The fam and I are just returning from a nice little getaway to the Caribbean. (That’s us!)
I feel so refreshed and inspired. I have some big plans in the works this month and I can’t wait to share them all with you.
Taking a vacation is amazing for so many reasons, but now more then ever, it feels like a huge accomplishment for me. You see, in the first few years of my business, I felt like I couldn’t even take a sick day, never mind taking a whole week to jet off to some all-inclusive island paradise with the whole family.
That’s because back when I started Heidi Hope Photography, running a business was the last thing from my mind. Sure, I cared about making money (we needed it!), but I assumed that if I focused all of my attention on creating the best work possible, the money would just come.
I didn’t know then what I know now.
I didn’t know then that there are thousands of extremely talented photographers who have businesses that are struggling.
I hadn’t yet met amazing artists who are actually LOSING money every year.
I didn’t know that good work means nothing if no one sees it.
I didn’t realize that sales numbers mean nothing without profitability.
I hadn’t learned the amazing secret that you can sell just about anything with the proper business foundation… and just about nothing without it.
Spend some time today looking around at the most successful photography businesses in your newsfeed. I’m not talking about the most fans or the most photographer followers, I’m talking about the best businesses with real paying customers.
You see, many times it is not the best photographer who gets the job.
It is the photographers that combine a solid portfolio with solid business practices (pricing, branding, marketing and sales) that ultimately land the client time after time.
In the past 2 years I’ve noticed that many photographers I work with are struggling with perfectionism. I totally understand it. I’m a recovering perfectionist myself. Of course we all want our work to be the best it can be.
The problem arises when we let our self-criticism hold us back from adequately valuing ourselves, our time and our work.
So many people think their work isn’t “good enough” to charge a fair wage. Or they use factors like the town they live in or what they could personally afford to price their work.
This is hurting their businesses on so many levels.
I saw this post from one of my January Photographer Rising Online Workshop attendees while I was away and I did a little jump for joy:
“First ordering appointment with my new pricing structure (based on how Heidi structures her Collections) and it was a $1749 sale!! (My average previously is $1050). Three 10×10 Organic Bloom frames on their way to my client! WOOT!”
You see, pricing is a simple formula. You have to take your personal evaluation of your work out of it when it is time to make your calculations.
Here are 3 things I learned about pricing over the years that have affected our sales dramatically! They are at the heart of what I teach and I’ve watched them turn countless businesses around. Try applying them to your pricing decisions and see how they work for you!
1: Price Yourself based on your Cost of Goods, Salary and Business Needs… and that’s it!
This is the number one mistake I see in creative businesses. People are pricing their work on so many subjective factors: the economy, the town their studio is in, how many Facebook fans they have, the other businesses around them, what they could personally afford, who is better or worse then them, what their friends say… the list goes on and on.
Pricing is simple math. It is black and white. What does your product cost to produce? How much do you need to charge above and beyond that to pay yourself and your business overhead?
Anything else you add into the equation is based on emotion, opinion and personal judgements. Trust me when I say that your bank account cares nothing about your opinion of who is better or worse then you or what your BFF thinks is expensive.
On top of that, our emotions are constantly changing. One day we are over-the-moon proud of a shoot, the next day we want to throw in the towel.
Are our momentary judgements of ourselves really a reliable foundation for our businesses?
It’s actually a huge relief to take emotion out of the pricing equation. You can tell your inner critic to take a hike! You can charge your prices confidently because you know exactly where all of the money is going.
It is liberating! Try it!
2: K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid!
When we first opened our studio we had so many adorable little goodies on our price list. From photo necklaces to playdate cards, we thought our extensive list of offerings was the cat’s meow.
The problem is, people become confused with too many choices. Customers become too afraid and overwhelmed to make a decision or, worse, they want endless substitutions.
In time we started taking all of the “extras” off of our product list, simplifying our collections, and grouping products to help minimize the decision making. And our sales rose steadily!
Look over your pricing today and think about how many choices clients have. Are there areas you could simplify?
3: Don’t drop the ball in the last inning!
Another huge mistake I made in the first few years was dropping the ball at the end of the process. I had done all of the planning, pulled off an amazing session, meticulously edited all of the photos, created a great slideshow and beautiful product offerings, done 90% of the job… and then left the ball in the clients’ court. How? I put everything up in an online gallery, emailed them a password, and crossed my fingers for the sale.
You are doing yourself a HUGE disservice if you do this. I highly recommend in-person sales, even if you don’t have a studio. Most photographers I know double their average once they start in-person sales! It isn’t because they are “selling.” It is because they are extending the level of service and expertise all the way through the end of the client experience.
Imagine twice the money for the same amount of work! Or working half as much and making the same amount!
Even if you aren’t ready for in-person sales just yet, you still have the opportunity to finish strong. In-person sales have many advantages, but essentially it isn’t about “selling” the client. It is about providing service and guidance right up to the end, which could be done in a number of ways. How can you help clients make a decision they will be thrilled with and choose the investment that they will value most?
You could easily do this with a phone appointment where you walk them through the ordering process. Or how about a Skype slideshow and gallery premier?
You are the expert, so don’t be afraid to help clients make the best choice! It’s a win-win!
Whether you are selling in person or not, schedule a final sales appointment into your routine. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
What is your greatest takeaway from today’s tips? Are you using these strategies in your business? I want to hear from you! Join the conversation in the comment section below… I love to know I’m not talking to myself!
Do you know someone who could use these tips? Go on and share this post with them! They’ll thank you!
PS: Our last HHP Workshop for Photographers is next week and then I start FAQ Friday back up! I’m so excited to finally be spending my Friday’s with you again! Keep an eye on social media for the call for questions and join us every Friday LIVE at 2pm EST on Google+ or Youtube for the broadcast.
Registration is filling up fast for my last 2 events of the year. After our June retreat, we will be focusing on busy season at the studio and our workshops won’t start back up until mid 2016. Head on over to Photographer Rising to learn more about joining us in 2015!