If you’ve been following me as a photography business coach for any amount of time, you probably realize that my success in building a successful photography business wasn’t anything magical. It wasn’t luck, it wasn’t skill, it wasn’t experience, and it wasn’t talent.
It was good old fashioned test and measure!
The difference between me and other photographers who haven’t been as successful, is that I worked extraordinarily hard, erred extraordinarily often…and learned extraordinarily fast as a result.
I documented everything I did. When it failed, I threw it out. When it worked, I kept going, expanding my knowledge and experience as I went.
I developed systems around the successful strategies I discovered.
Eventually, I organized this massive collection of materials and protocols into the most comprehensive yet easy-to-use photography business methodology.
Then when I became a photography business coach and created my success system ”The Photographers 5 Steps to FREEDOM.”
That’s because I knew that my goal was to help move photographers from a one-person show to a full-fledged successful business, and grow it with them so they could reach their financial goals and the FREEDOM to live their life the way they wanted to.
Imagine A Photography Business That Runs Without You
A couple years ago, I came across an article from the Harvard Business Review that inspired the development of what I now call the Firm Profitability Dependency Chain—in which building a profitable business is based on 5 essential “links.”
I call the links “dependencies” because the weight of each successive link hangs on the one before it. Working backward from the end…
Link 5: Fantastic Profitability
Obviously, this is our goal. It’s been fascinating to observe the incredible variety of answers I get when I ask the following question of aspiring photographers: “What do you believe is the single most important driver in achieving your business profitability?”
No one ever gives the right answer–which is…
Link 4: Low Client Acquisition Cost
The fact is, it’s impossible to build a wonderfully profitable photography business capable of delivering a great income if your client acquisition costs are out of control!
Making money as a firm-owner is all about driving down your marketing and sales costs. The most common (though not necessarily the easiest) ways to do this are as follows: getting the majority of your clients through referrals and strategic alliances, servicing ever-higher quality (read: better-paying!) clients, and keeping these clients longer and longer. So, what does it take to achieve this?
Link 3: Raving Fans
Over the last decade of photography business coaching, I’ve found that until you develop a robust reputation in your community or market niche as a genuinely good photographer, who delivers substantially more value to your clients than your services cost, you’ll never be rewarded by your market with an abundance of revenue.
Obviously, in the early stages of developing your business, you’ll have to invest tons of money in higher-cost marketing strategies, but this must be reduced over time if you hope to make great margins!
So how do you develop an army of raving fans? You’ve got to deliver…
Link 2: Effective Marketing
Most photographers lack consistent marketing strategies. This is a vital link in business success. Without this it’s game over pretty quickly.
So how do you deliver effective marketing?
Link 1: Massive Cash Flow
Trying to recruit a top-gun photographer or sales person won’t be easy unless you can pay them well. You need great cash-flow so you can afford to pay your staff a compensation package comparable to what they may be leaving.
AND, just as importantly, there needs to be a big upside. That’s why we’re big believers in revenue percentage splits as a compensation model. It’s the only model that’s ever worked in building multiple studios around the world.
Well, again, it’s pretty simple, though not easy.
And when this starts to happen, it’s magic!