We received the coolest award… but our Bride didn’t care | (Guest post)

At any point in your life have you ever stopped and realized that you were completely focused on the wrong thing? Today, we want to share with you a guest post from none other than our good and ridiculously talented friends, Luke & Cat, who want to help your business grow by making sure you’re not putting ALL your attention on the wrong thing. For those of you who may not be familiar with this dynamic duo, four years ago they took a step away from their generational cattle business and dived into photography. Through implementing many marketing and branding tactics, and focusing on giving their clients a unique experience, they became extremely successful in their 2nd year in business, and have continued to make an incredible income each year thereafter. On a personal note, these two crack us up with their big hearts and laughter, and we hope you have the pleasure of meeting them one day soon :) Blessings,     Hey Friends! We are Luke & Cat, cattle ranchers turned wedding photographers, and we are beyond excited to share how we found out that getting published wasn’t what our brides really wanted. Magazine covers and editorial awards are worth celebrating, but they aren’t what have generated our leads or our six-figure salaries.  We can’t wait to reveal why—read on: At the tender age of eight, Cat was competing against grown men at cattle shows—and beating them, too. She was even on the front cover of Shorthorn Country magazine, which in Cat’s world was better than Seventeen. Her family loved the fact that she was embracing the cattle world and... Read More

How Elmo can Change your Business

I didn’t care if my son ever knew who Elmo was… …until now. Let’s rewind… Many years ago when I (Jody) was young, I remember babysitting and being SO sick of watching Barney and Sesame Street over and over again, I knew I didn’t want that insanity going on in my own home (ha ha) and now we have an 18 month old son and I am proud to say he has no idea who Barney, Big Bird, Mickey Mouse, Dora and all the other characters are. HOWEVER, as we were walking through the store the other day, we decided to walk through the kids department (bad idea if you aren’t looking to spend money : ) and I saw this box: All of a sudden I had this overwhelming desire to buy this Elmo doll for our son. What changed in me? Did the box demonstrate how soft Elmo was or how he has this amazing (or annoying, depending on how you look at it ;) laugh? Or was it even the price point that caught my attention? Nope! What got me was the shot of this young boy with such joy as Elmo was hugging him and I wanted Jaxon to experience that joy. Your potential clients feel the same way. Jack Trout in, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing says, “People make purchasing decisions based on their emotional connection to a product.” Ask yourself these questions… What images are you showing on your site that connects to your client’s emotionally? Are you showing only cool, images like this? Or are you also including image that are... Read More

How to succeed at work without blowing up your marriage… (Excerpt by Michael Hyatt)

For those of us who are married, probably one of the last reasons we wanted to start our business was so we could have a below average marriage. But, let’s be honest, running a business (whether with your spouse or not) can definitely take its toll. We are big followers of Michael Hyatt, and in honor of us just coming off theCONNECT retreat (a Christian retreat for couples in business) we wanted to share with you part of a post he recently published… Enjoy! How Entrepreneurs Can Succeed at Work Without Blowing Up Their Marriages 5 Gifts for Building a Great Relationship with Your Spouse Excerpt from Michael Hyatt.com #1. The Gift of Honor Our spouses are more important than our work, whatever that work may be. To give this gift, we esteem and value what our spouses esteem and value. We give priority to their priorities, and use our words to praise and uplift, especially when our spouses are absent. #2. The Gift of Awareness It’s easy in the hyper focus of hard-drivers to see themselves as the center of the show. We’re not—no matter how much money we make. We need to be aware of all the material and nonmaterial contributions our spouses make to our lives. #3. The Gift of Inclusion Including our spouses in our businesses creates intimacy, builds trust, and brings us together. Whether it’s just receiving input or counsel, or getting into the nitty-gritty details of the business, our marriages win if we keep our spouses in the loop. #4. The Gift of Commitment Given the risk inherent to the entrepreneurial lifestyle, some... Read More

