Next week I am off to Atlanta in Georgia to present another workshop.
Being a photography business coach I am very nervous, but excited to be flying from New York to Atlanta in a small 40 seater plane!
Ha ha…..wish me luck.
Products Can Make You Profit
In the competitive world that photographers are in, one of the ways that we can succeed is by offering different products.
By offering a variety of products rather than selling photographs, we can start to attract a different type of customer.
A customer who doesn’t perhaps want digital files, but a customer who wants to buy images that will personalise and enhance their home decor.
Fitzgerald Photo and Jorgensen Albums have some great new products that you may have not been aware of, and Paul and his team are doing a road trip around the country to give photographers the opportunity to see and handle their new product range.
You can also attend a workshop on “How To Easily Design Portrait and Wedding Albums” and I will be doing a short presentation on my “Soft Sell System” that will help you sell more products, and take the pressure off at sale time.
Their first stop is NSW in April, with dates and places as below.
Many Portrait Photographers around the world struggle with getting more customers in front of their cameras.
Without customers there are no sales and no money!
I have spoken to photographers who are either trying to start their business or re-invigorate an existing business which is not getting results.
There is a common theme – photographers are passionate about their photography but are frustrated that they can’t get enough good customers to sustain a viable business.
They need help!
Why sit by the phone waiting for it to ring.
Get paying customers now.
How much money are you losing right now using your own marketing methods?
Wouldn’t it be great to have your camera in your hands, and be doing what you are passionate about?
Facebook and Instagram are quite simply a part of our daily lives.
Your customers are on it and your future customers are on it.
If your are not generating business from it, you may be missing out on more enquiries and sales that you can handle.
Your Photography Business may not exist in the next 12 months if you don’t start to make Social Media a priority.
If the photographers in your town haven’t started utilising the potential and power of Social Media, then there is a good chance that they will.
Facebook Is Powerful Targeting.
With Facebook you can “ bulls eye” target your customers, in your town.
You can target specific genres to photograph, choose your suburbs, how much money you want to spend on an ad, when you run ad, and you can do it all from your phone, computer or laptop.
Whether you are looking for women with newborns, engaged couples, pets, families, kids 3-6 years old etc you can select them in your Facebook Ad.
You can also target the household income and even what car they drive!
The specific targeting available with Facebook is quite simply amazing!
Facebook is also so easy to engage with clients and prospects, and is by far the least expensive way to get clients in front of your camera. Nothing comes close.
It also enables you to easily communicate to your audience and the wider community around you.
There are thousands of people who want your photography, and Facebook can help you find them.
Instagram Can Lift Your Brand
Instagram is slowly becoming the new “go to” social platform.
It has highly engaged and loyal audiences made up of consumers, businesses and brands. Instagram is a more visual platform, making it ideal for photographers like yourself.
As a photography business coach I have learned that people create and consume content on Instagram a lot differently.
Let Murielle and myself show you how to use it correctly, so you can avoid the pitfalls that most photographers fall into when trying their hand at posting on Instagram.
Why Are We Doing This?
Many of you may be wondering why Murielle and I are giving you such valuable information, at such a cheap cost?
After Murielle and I had completed our series of “A Day For Photographers” around Australia earlier this year, many of the photographers attending told us that they would love us to do a specific presentation on how to implement Facebook and Instagram strategies into their business.
We also hate to see photographers struggle when we feel that we could help them.
As a photography business coach I am always looking for those photographers who want to grow their photography business (as Murielle did) a lot faster than if they were to try and work everything out by themselves.
WHEN……….Thursday 16 November.
WHERE……..Parkview Hotel. …562 St Kilda Road Melbourne.
TIME…………10am – 3pm.
Who Is This For?
Whether you are a full time or part time photographer, if you are looking at getting more clients to your business with minimal investment, then this is for you.
It’s all about making a difference in your business, and earning a lucrative living to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of being a professional photographer.
Our previous presentations around Australia were BOOKED OUT… so don’t miss out.
Venue capacity is limited, so the sooner you grab your ticket the better will be your chance of attending.
BERNIE GRIFFITHS The “Go To’ Photography Business Coach.
After having a successful studio for over 40 years, Bernie transitioned into being a Photography Business Coach.
He is now the “go to” coach for those studios looking at taking their business to the next level.
