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Portrait Startup

Lesson 5 of 35

Meet the Mentors: Nikki Closser

Sue Bryce

Portrait Startup

Sue Bryce

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Lesson Info

5. Meet the Mentors: Nikki Closser

Lesson Info

Meet the Mentors: Nikki Closser

My next mentor is Nikki Closser. So you've met Nikki before because Nikki approached me in my Seeking Creative Life class, which was inside the glamour studio. And she Jill's best friend, and I met Nikki in Paris with Jill. It's very surreal. We have a photograph of that meeting of when I met Jill and when I met Nikki for the very first time in this beautiful hotel in Paris, and you know, that started this avalanche that got a lot of you here to me. Nikki's been one of my dearest friends since, and I have enjoyed so much watching Nikki grow her business. Nikki was already shooting weddings. She had already been on reSTARt with Jasmine and had built quite significantly over that year with Jasmine and her wedding business. And she was loving it and working part time and really when she met me, I started to transition her out of "I hate my day job," into "I want to shoot portraits." And watching the evolution of Nikki has been significant for me because I got to watch every level of it. S...

o, Nikki does glamour weddings and business headshots, of course 'cause that's what we all do. She's based here in Seattle, Washington. Her super power is running a wedding and portrait. She's a supporter and a connector, really good connector of people and she loves to mentor on business growth. Now, Nikki's exceptional because I say this to people, one of her greatest things that I think I have the greatest thing for Nikki, is she's been a bridesmaid 12 times. Now as a photographer of women, I have to say when I heard that for the first time I thought of the movie 27 Dresses. And I thought to myself, you've been a bridesmaid 12 times. I've been a bridesmaid three times. Now, clearly when you look at Nikki and you meet her, she's hot. You don't ask someone to walk down the aisle beside you in a really hot dress that looks like that unless you really love them, because you know, you don't want them to look hotter than the bride. But it occurred to me in that moment when Nikki said that to me that actually she keeps her friends and that they love her. And I thought that's a great testament to anybody, I've been a bridesmaid 12 times. I really love that about her. Nikki, what did you struggle with the most? You're like that intro and then you're like, (audience laughs) what do you struggle with the most? Thank you. Design and marketing is so hard for me. It's something that it occurred to me when you were talking this morning, why haven't I outsourced it yet? I'm terrible at it, I loathe doing it, yet I'm still trying and I need to fix that. And then of course pricing. My heart still skips a beat when someone asks me how much I charge. Even though I'm better at it, I've practiced so much, I still get that like twinge of who do I think I am, asking for this much money? So you're going to do two things. You're gonna look the person sitting to your left, who is the designer. It's funny that you say that, cause I was already like wait a minute. Yeah, so the designer of the group is sitting to your left right now, and you're going to ask her for her support. Then you are going to discuss pricing. You're going to go through pricing after lunch, it's ownership for you. You need to get to the core of why you don't value what you sell. Now, your new average is right up there. You've increased significantly in the last year. I know it's because of your reveal wall. But your selling happens when you sell your product. So Nikki's a case study in the sales section for pricing, because Nikki sells in package not a la carte. So Nikki, her entry point is 1200. Now that's the opposite to how I started. And when she decided to go with the entry point at 1200, I had the entry point of free shoot, a la carte. So, after lunch we're gonna talk about that, and I feel like that is huge. Because you sell a la carte and package Timmy? Yeah, so we're gonna blow the lid off who's charging what and how much, because at the end of the day my entry point was free. Nikki's entry point is $1200. So she's doing something better than me in her first two years of business, 'cause I could not do that. But as you know seven, eight, nine was my biggest hurdle. Okay, so watching Nikki's growth is great. I really wanna go into pricing. I feel like a really big hurdle for Nikki that I can teach through, which is really important, was she presented at a women's group recently, and I'm always telling her network, network, network. Business groups, women's groups, functions, you know shows and we get a lot of questions in In Bed With Sue about how to market at the shows. Nikki went along, she took all of her beautiful images, she hung them on the wall, she had her marketing and design which she had ready to go and she blew her first day by not selling herself. Now, Nikki had to tell complete strangers that her entry point was $1200, and I asked her how she felt in her body when she said it. And she said, "I felt like I was asking them "for something and they weren't gonna pay it "and they were gonna think it was too much." And I said, "When did you stop connecting "to what it is you do? "When did you stop connecting just to meeting people "and being I love your handbag. "Where did you get that from?" It's pretty easy to engage a woman in conversation. It's actually pretty easy to engage men in conversation. If you're not selling anything, you can engage just about anybody in idle conversation. The trick is then to get to a point where what do you do? What are you doing here today? Why are you here and what are you enjoying? And I feel like the ability to do that is about connecting to a conversation. The next question they're going to ask you is, what are you doing here? Well actually I am Nikki Closser, and this is my stand and today I'm selling photo shoots. And I said and it's somewhere in her language was what stopped her from booking that first day. She reset herself, she went back the next day. She walked in the second day fully connected to what she does and booked after book, after book, after book. And now she's fully booked for June. And when I saw her do that, with an average sale of nearly $1800. And so when I saw her do that, I was like that came from inside her. That did not come from outside her. That did not come from her calling me and saying, "What do I say?" I don't need to tell Nikki how to talk. I need to reconnect Nikki to what she does. And it was so significant, the shift in bookings in one day. And then, guess what? As she kept working on the issue, she rung me on the Sunday night, she's like, "I did so good today. "I killed it, I shifted all this energy. "You were so right. "You realigned me to what I do, what I sell, where I connect." On the Wednesday she called me and was like, "I just booked another five." 