Photographers

Are You Spending Time Making Money or Losing Money?

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A large part of being a successful photographer lies in understanding the difference between profit-generating and profit-leeching activities. Minimizing activities that aren’t adding to your profit will allow you to spend more time on activities that are helping your bottom line. Sounds like a simple equation, right? It is. But in the day-to-day busy-ness of running your business, it’s easy to get sidetracked by tasks that not only drain your energy, but also drain your bottom line.

Set up your business so that you have time for profit-generating activities

Shooting, building relationships and managing your business from a high level perspective to keep on track with your goals are all profit-generators. (Plus, shooting is why you got into business in the first place!) Ideally, you want to set up your business systems so that you can devote the majority of your time to these areas.

Activities that are necessary but aren’t helping your bottom line include editing, bookkeeping, album design, studio management and slogging through emails. Although these tasks are all necessary, they’re not directly generating profit for you. Recognizing the tasks that aren’t directly profitable is important so that you can find ways to manage these profit-leeching activities as efficiently as possible. That way, you can get back to making money and stay focused on reaching your business goals.

Tip: Look at the ratio of how your time is spent—are profit-leeching activities taking up a majority of your work hours?

Measure the opportunity cost of doing profit-leeching activities yourself

If you’re considering partnering with a specialist, you should measure the opportunity cost of doing everything yourself versus outsourcing.

Whether it’s marketing for print orders and image fulfillment, album design, or editing, there are numerous areas you should consider the opportunity cost of doing yourself. For instance, the photo editing services that ShootDotEdit provides photographers includes the UNLIMITED PLAN that costs $299 per month. The cost for a year of the UNLIMITED PLAN is less than or equal to the profit of a single wedding shoot for many photographers. Editing eats up hours of your precious time over the course of an entire year. By investing in the UNLIMITED PLAN each month, you can do additional shoots in all the hours that are freed up. These profit-generating activities will easily cover $299 per month (and likely allow you generate much more in profit than this monthly cost). In this instance, the opportunity cost for you to do all of your own editing is far greater than the cost of the monthly plan.

Manage your profit-leechers with partner solutions

So, what’s the most efficient way to manage the areas of your business that aren’t adding to your bottom line? Partner with someone who can do these tasks more efficiently than you can. By allocating business funds toward partner solutions, you’ll free up your time to shoot more and earn more!

Partner solutions for accounting, album design, post production and print fulfillment can be key to growing your business. Use systems that fit naturally with how you already operate your business. Finding specialists for areas of your business that aren’t efficient will allow you to focus on what you do best—shooting and relationships. Specialists are experts in their respective areas and because of that, they can do that task fast AND do a great job. Learn more about how to implement Specialists into your business in our Free Guide on How to Grow Your Wedding Photography Business.

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How to Simplify Client Communication in Your Photography Business

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Client communication is integral to maintaining and growing your photography business. When you keep client communication simple, your clients benefit and so do you! That’s because simple communication respects their time and yours – meaning everyone gets faster results.

Simplified Communication Benefits your Clients

Simple, concise and efficient communication helps your clients feel comfortable with you and your work, building your reputation with your clients. On the contrary, lengthy and overwhelming communication can kill it. Nobody wants to read emails that are long like a college essay! By keeping communication simple, your clients won’t feel overwhelmed or be tempted to ignore you. Plus, if you’re buried under your inbox writing a slew of long emails, you can’t serve your clients face-to-face.

Simplified Communication Benefits your Business

When you simplify communication, you’ll have fewer moving pieces to juggle. That means you’ll have more time to dedicate to crafting powerful and effective communication and, of course, more time to shoot! Don’t forget, regardless of how demanding email can be, it still isn’t your top priority as a photographer or business owner. Your business—and your life—will go on, even if you don’t answer every email within minutes of getting it! Dmitri Leonov, the VP of growth email management tool SaneBox, sums it up like this, “Treat email as one of your priorities, but not your number one priority.” After all, your priority as a wedding photographer is improving your business systems to make serving your clients efficient and fun!

Try Using Templates to Simplify Communication

Create pre-written responses for frequently received messages—inquiries, FAQs, instructions for viewing images online, what to expect after the wedding, etc. Templates can be created in your email program, in apps like TextExpander, or if you use a studio management system like ShootQ, in the email template section. You’ll save time by avoiding tedious repetition.

Establish Systems for Your Email Communication

Establish set communication points throughout all of your pre-shoot tasks and activities. When you invest the time upfront, you’ll establish the consistency you need to gain momentum from your message.

