3 Key Tips for Building Social Media Engagement

“The goal of social media is to turn customers into a volunteer marketing army.” -Jay Baer   Social media is a great supplementary tool for your marketing plan in your business. It should never be the first place you look to build your brand, as you should always focus on building personal relationships first. Even though social media marketing is not THE most important part of your business, it does have an integral role, and today we want to share 3 key tips to get people engage with your more!   Key #1 – Talk about things that are interesting   (This Instagram got more attention because my (Zach), audience (photographers), like the unique use of lighting and posing, and reacted strongly to it… not to mention the adorable kid in the shot ;) Realize that unless you are a celebrity, that no one really cares what you ate for breakfast, and definitely don’t want to see a picture of it on Twitter. Think about your audience and WHO you are trying to speak to, and then create content that THEY care about. (Click to Tweet this out!) Examples:  If you are a wedding photographer, then you can use Facebook to create a private group just for your brides where they can all connect, talk about their recent weddings and planning, and you can give ideas to them as well because you have a ton of experience with weddings. They will have the things Seth Godin talks about in his book Tribes (a tribe is a community with something in common, a way to talk to each other, and a way to... Read More

How to use an incentive to book more shoots

When we were shooting weddings, we had a 95% close rate when someone sat down to meet with us about their wedding day. This wasn’t luck and wasn’t because we are the best wedding photographers. It was because we know why people buy, and made sure to give people what they wanted. Today we want to teach you one of the tools we used so you can start to get the same results. The Why of Buy  People show up when there is a sale, people buy cars when the dealer throws in a set of tires, and when what you want might be gone tomorrow, people buy because of scarcity because no one wants to miss out. We know that people buy when they see value, when there is scarcity, when they feel safe, and when they are incentivize.  So how can we use these facts to help give our clients what they want and help us close more deals? Simple, INCENTIVIZE! (Click here to Tweet this out!)   When a client comes in and sits down with you to decide whether or not they are going to book you, there sometimes comes a moment right after you “close” (ask them if they are ready to book you), that they hesitate. This hesitation is what I call “riding the fence.” They didn’t say no to you, and they didn’t say yes. They are right on the fence and just need a little, soft push from you to fall on your side. In these situations, we always have an Ace in our pocket (an incentive). We would use an... Read More

Why Great Photos Don’t Sell Anymore

Something More than Great Imagery…  Could it be that we have spent all this time honing our craft to become better and better photographers, and the harsh reality is that having great photos alone isn’t enough? The Truth About Quality Photographs  The truth is clients just expect their photos to be good. No one goes around saying “I take OK photos, want to hire me?” So why in the WORLD would we try and base the price of our images off of the quality of our images? The answer is because we are artists and this is our art. We want people to value it, but the hard truth is that once photography became widely available and much easier to do, the overall quality of images went up and clients started to simply expect them all to be good. What Else You Got? Subconsciously, this is the question on all of our clients minds. If they are asked to pay anything over average for our products and services, then they expect something more. So what MORE do you have to offer? That is simple. We have to offer emotional connections to the products and services we offer. This is done by first, telling gripping stories when we are initially meeting with clients and then second, following up with a great experience throughout the whole process from booking through the wedding day and beyond. If we can do that effectively, then clients will pay a premium for us. We saw this time and again in our wedding business where clients were willing to pay average prices up front, but once we created an... Read More

Building your brand with social media

The more social media we have, the more we think we’re connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other. -JR Social Media is not what we think it is It is easy to think that having 35,000 Facebook fans, thousands of Twitter followers and loads of Instagram likes means that we will have a thriving business, but that could not be further from the truth. Unfortunately, many of us put a high value on Social Media power and give it too much of our attention and time. Don’t build on THEIR platform The easiest way to focus on social marketing is to build great relationships with your base clients (past brides, photographers and vendors), and then give them a reason to talk about you and a tool to make talking easy. FB, Twitter and Instagram are all secondary tools to supplement your marketing, and should never be the main focus of how you connect. Why? Because Facebook controls Facebook (you don’t) and if all your eggs are in their proverbial marketing basket and they change their system (which they do all the time) then you are in big trouble. Focus on people, not the numbers You need to focus your marketing first on your personal network (clients looking at your blog, those on your email list, and people who you actually spend time with) because YOU control that outlet and not someone else. Then use FB and the like to supplement that. When you do use Social Media to get your message out and connect, here are 3 key strategic tips to do that effectively: 1. Keep it interesting People engage when... Read More