His studio experience, expertise in Facebook Marketing, and down to earth approach to business, has enabled him to help and guide photographers globally in growing their business processes, and generating thousands of dollars more income.
MURIELLE SASSINE “The Photography Queen of Social Media”
Murielle has run a successful photography business from home for over 17 years, and has achieved great success with her sales in the areas of family portrait and glamour photography. Her portrait sales this year have been “mind blowing” and she had a record turnover for her business, over the past 12 months, largely due to her use of Instagram and Facebook Marketing.
She will outline how she uses Social Media to create new customers and continually strengthen her already strong brand.
Andrew Hellmich from Impact Images “I used to pay for online ads that weren’t working – Google adwords and Facebook Ads. These ads weren’t generating bookings, so I used to tell myself, at least it’s good branding… my name is getting out there.
Then I stopped spending on any advertising at all. I was tired of wasting money.
Until I realised I was doing it all WRONG!!
I learnt one simple tactic from photography business coach Bernie Griffiths about Facebook Ads and booked 7 engagement shoots, made print sales to almost all the couples and booked 6 weddings from those shoots. Ahhhmaaazing!
One couple even cancelled a booking with another photographer and lost their deposit to book me, all from one ad!
I used the same tactic with another FB ad and booked over 20 portrait sessions. FROM ONE FACEBOOK AD.
Paid Facebook advertising works… if you do it right.”
Let Murielle and I show you how to create money from Facebook and Instagram.
As a Photography Business Coach I am able to get a good insight into my clients needs, in a work/life kind of way.
I mostly find that having a good a well balance life is what most of them aim for.
It certainly isn’t ALL about the money.
Yes money is important but not to the detriment of living a happy and fulfilling life.
I came across this story during the week and although i have shared it before, I feel that a lot of photographers may have not seen it.
I think that it emphasises what a photography business can be, if left unchecked.
By Paulo Coelho
A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year-old son waiting for him at the door.
“Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
“Yeah, sure, what is it?” replied the man.
“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?
“That’s none of your business! What makes you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.
“I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.
“If you must know, I make $20.00 an hour.”
“Oh,” the little boy replied, head bowed. Looking up, he said, “Daddy, may I borrow $10.00 please?”
The father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is just so you can borrow some to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed.
I work long, hard hours everyday and don’t have time for such childish games.
The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even madder about this sons questioning.
How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?
After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think he may have been a little hard on his son.
Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $10.00, and he really didn’t ask for money very often.
The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.
“Are you asleep son?” he asked.
“No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.
“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,” said the man. “It’s been a long day and I took my aggravation out on you. Here’s that $10.00 you asked for.”
The little boy sat straight up, beaming. “Oh, thank you daddy!” he yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled up bills.
The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at the man.
“Why did you want more money if you already had some?” the father grumbled.
“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied.
Maybe a client that just didn’t order anything after you had worked so hard to take some great photos?
Maybe you have had a client that wouldn’t return your phone calls after you had left a message after they didn’t show up for their sales session, even though you had confirmed the appointment the previous day?
Being a photography business coach my clients (on the odd occasion) ask for my help in resolving difficult or confused customers.
This email was received a day after the photography session………
“Me and my partner have been talking and we are not going to be able to afford the photos after all we are not financially stable at the moment and just scraping by just to buy groceries for our family.
We are really sorry about this, but still would love to come and have a look”.
Or this the day after a purchasing session…..
“Nicole and I would like to have the picture of Will with the football printed as an 8 x 10, as included in the gift voucher we received.
Unfortunately, we will not be purchasing any of the other photos at this stage. I feel that it is important to provide you with feedback regarding the reasons why.
First and foremost, we consider the pricing to be quite expensive. Your cheapest package price of $495 is a substantial amount of money for our young family.
Having resolved that we weren’t willing to pay for a package, we discussed ordering just one or two prints, as your cheapest canvas at $750 was also out of the question. Two 5 x 7 prints would set us back $290.
To put this in context – if we went to an above average print shop, to print a 16 x 20 canvas there the cost is $125; two 5 x 7 premium matted photo prints is $10; the cost of printing your cheapest package would be $31.20.
Whilst I appreciate you are a professional running a business for profit, these differences in pricing seem large.
Even considering our thoughts on pricing, we are still human and swayed by emotion. Had there been an outstanding family shot with all four of us in frame that we fell in love with – unquestionably we would have been more inclined to justify the purchase.