Establishing systems for any task in your business means creating a list of steps for how you’ll execute this task every time. Doing this will ensure consistency, increase efficiency and dramatically reduce the amount of hair you pull out during busy shooting seasons. For you to free up your time to implement email systems into your workflow, outsource photo editing to ShootDotEdit and see your images comes back within 48 hours! You can then set up your email communication schedule in a way that simplifies your life and ensures that your clients know what’s happening every step of the way. Having a clear communications schedule in place will give you a solid system to fall back on when your schedule gets crazy.

Creating meaningful relationships with your clients is ideal for your wedding photography business. For more tips on how you can improve your business this year, download our updated guide, How to Grow Your Wedding Photography Business: 2015 Edition!

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Does Outsourcing Post-Production Cheapen Your Work?

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As a business owner, have you ever felt like everything within your business must be managed and handled by you? Have you ever thought, “I’m the only one who can do it the right way?”  In this ShootDotEdit Review, Leeann Marie talks about her her journey in answering that question.

It’s easy to feel like you’re the only person who can manage all of the tasks, especially as you’re growing and getting busier. But there are ‘tipping point’ moments, when the workload you’re bearing becomes, well, unbearable. That’s when many business owners start seeking help from a specialist. Here’s wedding photographer Leeann Marie’s personal journey to outsourcing her post-production to her trusted specialist, ShootDotEdit.  Leeann knew trusting a Specialist with her post production made business sense, but she wondered if she could maintain her Signature Style at the same time.

Not only was she able to keep producing beautiful images with ShootDotEdit, but her business has skyrocketed over the past two years.

– Added Two Associate Photographers
– Increased Social Media Engagement by over 40%
– Cut Weekly Work Time Down to 2 Days/Week
– Maintained Same Profit Year over Year

Download this FREE Case Study to learn more about how Leeann transformed her business through the help of Specialists.

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What Pro Photographers can Learn from 3 Innovative Companies

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It’s easy to lament the rapid evolution of the photography industry. It’s a fact – the industry morphs quickly as droves of hobbyists enter the market. Meanwhile, technology constantly changes the accessibility of equipment, and iPhone photos inundate Facebook on a wedding day, mere moments after the event occurs.

But it’s important to remember that in evolution lies opportunity. There’s a silver—maybe even golden—lining for businesses that are willing to step up and respond.

So to encourage you to not settle for what worked a few years ago, but instead step up to the plate with new ideas, here are three companies who are doing just that: innovating. They came out of nowhere, changed the rules, and thrived against all the odds. Here are three lessons you can learn from them.

1. Amazon.com: Innovate in a Changing Market

What Professional Photographers Can Learn from Amazon

In the mid 1990s, everyone said that e-publishing would kill books as we knew them. Amazon found a way to keep publishing alive by delivering books to your door. In 1995, it sold its first book, titled Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought, and then quickly expanded to offer boatloads of products – products that they sell today to consumers around the world.

One of Amazon’s innovations is a single fee for unlimited shipping; another is rapid delivery times, even promising same-day delivery in some cities. Amazon turned the slow publishing industry into a fast-paced, at-your-fingertips model.

What Photographers Can Learn from Amazon:

As technology develops, photographers will make their clients happiest by embracing consumers’ desire to have their images quickly AND in a format that is easy to share. In addition to how quickly you deliver images after a wedding, examine all aspects of your business, from your pricing structure to your product offerings. Imagine what could make the overall experience better for your clients. These innovations within your company will point the way to a new success.

2. BuzzFeed.com: The Importance of Sharing

What Professional Photographers Can Learn from Buzzfeed.com

In 2006, before Facebook opened to the public and when Twitter wasn’t yet born, BuzzFeed realized that sharing was about to become big. If a story, image or video is going viral, it’s on BuzzFeed. They don’t feature traditional news; they track what’s “buzzing” in the social world and share it, while encouraging readers to rate and comment. It’s simple – they get you involved in current conversations. And something simple, like unapologetically sharing trending topics, turns the traditional news model upside-down. BuzzFeed harnesses the inherent value of participation, enabling readers to post tags on stories which then become searchable categories for future users. Sharing begets sharing – and that means a growing audience for BuzzFeed!