Why Great Photos Don’t Make Money

“People make purchasing decisions based on their emotional connection to a product or service.” -Jack Trout, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing Something More than Great Imagery… Could it be that we have spent all this time honing our craft to become better and better photographers, and the harsh reality is that having great photos alone isn’t enough to build a successful photography business? The Truth About Quality Photographs The truth is clients just expect their photos to be good. No one goes around saying “I take OK photos, want to hire me?” So why in the WORLD do we try and base the price of our images off of the quality of our images? The answer is because we are artists and this is our craft. We want people to value it, but the hard truth is that once photography became widely available and much “easier” to do, the overall quality of images went up and clients started to simply expect them all to be good. What Else You Got? Subconsciously, this is the question on all of our clients minds. If they are asked to pay anything over average for our products and services, then they expect something more. So what MORE do you need to offer? That is simple. We have to offer emotional connections through the services we provide them, and through the products we sell. This is done by: #1 – Telling gripping stories when we are initially meeting with leads that help communicateWHY these images matter in the first place. This helps connect them with the heart behind why you do what you... Read More

4 key areas to building wealth | part I

“The difference between running a business and becoming ‘Business Brilliant’ is the difference between driving a Toyota versus a BMW.” The average wedding photographer salary can be as low as 15k per year according to the New York Film Academy. The reason that so many portrait and wedding photographers earn a relatively low income, is that they turn a hobby or a passion into a business, but never seem to focus on what really makes a serious income, which is becoming brilliant at business. In this 4 part series starting today, we are going to look at ONE of the 4 key areas that Lewis Schiff says each Brilliant Business owner (who he defines as self-made millionaires) must focus on in order to take their earnings from average to amazing. Key 1 – Learn what you do Best  “Give me 6 hours to cut down a tree and I will spend 4 of them sharpening my axe.” -Abraham Lincoln Lewis Schiff (from his book Business Brilliant) says that millionaires spend lots of their time discovering what they do best, and then pursuing opportunities related to what they do well in order to succeed. They don’t spend their time focused on their weaknesses. If you want to do the same, here is what you need to do starting TODAY: 1. Write down your goals If you don’t write it down, it won’t happen. Having written financial goals will help you gauge how to manage them. You can’t leave finances to chance, but have to work toward a goal in order to achieve it. •Set your net worth for 10 years from... Read More

The Top 8 Essentials for a Successful 2015!

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we create them.“ – Einstein A friend of ours had the best year ever in his business, ever. The reason for it was talked about on this blog by the Business Insider. That post is about the top tips Andrew Carnegie used to become one of the wealthiest men of all time and was documented in the book by Napoleon Hill “Think and Grow Rich.” We used the exact same tips back in 2007 and it completely rocked our business and set us up for an amazing 2008! We want to share with you our top 8 tips that took us from making $4,000 profit in 2007, to making 100 grand in 2008! These are the same tips that we now use each and every year that have helped us continually build our business and make it better time and again. If you choose to use these simple tips, you will have a better business in 2015, so only read on if that is what you want! 1. Define your purpose. Hill says to, “Create a plan of action and start working toward it immediately.” The way we did that was to create a vision statement for our business. We wanted to “impact couple’s marriages through photography that is relationally based, with a focus on marriage, not just their wedding day.” Having a defined purpose (or vision) gives you a reason to get up and work at it every day. When you are working toward something that is bigger than yourself, you have purpose in your life. Now you need a Mission, or a “how” and that is where you start... Read More

