WELCOME TO THE BLOG
“When you are unqualified to succeed, prove them wrong.”
Join me on this podcast with the Fireside Network as I share how becoming qualified to be a success may not be what you think it is. I get into my past, our present and where we are going next and give you guys some powerful tools to help you get exactly where you want to go.
Listen to the podcast HERE
PS. Are you stuck and can’t seem to get your brand moving? Now is the time to make a serious change. Get the Harvest DVD HERE and we know it will move you forward!
Have you ever felt like you don’t really run a REAL business and that you are just sort of faking it? We know we have.
One of the hardest things about running a business is believing in yourself and what you do. We struggle with these thoughts all the time – feeling like we don’t really create anything of value and no one is paying attention.
You are Normal
It is totally normal to feel that way, especially because many of us run a non-traditional business. We don’t get up and “go to work” for 8 hours a day and then come home to see the kids. Many of us work at Starbucks for a few hours (which is where I am when I am writing this post:) or our kids are in and out of our home office/living room while we are getting things done.
The nature of this job makes it feel fake sometimes, but we want to let you know that what you do is anything but. You guys are impacting marriages, creating amazing memories for people that love each other and their families, and you are making a huge difference. Even though it may not always feel like it, you are impacting the world one shoot at a time.
Let this simple blog post be encouragement to you that you are doing something that matters – and it is very real.
PS. Do you have any friends that need to hear this message? Click here to tweet this blog post out to any friends that need to hear about it!
“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.”
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 now
•Break those down into incremental goals
•Come up with a monthly income goal based on that 10 year plan
•Post the number where you will see it each day
Adjust that number every time your earnings go up or down
2. Commit to what you do best
Take the first 10-15 minutes of each work day and delegate tasks that you are not good at. Stop doing things you stink at because it wastes your time developing your strengths!! You have to eliminate distractions in your business so that you can focus on becoming great at what you do best.
3. Follow the money
Most of us follow our passion and HOPE that money will follow it. Guess what? It WON’T! You have to do what you love, but figure out how to make money doing that. MOST photographers are NOT earning a lot of money, so the last place you should look to advice is from other photographers. Instead, spend your time looking at highly successful brands like Disney, Apple and Starbucks and emulate the way they create value and sell and price their products. Stop and THINK about how you can earn more doing what you love.
4. Climb the line-of-money ladder
•Charging by the HOUR is the hardest way to build wealth. If you do jobs and get paid for each hour of work, then you cap out because you only have so many hours in the day.
•Charging by the PROJECT is better because when you make xxxx on a project, and then learn how to get that project done faster (by outsourcing tedious tasks like editing), then you can take on more projects and earn more.
•Getting a percentage of profits for a job is even better because as that work continues to create value, you keep getting paid. Commercial shooters can do this by working out licensing deals on their work, and wedding photographers can do this by not offering packages. When a wedding photographer is A la Carte, they can create value over time and the client will spend more based on that value.
•Proprietary Pricing is the BEST way to build wealth. This type of pricing is all about equity. Owning a part of, or all of a brand or business. As a wedding photographer you may thing that this is not possible, but what if you build up enough capital to start another brand that you own or own a percentage of? Then you have other people working for you and you make the money while they work.
Or, maybe you have a unique offering, talent, or ability to teach something unique. You can then use that talent to offer products and services to your industry and make a percentage of all the sales it generates.
Remember that no one builds wealth by going into debt, no one builds wealth by spending time figuring out how to pay less taxes, and no one builds wealth with credit card points and cash back. They build wealth by doing what wealthy people do.
PS. If you want to build a strong brand that earns you the money you deserve, check out the Harvest DVD that has helped hundreds of photographers double their income and earn more!
PS. Are you a photographer looking to enhance your craft, infuse more authenticity into your work, and create an exceptional tangible experience for your clients? If so, join Luke and Cat in their new educational adventures for 2015, including the free e-newsletter for photographers, Life & Craft. Also keep an eye out for the exciting workshop experience they are planning to unveil in late 2015.Join their mailing list to stay up to date and receive free educational resources, or inquire for one on one coaching opportunities!
We have a treat for you guys today!
The brilliant and talented Katelyn James is sharing how you can charge more than what you’re images are worth. Intrigued?
