How to Become a Photographer

How to be an Artist and an Entrepreneur

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How would you categorize a professional wedding photographer? As an artist who runs a business or as an entrepreneur who makes art? ShootDotEdit works with professional photographers from all over the world and have found the most successful to be a mix of both artist and entrepreneur. Being able to manage a thriving business doesn’t make you any less of an artist.

The policy consultant and author, John Howkins once said,

“Entrepreneurs in the creative economy… use creativity to unlock the wealth that lies within themselves. Like true capitalists, they believe that this creative wealth, if managed right, will engender more wealth.”

ShootDotEdit has compiled some tips to help create success as both an artist and an entrepreneur.

1.    Identify your Style

Cultivate your own personal style, your own “signature” look and feel for your images. Find a niche and work within it.  This may mean that you make a strategic decision to only work on weddings, passing up other opportunities. Find a balance between what you are best at and what you love most, and then build your brand around it!

2.    Embrace efficiency

Setting up efficient business practices will create time for you to focus on your passions, on personal projects, and on serving and loving your clients. Not only will it allow you to spend more time on being creative, it also helps you make more money. Streamlining your business through efficient business practices will save time and money in the long run. ShootDotEdit has great resources for being efficient. Ultimately, faster delivery to your clients = happier clients.

Related Article: 5 Ways Efficient Business Empowers Your Photography
Related Article: Finding Time to Do It All: Tips for Managing Your Time

3.    Practice & Be Passionate

Entrepreneur and Marketing guru, Seth Godin says,

“Practice alone doesn’t produce work that matters. No, that only comes from caring. From caring enough to leap, to bleed for the art, to go out on the ledge, where it’s dangerous. When we care enough, we raise the bar, not just for ourselves, but for our customer, our audience and our partners.”

Channel your passion into your work and you will always deliver an amazing product.

4.    Persevere

Georgia O’Keefe stated,

“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”

Running a business is hard work. There is a lot more than just creating a beautiful image.  Stay positive and focused on your business, and keep moving forward. Remember: your business must succeed to provide a platform for your art. The two go hand in hand.

5.    Say No.

Don’t compromise yourself. Say no to people who want you to work for free. Say no to things that fall outside of your niche. Your time is the most valuable thing that you have, so don’t waste it on anything that doesn’t work towards moving you and your business forward.

Related Article: Just Say No – Why Extreme Focus is Important

6.    Learn to Sell

Talent alone doesn’t book the next appointment.  Understand the basic ideas of how to sell. Listen to your clients and ask solid open ended questions to determine their needs. The most successful photographers know how to get brides and grooms to buy.

Related Article: How Professional Wedding Photographers Can Simplify Sales

7.    Network. Everywhere.

There is no better testimony than one from a client who is happy with your work. The beautiful thing about wedding photography is that you can meet clients everywhere. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Go to industry events. Talk to other vendors. Become friendly with venue owners and wedding planners and other people who are a part of your industry.

A professional photographer doesn’t have to be either an artist OR an entrepreneur. To be truly successful, whatever your definition of that may be, embracing both attributes will help generate growth as a person, as a business and as a photographer. Access our Guide to Marketing for Wedding Photographers to learn more about selling your brand to ideal clients!

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What is a Specialist?

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While growing your successful photography business, you inevitably get to the moment where you have to make important business decisions. You are spending more time on tasks that do not involve taking photographs and interacting with clients, the reasons you started your business. In order to create more space to do the things that you love and that bring in the most money, you have to outsource and partner with a Specialist. But what exactly is a Specialist?

spe·cial·ist

noun \ˈspe-sh(ə-)list\

: a person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, area of study, etc.

Specialists are experts in their field

Whether you choose to partner with a Specialist for your wedding photo edit needs, image fulfillment, bookkeeping, or blogging (just to name a few), you want a company or person who is an expert in that particular field. When you are searching for the perfect Specialist, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for references or a client list and talk to the people who have used that service. A person who is an expert will have all of this information ready to share before you sign on.

For more information, read our post on choosing the right partner.

Specialists are more efficient

Specialists should save you time and therefore money. They are repeating the same tasks over and over, and chances are, they can do it more efficiently than you. Even if it is a task that you dislike but can complete quickly when you choose to partner with a Specialist that is time that you are freeing up.

