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never forget …

dld

“Customers who love you won’t be able to stop raving about you. But you have to earn the right to their story first.” – Jeanne Bliss

I’ve been mulling over this point all morning. And will definitely be exploring it further next week. As a small business owner trying to find (and keep!) awesome customers, it’s so important to know how to create raving fans. Come back next week and we’ll chat more about it.

Meanwhile … happy weekend!
Kate

p.s. Did you do these three things this week?

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10 commandments for portrait photographers

1. Thou shalt not wait for perfect ANYTHING.

Yes, you should get started booking clients before you become AMAZING. And yes … do it before you have a perfect web site. Perfect portfolio. Perfect ANYTHING. Because I’m here to tell you that 10 years after starting my business, I STILL have lots to learn. And I still don’t feel like anything I do is anywhere near perfect. What if I had waited until it was? So just get started, and then

2. Thou shalt constantly learn.

A year should NEVER go by without you growing and learning as both a photographer and an entrepreneur.

3. Thou shalt recognize that a photography business is a BUSINESS that will require you to, well, run a business.

You will be scheduling, ordering, writing, calling, invoicing, etc. As you grow your business, you may wish to delegate and hire out the business side of your business to an accountant, office manager, editor, PR specialist, etc. Or, you may prefer to do it yourself. Either way, you are NOT just a photographer. If you own a photography business, plan on running a business.

4. Thou shalt blog regularly.

Why? Firstly, so that people can find you online. Blogging is a powerful way to up your SEO so potential clients land on your page when searching for a photographer. Secondly, an up-to-date blog shows clients that you are currently working and what your personality is like. Portrait photography is the business of people. So anytime people get to know you as person, this is a good thing. And thirdly, free social media platforms are NOT within your control. A few years back, Facebook pulled the rug out from folks and made it a pay-to-play platform. It looks like instagram is headed in the same direction. The only platforms you can completely control are your own. Blogging is essentially free, easy, and a powerful way to connect with clients.

5. Thou shalt not overspend on equipment.

I spent the first three years of my business shooting with a Canon 40D and the kit lens that came with it. There were so many other cameras I wanted. And sooo many other lenses. But there was also web hosting to be bought, flyers to be printed, and business insurance. These things had to trump my desire for new gadgets. When the moments popped up when I really did need other equipment, I rented.

6. Thou shalt feed your creativity on a regular basis.

It’s awfully hard to blog or shoot or do any of the creative aspects of your business when your tank is on E. And it will get there quickly if you don’t regularly schedule time to fill up your creative energy pool. Visit your local library. Read a book. Wander in the woods. Do something that fills your soul up with happiness and wonder. I guarantee you that your next shoot will be a good one when you arrive on F.

7. Thou shalt charge in order to be profitable.

The biggest mistake any professional photographer can make is to price according to what the competition is charging. You aren’t the competition. If you want to stay in business, you have to charge the amount needed to cover your costs and taxes … and then what’s needed to make a profit.

8. Thou shalt develop a consistent style and display this on social media and your web site and blog.

This doesn’t mean you can’t grow and change as an artist. But when someone stumbles on an image and immediately knows that you shot it, that’s a sign that you’re doing a great job of being consistent. If you can do this, you will draw some people to you … people who LOVE your style. And you will push others away. These are the folks you don’t want to work with because you’ll never be able to make them happy. But the first group? The ones who are your biggest fans? They’ll save up to work with you. They’ll share your work on social media because they love you so much. They’re the ones you want. You’ll never develop those raving fans, however, without first developing — and showcasing — a consistent style.

9. Thou shalt be inspired by other photographers, but NOT copy them.

It really doesn’t matter what actions another photographer uses. It’s not important how they got “that” shot. What matters is how you can create work that springs from deep within your soul. That’s the work that will set you apart. There are a million photographers out there. And that’s ok. You STILL can be successful. You’ll up the odds of success dramatically, however, if you avoid the trend of fitting in and strive to be the best version possible of … you.

10. Thou shalt learn your equipment.

Commandment one says to get out there and start working before you ever become a perfect shooter. But don’t for one instant think that means you should coast along shooting on auto. Learn your camera. Practice with it every day until moving your settings in manual mode is literally second nature. Then learn your flash(es). Learn your off-camera lighting set ups (if you use them.) Learn photo editing. Get good. The less you think about your equipment on a shoot, the more focus you can give to your subjects. And quite honestly, in portrait photography, this is the way to be successful. Amazing portrait photographers know how to work with people — and connect with them — while putting them at ease. You’ll never be able to do that while fiddling with your equipment.

What are your thoughts? What commandments or rules do you live by as a portrait photographer? Please share below.