Before we hand it over to Katelyn, for those of you who may not be familiar with her, let us brag on her for a second! We could tell you how she brilliantly started her business out of her dorm room and is now charging a premium for her services, or we could share all the publications she’s been published in or how she’s the leader in building community with her brides, or we could share about her crazy talent for brand and design (don’t even get us started on her interior design!), but we won’t :)
Instead, let us brag on how she is truly such a genuine, caring person, with such a sweet spirit with a heart of gold :) We hope you get the chance to meet her and her husband Michael one day and you’ll see that we’re exactly right.
In the meantime, enjoy her post on how to charge more!
I’m Katelyn and it’s an honor to connect with all of you! I’m excited to share some of the foundational steps that we have taken to catapult our wedding photography business!! We have brought in a 6 figure income for the past 4 years and that’s not easy to do when you’re in a heavily saturated and ever-growing industry!!
I’ve said it before and I stand by this bold statement… I honestly think that my work is worth about $3200. Based on my image quality and my experience, I think $3200 would be a fair price. I’ve been in business going on eight years now and I’m amazed at the fact that almost all of the young, female photographers shoot with the exact same equipment! This means that our work looks very similar! So how in the world am I charging well over $7000 for my wedding photography services when my images quality is worth around $3200 and the industry is over saturated? Community & Value. That’s the answer!
For years we have been studying our own business and what we have found that WORKS is a very simple concept. Serve people, build community, and VALUE will follow. I have created a marketing strategy around the fact that brides long to have community and they desire an EXPERIENCE… not just pretty wedding pictures. I have adopted Seth Godin’s “Tribes” approach to my business and I have united my “KJ Brides” to form a community that allows our value to sky rocket!! The more that our community grows and strengthens, the more we are in demand. The more we are in demand, the more we raise our prices!
So how do you increase the value of your services? Think about it, if you only market with your images, you only have one area of your business that is defining your value. One dimensional value isn’t reliable or scalable. If you begin leading and growing a community around your brand, you instantly have value in who you are personally and what your client’s experience offers to your community. Instead of just basing our value on our image quality, we have created value through our reputation, our personalities, our KJ community, and the scarcity of our services. If you want to be a KJ Bride, there are only 30 spots a year! We’ve realized that our value isn’t upheld simply by how beautiful our work is, it’s determined by the way we serve our couples.
Ultimately, the mission of our business is to serve couples and enhance their marriages by being an example. Sure, we want to make a great profit, but we want our business to be “life-changing” and not just “money making” at the end of the day. The crazy thing is, the more we focus on service, the more valuable we become. It’s a wonderful cycle!
So what are some practical ways to start building your community and increasing your value? Here are five steps that you can begin implementing today!
1. Decide to prioritize forming community over just finding customers
It’s a mindset change. We’re not about the transaction, we’re about the relationship!
2. Accept your leadership position in the community that you’re starting to form and SHOW UP!
Be consistent in how you connect to your community whether that’s through Instagram, Facebook, your blog, etc.
3. Analyze your online and social media presence
Are you just pushing your images out to potential clients or are you showing who you are and why your community loves and supports you and your business?
4. Exceed EVERY expectation
When you combine your relationship with your client with the power of exceeding expectations, that’s a recipe for the best reputation in town!
5. Educate your current and future community
Consistently show how you love and serve your clients so that future clients desire that before they even book with you.
Here’s to growing communities, building value and making a difference with our businesses!!!
We hope you enjoyed this as much as we did! No go ahead and start implementing the items Katelyn shared!
PS. If you enjoyed this and you’d like to receive more educational resources, you can download Katelyn’s latest E-book (“Our Top 5 Most Profitable Business Decisions” for FREE by clicking HERE!
I didn’t care if my son ever knew who Elmo was…
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?
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 deep, and heartfelt, and that your client can connect to emotionally?
What bio image are you showing of yourself? Are you showing a rockin’ photo where you love how cool you look, or ones that show your personality where a client can actually CONNECT with?
Here’s a great example of a photography duo based out of Louisiana who have updated the home page of their site with a super approachable and emotional grabbing image of themselves.
Strategically think about the images you’re posting and how you can tweak them to connect emotionally to your potential client!
I never thought I would want anything to do with Elmo, but who knew that he would actually help make all of our businesses better.
Thanks Elmo :)
PS. We are announcing something really exciting next week with Shootflow and we just wanted to check in and make sure that you are on the Shootflow list so you don’t miss out!
This software is sooooooo close to launch and a select few of you will get to be a part of something really cool with it! Enter your name and email HERE so you don’ t miss out on the announcement!
…I am sooo glad that we have never had to say this! :)
Now that we have your attention though, read on so that YOU never say this to a client.