Reset your business now

“Success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.” Greg Mckeown – Essentialism Reset Conference We just returned from teaching as the keynote speakers of the Reset Conference in Champaign, IL and it was an awesome time hanging with the sold-out crowd of 150 photographers that attended. Being at a conference with the name “Reset” reminded us of something really key. All these photographers were coming to step back and take a look at what they were REALLY doing in their business, and reset if they needed to. All of us want to get on track and get successful, but we learned to navigate what we all want more than anything, success, with a little caution. One of the worst things that can happen in your brand is to get successful. Because when that happens, you now have tons of great opportunities coming at you and it becomes hard to say YES to what TRULY matters.   Speaking with our son in tow Here we were taking 2.5 days to travel, teach, leave our home and our business for the weekend and bring our son along. And you know what? It was really easy and fun! The reason for that is that we have already “reset” our business and started many years ago to focus on what truly matters most, and not allow lots of opportunity to distract us from our purpose. We have created a business that has margin, so our lives can have the space we need to do things like this and bring our son along for the ride. How We Made a business with margin... Read More

…and the point is??

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What in the world am I doing here and why am I doing this?” “There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in. And although many of them may be good, or even very good, the fact is that most are trivial and few are vital.” -Greg Mckeown, Essentialism What am I focused on? As I (Zach) was on a four hour flight from Nashville to Las Vagas for WPPI two weeks ago, I was reading Essentialism by Greg Mckeown. In his book he asks, “What is your highest point of contribution?” … In essence he’s asking, “What is the one thing that actually matters more in your life and business?” When I took a moment to answer this question something very interesting happened to me… I had no answer. I sat for about 30 minutes pondering what my highest point of contribution was in our business. Still, I didn’t know what it was. Jody and I were headed out to the biggest wedding and portrait convention in the USA to teach, speak, lead workshops and connect with the people and companies that we work with, and this question kept nagging me… WHY are we here and WHAT are we doing this for?  Do you ever find yourself asking that question? Spread too thin Oftentimes our lives are so busy just trying to stay afloat with our shoots, clients, spouse, kids, grocery runs, managing the books, cleaning, and just LIFE that it’s hard to have time to focus on what’s really important. Sometimes we... Read More

Did you miss the big announcement?

Are you a wedding photographer looking to get your life back? ​ Instead of trying to figure out the best system to keep your clients happy, organized, and energized to tell all their friends about you, wouldn’t it be awesome to just HAVE the perfect system? This is exactly what we have been working on, just for you. For more information you can sign up HERE. Watch our videos that released last week sharing more about this exciting piece of software! The #1 Question Photographers Ask   The Biggest Pain You Face as a Photographer   What it Really takes to Succeed   PS. Shootflow will go into Beta soon, and we are only taking a very limited amount of sign-ups when it launches, so if you want it, sign up... Read More

The Surprise of Success | 15 Tips on Living the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of

What is success? Ever sit down and truly ask yourself that question? Ever felt like you reached what you thought was “success” and you had some surprises? We’d love to share with you an ebook that we are a part of – The Surprise of Success | 15 Tips on Living the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of. This project was lead by author Jeff Goins and we’re incredibly honored to be a contributor amid so many other great writers, speakers and bloggers. Get your free copy of this ebook!   We wanted to share with you our contribution: Success comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s ambiguous. It’s subjective. Success to one person may be making a 6-figure income, even if it demands 60 hours a week, and success to another may be making just enough so they can be home and available to their family. When we first got married back in 2005, all we had between the two of us was a GED, a college degree, a few thousand dollars in debt, and an income of 24,000. Success to us at that point was finding jobs we loved, paying off our debt and saving up to eventually buy a home. Fast forward nine years to present day and one could safely say that we achieved success beyond what we ever could have possibly dared to dream as newlyweds. We paid off our debt, started our own business, eventually quit our day jobs, and we not only excelled at our profession but began to teach others how to be great at their craft and thrive in business.... Read More

Reciprocity & Why you Need some NOW!