Keep shooting!
Warmly,
Kate

p.s. Help Moms overcome their most common fears when it comes to family photo time. Download your FREE guide now .

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dear female photographer, you have to really want it. REALLY want it

Dear Female, Photographer

In my pursuit of entrepreneurship, I’ve given up many things:

  1. A steady, regular paycheck and the feeling of security that comes with knowing money is always coming your way in a week or two.
  2. No down seasons. My job needed me and paid me every month of the year.
  3. Job benefits… like health insurance paid for by an employer.
  4. The choice to NOT be the boss or main decision maker. I was a graphic artist. I designed and created … I didn’t have to run the business or worry about finding clients. And for me, that was how I liked things!
  5. Paid vacations.
  6. Paid sick days.

Really, the list could go on and on. As a right-brained, artistic person, I thrived in an environment where I didn’t have to make the major decisions and only had to create beautiful work.

Today, I have to wear all the hats. It’s hard work. 

Maybe there are things you’re doing right now as an entrepreneur that you find to be hard. That aren’t your cup of tea. Maybe, just maybe, you’re peering over your shoulder, wondering if you should return to your old life as an employee.

Maybe you should.

But if you have a goal in mind for your life … a very, very specific goal … and you KNOW that running your own business can help you achieve that goal … then the solution is simple:

Stop turning around and looking back. Keep that goal in front you. Want it. Strive for it. Accept that sacrifices are part of the process.

My goal? It’s not to be a famous photographer. My goal is to work no more than 20 hours a week and to be able to support a simple, but comfortable life. A life in which I have time to freely give to the causes that mean the most to me. A life in which I’m not stressed out trying to earn a living. That’s my goal. It’s something I want badly enough that I’m willing to give up the perks I listed above.

The question for you is: What’s your goal? And how badly do you want it? Have you set a life mission statement yet? Yesterday’s post takes a peek at the importance of doing just that.

Warmly,

Kate

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dear female photographer: 3 things to do this week

ddw

Dear Female Photographer,

Here are three things you can do this week to move yourself just a little closer to success. Remember … inch by inch – it’s a cinch. By the yard – it’s hard!

ONE: Write a personal mission statement.

You’re going to need a business mission statement, too. But don’t worry if you don’t yet have one. It’s best to start with a personal mission statement anyway, and then once that’s in place, you can turn your attention to the business mission statement.

Your personal mission statement defines CLEARLY what you want your life to look like. It becomes your compass in life. Need to make a decision about your life or business? Your personal mission statement can help you keep things on track.

It might look something like this:

DENISE MORRISON, CEO OF CAMPBELL SOUP COMPANY (source)
“To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.”

It’s not an easy thing to condense your goals and dreams for your life into a simple sentence or two. Take some time this week to ponder this subject and then by the end of the week, write down your mission statement. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can certainly change it as you evolve and change with time.

Write it out. Put it on your desk. Put it on your bedside. Think about it everyday.

TWO: Spring clean your desk.

Get rid of the clutter. File the things you need to file. Wipe down your desk surfaces. Clean out the keyboard. Go the whole nine yards.

Next, write yourself a sticky that says:

T- Toss

R- Refer

A- Act

F – File

Learn more about the TRAF system here.

THREE: Tell a story on your blog. 

We photographers fall into the bad habit of posting pictures and saying things like, “I LOVED this session! Here are the photos …” Or “These clients are just the best, see …”

The thing is … that’s boring. It’s not fun for your clients to read. And it’s not fun to write. This week, write a blog post that is different for you. Talk about a funny experience that happened with your kids. Overcome your fear of “oversharing” and talk about a fear you have when it comes to your business. Talk about the funny way your dog jumps onto the bed.

Why do this? Over the years, I’ve discovered that the posts that my clients talk about the most when they see me in person are the ones where I rambled on about ANYTHING OTHER THAN PHOTOGRAPHY. Crazy, huh?

So … go ahead. And be a storyteller this week. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just let it … be.

Do these three things, and you’ll be one step closer to success. Come back next week and we’ll explore three more tips.

Keep up the AMAZING work.
Warmly,
Kate

p.s. Download your FREE guide: 7 Real Fears Moms Have About Photo Sessions

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FREE PDF for photographers — 7 Real Fears Moms Have About Photo Sessions

Dear Female Photographer,

Want to book more family portrait sessions? Want to stand out from the crowd of photographers in your area? It all starts with educating your client.

This 10-page PDF explores seven of the most common fears experienced by mothers who want to book a session for their families. Once you understand their fears, you can address the issues on your site and blog … and win some new clients!

The PDF is free! Go here to download it.

Warmly,

Kate

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