Don’t Just Survive the Slow Season | Tog Tools Podcast

We recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Tog Tools about how to do more than just keep your business moving even when things are slow. Back in 2008 when we were still photographing weddings full-time, we were in the process of building our brand, all while the nation-wide economy was tanking. We only knew one way to build a business, and that was when economically, we should have failed. We didn’t just survive that year, but we thrived and made our first 6-figure earning year! In this podcast we will share some of the lessons that we learned including: Why you should niche down to build a brand Why being excellent is no longer compelling How to create a new category to stand out Why bootstrapping your photography business is the best approach How to make a financial plan for the slow season Why you should get in a... Read More

Growing your Photography Business in the Slow Season | Tools for Success | Part 4 of 4 (video)

This last video in our 4 part series on Growing your photography business in the slow season is all about getting tools that can give you an edge and get your business on track faster. We also have something really amazing that we have been working on just for you, so watch the video and read the post! A New Free Tool We know that many of you need the tools that we talked about in this video, and we are excited to make them even more accessible this Cyber Monday! To hold you over until Cyber Monday, we wanted to give you a FREE copy of our brand new Essentials Tool Kit! This kit has the 54 must-have tools to give your business a head start. If you want to know more about the killer deals we are offering for only 24 hours THIS CYBER MONDAY, and you want our new Essentials Tool Kit, then Click HERE to immediately get your free download and be one of the first to hear about our specials on Monday! Stay tuned. PS. If you have a friend that could use this tool kit, then share it instantly!  ... Read More

Growing your Photography Business in the slow season | How to Get Referred | Part 3 of 4 (video)

When we started shooting weddings back in 2007 there was just one thing we needed more than anything else. Clients! The problem was, we had never really worked with anyone in order to get referred, and in order to get referred, we need to work with someone. Sound familiar? This catch-22 is a problem that needs to be solved, and this video is the first step to start getting MORE referrals now when you needed them more than ever! (To watch video 1 in this series on standing out, click HERE) (To watch video 2 in this series on pricing, click HERE) If you thought this video was the best video that we put on our blog today (it is because it is the only one) then click HERE to instantly tweet about it OR, copy and paste the below into FB:   “This 3rd video from @zachandjody on growing your photography business in the slow season is just what I need to get more referrals! http://tinyurl.com/o27vqln”   If you have a unique way that you are “remarkable” with your team, then share with us below what you do and how you do it!   PS.  Did you miss the first two videos? Follow the below links to view them: Video 1: Growing your business in the slow season Video 2: How to gross $90,000 in your photography... Read More

Growing your Photography Business in the slow season | How to gross $90,000 | Part 2 of 4 (video)

In this second video of our four-part series on growing your photography business in the slow season, we are going to be talking about something that most of us DREAD. Pricing. Pricing is complex and sometimes feels like a crapshoot. Today we are going to bring some much needed clarity to the pricing problem and help you guys get paid MORE and get paid more often!  (To watch video 1 in this series on standing out, click HERE) If you enjoyed this video, then share it with your followers by clicking HERE to tweet it out instantly!   If you have had pricing issues, let us know about them in the comments below and we would love to chime in!   (All pricing data is from the BrideReport.com 2009 national averages)  ... Read More

Growing your Business in the Slow Season | How to Stand Out | Part 1 of 4 (video)

As the days get shorter and we start to head into the holidays and into a slower season for most of our photography businesses, we know that it is actually a great time to focus on growing your business! We have created a 4 part video series just for you that gives you some powerful solutions for your photography brand so you can start working ON your business instead of just maintaining it. This first video in this 4 part series focuses on how to stand out in a sea of photographers and get your brand noticed!   If you loved this video, then tweet it out and share it with your friends! Click HERE to instantly tweet it out! What other ways are YOU standing out and being remarkable to your clients? Please share below!    ... Read More

Top Reads | The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

Welcome to our Top Reads series where we feature a book that has shaped the way we think and act about business and includes a small snippet as to why you should add this to your arsenal! Today we are featuring The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! There are right ways and wrong ways to market. This book teaches you about the laws of marketing and how to follow them. It gives you pratical insights on what to do and what NOT to do. Our #2 recommended read. Make sure to check out our other top reads we love and... Read More