For whatever reason, out of the 20-30 pictures we viewed there were only a handful that had us all in frame and certainly from our opinion none of these fell into that category.
Overall, we were left feeling slightly disappointed with the whole-family shots. Although we did really like a couple of the shots with just Will and several of the shots where Nicole wasn’t in them; it was important to us to get at least one shot with us all together.
I hope this helps you to understand our decision. Kind regards, John and Nicole.”
What about this after a purchasing session, which only the mother attended.
“It was lovely to see you today and to see the amazing photographs that you have taken of my babies. I loved them.
My husband however, is furious that I have agreed to spend way more than we can afford. This is not your fault – totally my own – I’m just wondering if there is anything we can do now that I’ve already paid the deposit.
I wouldn’t ask this if I wasn’t desperate, but is there any possibility of you reducing the final cost?
Colin is comparing it to professional photographs taken of the children at pre-school (6 x individual portraits professionally printed at 5×7 in a book plus one 12×8 for a total of $49).
I think he feels like we’ve been duped as I originally told him it was donation for the charity of $50 which included a professional print.
Like I said, this is my fault, I felt somewhat under pressure to buy the pictures (which I love) but I’m now in a position whereby I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.
My husband accepts that the cost of the custom framing is possibly not unreasonable but is flabbergasted that I have agreed to the cost of the photographs themselves.
I hate to ask, but please let me know if there is any possibility that you can help us by reducing the final cost. Thanks ..Jess”
Even the biggest and best business has its share of customer complaints, but the key is to handle them in a professional way.
The old saying that “the customer is always right” is not always true.
The challenge in my photography business was always to turn a complaining customer into a raving fan!
I have done this many times, and I must admit it took me a while to learn how to do this.
The first thing you must do is take the emotion out of the conversation, although you may have been hurt by what the customer has said.
A complaint can be upsetting and emotionally draining, so it is best to act (after careful thought) and get back to the client quickly.
Do not treat any complaint as though it is trivial, as it gives out a negative vibe toward you and your business.
In my experience as a photography business coach, the longer you leave the complaint unresolved, the more sleep you will lose.
Base the path toward a resolution on the facts of the complaint.
MAKE SURE YOU LISTEN to the customer and hear what they say.
Firstly THANK THEM for bringing it to your atention.
This will surprise them and will give them a sense that you are taking it seriously and are willing to solve the problem.
Get the customer to write down exactly what it is that they are not happy with, especially if there is more than one thing that they are unhappy with.
Then think about “giving in” to some of their demands and work towards a compromise to resolve the issue/s.
Having a structure and meeting a customer’s complaints head on will enable you to obtain a fairly quick and equitable solution.
Turn them into a raving fan by giving them something extra like doing an extra print or one or two files of files.
Remember……your challenge is to turn them into raving fans.
Facebook Ads Equals Customers And Sales
Being a Photography Business Coach I have done a lot of marketing over the years and as much as I’m happy to work on SEO, build relationships with other business owners for 3rd party marketing opportunities, sponsor raffles and auctions, have a newsletter and email list, go to bridal expos… Facebook remains by far the best way to get new customers and create income.
Learn how easy it is to have your ideal clients chasing you up for shoots, with this step by step Facebook Ads Course.
The beauty of these proven Facebook ads for photographers, no matter if you’re shooting weddings or portraits – and when I say portraits, it could be newborns, toddlers, families, pets or couples – using targeted ads the way I cover in the course, means you you can reach your best clients so easily.
If you want to grow your photography business and get some consistency, do this simple and repeatable system. There are only a few things to implement and you’ll be off and running.
PLUS if you buy the course within the next 3 days I will give you a FREE ONE HOUR Coaching Session, and answer all your questions to help your business grow.
Talking to and advising photographers around the world in my role as a photography business coach, one of the objections I hear from photographers when I talk about putting up their prices is…..
“But… my clients buy based on price.”
This is perhaps true to a small degree, as some of your clients will buy on price, but certainly not the majority of clients that you want .
If people really did buy on price as some photographers starting out in the industry believe, I guess we would all be driving around in the cheapest car, wearing the cheapest clothes, drinking the cheapest wine, and everyone would be flying economy.
We would take our families on the cheapest holidays, never go to a restaurant, as we would cook all of our meals, from the cheapest ingredients.