    When we first got married we read a book called The Most Important Year, and one of the chapters was called the “Yes Spiral.” It taught us that if I (Zach) said yes to 99% of Jody’s requests (even if they were inconvenient), that she would want to say yes to more of the things I asked of her. Simple, yet powerful. This is called Reciprocity. The idea that if I do something for you, then you feel obligated to do something for me and the cycle repeats. (Tweet this message out to your network!) You NEED this bad right now in your business. You need to be trying to out-serve the community that you are in. If you are shooting weddings, find out what wedding planners need and offer it to them. If you work with venues in your area, find out what they need and offer it to them TODAY! Don’t wait! Everyone has some needs that overlap, like being appreciated, loved and made to feel important. Use social media, coffee and dinner hang outs to reinforce this need in others. This is how we initially built our brand and trust us, it works. This is Chris and Kira from Chris Willis Photography who drove 4 hours round trip on Saturday to come and help me (Zach) with my George Twins shoot. Why did they come all that way to help me for free? Reciprocity. They follow our online content that we give away, and wanted to come and give back. I then decided to give more and had lunch with them and we talked about business and personal stuff and I am... Read More

Top Survival Tips for Mom-tographers | Part II of the Mom Series

In my previous post, I (Jody) shared the adjustment we went through adding our son Jaxon to our family and about my struggle with how business fit in with my new responsibilities as a mom. For today’s blog I want to share with you practical tips that not only myself, but other moms in the industry have put in place to avoid meltdowns and going crazy. :) I know and respect these women and hope you enjoy learning from the diverse group we have below. Without any further ado, I first introduce to you… Leeann Marie of Leeann Marie Collective What you need to know about Leeann: We first met Leeann when we were a part of a tour back in 2012 and she was a fellow speaker.  She was sharing on studio workflow management and how to get organized and become efficient so you can spend more time doing what you love. Her efficiency blew me away, and when I found out she was having a kid I was SUPER curious to know how she was going to make the adjustments to having a child in her life. Leeann is sweet and totally fun and generous and has recently started Baby Plus Business – a resource and community to help other moms who walk the fine line of being a mom and business owner. Make sure to follow her and you’ll soon get more information! (Heads up, if you’re going to WPPI, make sure to read below where you can see and learn from her!). (image by AnnLouisePhotography.com) How long have you been in business: 6 years How long... Read More

How I Survived the Transition from Business Owner to Biz Owner + MOM | Part I of the Mom Series

It has been a year and two months since we have added a third person to our lives and business – Jaxon Pierce Gray joined our team November 7th, 2013. (image by DavidMolnar.com) It seriously has been such a blast having a kid, but as with any new addition to a family, there’s always adjustment that takes place.  Many of you have wondered how we are making it work and so I (Jody) thought that we would dedicate a blog post to share not only our journey of adjusting with Jaxon now being a part of our lives, but I also wanted to let other full time moms who are also business owners share how they are balancing the act of being mom and business professional. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a… business! I always thought that I would be one of those women who needed a career once I had kids… just for sanity’s sake. You know, trading the shirt covered in spit up for a cute top and have some good ‘ol adult, human interaction. Then I had our first kid and that all changed :) (image by DavidMolnar.com) A little over a year and a half ago, we found ourselves pregnant, and because we had no idea what to expect, we planned and prepared to take a few months off once Jaxon came into this world. Our little Jax was born, and it was a fun time of stepping away from our business and just being able to focus on this new little person in our lives. Soon, it was time for both... Read More

6 keys to Accomplishing More in Less Time

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” Elbert Hubbard After 8 years of working in the same room with my incredibly talented wife, something interesting happened. She moved. Now, she didn’t move out of the house or anything, just to her own office down the hall. It didn’t happen because she was annoyed with me (well…. maybe a little), and not beacause we don’t communicate well. We just needed a little extra space, and because we have the room in our new house, we did it. What it reminded me of was something more important about work space that we wanted to share with you all. Having a focused space for work is critical to getting tasks accomplished and having your time spent working be effective. Here are the 6 keys to accomplishing more in less time. 1. Get a door. If you have to hang a sheet up in your living room to clearly define your working space, clean out a bedroom that is not being used, or rent some cheap office space, you NEED a private place to do work. When you go in, you work, and when you leave, you are done working. Create that separation and you will get more things done in a shorter amount of time. 2. Eat & Read each morning.  My goal is to spend 10-15 minutes reading something that nourishes my mind and soul, and to eat well each morning. Every other day my goal is to spend 10 minutes working out using Burst Training... Read More

