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Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Lesson 27 of 27

How to Stay Inspired and Realize Long Term Growth

Kevin Kubota

Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Kevin Kubota

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Lesson Info

27. How to Stay Inspired and Realize Long Term Growth

Lesson Info

How to Stay Inspired and Realize Long Term Growth

We have the final Q and A. So folks in the audience can, our live audience can also ask questions, but I'm gonna start, sort of going back to some earlier questions, kind of covering branding. I don't remember anything I said yesterday. (all laugh) Well, I'll help remind you. (Kevin laughs) One of our users asked if, is your branding message the same as your mission statement? Okay, that's interesting question. It's not, not necessarily the same. A mission statement is kind of a very formal, and some people call it a mission statement. Some people call it a purpose statement. Your branding statement is more about how you appear. Your mission statement is what you want to accomplish, you know, this is my mission, this is what I want to do with my business. Your branding statement is here's what I want people to perceive about me, here's how I want them to feel about me and my company. So a slight difference in what those two are about, what they want to convey. A mission stateme...

nt's very important. I have a personal mission statement for me, for my life. I have a mission statement for my business, meaning we want to empower photographers, and I've expanded that into a mission statement. That's sort of like my mantra, it's kinda slash mission statement. So the mantra being empower photographers and I've written that out and I can't recite it to you, I don't remember now, but it's a longer sort of mission statement, like how I'm gonna empower photographers, how is that going to be accomplished, right, versus the, what was the other one we were just talking about? The brand. (all laugh) See, I get all excited and I forget what I'm talking about. (Kevin laughs) The branding statement's a little different. It's like how you present yourself. We talk about in your logo, in your design, and the way you conduct yourself, and all that creates this picture of you as a company. And also it is what you stand for. You know, I stand for quality, for connection with people, for a sensitive person that understand your needs. That all comes from my, in my brand, but it's not necessarily my mission. Cool, fantastic. And then Annie wanted to know, as we evolve and ramp up our business and our experience, how aggressive should we start marketing with promotions? Well, I think you should, I mean. Kind of an interesting question. How aggressive? Level three, I guess I would say. (all laugh) How aggressive do you want to get? I think promotions are important, Annie, at any level of your business if you're starting it out, and they can continue to be important throughout the course of your career. You never really stop doing promotions unless you get to the point where you feel like you are actually working as much as you can, you're making as much money as you need to, and you're turning work away. So at that point you either stop doing these promotion, 'cause you don't need to drag people in anymore, or you hire more photographers and keep going, keep going, keep doing the promotions, getting more, and bringing more photographers on. So you're gonna kinda need to decide what your goal is, and that's something to think about now. Something I didn't think about earlier. When I grew what was I going to do if I outgrew my pants, you know? And I couldn't shoot 40 weddings a year by myself anymore. What I need to do? So i had to hire a second photographer to take over and shoot for me. And later on I realized well I didn't want to worry about what somebody else's (mumbles). My brand was so tied to me that I didn't want to do that, so I ended up going back to just me shooting, and making sure my prices supported that, so I made what I needed to make shooting my own 40, tops was the most weddings I would shoot a year. So, promotions, yes they're great. When you're growing I would say go for it, do all you can, and keep doing those promotions as long as they're working for you until you get to the point where you don't need that much more work. Cool. One of our students says, "I do weddings and I want to branch out into also doing portraiture. Should I create separate websites and even separate business names?" That ones an interesting one, 'cause it could be a yes or no. I have always maintained one site for weddings and portraiture, because I feel they tie in nicely together. You know, your wedding clients will turn into your portrait clients and sometimes vice versa, your portrait clients, so you don't want them to not know about the other part of your business. Now, I also do know of photographers who have separated, because they really wanted to, they had a really strong idea of how they wanted to market each one very differently. They wanted a different brand message for each one. They wanted different promotions for each one, so they created completely separate brands, but I think that's more the exception than the norm. Especially with portraits and weddings. Like I said, unless you're gonna do some odd, special portraiture very different. Even boudoir, people wonder should I separate my boudoir? There are a lot of good situations to separate the boudoir from anything else, but boudoir and weddings, sometimes go together too, you know. 'Cause brides will be boudoir clients, so you may not necessarily separate that. So kind of it depends on who you're targeting for each, and if they overlap a lot then I would keep them under the same roof. You can still have the same brand message for portrait clients and wedding clients. It's not like you're gonna confuse anybody. It still works, I think. Great, and can you talk a little bit about best practices for narrowing down your specialty? Best practices for narrowing down your-- What's the best way to narrow it down? I think the best way to do it is to really be honest with what you, personally, love to shoot and you can imagine yourself, if I had to do this for the rest of my career, what would it be? If I had to photograph children for the rest of my career, I love shooting children, would this be what I want to focus on? If you can say, at this point in my life, maybe yes, then that could be it. You don't want to be doing something as a specialty just because you think it's profitable or is profitable, maybe that's your most profitable arm. You think, well, weddings are my most profitable, and everybody says that they're profitable, so I'm gonna focus on weddings. And in your heart you're like, I hate weddings. I'm not a good wedding photographer. I don't like the pressure. You know, I'm never gonna get used to this, then don't specialize in that, 'cause you're gonna burn out and you're gonna end up starting all over again. So I think to really to answer the question is you have to be honest with yourself about what is, you're most passionate about photographing for your specialty and then just go with it. A lot of times these career niche things, like you say, I love photographing only kids with red hair (laughs), that's my specialty, or senior girls, senior boys. I know people who've made really good money doing just senior girls, just senior guys as their specialty. See you can narrow it down if you want to. Some do special-needs children. I know photographers who focus just on special-needs children, that's their specialty and it's really awesome and you get known in your community. You'll be getting known so much faster when you have a specialty like that. Like everybody's gonna know you're the special-needs photographer and they're gonna come to you. So, I think that's the way to go. Great, sounds good. Some folks wanting to know when you're just starting out what's the best way to start your pricing scheme? Pricing scheme, in a nutshell, really has to come from the facts and figures. You gotta lay out what your costs and expenses are in the spreadsheet. And I think potentially the answer is it's really no different for a person starting out than the person that's, you know, in the middle of their process as well. Correct? Right. You always gotta start with the numbers and it makes sense. The only difference is if you've been it awhile is you might start to pad that cost of goods, mostly so that you're