As a St. Louis Family photographer the beginning of the year is usually a slower time. This is the time of year we start to plan out our next year and evaluate the previous year. As a family and newborn photographer in St. Louis for almost 4 years, this year has been my most profitable and best year yet. And this was during in a pandemic! There are a few things that I believe have contributed to me making great strides as a St. Louis family photographer in such a short period of time. Some of these SIMPLE changes can make HUGE improvements in your business. Check them out!
I think this one is pretty obvious to most of us but one a lot of photographers avoid. I will be honest here and admit I just did my cost of doing business (CODB) this year. Talk about an eye opening experience! Once I really sat down and looked at what it truly cost to run my business I was a little blind sided. Then I took the time to figure out how many sessions I would need to shoot to break even, I was even more shocked! I had been pricing my sessions based on those around me or what I thought I should be charging for how long I had been in business. Basically I was pulling numbers out of thin air! If you want to run a sustainable and profitable business that you love, you have to know your numbers!!!!!!
When I first started as a St. Louis Family Photographer, I started a Facebook business and Instagram page. I thought that meant I was officially in business. Ha! I was so clueless. This strategy worked well for my first year in business but I quickly realized I could not reach my ideal client with social media alone. As we all know, Facebook and Instagram are constantly changing their algorithms and the way our clients see our post. They recently removed tagging of clients on Facebook and then disable hashtags for a bit. What is your plan if your social media gets hacked? Or you lost access to your pages? Do you have a way to keep connected to your most important people?
A simple solution that does not require a lot of time is to create a newsletter. It is so easy and something you have 100% control over. I use Flodesk for the beautiful, on brand designs they provide but mail chimp is a great free option too. A newsletter is a quick and simple way to constantly stay connected with to your audience.
When I think about what has been one of things that has been the most influential for my business, it would be showing the work I love. I have a rule when I am posting to social media that I have tried to stick to since the start……I will never show a photo I do not want to shoot again. As photographers we need to remember our social media and website are OUR storefront. Your potential clients will look to these spots for guidance on what to expect. If they see smiling at the camera shots, they will expect smiling at the camera shots. I am very conscious about the images I share. In the begining I would have clients that never wanted tall grass, wild flower fields, emotive images, or that golden light. Once I started showing what I want to be shooting, then I attracted those people.
A little pro tip: If you are just starting out, I always recommend taking the last 5-10 minutes of every session to shoot for YOU! Reassure your clients that you got everything you need for the gallery, now you’re going to have fun. Try a new angle, a new lens, a new pose, what ever inspires you! Then show these photos to the world. This is how you will start to build a portfolio that speaks to your voice.
So I will admit I am kind of photography education junkie! I just love it. Learning how people run their sessions, edit, manage their businesses…I love it all! I have spent a lot of money and so much TIME investing in myself, which in turn is investing in my business. Since starting my business, I have done a couple mentorships, workshops, soooo many online classes, watched a ton of you tube videos, and carried my camera everywhere with me.
When you are doing your CODB, I encourage you to figure in yearly education money. There are so many amazing options to learn from these days including online photography schools, in-person/ virtual mentoring, workshops, business courses, podcast, etc. The options are endless. I also encourage you to explore learning from other photographers that might not be your exact style or even genre you are. I have gained so much from people who shoot or edit differently than me. The greatest way to build the business that you want is invest in yourself!
I recently heard on a podcast that a client is most likely to book you within the first few hours after inquiry. At this point they have just viewed your work and something moved them to contact you, you want to use those emotions to your advantage. The great way to do this is to create e-mail templates for every type of inquiry you get. For example, I have one for maternity, family, and newborn. I have my templates stored on my client management system so it makes this super quick! When an inquiry comes in, I just open the app to my CRM, load the template and I add a personal sentence or two. I also make sure to address any questions the mention.
I also include a detailed welcome guide with each inquiry so my clients know exactly what to expect when they book with me. By doing this, I am setting myself apart from other St. Louis Family photographers who the client may have inquired with. Remember client experience is a huge part of what makes a person a return client. This experience starts from that first e-mail.
Are you making any of these mistakes? Or do you have any mistakes you see photographers making in their business? I would love to hear from you!
Check out how my clients will be first viewing their sessions in 2021!
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Angie Wynne Photography serves the St. Louis and surrounding areas specializing in lifestyle family, newborn, and maternity photography.
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