Related: 10 Reasons You Need to Outsource Photography Editing

Specialists invest in education

Think of all the hours of training, second shooting and learning anything related to photography that you went through to become a leader in your market. Now think of all the hours of specific task training you would need to obtain the level of a Specialist in another field. We always recommend keeping current with software updates and tutorials, as it will make you a better photographer, but by hiring a Specialist, you are acknowledging that you don’t have unlimited time for training and doing, and that is ok.

We strongly believe that making the choice to work with a Specialist is the gateway to bringing your business to a new level. Now you see how hiring one in an area (or two!) of your business, will give you more satisfaction and fulfillment in your work life and make you more profitable.

To learn more about appealing to your target market, download our Guide to Marketing for Wedding Photographers by clicking the banner below!

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4 Left & Right-Brained Tasks to Prepare for Busy Season

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Even though curling up with a good book and enjoying some R&R during the winter months is a tempting (and even productive!) way to recharge, there are some other key things that you can do now that will help prepare you for a great year. Here are four things you can start now (and work on through the winter) so that by the time the busy season rolls around, you will be ready for your best season yet!

Re-evaluate Your Product Offerings

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Free Guide: The 4-Step Plan for Getting the Most Out of the Off-Season

The off-season is a perfect opportunity to reflect on your business and dream up new ideas. Whether it’s a fresh perspective on your marketing plan, more efficient workflows, or inspiration to try some new ideas during your next shoot, these quiet months are a chance to recuperate and improve.

So, how can you plan for a productive off-season (before it’s too late)? Try following this four-step roadmap that will help you rest, reflect, practice and plan for a great 2014 busy season.

  • • Rest and Recharge
  • • Reflect on 2013 and Set Goals for 2014
  • • Improve Your Craft
  • • Plan




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The Professional Photographer’s Core Competencies

Professional Photographers Core Competencies

“Do what you do best. Delegate the rest.” That phrase is often heard around businesses, big and small. It sounds so simple, but it’s a driving force behind the concept of core competencies. And big businesses aren’t the only ones that benefit from identifying their core competencies. Professional photographers can create more sustainable businesses if they identify and leverage their own core competencies.

So, what’s a “core competency?”

A unique ability a company has that can’t be easily imitated. Core competencies give a company one or more competitive advantages, in creating and delivering value to their customers. Remember, a core competency is not a product or service.

The term was originally coined by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad and published in their book, Competing for the Future. They challenged business leaders to view their organizations as a “portfolio of competencies,” as well as a portfolio of products and services. That portfolio of competencies actually provides a competitive edge for truly innovative businesses.

How can professional photographers apply this principle to their businesses? First off, you’ve got to identify your own core competencies. Then, you’ve got to fearlessly follow their lead, and delegate the tasks that don’t fall into the category of your “core competencies.”

Let’s look at two real world examples. Apple’s core competency is design. That core competency is the underlying strength of their hardware and software. For Netflix, it’s all about providing the best content delivery. They work hard to deliver content to their customers quickly, in a highly-personalized way.

Put on your business hat for a few minutes, and dive into these questions:

  • • What specific skills set you and your business apart from other photographers?

  • • What unique knowledge, or experience, do you bring to the table that makes you stand out from the crowd? (This is the stuff that your competitors can’t imitate!)

  • • What assets do you bring to your business that enable you to add perceived value to your clients’ experience?

Now, see if you answer “yes” to these questions:

  • • Is this competency unique to you and your business?

  • • Does it help you improve your client’s experience, and also pay off in dollars and cents?

  • • Can it contribute to some new services and products that you could offer?

The best part of identifying your core competencies is that they are almost always things you LOVE doing. That’s because they often grow out of your unique skill set and life experience. Since core competencies become one of the hallmarks of your business, they can be the driving forces of your competitive strategy – and that puts you on a path to long term success!






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How Professional Photographers Can Simplify Sales

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Sales is both an art and a skill. In fact, many of the world’s best salespeople take an artistic approach to their customer’s buying process. They intuitively understand how to put themselves in their customer’s shoes, and anticipate their pain points. Sales guru Zig Ziglar wisely observed, “people don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” So, you don’t have to dread doing sales pitches. Instead, think of sales as an opportunity to be creative, by providing a solution to a problem. And entrepreneurs love solving problems, especially since solving problems is essential to building a profitable business!

Why is sales simplification important?

It’s important to simplify your product sales for one big reason: confusion stalls sales. If your client doesn’t know what to order, when to order, how to order, or just gets confused, you might lose the sale or undersell to someone who wanted to purchase more. If you want your clients to buy products, you have to make it easy and fast for them! Make your sales communication – emails, phone calls, and in-person consultations – simple and succinct so clients can quickly find everything they want to order.

