by Mark Weber, M.Photog.Cr, M.Artist, CPP Hello from the sunny headquarters…
Intro by Skip Cohen
Just recently, Chamira Young shared today’s post on her ProPhotographerJourney blog, and I loved it. Why? Well, it couldn’t be more accurate, but even better, it got me thinking about various aspects of my own business.
Unlike most of you, I’m not a professional photographer. I know more than I let on and can capture a great image when I have to, but my first love is helping you with the business and marketing side of photography. Even though my business model is different, there are still plenty of things we have in common: being undervalued, workflow challenges and staying in touch are at the top of the list. In fact, they’re at the top of the list for every business.
As you read her post, give some thought to each “pain” she’s describing. Put them together and just like going to a doctor, you’re going to have a diagnosis for what they all mean – you can never ease up on paying attention to the operational/marketing side of your business! Sure, a great technique in capture, post and presentation are important, but it’s how you pull it all together that builds your dream of success.
By Chamira Young
Though there are tons, and truly TONS, of things photographers deal with and go through, there are some more common, prevalent, and frustrating than others. And while the reaction to these issues is even more important than each of the issues individually, how you deal with them and how they affect your business are also of huge importance.
Being Undervalued – One of the most difficult parts of running your own business, not just photography though, is being undervalued. In every niche of business, there will always be the folks at the bottom of the barrel providing cheap work for cheap prices and at the start, it can be hard to compete with that fear knowing that you should value yourself more.
Making sure you are running the numbers and taking all parts of your business into account, you must promise to never undervalue yourself because others will start to undervalue you as well. In addition, it’s extremely difficult to go up from the very bottom too.
Studio Issues – Another common pain that photographers have to deal with is studio issues. In most cases, just when you least expect it, what could go wrong, does. It can be so frustrating to have a few things fall apart or malfunction during a studio shoot. Especially after you work hard to ensure smooth sailing and keeping your customer comfortable.
The thing to remember when it comes to studio issues is that you are only human. Things will never go perfectly and instead of getting flustered and showing that fear to your client or customer, laugh it off and use it as a great chance to loosen up both of you.
Photo Management – The third pain only photographers have to deal with is photo management. Any niche of photography will have issues with photo management when you are shooting almost every day of the week. You are bound to end up with far more images than you need and easily two of the most-timely processes in the photography industry are the culling and editing of those photographs.
To stay on top of this, there are a number of things you can do. First is putting together a schedule where you have built-in time to cull and edit instead of taking on more projects. And second, would be the option of outsourcing parts of this process if you’re comfortable.
Workflow Challenges – The next big challenge is usually in a strong correlation with the third; workflow. While managing your photos is one of the many difficult aspects, the overall workflow is incredibly important. If you don’t have strong and efficient systems set up either with programs, software or with people, then managing workflow overall will be a challenge.
To curb this, start by writing out every single step, no matter how small, for each part of your workflow from finding a client to the client’s final payment. From there, find out which parts of that process can be combined, smoothed out, or outsourced entirely. Streamline this process as much as possible so your workflow will be as smooth as butter.
Finding Clients – The pain of every business ever; finding clients. Referrals, word-of-mouth, paid advertising, it can all be so much to think about, especially if you’re new. It will always be a challenge and even as the business grows, so will your prices and finding clients will change to finding ideal clients soon after.
The main thing to focus on to rid yourself of client-finding stress is to treat every client you work with like it’s your last. Giving each client a one-of-a-kind experience that they will never forget helps secure word-of-mouth and hopefully additional services from that client in the future.
Staying in Touch After the Job is Done – One of the final pains you’ll feel in photography is the follow-up. This is hard because there is always something to be doing. New clients calling you, shoots in progress, shoots scheduled through the whole month, training for you, and then clients who have made their final payments, but it’s not over.
In fact, if you follow up and make an effort to check in with your clients, you are much more likely to get their business in the future and have them refer your services as well. It’s a balancing game of making the best use of your time and the best experience for each and every client that comes through your doors.