Step #1 – Download the Safest Way Possible
I first download all the images using the SD cards ONLY from my Canon 5d3. I use the SD cards because they only have a contact plate instead of 16 pins (like in your CF card) and there is less chance of breaking something when it is removed from the camera.
I only download them in the office on a quality, Lexar USB 3 card reader that never leaves my office. It never leaves the office because the reader or the cables it uses can be damaged during travel, which gives you a higher chance of card failure. Most failures happen not from your cards, but from something your card interacts with (camera, bad card reader, the environment, water, heat or impact).
If you download more than 2 cards per-shoot, then you can check out the Lexar Hub that allows you to add any type of reader to that hub (up to 4). You can add anSD reader, or a CF card reader. You will need 1 of these for each card (and type) you download and this allows you to download them all at once instead of one at a time (which wastes time).
(Side note: I shoot all images on Sandisk 64 gig Extreme Pro SD and CF cards MIRRORED on the 5d3. Every time I shoot an image it’s recorded to BOTH cards at the same time. I NEVER open the CF card door during a shoot since that gives the highest potential for an error. I only open the CF card door once I am home, in my office in a safe environment. If I have any camera issues during the shoot, which has happened once before, I grab my back-up camera and leave the main camera alone until I can look at it in a safe place).
Step #2 – Back-Up 1
I first copy my images directly to my main editing drive (and not to my computer) as I don’t want thousands of photos bogging down my laptop. I do NOT use any other program (like Lightroom) to move my photos for me as that just adds one more point in the system which could cause an error. I simply copy the images directly from the SD card, and paste them into my main editing drive.
My main editing drive ($349) is the G-Tech 4TB zero raid USB 3 drive. This drive writes all data to two hard drives that spin simultaneously in order to deliver data to your computer (using USB 3 connections) at around 250 Mbps. This is fast enough that you don’t notice any slow down versus having the data directly on your computer.
(It is NOT a mirror style back up even though it has two drives, so if you lose data on this, it is gone).
You also do NOT need the Thunderbolt version of this which costs an extra $150. The reason is that USB 3 can move data at 600 mbps and this drive can only spit out data from the spinning hard drives (that work in unison) at 250 mbps. You can only move data as fast as the slowest part of your system, and Thunderbolt only makes sense when sending multiple signals through one line.
Step #3 – Back-Up 2 & 3
Next I make two more copies (directly copied from my SD cards and NOT from the main editing drive copy) to my Black-X system.
This is essentially a port that accepts internal hard drives that you can buy for a reasonable price since they do not have cases, fans, and all the other stuff that external hard drives use. The Black-X is cheap and works really well for making extra back-ups without breaking the bank.
I use two 3TB Western Digital drives that then plug into the black-X and make my 2nd and 3rd back up copies on these.
Once the back-ups are complete, I take one of these Western Digital drives out of the Black-X, pack it up in the case it came in, and send it to a friends house for safe keeping (just in case the house burns down, gets broken into, or has something like water damage from a leak).
All of these back-ups happen simultaneously and it takes just a few minutes to copy my RAW files from the SD cards and start backing up to all 3 drives that I use.
(You will notice at the end of this post that I have TWO Black-X Drives. I bought mine before they had one Black-X drive that accepted TWO hard drives. You only need the one drive linked above and two internal drives to go into it).
Step #4 – Online Back-Up
Once I have all 3 back-ups complete, I edit the entire shoot (when we shot weddings, I did this the Tuesday after the wedding which was our first day back in the office), and then export the high-res JPG files to PASS.
PASS backs up the images on Amazon S3 servers for 10 years.
I now have 6 total back-ups of the images.
- 1 copy on my CF card/s (I never delete cards until JPG files are on PASS),
- 1 copy on my SD card/s
- 1 copy on my editing drive
- 1 copy on my Black-X drive 1
- 1 copy on my Black-X drive 2
- 1 copy of the JPG files on PASS
6 Total Copies
At this point (once all the files are edited and on PASS), I am free to move my Lightroom catalog off of my main editing drive and place it on my Black-X drive 1, and then delete the images from my main editing drive and from my CF and SD cards.
When all the dust settles, I will still have 2 copies in my office of the RAW files on my Black-X drives and 1 copy on PASS of the JPG files.
What I LOVE about this dock is that I can use my laptop (my only computer these days since it is so fast and powerful it is insane) and only have one cable connecting all my editing tools, then unplug that one cable, and go mobile easy and fast.
All my other devices like my external keyboard, mouse and Apple TrackPad are all connected with bluetooth.