'Cause the energy is still palpable and it's going out there on her social media, and her energy and she's still attracting work, whereas on the Saturday she was repelling it all day. Now, this is probably one of the hardest lessons to teach people is why are you repelling people from coming to you? And how do you teach people that they're repelling? 'Cause you're, it is human nature to be liked. To want to be liked. That is human nature and it is horrible when someone unlikes you or doesn't like you. And the truth is, is to connect is just a basic connection, but you're trying to sell something instead of telling people what you love. So Sue, now the questions are flooding in (audience laughing) for Nikki. But one question, something that we haven't really talked about and I know that personally you took a lot of time working out, is about how do you recruit or find makeup artists that work best with you and your brand? Okay, that to me is like saying, "How long is a piece of string?" I have like a magnet in my body that attracts makeup artists. I don't know how that works. I don't know why people have struggled to find them. They're a dime a dozen. They are everywhere. Nikki and I are lucky that we found makeup artists instantly that we liked and we attached ourselves to them. But you got a new makeup artist recently, for when Katie's not with you. Uh hm. How did you find her? Weddings. I did a wedding and I really liked her work and found her that way. Yeah, that's true, People would chat to me, So if you're a wedding photographer, Before I met you, You're in the house, right? I didn't know what to do. I didn't know who to find or how to do it. But then I started googling, and I would look at people's work and reach out to them. And it took some time to find people who I think I meshed well with, but yeah. Once you find people, like you said, and once you're posting work and good work, people want to work with you. You can see 'em flooding in. In Seattle, I went to the MAC store, the MAC cosmetic store. I spoke to a girl there while I was buying some products for myself. She said, "What do you do?" And I said, "I'm a glamour photographer." (audience laughs) Like this and I showed her my beautiful marketing and design. And she said, "I'm a makeup artist." Yeah you're all makeup artists. There are seven of you standing in this room, you're all makeup artists. I said, "Do you work freelance?" And she said, "Yes, I do." I said, "Do you have a card?" She said, "Yes, I do." I find them everywhere. I find makeup artists are like hanging on the trees in the local park. I don't actually know what the struggle is but Nikki nailed it then. As a wedding photographer, she's in basically a house with a makeup artist every single wedding. And that's of course how I met Simona. Simona is a wedding makeup artist. Simona runs a very lucrative business as a wedding makeup artist. So she's available during the week, 'cause her weddings are on the weekend. Right. So I would actually search for wedding makeup artists over MAC makeup artists, 'cause wedding makeup artists can do hair as well. Right. Yeah, so that's a great tip. Alright, I'm going to show you Nikki's studio. Unless you have another? So Nikki's new studio is Natural Light and it's a great space here on the second floor, aren't you Nikki? First floor. Oh you're on the first floor, wow. I did put, I had Dan put up privacy things on half of the windows. And these are Nikki's beautiful images. (soft clicking) What do you love the most about doing this Nikki? What makes your heart sing? I just wake up everyday so grateful and happy that this is my life, this is what I get to do I mean. I've had so many women cry or say to me, "I've always "hated having my photo taken and you made this "such a great experience. "I feel beautiful, my family loves them." I've booked more business when I have my headshot clients, they've booked more business because of their photos. I mean I was a social worker for 12 years. That's what I did is help people. And now I get to do it in a totally different way that doesn't depress me. And I get to create things. It's just so fun. What do you hate the most? Designing, marketing. (audience laughs) Okay, so interesting, you have a hurdle around selling, but you have a bigger herding around design and marketing. So I feel like if you outsource your design and marketing to Shauna and then you get something that's really in your mind something you love, I'm going to then watch you move your sales hurdle. 'Cause I don't believe, I agree. Your sales hurdle will move by getting better marketing. I believe there's a block both of them. So a lot of people tell me the linear timeline like, my marketing sucks so therefore I'm not selling it. Okay, nyah. There's a little lie in there. And the little lie is my marketing sucks therefore I'm not selling it, all I hear is I'm not selling it. So I need you to get that marketing done, 'cause then we blow that hurdle out of the water and then I need you to confront how you're selling it. Because if you then take what she's designed and sell the hell out of it, I'm gonna be like that wasn't even a hurdle at all. That was just a stepping stone. But if you get beautiful marketing material from her and you can't sell it, then we need to deal with how you're selling yourself and how you're selling your product. Okay, I think that's really important. And a lot of people understand that. A lot of people are at that level.