2015 Business Reboot Winner!

We have a winner for the 2015 REBOOT giveaway!! The incredibly adorable and fun Leigh Schrage from Schrage Photography has been randomly selected for this giveaway!   There were over 15,000 entries into the contest and we wanted to thank all of you for putting this out there and talking about it! Leigh will come and spend the day with us for a FULL-DAY coaching session and get our entire Digital Workshop pack from our store plus a bunch of other awesome goodies!  We can’t wait to spend the day with her and share her 2015 story with you guys on the blog! Wish Leigh a congratulations! If you didn’t win, don’t worry!  We will have more giveaways throughout this year – one even being this month so stay tuned! Thanks to all the fabulous companies who made this possible!   The Design Space SanDisk KISSbooks Showit... 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

Win a Full Conference Pass to Imaging USA!

We are pumped to be back speaking the Imaging USA photo conference in February right here in Nashville, TN!! MARK YOUR CALENDAR Conference: Feb 1-3, 2015 Our Platform Class: Sunday, Feb 1st, 7:30am-9:30am, How to Avoid What Most Small Businesses Do – Fail (You are welcome to come in your Pajamas :) Imaging USA is a fabulous 3 day event where you get to not only learn from your favorite photographers, but you get to see your favorite companies, in the flesh, and be exposed to the latest and greatest in the industry. In honor of us being a part of this conference, we are giving away ONE FULL CONFERENCE pass!!   How to Enter to Win: Simply Tweet: “I would love to win a conference pass to @ImagingUSA and also hear @ZachandJody speak! You can win one too at: http://bit.ly/ImagingUSA” Winner will be selected at random on Monday and notified via twitter! Can’t wait to see you all there!   PS. We are tossing entertaining the idea of facilitating a mini-workshop in Nashville, the day before PPA begins (on Saturday, Jan 31st), if you’re interested, we’d love to hear from you.  Email us at info@zachandjody.com or leave a comment below letting us know if it’s something you would like to be a part of and what you would love for it to be on (natural light shoot, posing, off-camera light, business, a photowalk, etc.). Stay tuned!... Read More

3 Words you should never say at a sales meeting

When meeting with a potential client, there are three words we should never use. When we do use these words, we might still book the client, but we can create major problems later on that we didn’t even realize would be an issue. The three words are: 1. Discount  This is a dangerous word. The word “discount” tends to come up when we get to the money part of the conversation. People ask for discounts for one reason, the price you are asking them to pay is more than the value that you created for them. (Click here to Tweet this out!) Instead of doing discounts, we need to add value. Value is added by creating a more dynamic client or meeting experience, demonstrating value by selling something MORE than just images (like a great story), or by adding something (like an engagement session) instead of taking something away (reducing your price). 2. No Unless something is asked that goes against your values, then we should never tell a client no. If a client wants a cardboard cut-out of themselves (yes we have been asked to do this!), then the answer is yes! If they want it, then we will deliver it. Now, of course we won’t do it for free and the client will have to pay for the time and resources it takes to do it, but like I (Zach) learned in my internship years back, MAKE IT HAPPEN! When we say no to something that a client thinks is important, we can lose their faith in us. We once shot a wedding and the client asked me to... Read More