What Photographers Can Learn From BuzzFeed:

Socialbakers recently did a study of social sharing and found that 77 percent of shares are photos. Having an image-driven business gives professional photographers an advantage: people will want to share your images. Because sharing is a key component of generating social engagement, make your images easy to share, whether that’s on your website, a client proofing gallery, or in your social networks. If you prefer, watermark your images to ensure that every share is also a free advertisement for your business!

3. Toms: Stand Out by Doing Good

What Professional Photographers Can Learn from Tom's

Toms started in 2006 as a way of introducing an ancient Argentine shoe to North America and helping the children of Argentina at the same time. The model was simply to donate a pair of shoes to a child in a developing nation for every pair of shoes that Toms sold. The section titled “Evolving Our Giving” on the Toms site showcases the company’s commitment to social responsibility, and is an example of how having an altruistic company cause can attract customers. More important, it’s an example of how companies can make doing good a core competency.

What Photographers Can Learn from Toms:

Use your talent to give back to causes that you care about! And when you do, don’t be shy about it. Consumers are compelled to engage with companies that do good – companies that stand for more than just generating profits. Remember, consumers are captivated by stories. And when they personally connect with a story, they’ll feel inspired to do business with a particular company. When clients connect with your values and the story you’re telling about your brand, they’re more likely to tell others about you. And that helps make companies like yours (and Toms) stand out in a crowded marketplace!

What’s unique about you as a wedding photographer is that you have the opportunity to outsource your wedding photography editing post processing needs! That means that you have more time to work on your business to make it stand out from the rest of the photographers in the industry.

Innovating, focusing on shareability, and aligning your business with a larger cause are three windows of opportunity. You have the chance to continue redesigning your business to evolve with the changing times. The question is simply, will you step up?

To learn more about what ShootDotEdit can do for you and your wedding photography business, download our free guide.

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Just Say ‘No’: Why Extreme Focus is Important

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Why do your clients hire you? To be a Lightroom master? A software guru? Probably not. Your clients hire you for your vision – and that vision enables you to create beautiful photos and provide a great client experience. So, that’s exactly what you should focus on if you want to stay in business.

Saying yes to prioritizing these two areas – shooting and client experience – means saying no to other areas. You have a finite amount of time; if you want to do a great job with your primary roles, you must find ways to minimize tasks that detract from the tasks that truly matter.

1. Why is extreme focus so important?

• Focusing on the right areas can make or break your business. You can’t do everything perfectly by yourself, and remain profitable.

• Focusing on key areas of your business (called core competencies) allows you to excel at the things you love. You won’t be burned out, so you will stay creatively energized and remain passionate about what you’re doing.

2. So, what should you focus on?

• Profit-generating activities: shooting, marketing, creating relationships.

• If you want to stay profitable (i.e., have a sustainable business), you must find ways to do more of the activities that increase your bottom line and minimize the things that aren’t making you money.

• Focus on the things you’re great at and that make you unique. Likely, this is shooting and giving your clients an experience that’s unique to you.

3. Minimize tasks that suck up your time and profitability.

Find the most cost-effective way to get help with non-revenue-generating tasks. These are tasks such as bookkeeping, studio management, post-production and general studio administration. Start by outsourcing your photography post processing services to ShootDotEdit and watch your images come back as fast as 48 hours! Seek services and trusted partners to help streamline your operations and keep you organized.

• Don’t wait to take steps to streamline. Wedding photographers experience swings in income between peak season and off-season. Swings in income aren’t just frustrating financially – they’re also pitfalls to scalability. Don’t fall into the trap of “waiting until you get busy” to take steps to streamline your operations. Waiting will leave you in a last-minute state of panic. So, seek solutions that streamline your production BEFORE you get busy! The behind-the-scenes work you do during “slow times” will benefit you when you get busy again. Get systems in place while you’ve got time to implement them.

• Document streamlined systems that allow you to maximize your efficiency. Yes, write them down in detail! Whether that’s in your post-production process (for example, having a trusted partner do the majority of the heavy lifting) or a systematic way of getting your financial info over to your bookkeeper, find systems that are user friendly for you and will be easy to use.

Learn more about what ShootDotEdit can do for you and your business when you download our free guide, How to Integrate ShootDotEdit into Your Workflow.

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Systems and Strategies for Catching Up on Blogging During the Busy Season

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Staring at a blinking cursor can feel like torture. You know you need to blog regularly, but churning out fresh content isn’t an easy undertaking for any small business owner. With everything else you’ve got on your plate, creating blog posts can fall through the task-list cracks, or simply seem too daunting to tackle efficiently.