As you can see, there are almost no cables plugged into my computer and everything is neat and tidy. I keep all my SD and CF cards in a card case to keep them organized and if a card is facing out (where you can see the red color from Sandisk) that means do NOT use it. Red=Dead.
You may also notice my Veri-Desk that holds my computer and my monitors. I will do a post on this coming soon, but this addition to my desk allows me to go from sitting to standing in seconds so that I don’t die early from sitting all day working. :)
Homework – Create YOUR System
The most important thing you can do after reading this post is create a system. A system means it is written down somewhere (either on paper or digitally) and each and every step of how you download and back up your files is checked off for each client as you go.
Having a system written down somewhere will help you to not make a mistake and get out on a shoot and wonder if you backed up your files you are about to shoot over. The last thing you want is to lose files due to a simple lack of a good system.
It is hard to believe that CONNECT 2015 has come and gone, and what an amazing week it was!
We booked out at 45 couples and it was such a great time of fellowship, learning, and RELAXING!
For those of you already asking, the next year’s dates have officially been set!
Mark your calendars:
May 2nd-May 5th, 2016!!
We will be launching CONNECT 2016 in a couple weeks so start setting aside the down payment ($249) to reserve your spot!
PS. CLICK here to share the CONNECT 2016 Dates!
PPS. Some attendees have already blogged on their experience! Feel free to check out their posts!
Drew & Veronica | We Thought We Were Going Just for Fun
Ryan & Alyssa | Where We Belong | CONNECT Retreat 2015
Trevor & Kari | CONNECT a Marriage Retreat
Chad & Amber | Freedom in Love
It’s time to find out the gender! Yes, we have waited the “old fashioned” way to find out at the anomaly scan instead of the newer bloodwork tests that can tell you two months sooner.
But here’s the kicker: even though the scan is today we aren’t finding out the gender until TOMORROW (Friday)!
When I (Jody) originally made the appointment we were both in town, but then Zach got asked to do a gig in Texas, which is causing him to miss the appointment! If we rescheduled we would have to wait another MONTH, and that wasn’t going to happen. ha.
So, I’m bringing a girlfriend for moral support, and I’m not going to look when they are finding out the gender! (This will be my biggest test of restraint yet. ha ha).
When Zach gets home later Friday evening, we’ll find out together… and we may just be sharing it live with you all on Pericsope! Stay tuned to our Instagram accounts (@ZachGray, @JodyGray & @ItstheGrayFamily) and facebook (Zach & Jody Photography) for us to share further details. If you want to watch, make sure you download the app and get it set up, and follow us at @ZachandJody.
In the meantime, what’s your guess? BOY OR GIRL?
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…
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 of the most important words we can hear are, “We’re in this together.” Communicating that kind of commitment can get a couple through almost anything.
#5. The Gift of Perspective
The intense focus of entrepreneurs enables massive creativity and achievement, but it can come at the cost of perspective. I can easily think that everything in my world rises or falls with the next project. Gail keeps the wide angle I sometimes lose.
Read the rest of Michael’s post at… http://michaelhyatt.com/how-
Have a great, productive week and don’t forget to spend time with the people you created this business to serve!
We’re pregnant, y’all!
… and you thought since we were in a newly built house we were were talking about putting an addition on… :) Yes, we’ll be adding to our house, but not with construction – with a baby!
We are SUPER excited for our family to be growing and I have been so ready to be pregnant again! We knew we always wanted more than one kid and were hoping and praying that it would happen, and here we are! Pregnant once again! Ahhhhhhhhh! Jaxon is going to be a big brother! We’re going to be a family of FOUR… that’s crazy. And awesome. And exciting. REALLY exciting.
Here are the answers to the most common questions we get:
How far along are you?
19 weeks this Thursday (4/16)
When’s your due date?
How have you been feeling?
I’ve been feeling GREAT! With Jaxon’s pregnancy I felt pretty normal besides being a little tired and my growing midsection and this pregnancy has pretty much been the same! I had about 2 weeks (around 8 and 9) where I would feel slightly queezy in the evenings, but that went away and I’ve been feeling great ever since.
Are you going to find out what it is?
As a matter of fact we are pretty much 100% certain it’s a human… Hahaha. We’re so funny. But in all seriousness, heck yes. We are totally going to find out the gender. Are you crazy?? We gotta plan AND we’ll need time to mentally prepare ourselves if I (Jody) am going to be REALLY outnumbered with the guy/girl ratio or if the scale will start to lean in my favor. Girls unite!!
When do you find out the gender?
