Episode 062: Show Notes
Today on the podcast, we are taking you all back to the days before TCC even existed. It is kind of crazy but, believe it or not, we both used to run different businesses. Emylee used to be a photographer and she was pretty darn good at it, so we are doing a little interview style throwback with her today. She left a five figure photography business to form TCC and before that, Emylee graduated with a degree in fine art photography, minors in a whole bunch of other areas and kind of went ahead on her own, always carrying that entrepreneurial spirit.
Emylee started her entrepreneurial journey with her very own cupcake business, which turned out to be a big, fat failure, but then she went back to photography and turned it into a business. We are going to talk about what it was like to run a photography business, what it was like to get clients, how to package, how to price, how to just get your business up and running, the gear she used, and so much more.
Emylee’s Entrepreneurial Journey Before TCC
Before joining forces with Abbie and starting Think Creative Collective, Emylee left a five figure photography business. Before that, she graduated with a degree in fine art photography, and went on to start a cupcake business, which definitely did not go as planned. After that, she tried applying to jobs right smack in the midst of the recession and it just did not want to work out. That was what spurred her on to pick up her camera again, this time not just shooting for school projects or for her own private portfolio, but rather for a living. So, for a good eight to 10 months, Emylee did what a lot of photographers do; she worked on building her portfolio and started meeting other people in the industry. That’s where her photography roots in business started.
Transitioning from Working for Free to Being Paid
When it came to making the transition from doing free work to being paid, it was not necessarily a mindset shift for Emylee. After doing mostly photography shoots for friends and family, she realized that she just could not keep doing it for free. She knew that if she was going to spend that much time editing and putting her presence up online, she might as well get paid for it! Her first client happened to be a colleague of hers, and she only charged $75 for the shoot. This almost made her feel worse when she left than doing it for free. Being paid definitely involves a lot more than just setting a simple price; you have to consider how the clients will see you and whether the investment on their part is enough for them to value you as well.
Understanding What You Are Worth and What To Charge
After the first not so satisfying paid-client experience, Emylee took it upon herself to learn everything she could about being a photographer and running a full-time business. She looked around at other photographers in her area to soak up all they had to teach about the business. She learned everything about options and pricing, and putting stuff into packages. She put together an à la carte menu with real life examples, creating a whole new in-home client experience, all within a two-week period. In the end, Emylee had a whole new mindset and approach to her client-based business and instead of a measly $75, she walked out of her next client appointment with a check for $1,500.
Getting Referrals in the Door for Your Photography Business
In the two and a half years that Emylee ran a profitable photography business, every single client that came in her door was referral based. With photography and other locally-based businesses, referrals are going to be your biggest game changer. If you can get in front of one dreamy person, that person knows other dreamy people who will be next in line to buy. Next, you have to make their referral incentives super juicy. This can be anything from free prints to a future shoot. It is an investment up front, but their experience and memorabilia will be the real authentic testimony that tells the true story about what it is like to work with you.
The Psychology of Product Packaging
The most basic principle to understand when it comes to creating packages, is that it is human nature to want what other people have. That is why it can be so beneficial to call your packages “the standard”, or “the bride’s favorite”, or “my best seller”. Everyone wants what other people get, so it is a great way to start when naming your packages. Next, when you are laying out your packages, it is usually best to have three, your lower, middle, and higher-priced packages. Your middle package will be the standard, so start with the lower package to determine a baseline price. When pricing your lowest package, make sure to price it so that you are making at least the minimum amount for each client. Then for the middle package, increase the value-add to go along with the price, to make it a no-brainer purchase where most of your clients will land.
Finding Your Photography Niche
Every photographer wants to start out offering every type of session because, for one, you think that you are going to get more people in the door by offering all of these different options. It is also because in the beginning, you don’t really know what kind of sessions you like doing, and each type of photography has its pros and cons. Emylee always suggests that in your first couple of months you shouldn’t advertise that you do all the different kinds of sessions. However, you shouldn’t necessarily say no to all of them either if they are getting referred to you. This way you can get your feet wet and try out the different styles until you really find the one that works for you! After you have figured it out, take any photographs from other types of sessions out of your portfolio, so that you set a clear expectation for future clients about what type of photography work you do.
Taking Off Your Creative Hat to Focus On Your Business
Being a better photographer or baking better cakes or doing better calligraphy isn’t going to get you anywhere if you don’t have a good business to back it up. That is why it is crucially important to spend less time getting better at your craft and more time getting better at business. You have to take that creative hat off every once in a while and really take a good hard look at the foundations of your business, how it was set up, how to get more people in your door, and whether you are charging enough to be profitable. So few creatives stop to assess their businesses, and it can make an absolutely huge difference to their level of success. You have to reassess, and really make sure that you are charging what you deserve so that you can live a fulfilled live, and provide for your family.
- Hear Emylee’s story of how she started out on her entrepreneurial journey prior to starting TCC. [0:02:45.5]
- Find out how Emylee made the transition from working for free to charging for her work. [0:04:16.1]
- Understand how to determine what you are worth and how to price your services. [0:06:02.8]
- Emylee shares her tips on how to get referrals in the door when you are just starting out in your photography business. [0:08:08.2]
- Learn how to identify your own photography niche, and the process to go through in order to find out what works for you. [0:16:54.5]
- Find out why it is crucially important to focus less time perfecting your craft and more time getting better at business. [0:27:49.8]
- Create three packages, add value, and use appropriate names.
- Pull out package items into an à la carte menu to showcase the value of your packages.
- Create a pricing guide for your clients to explain your processes.
- Create a referral system.