Why Bellies & Babies?
First of all, this is the most important question of the day. How many of you guys were actually born? One, two this's, actually, just to see how many are awake, and I'm very concerned now, eh? So, of course, I ask this because going into any program, we already kind of talked about the fact that when a speaker gets up and starts talking about everything they have, you constrict in your seat pretty quickly, you could feel pretty small and and and, you know, overwhelmed, so I bring this up because I have two things I want you to know, number one, everybody was born, I did not, you know, I I didn't I wasn't born with a camera in my hand, I picked it up one day, and just like most of you, you found that day, and you fell in love with this, and one of my biggest concerns in the industry, especially in the industry that we're in right now, is how people actually how they feel about the industry. There's this big upheaval about the fact there's, too many photographers in too many shooters, a...
nd too many people are destroying industry, and that is not true, and this is coming from somebody who has been through an entire evolution, including digital and the female sort of switch over and all of that have been through it all. And the truth is, business is very live and very thriving. Yes, we're in a bad economy, but we're going to talk about that later. But the truth is, my concern is when I hear photographers say, say things and I hate these statements. Ah, weekend warrior, mom, mom, photographer or what are some of the slang words for mom's? Those are my favorites. Oh, and of course you would know it. No stag do what they call moms. Oh, there's, yeah. Mom's with cameras and there's. A couple different ones. I hear those things being flung around like they're dirty words and it drives me nuts because I want to take that person and say, okay, now tell me if you were born, what gives you the right to say that you're a professional photographer and not everybody else the right to become one? I believe it's all about dreams, I believe about it's, about following your passion. And the truth is for me there was a time that I fell in love with photography. And I decided to follow my dream. And why would anyone get to take that away from you? It's just not right. So the problem is not how many photographers there are. If you're out there and you want to be a photographer, do it because it is the greatest job in the world. And I don't care if people get mad at me for saying that because it's the truth, you just get one life. However, there is a huge problem out there, and it has more to do with two factors. How new photographers air pricing on how they're delivering their work. That is absolutely destroying this industry. The fact that there are photographers out there, you know I saw recently. Oh, what do they call those? Those ads? There's. Like weekly ads that they do group on. We saw group on that was a new photographer in our area. New and unknown. She was doing a custom session up to a fifty mile radius. She was going to do a three hour custom session, and you got ninety nine images on a disk for ninety nine dollars. It literally made me cry. I saw, and I thought, how could you do this? I wanted to call her not to be angry with her, but to help her to help her understand that she is literally putting the rest of us out of business, because we're going to talk about my pricing structure later, but our prices eight by tens are least expensive eight by ten is one hundred fifty dollars, and so you can imagine when somebody's giving one hundred images away for a dollar apiece, how can I turn to a client and justify what I'm doing? So my goal is always to elevate and educate the industry, because to be honest with you, if I teach all of you had a price, I'm actually doing myself the biggest favor because I'm protecting my own job, so I want to keep that in mind, wouldn't it be great if every single person in that audience out there, all of us had a standard eight by ten started at one hundred fifty dollars? If the entire world knew that that's, what you have to pay for an eight by ten, we'd all be in a really good space, so so that we will always be my goal. The second piece I love this quote, I have not failed, I've just found ten thousand ways that will not work, that is literally the blood in my body, I screw everything up, there's nothing I do literally that does not get done wrong the first time a lot of that has to do with my energy level, I'm like a do er I just well, you know I'm the jump and we'll build the parachute on the way down girl on guy have people with brooms behind me going are you kidding me? And so that kind of how I live my life and I'm not saying it's the right way to do it because I made it a lot of very costly, expensive mistakes, but I've also learned from those mistakes and my job here is to give you that information and perhaps circumvent you making the same mistakes so that is really my goal here, so understand mistakes are wonderful I actually pride myself in a lot of them because I feel like they're sort of the catalyst to bring me to where I am today, so don't be afraid to make a mistake certainly don't ever let somebody tell you you can't do this because you have all the rights that we all do um this is my own personal quote don't tell me I'm burning the candle at both ends tell me where to get more wax anybody living that dream this is my life I want to talk about balance too, and I'm kind of sorry I put all this in the beginning because I know viewers come and go and it's important that people understand who I am because when I