more profitable, because you feel like you can charge more for your talent and your time now you've been in it awhile, so that 30% number we talked about is a good one to target for starting, and it's a good one to keep, if you want to, for your whole career, but you'll get to a point maybe when you feel like you're steppin' it up and you need to be a little more profitable. And you can lower that cost of goods number and raise your profit and that's all good. Maggie would like to know what's the biggest mistake that photographers make with pricing? With pricing? Yeah. The biggest mistake is not doing the numbers and not being confident in presenting those numbers to your customer, because that kills it faster than anything. When they can see in your eyes, they can feel in your body language, that you're not really sure about this price. It doesn't take very much in your body language, and whether you change the subject too quickly, whether you look away from them when your presenting the numbers. There's little subtle cues that says to somebody, they're not really sure what they're telling me is true. Or they're not 100% behind what they're telling me, and they can sense that, and then all of the sudden you sorta killed your chances of selling that top package or whatever it is, or those prices. So there is that understanding, I think, that's what I'm gonna mention, the body language thing that I talked about earlier is really important, even if you have to force yourself to be confident, to stand in your power pose. My top package is $30,000! (audience laughs) Right? Speaking of power poses, actually, this is funny, but I went to a class that talked about this, standing this pose in the mirror like Superman, and talking, you know, stand like this and say, I'm gonna go out and I'm gonna sell to this next customer. Before they come in, you do that in the bathroom, and stand in your super pose, actually has a proven effect to increase your odds of success and make you more successful, 'cause you kind of kick that confidence into top gear. It doesn't mean you're gonna go to your customer like that. (all laugh) My top package is $30,000! So you do that, behind the doors, okay. You practice (mumbles quickly) I'm worth it! I'm worth it! And then when you go back out to your customer you're more normal, of course, but your gonna (laughs) radiate a lot more confidence. And it's true, and I do that too. You didn't see me behind that door over there in the dressing room. (hums like a triumphant horn) I'm gonna not fumble my words today. Did I answer the question? Perfect. (all laugh) I don't even remember what the question was. An interesting question. When you do like a wedding package, and you've got your, you code down the photographs before they go into an album, before the clients purchase, do the get sort of a gallery to help you narrow them down, and if so, how does that process work? Well, I think understand what you're saying. Yes, I do an initial edit down to my, so for weddings typically my goal is to edit, no matter how many I shot, down to a maximum of 500 images to show them. I would like to show them 350, 400 images maximum. A lot of people go crazy and they think that more is better, show them all 1200 images. You're gonna kill your sales. You're gonna overwhelm them and the whole idea behind this, now this is something we talked in more depth in my lightroom and editing classes, is there's this concept of the Mona Lisa, and I'll share it with you guys because I think it's really really powerful. Imagine you go to Paris. You like Paris, right? (audience member speaks off microphone) And (mumbles) to the Louvre? Did I say that properly, the Louvre? (woman speaks French) You go there, right? (audience laughs) You're gonna go see the Mona Lisa. You've read about this amazing painting your whole life, and you're like, the Mona Lisa, the Mona Lisa. So you go up and you work through the crowd, and I've been there, and I've seen this thing, you know, it's like that big. (all laugh) And you get up there, and you go through the crowds, the Mona Lisa, and you're like, and there's five different variations of Mona Lisa on the wall, each slightly different. All the sudden, what happened to the value of the Mona Lisa in your mind? (droopy whistle) It went way down. It's no longer one of a kind. It's no longer unique. It's not longer priceless. There's five Mona Lisas that he painted. They're all pretty much the same. That one has a little extra blue. That one has a little extra green in it, and you didn't realize that this is just one of ten different versions that he produced, and now your like, ah okay, the Mona Lisa's not so special. Let me go see the Rodin down here, right. (audience laughs) Same concept when you're showing images when you're editing. If you show the client five variations of a very similar pose. There's like this, this, this, this, this, you know, pretty much the same thing, same lighting, same situation. You know which one's the best, so you pick your Mona Lisa. Show them that. Throw away the other ones. If they ask you, "Did you take more of this?" You go, no. Or you can say, "Yes, I did. They were no good. I threw them away." Your eyes were closed, whatever you want to do. I edit my images and show you the best, and that's such a powerful thing, you know, especially when weddings, you don't want to show a 1000, 1200 images where 500 are amazing, the other 500 are pretty darn good, and the last 200 are like those, not really need to be in here at all. And all of a sudden, your overall impression is lower versus if you just give 'em the impact of those, boom, those amazing 500, 400, 350 images maybe. They still tell a story, but the impact is gonna be so much stronger. And I found when I did that, when I first started shooting weddings I would give 'em as much as I thought, any image that was half-way decent, I put it in there, you know, maybe 12, 15 hundred images and I'd show them and they'd be like, "Oh, my god, there's so many. How am I ever gonna pick?" Have you heard that before? How am I ever gonna choose? I'd be like, yeah, how are you gonna choose? And they never did choose. So I started to narrow it down, narrow it down, and the closer I got to 500, the more they would buy. Kind of crazy phenomenon, but it was true. The less I showed, up to a point. You don't want to show too little, where it doesn't tell a story completely, but when I had that magic number, about 350 to 500, from a wedding they would actually buy more, they'd buy quicker and they were really happy with the presentation. (mumbles) Perfect. All right, we're exhausted of queues down here. Anybody here have anything else? We're gonna tap into a couple more things. Yeah? I had a question in regards to the branding statement as opposed to mission statement. How important on our about page, on my about page, is it to go into my personal story or is it more important to put my branding statement in there and my mission statement? The branding statement, not really something you're gonna publish, per se. It's more something that guides your decisions, as far as building your brand and what you do and how you design things. So that's more personally for you. Your mission statement can be something that you post, but I'd rather see the mission statement wrapped into your story, a personal story, because people don't want to see, (mumbles) our mission statement. You know, it's kind of like this cliche thing, but you can still wrap that mission statement into your personal story, your own sort of narrative about you, why you love this, why you love what you're doing in a kind of more wordsmithed kinda way. I think that would be a better way to do it. Second best, just put your mission statement up there. As long as it's short and sweet, your mantra will always be there, which is slightly different, but if you want to put the full mission statement, cool. But I think as much as you can personalize things, not do the standard, here's my mission statement, but wrap it into a nice little narrative, a story, something real personal, the better it's gonna be received. That was a good question. Thank you. So, I thank you. Thank you for spending your time, taking your valuable time to be here with me, to share your loving energy. I appreciate it. You guys are awesome and (mumbles), other than thanking CreativeLive for bringing me here! Thank you, Jim. Thank you everybody on the staff. Camera guys, you guys did rock'n rollin, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Class Description