Not sure how to keep it simple when it comes to your product sales? Here are three important tips.

Tip #1: Integrate the sales conversation throughout the experience with each client.

Since sales is equal parts artful psychology and tactical skill, you should plant sales seeds in your earliest communications with clients. Think of it as educating your client throughout their entire experience with you. Then, sales becomes about helping your client solve a problem. Give examples of which products will work best for the type of photographs you’re shooting and—especially if you’ve gotten to know your clients well—what will work best for their taste and style.

Tip #2: Be Prepared! Do the sales work upfront.

A surefire way to cause confusion when educating clients on the products you sell is to be unprepared. Before you start explaining your products to clients, make sure you too have a clear understanding of your pricing, turnaround times, product details and–most importantly–benefits for your clients!

If you don’t know these details, you’ll come across as erratic or unprepared, ultimately causing confusion and slowing your sales.

Tip #3: Try easy-to-use product sales tools.

If you don’t enjoy the sales side of your business, gain confidence by leaning on easy-to-use product sales tools. There are a lot of great sales tools out there for professional photographers, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Keep your sales process simple, by choosing one or two tools that work for you.

We recently partnered with ShootProof, a tool that offers an easy and efficient way to proof and sell your photos online. Plus, you can now send your images straight from ShootDotEdit’s photography editing services into your ShootProof account, instantly making your product sales process more efficient. For more information on how ShootDotEdit can help your business and introduce you to other helpful partners, download our free guide.

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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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The 3-Step Plan to Fend off End-of-Season Panic

How Photographers Can Fend off End-of-Season Panic

It’s October, which means beautiful Fall scenery, pumpkin-flavored everything, and (maybe) an-upcoming lull in your shooting schedule. You’ve made it through the majority of your crazy schedule of wedding shoots, but a lot of those photos still need to be edited. With holiday deadlines looming, not only do you need to finish up the rest of your shoots, but you’ve also got to find a way to get get those images turned around even faster!

The deadlines are creeping up, and you’re feeling the pressure. But before you go into total panic mode, remind yourself that it is possible to get through this season. All you need to do is follow this three-step plan to keep things under control and keep your sanity in tact.

1. Assess your Workload and Deadline Status

How behind are you? If you’re starting to panic, remember Robert Frost’s simple advice, “the best way out is always through.” Assessing your current status will help you get a handle on deadlines and devise a plan to get back on track. To understand exactly how behind you are, make a list of the jobs where deadlines have been missed (and are still outstanding) and deadlines that are approaching and are not humanly possible to meet.

What deadlines are coming up? Part of catching up is making sure you don’t fall behind on any upcoming deadlines that will set you back even further. Create a list of jobs that have deadlines coming up that require immediate action in order to stay on track.

What tasks do you need to complete? Now that you understand the situation you’re in, you can devise your plan to get out! Using the list of jobs you created, identify the specific tasks that need to be completed to check that job off the list. Prioritize your crucial deadlines and put those deadlines that can wait on the back burner while you resume control over your workload.

2. Keep Communicating with Clients

Let clients know what to expect. If you’ve fallen behind, the worst thing you can do is NOT keep your clients up to date. Letting clients know what to expect—even if it’s a revised turnaround time—goes a long way toward keeping your positive relationship intact. Your clients are excited to see their images, so letting them know what to expect will help ensure that their frustration doesn’t overshadow their excitement. Be realistic. Make sure that any revised timetable you give your clients is accurate so that you can deliver. Revising your turnaround time a second time because you were unrealistic will likely result in irritated clients. And nobody wants that!

Communicate ordering deadlines. When talking to clients about their images, make sure they fully understand deadlines for placing orders they want to receive in time for the holidays. Printouts, blog posts and emails outlining ordering deadline details for clients are all great communication tools.

Say thanks. If your turnaround times are later than your clients expected, find ways to give them an extra “thank you” for being patient. Try a gift credit for prints, extra album pages for free, or a favorite print that you frame and send them. Help keep the experience positive, even if the process takes a little longer than usual!

3. Get Help Where you Need it Most

Find a partner to help. Post-production and album design are common areas that create bottlenecks in your business. But they can easily be addressed – and fixed for faster turnaround times with the help of a specialist! Teaming up with an editing partner to help get you caught up on your shoots quickly is paramount. Then, you can easily get images to clients in time for the holidays, rather than continuing to fall behind.