talk about money and building businesses and stuff it's one sandy push but the truth is um I have to make sure people understand that I'm certainly not perfect the number one question I get asked by attendees is how do you manage everything you do? And they always say, how do you balance the word that the catchword buzzword is balance? How do you balance everything? Well, I'm here to tell you there is no balance in life and if there were balanced, we wouldn't have a point of being here honestly, I mean, if everything were perfect and it just it was easy, it wouldn't there wouldn't be a reason, so I'm not perfectly balance just I had to sacrifice a lot to do what I did I make choices, which you all have to dio I made some bad choices and I made some really amazing choices along the way, so there is no balance you don't have to worry about if you have three kids and I was students come up to me and say, I've got like three kids and I don't and I'm at home and I'm working on my house and my husband doesn't really support me and I usually want to turn to and say, you know, tell you have ten kids, I actually don't know no sympathy there until you get ten all right? But you know, I understand that there are phases in life when my children were babies that was the biggest priority as they've grown up, I've been able to expand and grow and do the things like teach here and do things like that so I understand there's some things you could never get back and you should always hold onto those things and then there are some things that you just have to let go. You can't do everything do the things that you love and do them well and get her wax honestly go find it because it's out there all right? My goal is to share a complete marketing program today I want to cover from a dizzy what it is that you need to do to build a baby program again. The baby program is the foundation of what I do, but this is really important that you understand I'm not here to give you more money. I could do that. It is an effect of what's going to happen here, but the truth is nobody goes to their graves saying, I wish I would've worked harder and that's the truth. So we all know that this is not about work. This is actually about time with the people that we love and understanding the value of that time because there is a price to be paid every time you leave the people that you love, and so keep that in mind that my goal is actually to give you more time and in order to do that you have to have more money and so I get both but never put money before time and you will get where you want to be you will get home with people that you love so understand this is never going to be about money for me it never has been you have to understand it seventeen years old this is the only job I ever had this is like a giant monopoly game for me I get lots of money and it goes right back out so just like you we all live the same life but it's never been a real job I don't I mean I mean, I certainly don't get me wrong I believe it's a profession but it's always been a passion and I'm very blessed to have done that. So unless you consider kentucky fried chicken a major career move this is it for me. So I have a couple questions for you guys. Um, what is your idea? I need some of you to kind of shout out here and I'm assuming you queued up for sound uh, what is one of your ideas of a perfect day? I want you to imagine from start to finish a perfect day somebody get brave, just raise your hand so we know all the kids going to school love, love school time holidays drive me insane they get to go to school and that's my time I can do shoot in the morning I could get my editing done in the afternoon and then they come home from school and then it's family time and in that that works well on somebody else perfect day was going to say for my wife and I it's like being at a restaurant you know the kids were somewhere safe way just love food and you know, just being in a restaurant I have a whole day for no that's just lunch will give me a little more of that day. What else would you do that so good? Just being with the kids and either being somewhere new are just spending time with kids in the family that's perfect and I know he raise your hand, but actually you gave me exactly what I wanted that was perfect because your version of the perfect day was actually kids away and working and doing what you love and you're passionate about it. Your version was kids with your kids and having a little private time with your wife there is nothing those air both perfect that is exactly what I was looking for it because if you were to ask me when I was nineteen years old, my idea didn't have kids but my idea of a perfect day was it had a camera involved, it was get out there, shoot like crazy. Go to new york city, just run around. You don't have all kinds of things I want to do. If you ask me now, my idea of a perfect day there is not a camera anywhere in that day, so I understand that everybody said in different everybody's, perfect day is totally different. Everybody has a different version of what it is they want to do with that time we talked about, um, like I said, my perfect day has some sand and a beach and a little non alcoholic, pretty drink on the side, and maybe my kids, they're maybe not spends on the day, but I mean, it really it's really interesting how it's evolved and it changes often and so that's. Something you have to understand is you have to know your perfect day before you, khun get tohave one and so you need to start recognizing that in writing that down now, this quote was actually sent to me, uh, many years ago by a