Why Doing Less Can Give You More Success

  Would you rather be a small fish in a BIG pond, or a BIG fish in a small pond with your photography business? It is MUCH easier to dominate a market when you are the ONLY one in it. (Tweet this out!) That is why today we have a video for you on NICHE marketing and WHY it is so critical especially when you first start out. Niche marketing is defined as: “Concentrating all marketing efforts on a small but specific and well defined segment of the population. Niches do not ‘exist’ but are ‘created’ by identifying needs, wants, and requirements that are being addressed poorly or not at all by other firms, and developing and delivering goods or services to satisfy them. As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small pond instead of being a small fish in a big pond. Also called micromarketing.” –Business Dictionary  The biggest reason our business went from our first wedding at $500 in June of 2007, to starting at $4,000 and booking 33 weddings in 2008 (and netting a six-figure income), was because we focused on ONE thing and focused hard. Not 10 things, not 2 things, but one. “Wedding photography for brides who valued their marriage relationship and valued photography.” That was our niche, and that is why we became succesful so fast.   Start the conversation:   So, what is an area that YOU are focused on for your niche? Or, what is a focus in your buisness that shouldn’t be and needs to be cut?   PS. If you liked this post, then SHARE it with a friend and let’s help every shooter out there niche down their brand so... Read More

3 SIMPLE Ways to Get MORE Referrals THIS Month!

Do you want to save thousands of dollars every year in your business AND get MORE referrals THIS month? We can tell you how. Since 2008 we never spent one dime on traditional advertising (bridal show, print or online advertisement, etc.) and our wedding business continued to flourish. How was this possible? Jack Trout says, “People make PURCHASING (or referral) decisions based on their EMOTIONAL connection to a product or service.” (The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing). If a client LOVES the way you make them FEEL when they use your products and services, then the chances of them referring you INCREASE significantly. How is this done?   We do this by managing the client relationship REALLY well (through a killer system so no detail falls in the cracks), giving them the attention and care they deserve, which in-turn creates a great emotional experience that they can’t help but talk about and refer their friends to!   Advertising dollars will go a lot further when invested back into your clients rather than a magazine advertisement that people may or may not notice.   Here are the 3 SIMPLE ways we all need to manage clients well, and keep those referrals coming!   1. CLIENT PRIORITIZATION:   Clients who are paying you money have to be responded to quickly and efficiently. You have to set a guideline for the MAX amount of time a client will wait before they get a response from you. We recommend NO MORE than 24 hours. We also recommend using an auto-responder email for clients that set that expectation so they know when we will get back to them and know what our office... Read More

Helping Others Can Lead to Your Success – Trust Marketing

(Today we have a guest post by photographer, content marketer and all around awesome dude and friend, Lawrence Chan (aka Tofurious)!  Capitalism and business is driven by self-success. However, through content strategy, focusing on the success of others can lead to success for you as well.      First, you must understand your target audience’s fears. What problems do your clients face? What issues keep them up at night? The bigger the problems your clients face, the bigger the opportunityfor you to generate valuable content. Cr       Imagine if you were the solution to their questions. Without motive, you helped them. How do you think they will perceive you? If your content was helpful, they may share it. (rule #3 for trust) If their network of friends thought the content was helpful, you became an authority figure. (rule #4 for trust) Not only do you build trust with readers through helpful advices, but you also open up opportunities to share your portfolio work without being “salesy.” Good content coupled with SEO can increase your exposure rate dramatically. Readers who land on your helpful tips may not need your services immediately, but may keep you in mind for future work. Check out some of the ideas below for the creative industry. If you were a pet owner, mother, bride / groom or senior, would you click on these topics? Pet Photography Target: Pet Owners How to Potty Train Your Pet Dog Tips for Summer Can Dogs or Cats Eat Human Foods? Newborn Photography Target: Moms How to Get My Baby to Sleep Rekindling Sex Life After the Baby Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding? Wedding... Read More

