Intro by Skip Cohen
In 2013 I launched a new blog, Skip Cohen University. The play on the word “university” is purely anecdotal, but it gave us some fun things to help create content and a platform for online education.
We created a faculty, that continues to grow. One of those early photographers I asked to join us was Lori Nordstrom. She’s a phenomenal artist, business owner and a great friend to so many of us in the industry.
In the process of introducing everyone to each faculty member, I asked them the same question, “What advice would you give a new photographer just starting out?” Well, Lori shared so much with her answer and as I read through it today, I decided it’s perfect not only for new photographers just starting out but all of us who have been in business previously.
This is really good stuff and a reminder that even when our businesses are established, the challenge to stay cutting edge and pay attention to the “left-brain” aspects of our business never slows down!
By Lori Nordstrom
“What advice would I give new photographers just starting out? Photographers always ask me what I would do differently if I could start over. Here are the top 5 things I wish I hadn’t done:
# 1. FAIL TO PLAN It’s said that when you fail to plan, you plan to fail! So true. Make a plan, and stick to it.
#2. BE TOO EAGER FOR A STUDIO SPACE So many photographers go through this whole idea of “I’ll finally be ‘for real’ when I get a retail location!” Instead, really look at the value of what you have to offer right now! Find your value and then learn to communicate it to your client.
#3. HIRE EMPLOYEES WITH NO JOB DESCRIPTIONS This was a biggie for me. When I opened up my first studio in 2000, I jumped in big. I bought a large building and I also went digital that year. It was a huge time of crash and burn for me. I was up all night working and was just dying for help!! So, I started hiring people, and basically, the only thing that I said was, “Help!!”. I’ve always heard “Hire the personality and train the task”, and I totally believe in that! However, you have to KNOW what you NEED and have job descriptions put together before you can train someone.
#4. GIVE AWAY THE FARM We’ve all been guilty of this. Establish what you need your session average to be, based on what you need to profit for the month/year. Set your prices so that you will reach those goals. In the beginning, make your prices known and allow for a discounted period if you absolutely must while you “portfolio build”, but don’t give it away for nothing. Don’t hand all of your images over on a cd. Don’t devalue what you are giving them – which is memories and moments built not just in the images, but in the experience itself.
#5. THINK LIKE AN ARTIST INSTEAD OF A BUSINESS PERSON I know this sounds like blasphemy to many of you. I think it’s great to be an artist, and even for that to be your first love. But when the time comes to run your business and run it profitably, you have to start thinking like a business person. This is SO hard – for 99% of photographers out there! (you’re not alone) We love what we do so much that we just think it’s all going to fall into place!
But being a business person, and each and every one of you are a business owner, you’ve got to start thinking like a business owner. Putting systems in place, planning and scheduling, managing workflow and knowing your numbers are going to change your business and your life dramatically.