friend. You know how your friend's send all kinds of garbage things back and forth, you know, you get some funny things, and I'm not appropriate things and some over the top things, and this one is one of those that when I saw this quote I happened, open it up and I read it and it literally took my breath away. I read it, and then I read it a second time, and it said what you did, what you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. And I must have been in one of those emotional points in my life because I kind of thought about my day and I realized it was kind of wasting it, and I was frustrated about something and, you know, I was kind of a little irritated, and so I took a big breath, and I started thinking about it. Now I'm one of those, like, really analytical, like, figure it out kind of people. So I actually at that time, whatever age I was, I decided to do the math. I thought, okay, I'm going to figure out how many days do I actually have left? And so I figured, I want to live to be about eighty years old, something like that ninety would be nice, but if took eighty is the number and a divided eighty by the, you know, three hundred sixty five days a year are times did buy that and to figure out exactly how many days I had left, well I ended up having about a little over thirteen thousand days left, assuming that I got to live to be eighty years old. Now some of us know that we may not make it that far. Some of us may live longer, but at that time I saw the number thirteen thousand dollars, thirteen thousand it's all about money just getting I saw the number thirteen thousand and I got really sad. Thirteen thousand did not seem like very many days to me, honestly, and if you equate that which is where I was going to dollars thirteen thousand dollars, how fast could you go through thirteen thousand dollars? And so I started thinking about that I started thinking about the value of each day and how how many days if you go back to that? What your idea of a perfect day slide and you think about your life? How many perfect days do you actually get in a year? Take just honestly, how many perfect days have you had in a year? Perfect days, three ten I mean that's kind of scary three to ten perfect days a year, and if you think about how many years were living and times it by three to ten, you're working really hard for those perfect days. And so we have to maximize and get to those perfect days. Now. One of the best stories that ever came out of this slide is I had a in studio workshop with about twenty students, and I told that story and it's a very emotional story and and I I tend to get a little teary eyed, and I had a student that, ah, year later came back for a second workshop, and, um, you do the part where you go around the room and you stand up and introduce yourself and she stood up. I'm not kidding, and I started to cry almost out of the gate, talking about the fact that last year I had given her this quote and she read it to the audience that was there, and she said, because of this quote, I have lost fifty pounds who said because of this quote, I got into counseling with my husband and we took care of our marriage because of this quote, I quit working and started a fulltime photography job, and all of us with tears in her eyes are so emotional and she said it's, because when I knew I only had thirteen hundred days left, I had to make changes, and I literally heard her say, thirteen hundred days, and I was like, do I tell her sandy we just wanted to share with you some of what the internet is saying about their perfect days oh very good cool so um let's see good was going to say beach photos of a perfect day all my family around me laughing nice and uh j torres my perfect day is a day without drama from home and work where we just chill out and enjoy company as well as our company as family and good rk says um idea of a perfect days to take great pictures and being proud of what I have done very cool and then I love this esteve f fifty nine perfect day would be get and goto work at creative life well anyway I just wanted to share something with you guys out there thank you. We love to hear that I love the interaction that way as well. So so the end of the story was when she said thirteen hundred days I mean I realized how many life changes she had made because in her but now we all know if she would have really done the math she would have figured it out and that it wasn't possible but finally with all of us crying in the room I finally turned to her and I explained to her that it was a little closer to thirteen thousand days but almost didn't want to take that away from her because she had made such a difference so at that point, we actually that group in that room we created a little group called the thirteen hundred club and we decided that we were gonna live every day as if we only had thirteen hundred left. I left because we realize that that was a whole lot more urgent than thirteen thousand, so I want you all to be kind of a part of that thirteen hundred club, and I want you to understand that what we have to do is really important, all right? Now, I don't mean to be rude and I'm not trying to offend anyone, but you can't leave footprints in the sand of time if you're sitting on your butt and who wants to leave but prints in the sand and I really I'm not trying to offend, but this quote also is one of those that I have to live by because everything I'm gonna teach you today takes work. There is no easy button there's no way I can give you the magical tool that's going to save your company everything I did took work and everything you're gonna do