I read an article just the other day about the world’s most expensive cars.
Cars like the Hennessey Venom GT Spyder WRE ($1.3 million), Lamborghini Centenario ($1.8 million), and Aston Martin Vulcan ($2.3 million).
I guess these car manufacturers wouldn’t be wasting their money and time if no one bought them.
It makes sense that most people don’t buy on price, even though we sometimes like to think we do because it’s the logical thing.
The fact is, the majority of our buying decisions are based on emotions.
Our decisions are emotions based, we then use logic to justify our purchasing decisions.
It is the logic that stops us feeling guilty for spending a large amount of money on a new pair of shoes, or may be an item of clothing.
So you might be thinking…
“OK Bernie…I understand that most people don’t buy based on price.
But what about the ones that do?”
Surely if I raise my prices I’m going to miss out on some sales. ”
But if you think about all the worse clients you’ve ever had… I’m talking about the slow payers, the no payers and the complainers, you don’t really want them as customers anyway.
I would guess that they all have one thing in common.
Your conversations with them are ALL about price, and they were the type of customers who were always demanding more from you.
You must understand that those who do buy on price are always the customers who complain the most.
They are usually on a payment plan and default on payments.
Am I right?
What I find as a photography business coach, is that the problem is, especially when a photographer starts their business or they are short of money, they don’t like to turn any business away.
The reality is that the subject of “pricing” is not just about how much you charge, but more about how you have positioned your photography business in the marketplace.
Position and price your photography to attract the customers that you want.
No one wants the super totally price conscious hard to get on with customer.
Not even me.
From Part Time To Full Time
Wanted to let you know that my interview on Photobizx is now LIVE.
In the interview I share a ton of good stuff on going from part time to full time in your photography business.
Check out the page and feel free to get involved with any comments asking any questions that come up.
Get Rid Of Your Photography Business Frustrations!
After the fantastic success of the “A Day For Photographers” in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Cairns, we will be travelling to Adelaide, to help as many photographers as we can to grow their photography business.
The whole day will have a focus on what makes a photography business successful, and will include going through the following critical points. Sorting out Your Website, Social Media, Business Principles, creating a Price List, Photographing for Sales, Creating more Business, The Retail No Pressure Portrait Selling System and more….it will be a full day!
Developing Your Photography Into A Clear Brand.
Getting the Right Customers.
Developing A Conversion System To Convert Leads Into Customers.
Creating Your Price List To Maximise Sales.
Marketing for a Constant Flow of Customers.
Using the Marketing power of Social Media
Do You Lie Awake At Night Thinking How You Can Get More Customers?
Very few photographers implement Marketing strategies mainly because they don’t understand Marketing or quite simply they don’t know what to do.
Facebook and Instagram are great Marketing tools for those who are utilising their power.
Join us and let us show you exactly how you can bring in loads more customers.
BERNIE GRIFFITHS The “Go To” Photography Business Coach
After having a successful wedding/portrait studio for over 40 years, Bernie transitioned into being a Photography Business Coach.
He is now the “go to” coach for those studios looking at taking their business to the next level.
His studio experience, expertise in Facebook Marketing, and down to earth approach to business, has enabled him to help and guide photographers globally in growing their business processes, and generating thousands of dollars more income.
Bernie is widely recognised as Australia’s Leading Photography Business Coach, and his presentation will be on the 5 most important things that a photographer should focus on to build a successful photography business.
MURIELLE SASSINE The Photography Queen of Social Media
FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM FOR EFFECTIVE PHOTOGRAPHY MARKETING
Murielle has run a successful photography business from home for over 17 years, and has achieved great success with her sales in the areas of family portrait and glamour photography.Her portrait sales this year have been “mind blowing” and she had a record turnover for her business, over the past 12 months.She will outline how she uses Social Media to create new customers and continually strengthen her already strong brand.
BEING THE BEST SOHO YOU CAN BEStarting his home based photography business 25 years ago, Mark specialised in photographing weddings.Over the years the business has evolved to become one of Adelaides most successful studios, now specialising in photographing dogs.Mark will talk on how a photography business needs to specialise to have longevity and constant financial success when running a photography business from home.
If you are not making the money you want in your photography business…..it’s not your fault.
You just don’t know how to do it. Right?