Why wait to spill the beans now?
At first, we wanted to keep it on the down low due to the losses we previously experienced… just in case. And then WPPI in Vegas was coming up and we were going to be seeing so many of our friends in person so we thought that we would share it in person then, which was SO fun to do… and lately we have been just straight up BUSY. With the new software we are working on, our free time has been spent getting that ready for launch, so there hasn’t been much time to write any personal blog posts. ha.
Now that this is officially out in the open and public (“Facebook Official”), we’ll be sharing baby bump pics and bringing you along for the ride. Make sure to follow our journey on our family Instagram @itsthegrayfamily, and stay tuned for another exciting place where you may see us online soon :)
Thanks for taking part and joining us in our excitement :)
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.
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 content is interesting. Think before you post, and post things that OTHER people will find interesting, and specifically, your target audience will think is interesting.
2. Be Helpful
If you help people, they will feel reciprocity and want to help YOU in return. If someone needs something, send them a link. If someone needs a resource, be that resource or find it for them.
3. Be Funny
People LOVE to laugh and engage big time when things are funny. Be creative with your funny posts and make sure that your humor lines up with your audience. (Just because you think a car crash is funny, doesn’t mean someone else does :)
If it isn’t Interesting, Helpful or Funny, chances are you should’t post it (unless your goal is to alienate large amounts of people).
Focus on them and not you.
When posting messages, you should also NOT try and have the entire focus be on marketing your brand and talking about YOU and all the cool things YOU do. No one cares about you (sorry but that is the truth people!), but rather they care about themselves. So, if you are creating something for social media and want it to reach people, it needs to be things that THEY care about and that help THEM.
If you are the person that creates helpful content that enhances their lives, they feel reciprocity and will want to give back to you when you (on rare occasion), talk about yourself.
If you shoot maternity photos, then your social media “marketing” could be on “the top 10 Lifesavers for new Moms” or the “Best Baby Books for raising a Smart Kid” type of stuff. Then insert Funny and Interesting side anecdotes.
Become a resource that enhances your clients lives, and they will be your clients for life. (Click HERE to Tweet that quote out!)
Resources for further study
Read a few blog posts on your own about “Clever ways to use More Visual on Social Media”
PS. Interested in having a simple way to manage your ENTIRE wedding business?
Click here to sign up for news about the launch of our brand new software, Shootflow!
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 emotional connection and a great experience, they paid 2x, 3x and even 4x what they initially thought they would spend!
For us that meant a $3,000 bride up front would turn into a $12,000 bride by the time we were done. And this wasn’t just some fluke with our brand. Luke and Cat saw this to the tune of over $400,000 in sales last year using this same idea, and we could go on and on of countless photographers we have personally coached that have had amazing results.
“People make purchasing decisions based on their emotional connection to a product or service.”
-Jack Trout, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
How do I do that?
First, begin to connect to your clients emotionally and start by telling your best stories. What you need more than anything is to learn how to tell your own photographic stories in a highly engaging way. Once you learn how to craft the message of a powerful story (one you photographed), then you are at the beginning of the journey with your clients to give them much more than they thought they would get.
Value is creating through connection (Tweet this out!) and once your client connects emotionally to what you do, it’s the beginning of a great experience where trust is built which leads them to becoming willing to gladly invest back in to your business by paying you more.
PS. The next key is having a step-by-step process to follow that helps you easily create a dynamic, emotionally connected experience for your clients. Our workflow system that is ALMOST done will do it FOR you… If you want to hear more about it, just click the link below. It is coming soon!
“Success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.”
Greg Mckeown - Essentialism
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
The simple answer to living a life that has margin, is 3 parts:
If we focus on what we should be doing and take our focus OFF of what we should not be doing, we get a clear vision for where we need to go and life gets a lot more simple.
Dave Ramsey says that we must be intensely focused on our goals in order to make them into a reality faster. We are hyper focused these days on doing ONLY what matters most.
You need quality time spent focused with intensity on what is truly essential to your brand, and when you spend that time MAKING your business behave, it creates what we all dream of, margin.
Margin allows us to bring our son with us to a gig and not feel overwhelmed. Margin allows us to take the morning off and re-connect with each other if we need to. Margin allows us to feel free during our daily working routine and not tied to the million to-do’s we have to get done.
You need margin in your life to create the freedom you need to live, and that comes with focused intensity. (Tweet this out!)
Have an amazing day!
PS. If you need margin, then be sure to sign up for something we are creating that will give you margin and is going to help give you your life back. Sign up HERE for more info!
