out buying cupcakes right now because I need something on the break let's say your you got that cupcake business would you in your cupcake business leave dirty coffee cups on the table, the spoon, some napkins, some garbage all laying around have your cupcakes shelf in complete disarray would you do that it's almost laughable as I'm I'm even saying this because ofthe course not sal, we wouldn't do that then why did you do that on your web site? Why do you leave your shit out everywhere on your web site? Because it is it's everywhere, right it's just complete garbage on your website your images are a mess you're not showcasing the best of the best you haven't updated your portfolio and probably over a year why that doesn't make any sense with the cupcake place leave cupcakes out for you by the way, have you ever been to those restaurants where they have food on display but it's never really food it's like plastic food? Does anybody know what I'm referring to never want to do that they gotta master played somebody made plastic food, hand painted or whatever and then they have it up on a shelf for display and then there's like eight inches of dust on it have you ever seen a right? Would you ever order that plate? I would never order that played it looks disgusting. So on our website, we go there and yet, there's just eight inches of dust on our website because we haven't updated it a year. Your website has to continuously be tuned, and you've got to continuously add and delete images. Yes, it is okay to delete images. Every image you have made is not good. Okay, so tough love again, every image is not good that you're putting up there. I know he will love even I know the bride was the best bride in the world, but that doesn't mean it's a good picture. Okay, so we gotta pull some of that stuff down. You got to start getting more selective on the jobs you're taking. You can't start taking every job free jobs only when it makes sense. I'm willing to do some free work when it's new when it's different, right? I'm willing to discount for the right people, right? I've had families that we've shot two or three generations off family weddings. So I'm doing a family now where it's, the third brother getting married in this family, that means they have been with us since about two thousand seven, two thousand eight. Can you imagine the shock for the poor third brother who's coming in to book us now? Compared to where we were back in two thousand seven, our prices are nowhere near the same in oh seven, you could get a wedding for nine ninety nine in our studio that doesn't exist based package days. Forty, five hundred. So I'm going to have any yield, right? It's got nothing to do with income at that level. It's got something to do with loyalty with these people have become part of the family, so I'm willing to yield right everything's not har it's. Not a hard and fast rule. There you khun yield on some of this stuff. Start networking! We'll talk more later on that right. Networking vendors, dress shops things of that nature you've got to start to finding your style. You can not please everyone. It's, just not possible is, in fact it's. Impossible to please everyone. So stop trying goals. Established relationships. Start getting referrals going raise your prices. Start offering better products. This is what I'm talking about with shooting and burning. You could on lee charge so much for that cd of images. And obviously I'm not being literal with the cd it could be a cd it could be a thumb drive it could be a download from a website okay, you can only charge so much for that service, right? I can't walk in and be like, hey, I'm sal I'm gonna charge you twenty thousand dollars and I'm gonna give you this amazing cd or digital download and you don't have to pay me for anything else it won't work that way consumers don't see it that way they want tangible product so you've got to start offering a product that's gonna allow you to charge more for it um investing here, I want to see you try and double your business so there's no reason in that two, three, four year mark if you're committed and your professional and you're an entrepreneur, you got to start being aggressive. I'm giving you metrics, you've got to start chasing those metrics double your business. Your marketing plan is ki you can't double your business if nobody's heard of you. All right, you guys are what you said three if everyone in your community doesn't know you are, you're not on target everybody's got to know who you guys are, okay, that's the bottom line how do we do that brand awareness brand awareness brand awareness and we're gonna talk more about that reinvest back into the business it is not time to celebrate and I know you want to man three years it's good it's a good milestone and a year but we're not celebrating man it's going right back into the business we think of it it is a race okay or a marathon maybe right? This is just the beginning we've got exploring paid marketing and advertising newspapers tv spots direct mail referral programmes let's talk tv spots for second and our first to three years in business we were very, very fortunate. There was a tv show it's still there it's called great a st louis and a great day st louis is like good morning america except it's just for the st louis area so I'd imagine almost every market has a local morning tv show one former fashion they gave us an opportunity okay to be on the show and talk about photography and they positioned us as photography experts. Can you imagine what that did for our name within our local community? So here we are now they invite us on super nervous, super freaking out. In fact, this was in the beginning of our business when we didn't really know who is going to be the frontman to the company was going to be me was going to be taylor was going to be me and taylor and I'll never forget I did the first one and then he invited his back and then suddenly we were on four times a year, so in the fall we come on and we'd be like, hey it's family portrait month and we'd start talking they followed us on a family shoot, so now we have this live promo reel of us on a family shoot, shooting one of the head newscasters and his family and now they bring us back in and talk about what should climb to be looking at. Then they had us on in january again, and we were talking about top five things you should consider when looking for a wedding photographer. This made us experts in our local community back to that point. If you're husband and wife team one of those, I think total we were on maybe five times, I can't remember what it's been a while we had taylor on a man taylor choked once the cameras started rolling, right? So you've got to know your own business who makes sense to have is a front man who makes sense tohave behind scenes. Taylor get on there and I don't know about you guys I love making fun of her, especially when she's not here taylor has a nervous nervous tick, so I can always tell when taylor's nervous she doesn't want to things she does this so you'll see her start doing this she's nervous okay or she does this she starts playing with her arm she called it arm fat so she'll start playing with us if you see my wife doing this you're making her nervous so I don't know what you're doing to make her nervous but you're making her nervous so she was on air and I'm watching her because I'm sitting in the audience watching her and she's she's that she's doing this right? I'm like oh my god she's gonna she's gonna blow man she's gonna blow it don't do it pull it together uh but so these were opportunities we hade direct mail we do a lot of direct mail still to this day referral programs give people a reason to refer you don't assume anything to this day this year I know it's been a year of like referrals I think booking into a twenty fourteen ibook sisters of broads cousins of broads where the bride is coming to the sale session with their cousin with their sister into our studio and so don't ever take your past client base for granted they're not they can go anywhere and how many of us get upset when they're like? Well, they did they did someone so's wedding I can't believe you know I did their sister's wedding I can't believe they went to somebody else for the photography all right we get we start personalizing all the stuff they do not owe it to you to come to your studio just because you did a sibling a cousin a friend a bridesmaid and if you start thinking that way you will realize that it's up to you to hustle to get out there for them and hustle for that business gotta work for it we gotta earn okay network the people people know you know okay and then of course what about creating shooting events family portrait month headshots for local businesses and event in your studio thing about it almost every community has a small business association or the chamber of commerce something like that why not go to them and say hey we want to promote event to all the local businesses and we want to call it a headshot month and you know come up with something more creative than that but give it some thought and now you contrive all these local businesses into your studio for headshots and portrait right? You don't have to be crazy overly creative with it just do it when you do a nice professional headshot and everyone who comes in for that headshot hand then a custom designed card that says hey thanks so much for coming in for your headshot I just want to give you were giving everybody ah gift certificate for a free family session in october that's a brilliant idea so now you get all these businesses coming in. Maybe you do a fifty dollar head shot it's, really inexpensive. Get him in there, do some professional. Now your images are being used everywhere for their headshots, right? So that gives you standing in the community, and now each one of those who come in, you give a free family session for october. So now, if you're in this early stage, your business, your seating, eat your october month so that you're out there, you're shooting and you're you're building business, right? And I'm willing to give away a session fee because I know I'm gonna make money on prince. But if you're shooting burner, you can't do that because we give away that session fee, you're giving away the all the digital images as well.