Did you learn how to tie your shoe laces, walk, talk, swim, photograph, learn Photoshop, play the piano etc. etc.
Someone taught you how to do these things or you taught yourself.
If you are self-taught then I guess it took you much longer to learn.
So if your photography business isn’t progressing at the speed that you had hoped, it’s not your fault.
If you are working from home, there is always the constant temptation to work long hours.
You shouldn’t feel guilty if you check and answer emails in the evening when the kids are in bed.
If you are passionate about your photography and are constantly working on growing your business, you should work hard.
Only if working too much intrudes on and effects your family life negatively, should you re-evaluate your work ethic.
The opposite of working too much, is procrastinating on work related tasks.
There is an unlimited amount of things that you could do around the home instead of doing work related things.
Failure to keep up with your work-load could amplify and create a massive problem in a very short space of time.
Another potential problem is spending too much time on tasks which you enjoy and may not be generating income and neglecting the tasks you don’t.
Whether you have a shop front or work from home, there are in fact literally hundreds of tasks that you will have to learn if you want your photography business to survive.
You need a photography business Coach.
Fight The Resistance
Excerpt from Walt Hampton, J.D.
President and Chief Operating Officer
Book Yourself Solid(r) Worldwide
“I love the high summits. I can see forever.
I love to feel the wind on my face, revel in the exaltation, bask in the
sense of accomplishment.
Weeks, months, sometimes years of effort, wrapped up into a single glorious
But most of my time isn’t spent on the summits. It’s spent in the valleys.
And in the weeds.
I got to the end of last week feeling frustrated and exhausted. Despondent
I had done everything right. I had done my weekly planning, my daily goal
setting. I had mapped out my most important tasks.
Yet, when the week was done, all that I could say was that I had been
I hadn’t moved the dial on the projects that mattered most: the ones that
would change up the game, the ones that would truly make a difference.
I had avoided them.
(Even after writing this piece, I failed to make the choices that really
“Everyone has a little voice inside their head that’s angry and afraid,”
writes Seth Godin. “That voice is resistance – your lizard brain – and it
wants you to be average (and safe).”
My friend and mentor, Patrick Combs, says, we don’t identify sufficiently
the Immediate Impact Possibilities: the truly significant tasks that have
the potential to light our lives on fire. Instead, out of fear, out of
habit, and yes, out of resistance, we get caught in the repetitive cycle of
minutia. And stay stuck.
Thought leader John Assaraf goes a step further. He suggests that resistance
may be physiological, biochemical.
He says that he could provide an audience an exact blueprint for making five
times more money. And most of the audience wouldn’t follow it.
He says that when presented with an idea that has the potential to move us
outside our comfort zones, the cybernetic mechanism in our brains releases a
chemical that triggers a thought that allows us to rationalize why we’re ok
just where we are: no more, no less.
Resistance may be hard-wired. How scary and depressing is that.
But thankfully we’re not lizards. We still get to choose.
“Real artists ship,” says Steve Jobs. By artists he means all of us:
writers, speakers, artists, poets, experts, thought leaders, mavericks,
creators, dreamers. People of Might.
Shipping means getting the work done. Getting it out the door. Moving it out
into the world. Come hell or high water.
Godin writes, “Shipping isn’t focused on producing a masterpiece (but all
masterpieces get shipped). I’ve produced more than a hundred books (most
didn’t sell very well), but if I hadn’t, I’d never have had the chance to
write this one.
Picasso painted more than a thousand paintings, and you can probably name
three of them.”
“Not shipping on behalf of your goal of changing the world is often a
symptom of resistance,” says Godin. “Call its bluff, ship always, then
change the world.”
Only the work that ships matters.
Do the work. Ship the work. Do some more.
Resistance will always be there. But we can choose to climb above it.
Resistance works overtime “to be sure that you won’t do anything
remarkable,” writes Godin.
Climb above the weeds. Focus on the Immediate Impact Possibilities. Dare to
4 Facts That I Know, Based On My Experience, About Wedding/Portrait Photography.
These are good times for photographers who are business and marketing educated.
Many photographers today have a great photography business.
The consumer market demands good quality photography .
There is a strong demand for the right photography products.
When you learn how to attract the right clients, and once you discover how to sell to clients, and once you get busy and put into practice running a “real” business, and start to “test and measure” everything that you do, you will be well rewarded.