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 don’t even know what actually IS important.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have someone, or something take care of all the meaningless tasks that distract you from your main contribution – from what’s most important?
This is exactly why we have spent the last year developing a software for wedding photographers that will take care of your business so you can do what you are most excited about; so you can focus on your highest point of contribution.
We created Shootflow so we could get back to what matters most. What matters most to me is my family.
What is your highest point of contribution?
Share with us in the comments the one thing that is the most important to you in your business and in your life. We’d love to hear from you.
PS. Interested in Shootflow? Click here to sign up and be one of the first to find out more!
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!
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 now!
One of the most common questions we get asked from photographers is, “When is it a smart decision to quit my day job?” If you’re in that position, we want to help guide you through that tough decision to make!
It was 8 years ago that we decided to pursue photography as a career. At that point in our lives, Zach worked for a company that photographed and produced images for grade-school yearbooks, and Jody worked in international sales and marketing for a record label. We learned learned a lot over the years about how to keep our business functioning day in and day out and one of the hardest decisions we had to make early on in our business was quitting our day jobs.
The struggle came when we were gaining huge momentum and found ourselves in the middle of shooting 30+ weddings our 2nd year into business and we both were working crazy hard. Zach had quit his job 10 months prior but Jody was working 80-90 hour weeks between her day job and photography. We had a come-to-Jesus-meeting about how much time we were spending business building vs. marriage building (business building was WAY significantly more) and sat down and decided that WE were going to take control of our future.
We sought the advice of a few different counselors including the brilliant financial mind of Dave Ramsey. We wrote out our plan, did what was right based on our marriage relationship, and what we needed instead of what we feared (losing our “security” of the day jobs) and moved forward. We ended the year with a bang and our business continued to thrive and grow each year after.
So how did we practically make the leap? What were the steps we took?
PS. Next week, we’re going to share a brand-new video series on the secrets to running a successful photography business. As a subscriber, you’ll get it for free. But if you want to share this with a friend, please click this link to tweet it: http://ctt.ec/4wVa4.
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.
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. We traveled across the globe speaking at conventions and teaching workshops. We saved up for a house, bought our first home.
It seemed like everything we set out to do and worked hard for, just worked.
Long gone was the GED high school graduate wondering if he could ever amount to anything. Long gone was the college graduate wondering what in the world she was going to do with her life.
We had purpose. We had success.
And then the crap hit the fan…
The one thing we wanted the most and worked the hardest for wasn’t happening. We were having extreme difficulty staying pregnant.
It was in the middle of that struggle and in those dark moments that the success we had strived for and achieved seemed trivial. So silly. So pointless. We would have traded in a heartbeat our incomes, our home, anything, for what was really important—a family. Someone to raise. Someone to love. Someone that’s half of each of us. Our legacy.
Now that we have been blessed with a child on this side of heaven, our lives have been richer than we ever could have thought possible. Having our lives become about something more important than us has been way more fulfilling than making a great income or living in a beautiful home.
Yes, it’s easy to get sucked back into the rat race – it will always be beckoning, but success to us now has transformed into things that are more long-lasting. Things that matter more. There is nothing wrong with hard work and enjoying the harvest from that work. However, when our whole purpose becomes striving after goals and achievements that will soon fade away, we soon are left more unfulfilled than we may have thought possible.
Success to us now looks a little different. Yes, having a profitable business is still a goal, but ultimately striving for our own achievements and making ourselves happy is not fulfilling. Giving of ourselves for someone else and for a greater purpose is what true success is for us.
To read from the other authors and hear their spin on success, download the free ebook now.
PS. We are working on a free video series about the lessons we’ve learned in owning a successful photography business… stay tuned!
This is my (Zach’s) second time working with the amazing George Twins. I shot all of their promo work for their Youtube channel back in 2014 and am proud that I got to be on the team! One of their recent videos even hit over 2.4 million views!
Here is some of the work that I did for the continuing promo. This year they are putting out 12 singles, one each month, of new originals and covers and will use some of these images for that as well as Youtube. I also shot video of the entire shoot, and am cutting together some really cool behind the scenes for anyone wanting to know exactly how I shot this!
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 sure that they would want to give back to us yet again.
This is what you need more than anything in your business! Venues, planners and PEOPLE that want to help you because you have helped them, and then the cycle repeats. This is how you will get referrals coming your way like you would not believe and how you build a lasting business. Go out TODAY and give.
PS. Start the conversation below and let us know how you build reciprocity or what you are going to do today to start!