The most common problem or block I typically see with my clients is that they are too heavily in the mindset of being a photographer/artist and not enough in being a business owner. How many times have you seen truly amazing photographers go out of business or start working for someone else and average photographers dominating and having great business success?
It’s not your photography that is holding you back, it is your mindset coupled with your marketing and sale acumen that is halting your business success. The big question is how do we switch the thinking to turn that around? I have come up with key areas that I think if you address will help you make the mindset shift to improved productivity and profit.
A quick warning that some of what I am about to discuss might trigger you, might anger you or you might not agree with. If that is the case, then good, it means there is some truth to it, and it is challenging the way you see yourself and the world. Instead of getting your back up, I would challenge you to question your thoughts around it and look at it openly.
Over Editing Photos
This is one of the biggest things tripping up photographers. Let’s start with retouching, if you are a portrait photographer your whole editing process for each client should not exceed 2hrs and ideally should be closer to 1hr and outsource the final retouch. If you are editing every photo before the clients see them, stop! If you are showing more than 50 photos, stop! (Could be more for different styles). Your client doesn’t care it’s just you that cares, they don’t see the extra effort.
To prove this point I recently had a client who used to edit all 60 photos before each purchasing appointment & took her over 4hrs. I challenged her to not edit at all which she was very nervous about, but she did it and there was no difference to the sale, so she now doesn’t edit at all before the sale.
Now she is saving 3.5hrs for every shoot; now when you multiply that by over 100 shoots for the year it equates to over 350hrs that she is saving and making the same sales! It is your fear leading you to do this so stop and step out of your comfort zone.
This one always comes up. . . I will look at my client’s price list and it will give me a headache, 5 different albums with 6 different covers, a box set of 5, 8, 12, 16, 20 matted prints etc and 15 different combinations of wall art in acrylic, wood, metal, canvas, frame and the list goes on. A confused mind says no and once again you are only pandering to your creative soul, while your client doesn’t care that much. Keep it simple and stop thinking like a creative and more like a businessperson. You want no more than 3 options for each product offering – for off the wall products have one album, a set of 5 matted prints and a box of 10 – that is it. For wall art, pick three finishes only – canvas, acrylic and framed all the same price.
Global Image Products’ Mats and Folio Boxes are fantastic sellers at our studio because we set up our price list to make it easy for our clients to buy these products.
Stop undervaluing what you do! You are not only giving clients photos, but you are also giving them memories and an experience to look back on for generations. These are tailor-made for them and their family and that is worth more than a few hundred dollars. Clients won’t value what you do until you value yourself, your time and what you create.
Work out what you want to average per sale and create sweet spots and price points in your offerings to hit that target. Start with simplifying your offerings and pricing them accordingly and let your clients buy – don’t get in your own way!
Also, remember that 90% of photographers are charging under $400 for their services. When you move this up to over $1000, make it an amazing experience and offer products you are only competing with 10% of photographers. Then when you promote and market well you are creating your own market.
Not Taking Aligned Action
This is a big one for photographers! How often have you had a marketing idea or needed to approach another business or call a lead back to discuss price etc and put it off? “I just need to edit these photos first”, “I really should send those emails”, “I will get to it tomorrow”. It’s all fear-based, and it is avoidance. Successful business owners take action despite the fear, it is like a muscle the more you use it the easier it gets.
When this happens or comes up have the self-awareness to stop and ask yourself why? What am I scared of? Is it rational? What is the worst thing that can happen? Do I want to be successful? Then take action despite the fear – this is what will get you out of your comfort zone and build your business. Sometimes it might not go to plan but at least you actioned it and next time you can change your approach and go again.
I have heard so many times where my clients had a bad experience, or it didn’t go as planned like launching a Facebook ad, so they don’t do it again. Tweak it and go again, tweak and go again, try a different approach but don’t give up, your dreams and ambitions are too important to give in to that fear.
Getting Caught Up In Limiting Beliefs
This is a big topic but one that is important to address, we all have limiting beliefs some we are aware of and others we are not. These usually stem from childhood and are shaped from an event or series of events and are influenced by parents, teachers and family. We carry these beliefs whether good or bad around into adulthood even though they were formed when we were kids and so much has changed since.
A few common examples: I’m not good enough, I can’t charge that, money is evil, and this list goes on. These show up in business because business is just a reflection of your life, people don’t have business problems they have life problems that show up in their business. If any negative thoughts that pop up, firstly become aware of it and change it at the moment.
Eg – you think to yourself “I’m not good enough to charge $X for my work” – stop at that moment and reframe it to a positive – “I am an amazing photographer and worth at least $X”
This is a simplistic solution but a powerful one, when practised over time, will change your reality – we are our thoughts and our thoughts become our lives so guard them carefully. Some of the stuff we say to ourselves daily we wouldn’t say to our worst enemy so cut that sh*t out and cultivate some self-love – you are unique and have so much to offer the world.
Not Investing In Yourself and Buying Camera Gear Instead
It isn’t a coincidence that successful business owners invest heavily in their personal and business development. If you want to improve in an area you have to invest time and money into it. You don’t get fit by thinking fit thoughts on the couch watching tv you get it by joining a gym, building a healthy mindset, getting a personal trainer, learning what foods and exercise work for your body etc.
Same goes for business, you can only grow as a business in direct proportion as how much you grow as a person. This can be in the form of a business coach, books, seminars, workshops, podcasts, YouTube videos, the list goes on. You don’t need a new camera or lens; it’s not going to make you any more money. Instead, you should take that money and invest in your self-education and watch your business soar.
I have invested over $100k into this over the past 10yrs, I don’t say this to brag but to show you I walk the talk. I also spend over 8hrs a week on personal development.
If you want big results, you have to be willing to put in the time and improve yourself to get it. There is no quick fix or Facebook ad that will change it, you need to show up and do the work consistently. Do it and the rewards are epic.
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