Your photography will be in demand if you market in the right way, and you will have a good income that can last a lifetime.
Lots of photographers are achieving great success, whether it be in the big cities or in country towns.
One of my clients in an outer city suburb has over 40 photography sessions booked in her diary.
Another client photographs over 400 portraits a year.
Four of my clients made monthly gross turnover records, while others have achieved amazing high sales.
The wedding photographer who was struggling getting couples to book, then on my advice simplified his wedding price list and booked the next two couples that he interviewed.
Believe me, these photographers didn’t believe that they could achieve such amazing results a few months ago either.
These are the reasons I love being a photography business coach.
What About You?
So what about you? Maybe as you read this you are wondering why you aren’t having as much success.
Maybe you have tried evrything and you still are not getting the financial return that you would like.
You may also may have had your photography business for many years and are feeling tired and unmotivated.
It is all getting too hard.
I would like to offer a little advice.
I have a sticker on my laptop.
It says ” Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to other people.”
So although some of my photography clients are having some success now, it hasn’t always been that way.
They have had their “low” moments in their business, and will probably have lots more in the future.
Everyone photography business owner does!
Even the most successful and accomplished photographer you know has days when they feel like they are banging their head against a brick wall.
Success in your photography business is partly to do with luck, but a lot of it is about having a plan, and consistently working towards what you’re trying to achieve.
Trust me. No one has a perfect photography business.
Your business, like life itself is a jouney, not a destination.
Bernie’s Fantastic Facebook Challenge
The Original Bernie’s Facebook Challenge.
Sweeping the world over the last 12 Months has been an amazing Facebook post that has revolutionised Facebook advertising for wedding/portrait photographers.
Globally known as “Bernie’s Facebook Challenge” it started on three different podcast platforms.
Hundreds of photographers around the world have implemented the step by step strategies that I mentioned on the Podcasts and as a result they have photographed heaps of photography portrait and engagement sessions, and in the process have made many dollars in sales, not only in portrait sales but also in wedding bookings.
This is just one of the many marketing strategies that I use when I work with in my photography business coaching.
What Andrew Hellmich from Photobizx Had To Say……………
“Last week I interviewed Bernie Griffiths, a photography coach who helps photographers attract clients and make sales. Anyway, he put forward a challenge to the listeners and me. The challenge: construct a FB post, boost it and get more bookings than ever before. I’ve done this a heap of times already but have never seen the success I did this week!
I ran my ad one week ago today and paid $30 to boost the post. My results so far have blown me away!
40 Enquiries about the shoots, 17 confirmed bookings, 14 potential clients we’ve left messages for and are yet to hear from 9 potential clients to call back following voice mail messages they’ve left for us over the weekend.”
To Your Amazing Photography Business Success Your Photography Business Coach
I found this letter posted on a photographers forum recently. As a photography business coach I find it sad in some ways yet very inspiring and motivational in other ways.
Rebecca Tompkins 20 June at 08:23
” I sit here now still trying to wrap my mind around the decision. I closed my business today. After 2 years of trying, I just can’t do it right now. I am writing this post to acknowledge the many mistakes I made and to hope others will not make the same ones.
I closed my business for multiple reasons. One being no paying clients in over a year and the other being I just got diagnosed with a mess of issues with my back (degenerative disc disease, 2 herniated discs and spinal stenosis in 2 areas of my lumbar spine). It has been very rough lately. I am one of the lucky ones where I did not quit a full time job to start this venture, I was a stay at home mom with a partner who supports me in anything and everything I could ever dream of doing. My disappointment is due to my own personal guilt and feelings of failure.
The mistakes I made are common! Don’t get discouraged by my post but take into consideration as you amazing photographers out there start and continue on this journey!
I started business too soon. I was one of those photographers you see everyone bash and hate on social media. I got a nice camera, took a few good shots and listened to everyone around me say “You should start charging for that. You are soo good!” I literally roll my eyes thinking about it now. I offered 25 and 50$ sessions with flash drives included. I just went out and thought I was a professional.
I started my business to recoup the money spend on my hobby. I have troubles due to being a domestic violence survivor with guilt. I felt so guilty about how much everything cost that I wanted to make money to get back what was being spent. This is a horrible reason to go into business.