Class Description

When Sue Bryce taught her first CreativeLive class in 2012, she reinvented the category of glamour photography. That workshop inspired thousands of photographers to create a new kind of portrait photography business.

During this special event, you’ll hear from Sue again and meet nine photographers who changed the trajectory of their business and their lives thanks to inspiration they found in Sue’s CreativeLive classes.

In Portrait Startup, you’ll find out exactly what these photographers did to transform their fledgling photography operations into sophisticated, profitable businesses. You’ll learn about what it takes to build a profitable photography business and Sue will detail the Areas of Mastery required to run and sustain it. 

You’ll learn about:  

  • Cameras & Lighting
  • Studio or Location
  • Website & Portfolio
  • Marketing & Design
  • Social Media & Connection
  • Price & Product
  • Sales & Selling
  • Money Management
Sue will discuss the essential elements for building a successful glamour photography studio and you’ll get specific, tactical insights for doing it yourself.

Each of the guest photographers will share their own unique story of following Sue's business model and they’ll provide intimate details on what they've discovered and what worked (or didn't) for them. Sue will share the secrets behind her wildly effective Reveal Wall and share strategies that guarantee sales while keeping clients happy and eager to refer you to their friends.

If you want to build a photography business that celebrates the beauty inherent in all women, while running a business that provides for you and your family, join Sue Bryce and guests for Portrait Startup and learn how to build a business and life that you love.

Click here for the Complete Sue Bryce collection.


Sandra Sal

How glad I am that I have purchased this course! Sue is just wonderful woman, photographer, business person and life coach. This course is so informative, inspiring, educating and just AMAZING!! Simply a must have! Don't even think "should I get it" just buy it and you will be blown away! I loved every second of it and will keep re watching it many times more! Thank you to Sue, wonderful mentours and Creative Live!!

Laura Captain Photography

As a person that is new to portrait photography and to starting a portrait business, this class has been extremely valuable to me and well worth my time. It is also very helpful to hear from the mentors. I have a lot of respect for Sue, her work and her wisdom. She is genuine, has a passion for her work and has a wealth of information to share. I believe this class will actually allow a person to achieve their goals and build a business. I now feel more knowledgeable and more confident about pursuing a photography business. Thanks so much Sue and thanks to CreativeLive for providing wonderful online education.

Janice S.

i just finished watching this workshop. though i'd seen sue's name on the list of creative live workshops, this is the first one i've done. to me, she is effectively partnering life coaching with photography education. which is awesome. between being an ER nurse for almost 20 years, as well as arriving at my late 40s not unscathed, i can relate to much of what sue has said and would like to think that i'm in a better position to tackle the business of business ownership than i would have been 20 or 30 years ago. the other thing i noticed was hints of rhonda byrne. this may or may not actually be the case, but it seems like it. the power of positive thinking essentially. i loved the whole thing. though i'm not really close to implementing the business practices taught here, i wanted to watch the whole thing before moving on to her glamour photography workshop. i wanted to understand what i would be moving toward as i go through my technical education. i believe i will be adding 28 days to my class list too. thank you sue!