Four Small Changes for Your Business

Four Small Changes for Your Business

Intro by Skip Cohen

Looking back over the years, the Internet has pretty much changed everything in my life. It’s always there, starting with the way each day begins – checking email. Now and then, there’s a gem in my inbox – that’s what happens when you’re on Sarah Petty’s mailing list. She never disappoints!

The short piece below is the introduction to a new podcast of hers. But it’s so poignant in its own right that I read it twice. It got me thinking how on a couple of different projects lately, I’ve been trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. Frustrated, I put the projects on the backburner.

I don’t ask you to trust me very often, but this one’s a classic, and regardless of your photographic specialty, it’s going to provoke some new thinking – exactly what you need to rebuild your business and turn 2021 into an amazing year!

Listen to the podcast through the link below or read the transcript she shares with the podcast – either way, get ready to be enlightened!


By Sarah Petty

I remember when my kiddos were little.
They had that little workbench toy where you hammer the shape into a hole.
Remember those?
No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t hammer a square into a round hole.
Eventually, they’d realize “Oh, this doesn’t fit. Try a different one.”
When they’d find the shape that fit and easily fit it into the hole…their little faces lit up!

So why do we keep shoving things that don’t fit into our lives as adults?

The harder we push, the worse it gets.
Like adding the wrong clients into the wrong model and hoping it will all fit into your life.
Then you wonder why you’re working all the time and not making any money!

Friend, I’ve got some new shapes for you today. I’m gonna show you 4 changes that make being a portrait photographer a better fit in your life!

Being Successful Does Not Mean Being Busy 24/7

I get it. You envisioned your life as a professional photographer to be full of creativity, freedom, vacations, weekends off, and family time.

I did too when I started my business. I understand how frustrating it can be when it feels like you are always working and making hardly any money.

I felt like such a bad mom and wife. I was afraid my kids would grow up and say,
“My mom was always working. She never came to our volleyball games, band concerts, scout activities.” 

The more I worked, the further behind I felt. I remember thinking,
“Is this just the way life is when you’re a successful photographer?”

All of a sudden, photography was losing its appeal. However, everything changed when I became a boutique. I want to share with you how to boost your portrait orders by making these four simple changes.

#1 Serve Hard, Sell Easy

If you serve your clients hard from the first phone, call on, there are no hard sales.

If you hold their hand through the entire process, they will want to order and invest in you.

If you’re using online galleries and thinking your client is going to order a wall portrait, you’re telling yourself a lie.

If you take amazing care of your clients, they will invest in wall portraits, and keep coming back to you. They will even gush on you and send their friends.

When you serve your clients at a high level, you will never have to be salesy and pushy because your sales will come easily.

#2 Show Big To Sell Big

If you’re going to get big orders, you need to sell large wall portraits. And to do that, you have to show what that artwork looks like. Even if you only have one large sample piece, people need to see it.

I can’t tell you how many photographers come into my Boutique Breakthrough 8-week workshop and don’t have a wall portrait in their own home. You’ve got to practice what you preach to get bigger portrait orders.

Start there. Show big so that you can sell big.

#3 Meet With Clients Before the Session

This is one of those little things that made a huge difference in getting bigger portrait orders.

I feel so strongly about meeting with my clients before their session that I will not do a session if they refuse to have an in-person consultation. It’s a deal-breaker for me.

Think about it. It would be like a doctor agreeing to do surgery without meeting with you first.

I want to look my clients in their eyes and gauge their reactions. I want to see what gets them excited and show them large-scale artwork so they can start getting comfortable with the idea of wall portraits in their home.

#4 Hold Your Client’s Hand During the Ordering Appointment

Not only do we hold their hand before and during the session, but I also sit with them in person and show them their images. I want to paint that picture for them by saying things like,

“I see this one in canvas over the sofa where you were looking for a statement piece. I see this one of your little girl in her room with a bright pink gilded frame.”

I make it easy for them to make a decision and they are excited to pull out their wallet.

It’s a no-brainer for them. They make a decision, place their order, and are thrilled.

I served them because I have not added picking and ordering images from an online gallery to their to-do list.  

Become Excited About Your Business

Let me tell you what I know.

If you don’t serve your clients at a high level, they will get overwhelmed and frustrated.

When that happens, their order will likely go away. Then, you’re forced to go into sales pursuit mode, where you’re chasing the client down and they’re avoiding you because they don’t want to make a decision.

It doesn’t have to be that way if you hold their hand and make it easy for them.

Seriously, these steps I gave you took me years to learn, and they will change everything for you.

Take control of your business and schedule. Take vacation when you want, have weekends off, or spend afternoons at the pool splashing with your kids.

Find and connect with the reason that you dreamed of being a photographer and keep rocking it. This is how I got bigger portrait orders and you can, too.

You don’t need more clients, you just need more of the RIGHT clients. Make these changes and become excited about your business again.

I believe in you.

And if you want to listen to Sarah’s podcast directly, here’s the link.

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This article was written by
Sarah Petty

Sarah is a New York Times best-selling author, highly-acclaimed speaker, author, MBA and coach who started her own boutique photography studio after working for Coca Cola for 20 years and then meeting the marketing goals of a top regional advertising agency’s clients. She attributes the rapid growth of her boutique photography studio, which was named one of the most profitable in the country within just five years in business by PPA, to the creation of her own strong brand. Click on Sarah's photograph to visit her blog.

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