4 Tips to make your blogging more effective (even if you don’t think you’re a writer)

This blog is featuring a guest and good friend of ours, Jeff Goins. Jeff is a successful author, marketing consultant, and online entrepreneur. More than anyone else, Jeff has helped us become better writers & bloggers, which has helped us get more business! We asked him to share some of these blogging tips with you so you can spread your message to more people which helps YOU get noticed!  You can check out his blog (and download a free gift from Jeff) here: http://goinswriter.com/zachandjody/. “But I’m not a writer.” This is, perhaps, the biggest reason I hear from folks who want to get better at blogging but don’t. And I think it’s an excuse, plain and simple. Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, you need to understand the basics of blogging and what it takes to connect with an audience online. That is, if you care about reaching new people to grow your business. Why writing? Because whether we realize it or not, we are all writers. Every day, we write text messages to friends, exchange emails with coworkers, and send Facebook updates to the world. We are constantly using words to communicate. The question is, are you just putting your words out there, or are you intentionally connecting with people? When it comes to building your business, to creating interesting and engaging content, you have to understand the basics of online writing. You need a process, one that applies to blogging, crafting sales copy, and even emailing prospective clients. All good writing has structure. Here is the system that I recommend, which I’ve used to help... Read More

How to Effortlessly Make More Money

What is the ONE thing you dread MOST when it comes to being a photographer? It certainly isn’t taking beautiful pictures. It definitely is not looking through those pictures and tweaking your favorites in post. It probably is not SHARING those pictures and having your clients LOVE them. But what about the ONE thing that makes this a business and not a hobby – selling.   Many photographers that we have spoken to over the years absolutely HATE selling. They don’t want to be the Used Car Salesman trying to convince a client to get something they really don’t want. Do you ever feel that way about sales? We have a secret. There is a solution to this problem and it is actually very simple!       Have a simple SYSTEM for sales! By using a sales tool that makes sure that you are only offering your client products and services they WANT to buy, and using a SYSTEM that you follow so you always know EXACTLY what you are doing, clients will always be happy and you will sell and make MORE.     “Effective business systems are the ONLY way to organize & structure a new business that runs smoothly & impresses customers right from the start.” -Ron Carroll, Box Theory Gold         How to do it: Learn from the Best! The number ONE  industry in the world today is the ENTERTAINMENT industry. The reason for that is simple – clients EXPECT great quality (awesome pictures) and great service (you handling the details well), so if our focus is only on that, we will always... Read More

The Secret to Standing out from every other Photographer

“The opposite of remarkable is ‘very good.’ Are you making ‘very good’ stuff? If so, how fast can you stop!” Seth Godin, Purple Cow   The two fastest emerging technologies in the world are Smart Phones and DSLR Cameras. Everyone and their cousin is becoming a “pro” photographer these days and we can come to one concrete conclusion based on that fact. We have LOADS of competition! With a sea of new photographers flooding the market, launching their new websites and starting businesses left and right, how in the world do YOU stand out from the crowd and what can you do that makes you different so you get noticed? If you think that you can simply create a great product (like really nice images) and offer them at a competitive price, and meet the expectations you set for your clients, then your business will probably be over before it begins.  So, what is the secret? What is it that will allow YOU to stand out from the crowd? Listen to the rest of the above quote from Seth Godin:   “Services that are worth talking about get talked about.” “If your business is remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise – ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.” WOW! Seth is saying that with this much competition out there, you can’t simply do something that is really good in business, but rather, you have to ONLY do things that are remarkable, or, Worth... Read More

Marketing that will change your business | Chapter One

“We are taking time off awaiting baby Gray, but have put together our favorite Tips and Tricks from the last two years for us all to review!” Tuesday Tips REVISITED…As promised we are going to start taking some of our Tuesday Tips and Tricks posts and talk about something FAR more important than the technical aspects of photography, the evil B word (Business)! Most photographers got into photography because they LOVE photography, not the business side! Isn’t that why you started? Most of us hate the 9-5 grind mentality (even though we end up working more than most people with a day job) and we want to be free from all the things that we don’t love doing. Unfortunately, as most of us have found out, if you don’t have a solid business underneath your amazing art, then you are doomed to be broke and frustrated with this thing called full-time photography and even worse, 9 out of 10 of us will end up going out of business within 10 years.* Not cool! So, what is the remedy? The solution to this problem is to fall in love with running a great business as much as you do with your art and shooting. The two don’t have to be that much different, because if you want your clients to have an amazing experience when they finally see the photos you created for them (which all of us do), then why not have every aspect of your business do that? We can make our entire business a great experience for our clients and it can be fun and creative and... Read More

