Thursday, September 20, 2012

What is the most pressing question you have about making your business more successful? Facebook 9/20/12

We received a great response to this question which we posted in several Facebook groups.  In order to share the responses with everyone we have chosen to answer all of the questions and post them on our blog with tags to the individuals who posted the questions.  We will also post the link to the blog on the group Facebook pages from where the questions were generated.

So, here in no particular order are the questions and our responses.

How do I get clients who pay?
Lynne Ann
Hartford, CT

Lynne Anne,

There a number of questions I would have for you before I gave you a definitive answer.  Are you having trouble with clients who contract you and then don’t pay?  If so, you need to be collecting fees upfront from them.  This can be done by requiring a flat amount at the time you book the session.  This fee should include your session fee and your expectation of a minimum order.  Determining this takes some work and may be more of an answer than you want here but we would be happy to assist you in determining what that amount should be.  In very basic terms it should be an amount which covers your costs, general expenses (including paying yourself) and profit.  There are some formulas and industry guidelines which I would be happy to share with you.

If your question is a matter of getting paying clients then you need to create a need for your product and a marketing plan to reach you’re desired demographic.   A market and competitive analysis will help you determine the strength of the market and where you should position yourself to maximize your success.  You also need to evaluate your pricing for profitability first, and then determine how you position yourself in the market based on your price point and target demographic.  Again we can assist you in determining these things in your chosen product area and demographic.

How can do I become known to potential clients... faster?
Tony McKay
Hamilton, New Zealand


Creating marketing energy is vital to being successful.  First, you need to determine your target demographic.  Who is your client?  Then determine where they are.  Are they Facebook, social media consumers, are they looking for information in more traditional ways?  What are their buying habits?  What influences their buying decisions?  Once you answer these questions you can create marketing energy around where your target consumer gets information.  This is where you will want to focus your marketing resources.  We can assist you in finding those answers.

Wondering if one can succeed in WV with the economy how it is & if people would want to pay the kind of cost associated with professional photographers?
Theresa Litteral
West Virginia


This is an often asked question.  The photographic industry has made great changes and there has been a huge paradigm shift in the past 5-7 years.  Doing some market analysis will help you to answer your question.  Beginning with a competitive analysis asking who else is out there and what are they doing?  What markets are being served and where are there opportunities for growth?  Is there a niche market which is not being served adequately or at all?   Who are your consumers and what are they looking for?  Is there enough market to support the niche you want to do business?

Then more directly to your question, in defining your niche and market can you be profitable in your price structure and gain enough clients to support your business.  This is where a solid, well defined marketing plan will help.  In creating this plan you will identify your target market, create marketing collateral and message which appeal to them and an implementation plan which will maximize your chances for success.  Let us know.  We can help.

What to charge people when you are just starting out?
Am I as good as I think I am??
Jennifer Harblin
Kelso, Washington


Setting prices when you are starting out can be tricky.  If you are serious about making photography a profession, the thing to remember is you want to set prices to cover your expenses, pay yourself and provide profit for the business.

Generally a photographer starting out won’t have the same overhead expenses as an established photographer.  Therefore you can charge a little less while you are building your business.  Remember, pricing is very subjective and you need to think of yourself as valuable and your work as valuable to your client.  I have worked with many clients who were marginal photographers but great business people and were far more successful than some great photographers who were incapable of managing their business.

Avoid the pitfalls of giving your work away.  Analyze what is happening in your market area, look at your competition and don’t be afraid to price your work to the competition.  As far as being good enough, yes you are if you believe you are and constantly strive to improve your work.  Let us know if we can provide more help to you.

As a novice, when do I stop taking pictures as a free favor to gain experience, and start charging?
Britney Penfold
Woodbridge, Virginia


If you feel your work is good enough to be selling, then by all means you should be charging for your work.  The industry is full of want-to-be photographers who are underserving their clients with free or low cost photography.  This is doing no one any good.  If you want to do photography for others you need to establish yourself as a professional.  Get training, create a business plan and get a business license and go for it.  Let us know. We can help you get started.

How to market, and to clients who'll pay what I'm asking for!
Kirsten Flavell
Blaxland, New South Wales


Please read the responses above which asked the same questions.  You need to find your niche, research your potential market to see if there is enough potential to support your desired target.  Create a profitable pricing structure and then create a marketing plan which targets your desired market.  We can help you further with all of this.

Outsource vs. In-source decisions for the control-freak. In other words, getting more done by using others yet holding up the quality and "brand" experience that has been developed so far.
Michael Price
Pickerington, Ohio


Start by firing yourself from the things you do not do well.  Outsource those tasks which take you away from the core of your business—producing revenue.  You are not valuable to your business sitting in front of the computer doing image manipulation.  You need to be out looking for new revenue sources.  There are plenty of talented Photoshop artists which you can pay far less than it is costing you to do the work yourself.

Be careful in over valuing your ability to do everything yourself.  This is a mindset which will eventually destroy your business.  Believe me I speak from thirty-five years of experience and have seen studios fail time and again because the owner was trying to do it all himself.  Checks into having your lab do your artwork.  I mention this because it is a common pitfall of photographers.  I would challenge you to track how much time you spend on image manipulation, divide it by the number of images you worked on in an hour.  Now what are you worth an hour?  Now divide your worth by the number of images you worked on.

My guess is you will be astonished at how much it is costing your business versus what you are getting paid from the customer for the finished image.  It is not profitable is it?  This example can be used on all of the work you do in the studio.  Like firing yourself from the tasks you do not do well, also fire yourself from those things which are not profitable for you to be doing.  We can assist you further in making you and your business more profitable.

I need marketing tips!
Sherri White Jamieson
Kaysville, Utah


Please be more specific.  What markets are you pursuing, children, family, weddings, seniors?  Let me know, I can help.

How do I make my business more successful?
Luke Townsend
Brooklyn NY


What does successful mean to you?  Making more money, having more free time, utilizing your gifts?  Do you have a business or management plan?  Have you addressed where you want your business to go and what you hope to have from your business?  These are fundamental questions which you need to address and we can certainly help you chart a direction.

Finding the 'right' clients.
Brad Johnson
Overland Park, Kansas


Please read my response to Theresa above.  A well-defined management and marketing plan are in order for you.  We can help.

What's the most effective way to market, and to whom?
Phil Peterson 
Kansas City, Missouri


First, you need to identify your market.  Who is the customer for the work you want to produce.  Are there enough potential clients in your demographic?  Who is currently serving that market now?  How do you set yourself apart so clients will recognize you?  Once you define those things you can create an effective marketing strategy to pursue your desired market.

How to market and to clients who'll pay what I'm asking for!
Kirsten Flavell
New South Wales 


Please read the response above to the same question.  Hopefully those answers will assist you.  Let me know if I can be of further help

Yep to all the above!
Arek Rainczuk
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Hopefully you will find what you are looking for above.

How do I get off my arse and do all these things I know I should do?
Josh Marshall
Lambton NSW


A good swift kick in the arse to begin with.  Seriously, begin by writing down everything.  Once it is on paper it clears your head to move on to the next task.  This also serves as a great way of processing though ideas.  Create a to-do list and mark things off as you complete them.  Don’t get over detailed.  You can start your list with 1. Start a to-do list.  See you already have the first item done.  Also, structure your time to do like-tasks together.  i.e. return all phone calls at the same time, block time for computer work and sales appointments.  Schedule time for market planning and stick to a schedule.  Contact us for our resources on time-management.

What are the winning numbers to next week's lotto? :-)
Brian Tao
Ottawa, Ontario


Pick any you like, your chances of guessing are as good as mine.

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