But what’s so difficult about blogging, anyway? As a professional photographer, you’re faced with a conundrum: once you receive your images back from a wedding photo editing company like ShootDotEdit, you’ve got boatloads of content – beautiful images – generated from your shoots, but you can’t possibly process them all and get them published on a regular basis. It’s like sifting through sand to find a single shell that tells the story of an entire beach vacation!

And it gets exponentially harder to keep up with your blog during the busy wedding season. You’re creating content – all those stunning images – faster than you can cull, curate and post the “decisive moments” on your blog.

So, to keep you on track, here’s how to put systems in place to make blogging easier during busy season:

Know what you need for blog posts upfront.

What are the key pieces of information or images you include in every blog post? For example, maybe you always include a series of “first look” images, and a paragraph about the couple’s love story? Knowing what you need before you shoot a wedding will allow you to take time to ask clients about their story, or shoot images specifically for your blog.

Include processing images for your blog into your post-production workflow.

Know what you need to do to prepare images for your blog after they’re done being processed — and how that fits into your workflow for delivering images. That will give you the structure you need to keep the process streamlined. For example, things you might need to do to prep images for blogging include naming them for SEO, creating blog layouts, and adding watermarks. All of these tasks can be done using actions in Lightroom or Aperture.

Set deadlines. And stick to them!

The hardest part about creating a blog post is the actual writing –  unless you’re a professional writer! For those of us who aren’t writers, churning out text takes time and creative energy, two things that are hard to come by in a small business. To carve out that time and space, set deadlines for creating blog content. For example, decide you’ll post something every Tuesday morning. You’ll be surprised what your brain can do (and how fast it can do it) on a deadline!

Systems will help you stay on track, but since busy season is already in full swing, it’s possible that your blog is off track and backed up. If you’re already behind, here are some strategies for catching up:

Combine multiple shoots into one post.

There’s no rule saying every shoot needs its own blog post (unless of course, that’s what you’ve promised your clients). If you need to publish lots of content, but don’t have time to schedule them individually without flooding your blog feed, find creative ways to combine shoots into one post. For example, maybe multiple shoots had outdoor, picnic-style receptions; consider combining them using text about what it feels like to be at an outdoor wedding.

Create content in batches.

Dedicate time to creating text for your blog posts, inputting them into your blog platform (WordPress, Squarespace, etc.), scheduling them to publish over time, and scheduling corresponding social media updates. You’ll actually become faster by batch-creating content.

Consider enlisting the help of a specialist.

If blogging is something you can’t find time or talents for in your business, consider partnering with a specialist. Collaborating with a specialist to set clear goals for your blog – and then handing it over them to execute – lets you reap the benefits without so much struggle. You’ll still need to help, by gathering information and photos, but if you struggle with writing, then you’ll avoid the pain while still getting all the benefits.

Want to learn more about blogging for your photography business?

Here are some great resources:

To learn how ShootDotEdit can help you with your wedding photography business, download our free guide, How to Integrate ShootDotEdit into Your Workflow.

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How Small Businesses Can Think Like an Enterprise

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When was the last time you referred to your business as an enterprise? Probably never. After all, when we think of an enterprise, we think of household names like Apple and Google–worldwide corporations that are grossing billions and employing thousands.

But, your business is an enterprise if it’s a systematic, purposeful activity.

Consider these two tips for running a systematic, purposeful business:

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Purpose

The obvious goal of any for-profit business is to make money. But there’s also something powerful (and profitable) about a business that stands for something bigger than the product they’re selling.

Your company’s purpose, or mission, is powerful because it’s something that leads can buy into and clients can share with their networks that goes beyond your products and services.

A unique purpose also helps you stand out in a saturated market. While everyone else is focusing on details like their wedding coverage, you’re messaging the way your business aims to change the world (or at least a small portion of it).

Why are we so infatuated with Apple? Because the company consistently improves our lives by transforming technology. Not because it created the iPod.

The purpose for your photography business might not be to change the world. But it doesn’t need to be, in order to be effective in your business. It just needs to be something that both you and your client care about and can genuinely buy into. For example, you might stand for simplifying weddings and bringing focus back to the people. Or you might stand for documenting family history for future generations.

Whatever it is, your purpose is a way to stand out in a crowd, connect with leads over a common ideal, and give client evangelists something to talk about. All of these benefits will eventually lead to the growth and sustainability of your photography business.