2015 Photography Business Reboot | Official Rules

For those of you who like to know the nitty, gritty details, this is for you!   OFFICIAL RULES: By submitting an entry to the Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”), you acknowledge that you have read and agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Zach & Jody, and that you satisfy all eligibility requirements. The Sweepstakes (“Sweepstakes”) is open to all humans age 21 or older at time of entry. Residents of Taiwan, South Korea, Portugal, Italy, Austria, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Greece, France, Japan, Spain, and Czech Republic are not eligible to enter or win. Employees of Zach & Jody (the “Sponsor”), its respective parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, distributors, merchants involved with this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to enter or win. Sweepstakes governed by United States law. Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not improve your chances of winning. HOW TO ENTER: To enter the Sweepstakes, follow all onscreen instructions to complete and submit the online entry form (“Primary Entry”). You can earn an Additional Entry in the Sweepstakes when you send the Sweepstakes page to a friend, age 21 or older, by following the Additional Entry instructions on the screen (“Additional Entry”). The friend must enter the sweepstakes through your referral in order to get an additional entry. All entries must be received by December 26th, 2014(“Sweepstakes Entry Period”). Online entrants subject to all notices... Read More

The Business Of Photography | Workshop

When you start a photography business, there is this assumption that running a photography brand is you getting to shoot a ton of cool images and get paid to do it.   Unfortunately, that is not the WHOLE picture of what it really means to have a photography business. Jody and I have had the privilege of working with over 1,100 businesses and one theme has permeated them all. The management of their brand is the hardest part of what they do. This was our Zach and Jody Business workshop where we take all the proven tools and systems that make a photography brand a success, and walk along side each of our 35 students that came that day and help them implement that into their brand. We help them create a vision for their business, figure out how to keep their values and not compromise, and set goals that will work. Students are given the tools, the systems, and encouragement to start to believe that this business CAN be something that they love and that does not dominate their lives. For those that are starting out, this workshop gives them the blue-print for how to start RIGHT and not get stuck later on because they built it right from the start. We don’t think we know everything, so that is why we Skype in experts like Melissa Love who is a branding expert from the UK, and we also brought in Katelyn James who showed us how she creates community with her clients, and Luke and Cat who showed us how they have created a high-end brand in a... Read More

Why an Intro Video can book you MORE clients …and how to create one

The fall season is upon us and there is one thing that stinks about this time of year – business can get slow for LOTS of photographers out there! But, business being slow can be a blessing in disguise, and we are going to show what you should think about doing in the off-season and start planning it NOW! Why an intro video COULD book you more clients, and better clients come Christmas. We all know that right around and right after Christmas lots of couple’s get engaged, lots of people want family photos done and people are willing to start planning out the new year in style. This is your opportunity to showcase your brand and excite your clients about the experience that you can offer them. One of the BEST ways to do that is with an Intro Video on your website, and here are the 5 keys that you need to for a successful intro video! 1. Showcase Their Emotion Just like you would tell an engaging story at the booking meeting with a client, you want to draw out the emotional side of what you do. You want to show in this video that you are real people who care deeply about your clients and the story you get to tell for them. Showcase your clients laughing, some tears, some sort of great, genuine emotion with a focus on your couples (or families or whoever you shoot). 2. Showcase YOU   As important as it is to show potential clients what it is like to have their images taken, people will begin to trust you when... Read More

Someone To Guide You

Post By Zach| I was 22 years old and my biggest hope for my life was being the assistant manager at a tie store and getting a raise to $7.75 an hour so I could live on my own without the help of my mom. I didn’t go to school past the 3rd grade and my dad left when I was 5 years old and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I had a deep need for someone to guide me. I needed someone to see that I could be and do more with my life because I certainly couldn’t see it. One day the youth pastor from my small church took me out to a lunch that would change my life. He told me he believed in me and knew I could do more. Something amazing happened. I believed what he said and did it. I left Northern Minnesota 3 months later and never came back. That youth pastor was my first of many coaches (or mentors) over the years that would help me learn to see what I could’t and inspire me to something greater. Do you ever feel that you are stuck like I was back in MN? Do you feel like you want this business to move forward but are just running in place? Do you feel like you can’t see past today and don’t really know what tomorrow could hold for you? You might need a coach. Someone that can look you straight in the eye and tell you that they believe in you, that you can and will move forward and... Read More