Tuesday Tips & Tricks – $4 Latte’s

When you get into any new pursuit, there is usually the feeling when you first start that you are second class and not as good as someone else. In the art world, that feeling can stick around longer than it should, and if it goes unchecked, can cripple your chance of succeeding. HOW YOU FEEL MATTERS Do you feel your images are not good enough to charge what you need to charge to survive? Do you feel like other photographers can’t see you as a first shooter and always see you as a “second shooter?” Do you wish your clients valued your work as much as you do? There is a stigma in this industry that you need to “pay your dues” and if you haven’t been shooting for 5 or 10 years you can’t possibly know what your doing or have a real business. That is simply not true! When we started out, we wanted to get praised by other photographers and feel the art we were creating and the business we were running was “approved” by those who were in our city shooting longer than we had. That was a major mistake. The only person that matters when it comes to approval in a business is the client you are serving. Your job is to give them an amazing experience and make their dreams come true, and not make other photographers think you are awesome and look to them for validation. THE SCENARIO: If you wanted to open your own Starbucks store, because you were passionate about coffee, you would buy into the franchise (Starbucks does not... Read More

Tuesday Tips | Accomplishment through Repetition

  Whenever you are trying to create something amazing (an experience for your clients, great images or a great management system), repetition becomes the key to accomplishment.   Experiential Business Practices Whenever you are setting out to create an awesome experience for your client, it does not matter how amazing it is IF the client is expecting something else. Example: You want to under-promise and over-deliver on the turn-around time of your images. You know that if you turn them around WAY faster then they are EXPECTING, they will be on cloud nine and love you till the day you die (and promote your business until then). But, if they don’t have the correct EXPECTATIONS, then it will not matter one iota. If you turn the images around in 48 hours, but the client calls wondering where they are the next day (and they have called us the next day!), then you have already not met their expectations and you leave them feeling unfulfilled.   They key is REPETITION!   We tell the client when we book them it will be 90 days maximum before the images are done from the wedding. We tell them after the final details meeting it will be 90 days. We send them email the day after the wedding telling them it will be 90 days. We tell them, tell them again then remind them of what we told them. It seems like we tell them allot, but this ensures that they know what to expect, and then WHEN we turn the images around faster, they are guaranteed to be stoked! Repetition Creates Clarity.     Systemized Mangagement Practices Having easily repeatable processes in the management of your... Read More

Tuesday Photography Tips & Tricks | Making Money Pt. 3 – Value Creation

The last and most important step to creating income in your business is demonstration of VALUE.     Value: (Verb) Estimate the Monetary WORTH of something – (Noun) The importance or PRECIOUSNESS of something     When out “selling” or marketing our business to a prospect (someone that we want to turn into a paying client) we can many times make a mistake in how we demonstrate value to them. We often think that our “art” has innate value and therefore if we present that art to a prospect, they should be willing to pay for it.  So a client emails us an inquiry and we email back our price list, never to hear from them again. What happened? They saw our art on the site, emailed us, we told them the price and we never heard from them again. That sucks.   Sometimes we make it past the initial email, the client shows up at our door (or at Starbucks) and we show them more value by letting them see printed versions of our art in an album. Then they ask the price of the album, they say they will “think” about it, once more never hear from them again. What is going on??!!   People will ALWAYS spend money on something that they value if they have the means to do so (or think they have the means). Once the price outweighs the value, they stop spending every single time. If two products or services have the same perceived value, the customer will almost always choose the cheaper of the two.   Example:  Harvest download on business: 4 hours of content, discounts from sponsors –... Read More