Don’t wait! Whether it’s hiring someone to help you with album design or teaming up with a post-production partner, don’t put off getting help when you find yourself behind. It’s tempting to think that you can dig yourself out when you’re buried in deadlines and put off finding a partner to help once you’re less busy. But the sooner that you can start working with partners to get back on track, the better. Don’t wait to ask for help until “things slow down.” That time may never come!

Learn from this season’s rush. Effective systems are always a process. So, after the rush ends and you’re closer to getting caught up, it’s important to reflect on what systems you can permanently set up going forward that will help ensure you don’t fall behind in the future. Learn lessons from this season’s rush. After all, you don’t want to fall behind again. Getting a plan in place for post-production and other areas of your business NOW will keep your business running smoothly as you breathe a sigh of relief at the end of this busy season. Plus, you’ll head into the New Year with new energy and a sense of control!

Download our Guide: How to Grow Your Wedding Photography Business

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3 People Who Give You Permission to Partner with a Specialist

3 People who Officially Give You Permission to Partner with a Specialist

As creatives and business owners, it’s hard to accept help in our business. We can feel like it’s cheating our clients when we aren’t hands-on with every image we shoot – from start to finish.

But when your time is limited, it’s not always possible to be involved in every detail – from start to finish. When you reach that point, the best thing you can do for your clients, business, and craft might actually be partnering with a specialist who will help you deliver the best results to your clients, while also enabling you to stay creative.

You’re not at your best when you’re maxed out on time and running on empty. Trying to manage every aspect of your business likely means longer turnaround times for your clients and sacrificing on client service. By partnering with specialists who help manage particular areas of your business, you’ll find the focus you need to be successful.

Here are a few areas that are prime candidates for entrusting to a partner:

• Post-Production (Of course!)
• Image Fulfillment
• Bookkeeping
• Studio Management

The first step in setting your business up for success using partners is to give yourself permission to do it. You may be accustomed to trying to manage everything yourself, so it’s a paradigm shift to trust specialists to manage various aspects of your business.

But you’re not the only one who will reap the benefits of working with specialists to manage certain areas of your business. Here are three people who will not only give you their permission but will also thank you for partnering with a specialist:

1. Your Client

Your client is giving you permission to partner with a specialist for two reasons. When you work with an editing partner to do the bulk of the heavy lifting, your clients see the benefit of getting their images faster (which makes them very happy).

But time isn’t the only benefit your clients see first-hand when you work with a specialist. There’s also a chance that there are other people who can perform tasks in your business better than you can (gasp!). When you bring those partners into your business, your clients enjoy the benefit. Just as your client trusts YOU to be their photography specialist, you can trust a partner to be your specialist in specific areas. It’s like creating custom cabinetry for your home – you play an important role in envisioning the final result, but a specialist can help you make your vision come to life efficiently and beautifully! It’s the best of both worlds: a superior product in less time.

2. Your Bank Account

Ok, so your bank account isn’t actually a person but nonetheless, it will reap the benefits when you partner with a specialist. Outsourcing aspects of business that don’t directly make you money allows you to focus your time and brainpower on the parts of your business that do make you money! By entrusting others with tasks that aren’t increasing your bottom line, you’ll have more free time to build new industry relationships, talk to leads on the phone, or work on marketing materials – activities that directly increase your profits.

In addition to allowing you to focus on profit-generating tasks, outsourcing also allows you to enlist help that can scale your business without having to hire additional in-house staff.

The time you save on every project by partnering with outside resources will give you more capacity to bring on new clients without having to hire additional staff, which increases your profit margin and the balance in your bank account (making you and your bank account very happy.)

3. Your Hobbies & Loved Ones

As a small business owner, you’re well aware that your time is a finite resource. Every hour you spend on your business is time not spent outside of work doing personal things you love – with the people you love!  No matter how much you love shooting, working with images, and running your business, the reality is that you’re on a path to burnout if you don’t take time away from work to do other things that you love. Being stuck at your computer for countless hours is only sustainable for a short time. So it’s up to you to get a long-term plan for managing the demands of running your business, while still living a life you love outside of work. Trust us, your loved ones (and your dog) will thank you!

If you’re ready to scale back on the tasks that don’t make you money and can be done by someone else, it’s time to find some trusted partners who can help you. If you’re not quite ready, here are a few more cases for making the transition to partnering with a specialist:

• 5 Ways Efficient Business Empowers Your Photography
• How Fast Turnaround Times Create Client Evangelists

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