This might be a little controversial in the business mindset, but I truly believe if you want to have a meaningful, profitable, and rewarding business, it can change your world.

There are so many classes that will encourage the business mindset of the hungry entrepreneur. Push. Fight. Win. Gain, gain, gain. I struggled for a long time before realizing that this mindset just left me feeling ‘icky’ and like I was trying to force myself to be more of a used car salesman than an artist and photographer.

Is this the only way to be successful? Is it truly just a need to force my brain and heart to ignore the ‘ick’ of pushing for that big sale? I realized that I was following what was projected to me as the successful road, but it wasn’t authentic. 

I think that we as business owners need to identify what our core values are, besides the dollar sign. Now, don’t misunderstand me. That dollar sign is of huge importance; it’s our livelihood. But ensuring that income by means of connection, service, and communication can be just as effective.

Let’s break it down. 

  1. See your clients as yourself, your family, your loved one(s). As an individual, not as a paycheck.

Every single person wants to be seen, heard, understood, and feel connected. The field we are in is absolutely critical to understand you are the keeper of their memories, some of their most prized moments. This is an honor, and we need to respect our position at this time of their lives. 

  1. Identify their needs, and sell to those needs.

This is where some professionals may start to bristle.  I have killed sales. Yes, I know. Gasp. But, let me tell you why. 

I spend hours with my clients. From the first phone call I am asking about their family history, their feelings about past experiences with photographers, their concerns about littles, their kids personalities, and insecurities (including financial) before we ever set anything in stone. When you aim to be OF SERVICE, instead of THE SERVICE, you begin to truly listen. By being OF service, you can better provide for your client and build that trust. This cannot be overstated. 

The biggest factor of a returning client is trust. Is the client considering a second wall display of images they somewhat like, putting them thousands over their initial budget? Stop, and ask them “How much do you love these images? Is it ‘wow! I want to see them every single day HUGE in front of my face!!’, or is there a special occasion coming up next year that we could plan a special session specifically to adorn this wall that would make your heart light up?”

The respect that I have gained by doing this has never compromised my position. It has only enforced to the client that I am on their side, I respect their budget, their time, and their wishes. 

  1. Don’t take it personal

This can be confusing. Especially since everything I’m saying seems to be so ‘heart felt’ and personalized. Here’s the thing. We are all fallible. When we are investing so much of ourselves in to our art, we can build up this expectation in our minds that the client is in the same mindset or thinks just like us.

We can’t fall in to this quicksand. I have spoken with so many professionals who just sink when they tell me a client didn’t book or ghosted them. This is part of the experience. We can’t absorb that as a failure.

People are BUSY. So incredibly overwhelmed by society standards, keeping up with the joneses, the recitals, practices, dentist appointments, bills, family, STREEEESSSSS. It seems like every few years we turn the speed of the treadmill up a few notches and try to carry more things. 

This is a LOT to handle! 

Give a little grace. Don’t take it personal. Don’t write them off and cross their name out with a black marker of injustice on your schedule. Breathe. 

In my CRM I have timed emails. After our initial phone call, an email will send thanking them for their time talking to me, and covering what we discussed on the call. If they have not booked within 3 days, the initial booking page will expire and an email will be sent.

This email basically lays everything out as if they forgot (which happens often!) and asks if they’d still like that time slot held because you know they were so excited to get it all set. I’d be happy to make that invoice active again, and to please reach out if there is something weighing on them that may give them hesitation about the session.

 If they do not book, an email will send a week later. This says that I know how busy life can be and things can truly slip our minds, and I’d hate for these moments to slip away when I know how much they mean to them. I also respect that it may not be the right time, and I truly hope we can work together in the future. I will be clearing their lead and releasing their date to other interested clients the following day. 

I’ve had more than a few thinly spread clients who reached out immediately profusely apologizing because life got in the way. They’ve booked, thanked me for my patience and continued communication, and have had great sales. 

If you clearly communicate, act as guide to assist them in your services, work to understand their perspective, and lay out clear intentions as to what happens next, it bolsters that connection and enhances their trust in your business.  

You can have a profitable business that doesn’t entirely drain you. By connecting, serving, and valuing yourself AND your client you can ensure you stay in business for years to come.