Invest in Systems to Make Ideas Happen

Identifying what you stand for as a business is a big step, but following through on that pledge in all areas of your business is a whole other challenge. It takes a lot of time and creative space to take such a big ideal and integrate it into even the smallest of details in your business.

The best way to do it is to establish systems throughout your tasks and activities. When you invest the time upfront to develop systems that stay true to your purpose, those systems will provide the consistency you need to gain momentum from that message.

What are systems? Systems are set methods for getting things done in your business. Think of the way you communicate with leads, edit images, and design physical products. Is there a method to the madness? Or, is there just madness? Establishing systems for these tasks means creating a list of steps for how you’ll execute this task every time. Partnering with a photo editing company to work on your images will begin to ensure consistency and increase efficiency throughout your business.

Here are some areas of your business that need systems and some ways you can use those systems to remain consistent in your purpose (using the same examples as above):

  • Lead management Keep your pitches simple, just like the weddings you want to simplify.
  • Client correspondence Include messaging throughout client correspondence that reinforces the importance of sharing memories. Creating template emails using an app like TextExpander will ensure consistency.
  • Post-production – When you partner with ShootDotEdit, you can lean on us for expertise and efficiency. We’re here to help you improve your post-shoot workflow – to ensure that it’s consistent with the overall purpose of your enterprise. After all, your client bought into (and is excited about) your commitment to fast turnaround times!

The underlying systems that create consistency and efficiency in your business are what set you apart from your competitors. In fact, systems set the stage for businesses to grow steadily – and steady, sustainable growth is the hallmark of a successful enterprise. Download our How to Integrate ShootDotEdit into Your Workflow Guide to find out what else we can do for you and your business!

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How to Integrate ShootDotEdit into Your Workflow

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You know the familiar feeling. You’ve just finished shooting an amazing wedding. After celebrating over late-night dinner with your second shooter, you start backing up cards and scrolling through images. And that’s when excitement and anxiety start dancing the tango in your tummy!

Even though you’re on a post-shoot high, you’re starting to think, “ugh, this is going to be a long edit!” The images look great – but there are A LOT of them!

All professional photographers face this situation. But handing over your images to a specialist can still feel daunting. That’s exactly why we created this simple guide for integrating ShootDotEdit into your wedding workflow. Think of it as an anti-anxiety remedy for Monday mornings after weddings.

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Learn the insider tips to getting the results you want from a partnership with ShootDotEdit, including how to:
– Receive consistently awesome images using the 90/10 model
– Use DotPreview to guarantee our editing matches your style
– Utilize the Color Wizard to set up custom color profiles for your images
– Maximize your experience with Lightroom workflows
– Make more money from every wedding with Extra

 

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Education :: Brett Jarnagin – Flashfire Workshop

We believe in education.  You don’t need to look any further than the 24 City FREE Price, Process, Profit Workshop tour we’re putting on this year!  But, we don’t just stop at putting on our own workshop.  We also partner with other workshops that we believe.  Below, we’re showcasing the different educational events we’re sponsoring, including some discounts to help you out!

Brett Jarnagin – Flashfire Workshop

Description:
A full day workshop by Brett Jarnagin that is all about igniting your passion for lighting.  You’ll learn how to use your speedlights to bring the edginess of fashion lighting into your wedding and portrait work and create images you never thought possible.  The off-camera flash methods I will show you will get you on the fast-track to becoming “one” with the light.


This isn’t a watchshop… its a WORKshop.  Come ready to shoot!  Flashes, modifiers, and transmitters will be provided for all attendees so you can get hands on, find a new look on light, and add some awesomeness to your portfolio!

Upcoming Dates:
  • 10 cities during October and November

Sign Up:

http://www.flashfireworkshops.com
Use discount code to save $50!!! SDE50

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Leeann Marie says Systems are Sexy

First up on our Price, Process, Profit Workshop FEATURE is Leeann Marie!  Leeann is unique in that she’s the only photographer that is speaking on every leg of the tour!

Our President Jared Bauman, on why he asked Leeann to be a part of the workshop:
“Leeann is a perfect compliment to the Price, Process, Profit Workshop, as she’s an absolute wiz at creating systems.  Becoming efficient, creating automation, having a system for your workflow – these things are so essential to running a functional and successful business.  She’s become the systems specialist through her small business consulting, and was the obvious choice for the workshop.”

Need some help with your Systems?  You can contact Leeann at:
http://www.leeannmarie4photographers.com

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