It’s important to plant the seeds to grow your photography business the right way. Whether you are transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional, or have already launched your new business and don’t know what to do next, Kevin Kubota will show you the key and essential steps to getting your business growing in the right direction. You’ll learn who you are as a photographer and how to position, brand, and market yourself to the perfect clientele. 

Kevin will show you:
  • How best to brand yourself to attract clientele that hire you for you 
  • Pricing and packaging strategies to maximize your sales 
  • How to perfect your sales techniques without being pushy 
It’s time to start or build up a photography business that will allow you to be creative and make money at the same time. Kevin will help you achieve that goal.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Branding Statement

Contract Do's & Dont's

Evaluate your Business

Keyword Exercise

Points of Contact

Sample Portrait Session Contract

Startup Checklist

Photography Pricing Calculator

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Lauren Scott

Super great class. I've been in business full-time for 5 years, and I'm just now starting to get my "act together" I have spent so much time shooting, it has taken away from the business aspect and actually identifying myself as a brand, this was a good way to get the basics, learn, lots of good info. NOT boring at all, he is super funny and super personable, not pretentious and speaks to you in a way thats easy to understand... sometimes I feel like entrepreneurs come off a bit "nose-in-the-air" with all these terms myself as a creative cannot understand... but not with Kevin, down to earth funny guy! I also emailed him with a few questions and he was so kind to email be back right away! Thanks Kevin and thanks creative live! Bring him back!

KIS Photography

This was an amazing class to be a part of! I knew it would be good, from watching Kevin Kubota's previous Creative Live classes, and this course far exceeded my expectations! Kevin is a fantastic teacher, giving sound advice, presented clearly, with a down to earth, caring & humorous touch! I've watched it over on the replay, picking up on more things each time. This class will help me to get my photography business off on the right start, and I am looking forward to implementing all of his fantastic advice! Thank you Kevin & Creative Live!