well, take work as well. So I understand that you know, there's some great joy that comes running through the sand, but if you're just sitting there it's not gonna happen for you, so understand there is work involved as well now we're going to get into the meat of the program. The why the bellies and babies? Why did I choose this program to present first? Well, the nice thing about the baby program is there are always new parents sided to participate doesn't matter where you live in the world, there is always a baby being born, it doesn't matter the economy or the demographics, there is always a baby being brought into this world, which in turn gives us a never ending supply of clients and, of course, our goal really it's not necessarily to get as many clients as we can. Our goal is to create those lasting relationships, and I'm going to talk a little bit about that and how that works, and by doing that, I'm going to tell you a little bit about my timeline and how the baby program actually started for me and and how I grew my business. As I told you, very young, I realized that babies were kind of the way to go. It wasn't even a business decision, it was an emotional day decision, but that's, what I love that's, what I did, um, I was in the industry just like yourself, trying to get all the information went to seminars, people talked about various different versions of baby program, so I decided to implement one into my studio, and I started a baby program. In fact, it was called the watch me grow program many, many, many years ago, I built that out of my home in colorado and continued to grow. It was the it was the staple of what I did and continue to grow eventually got into my studio space and I started to change things, and I started to evolve into a higher and studio. I went to a class that was more of a money management class, and we started doing averages things that we don't like, his photography for studio, talking about all the dollars and where they come from, and we did the math and we did all the spreadsheets and the p and l's and all of that, and we started looking at my numbers and where I made money, and it was very clear that I made the most money photographing family portrait ce I wasn't a very successful I was great. I loved wedding photography, I enjoyed wedding photographer, but but for the hours involved, it wasn't very profitable for me. I would have to charge ten times more than I was charging onda was taking away me away from my children and all the way down to the baby program. Eventually we hit the watch me grow program and we realized that out of everything that I was creating, the baby program had the lowest sales averages it was the you know, the small spenders so after talking to these people and and this is many years of having one, we decided that maybe it would be better to eliminate the baby probably just not have won so in order to do that I stopped promoting the baby program. Now there were already babies in the program and we continue to let them evolve through and grow and then we just sort of let it fade away, so unless you asked about it, it didn't happen and that was fine and in truth my business started to grow and my cells averages increased because I was doing the better children's and family sessions and so I didn't in fact to make more money but now let's fast forward it tio right after nine eleven because right after that time, many of you know, uh, we went into a recession point right after that, but a year after and I started to see my numbers decline now in this industry have actually been through three recessions the first one I was very young, and it turns out that when you're really poor and have nothing recessions don't bother you at all like you don't feel anything it's like can't afford to go to dinner and you still can't afford to go there, so it works out really great from there from that recession came this one, which was right after nine eleven, and that was very different for me because for me, I had a tip about eight or nine employees at that point and all the set and I had people that I was responsible for and I had to make money, and so things were getting really hard for me, and honestly, from the time I started my company, we have on ly up till this point had on ly seen success every year I was adding about one hundred thousand a year to my bottom line, and so I was kind of very whimsical about the whole thing. I didn't really feel that there was a huge problem until after the holidays, I came into my, uh, financial office and bookkeeper looked up me and this was about february or march, and she said, we have a problem and I'm a totally you know, glass is half full person and I said, no, we don't have a problem, we have a solution, and she looked at me and she said, okay, what's your solution, we have no money and I was like, we have a problem on so I was kind of in a panic mode and I first I didn't I honestly didn't believe her I said that's impossible we just came off of the holidays we always have that's where we have a big chunk of change. Yes, I know we have to use it for payroll in january february but that's where we get our money is that that holiday season? Well, she started to show me the numbers from the previous years and session counts were down and sales average we're down up to fifty percent so all this time that I thought I was just a better photographer and I had a better life I was actually shooting less and it was hurting more and so I started to panic. Now this is one of those horrible stories where I have a company I have employees and I don't know what to do the first thing I did because I had this was a payroll moment this is one of those you have a people that had the paycheck on friday it's wednesday where you getting that money and the first thing I did as I went out and I drained my savings account and I took everything I'd ever and I put it into my payroll sorry hang on wu therapy is going to kick in I know, but I had to drain my savings account for that andan two weeks went by and the next payroll came up and at that points I had to turn to my mother in law and asked for a very big loan to make that payroll. Now you can imagine that was like the deaths of sorrow you just it was a horrible experience to be in but that was it at that point I understand that's a four week process during that time we did what we call emergency marketing, which everybody's very familiar with this is the holy crap I'm out of money I'm going to give stuff away and pray that people come in which is, by the way, not recommended that's a great way to lose your shirt but we had to start doing that so we were seeing some income from these free sessions free offers free eight by tens all that stuff that we do, what we're starting out and it was making a little difference. But by the time I borrowed that money from my mother in law, I was severely depressed. I realized that not only did I have all these children and eight employees and overhead and all of this stuff, but I was running out of ideas and this experience was really one of those uh, intersections in your life that changes everything because I happen to be sitting in my desk with with a pile of bills this big literally my head on the desk like this and my receptionist came by and she said you're next sessions here and I said all right and I put my head up but I very begrudgingly got up and started walking towards the studio and this is one of those I walked in the door I open the door here is this beautiful little eight year old girls sitting there subsidy breathtaking she was it was a communion session so she's all in white and she's got the little white wreath and little white tights and just I'm asleep gorgeous haired all done up and I walked in and just walking in the room I felt my heart start to beat a little bit and uh just because she was so beautiful and we started the session and and I started working with her and we all know the perfect session right the one where everything is amazing and by the way they don't happen very often but not to me either but this was a classic perfect session the child was right the clothing was right the hair was right the light was right it was just magical and I started creating and I happen to have a session that canceled after her so I had a full two hours at that time actually worked on the forty five minutes I had a whole hour and a half toe work with this young lady and we did some of the most magical pictures I'd ever created on dh truly at the end of the session my heart was so full and I turned to the mom and I said to her and she has no idea why I did this but it turned to her and I said I want you to know that this was probably one of the most meaningful sessions that I have ever had in my life and I just wanted to thank you for that and she looked at me and she said something that changed everything because she looked at me and she said, well, you do realize sandy she said you do realize that you were the on ly person that is ever photographed my daughter and of course when she said that I looked at her daughter and I'm sure you've all done this before but I sort of did that little timeline of all of her birthday portrait that I'd ever photographed and in my mind it went all the way back to that original first session and her original session with with me was a baby plant session she was a three month old and one of those little white wicker baskets with the white blankets and that was actually the first time I'd ever met that child and so I sat there and I looked at this little girl and I realized that in that time frame I had created a customer for life and a big light went off. I realized that the day I ended the baby program was the day I cut off that connection that I had stopped that. And if you cry all cry, so don't do that way. Get the tissue analysis because I forgot to bring the brandon tissue. Sorry, but that's the day you killed me, why'd you do that? You need to move those off to the airfield, please. Thank you. That was the day that I realized that by cutting off that baby program, I had actually cut off that connection. And I walked out of that room with every intention of creating the world's best baby program. Now what I knew from my old program was, in fact, that the cells averages were way too low. So I spent about two years or so two and a half years. We are evolving and changing and building and making it get to the point where it works. And then we practiced with it, and we got it even to a higher standpoint. And eventually, I what I thought perfected it at the time, and that was actually two thousand eight and that's when we went out on did the bellies and babies tour because I realized so much of my life that literally saved my ship. It put me back in business. We had to work very hard for it. But all of the sudden I was watching babies coming in, and I was watching them grow up again. I was never going to break that connection again, ever, and I never have, and I truly believe it. But I also was not going to have a baby program that was going to have one hundred dollars, sells average because I knew that that would work, either. So that was really my my evolution from baby program to know baby program, back to a baby program as well.