I lacked confidence. I still to this day do not believe my images are as great as everyone else tries to tell me they are. I can find a flaw anywhere and after shooting consistently for 3 years, I have never, not even once been brave enough to ask for constructive criticism. If I get CC on social media without asking, I will usually delete the image and pretend it didn’t just destroy a small part of me in my head. You must believe in yourself!!! Believe in your work!!!
I never found a niche! I certainly rebranded often enough to have tried them all. I did family, weddings, maternity, documentary, newborn etc. I just never found anything that quite lit my fire the way my own random shoots to bring forth a creative vision did. In a rural area (a town of less than 1,500 people, 10 photographers and no sense of community) a niche was needed. When I did market a niche, one of the more established photographers in my area would market the same thing I was marketing and well no clients came my way.
I did not research enough. This goes back to number 1 and starting a business too soon. I never paid attention to who else was running a business around me, how they marketed, what kind of clients to market too etc. I just wanted to make money and that was it.
I was no good at being a salesperson. How can you sell yourself, your talent and your product, if you don’t think it is any good??? If you cannot talk to someone and take the criticism or believe in your prices, you cannot profit off of your talent.
I did not give myself fully to the business. Somewhere in the back of my head, I never thought it would be a success. So, I allowed myself to put less and less effort into it over time. Every disappointment was an affirmation that I was not good enough. The 5 times I advertised mini session and no one showed, the model calls no one followed up on, the lack of interest in anything other than standard posed images, well it all just added up.
I sit here and type this with tears rolling down my face, not knowing where else to lay it all out there, not having many who genuinely understand the frustration (my back) and sadness (giving up) I am feeling. I want any one of you who reads this to take to heart that running a business is not for the weak. You have to do so much to make it work, I have total confidence that you all will be a success and I wanted to share a few of the do not do’s to help you all along.
I am working through it all in my head and I may try this as a business venture again somewhere far in the distant future. For right now, I am just going to love taking pictures every chance I get and I am going to focus on my creativity and technical flow. The future holds a lot for me outside of a DBA and a tax number. I am and always will be an artist. My heart comes alive with the camera in my hand shooting the things I love. Thank you all for reading!!
Keep on trying everyone! Keep on striving and know that sometimes even if it doesn’t all work out, you are still a photographer and an artist when you go to bed!!!
photography business coach photography mentor photography coaching
Bernie Griffiths is certain the service he offers to wedding, portrait and family photographers is unique, with no one else in the world doing it quite like he does.
Bernie (pictured right) operates a photography coaching business with an emphasis on marketing strategies and creating successful business models. But what separates him from the touring seminars and other business coaches is that he corresponds one-on-one on a weekly basis with all his clients, and tailors the coaching program around photographers and their businesses.
‘The way I do the coaching is one-on-one. I don’t do group coaching or send a bunch of generic videos to clients. It’s a weekly, one-on-one ‘face-to-face’ Skype session,’ he told ProCounter. ‘What I offer is quite unique within the industry. Photographers running marketing seminars only teach others based on their own business and what has worked for them.
‘But every photographer comes from a different place, has different clientele, style, skill, and expectations. So I extract information and implement a pricing, selling, and photography structure for that particular business.’
Bernie opened his first and only wedding and portrait studio in Melbourne back in 1969 when he was 23, only to sell it three years ago when he decided a career change was in order. He doesn’t claim to have been overly skilled with a camera, but was in tune with how to market and promote his business. That’s what he sees as an art.
Because Kodak and other industry-related businesses sponsored his seminars during his photography career, becoming a full-time photography business coach seemed like a natural next step. And given his business was successful for a long timer, he figured a few tricks he learned along the way could be shared to help others make more money.
The vast majority of the 65 clients he has coached in the last three years are from Australia and New Zealand. Some are masters of photography looking to freshen up their business whereas others are completely new to the industry.
In total he estimates around $1 million in profit has been generated for clients with his assistance.
The coaching is done in either a six or 12-month program which involve a weekly hour-long session. Specific tasks for the photographer are set, and those taking the 12-month program have a two-day visit from Bernie – be it in a studio, or a desk and chair crammed in the corner of a home office.
Given Bernie believes no two businesses are the same, it can be difficult for him to be specific about challenges wedding and portrait photographers face. However he’s noticed a few areas where photographers can improve: ‘New photographers generally fall short because of their ‘non-actions,’ he said.
‘They have to learn a lot of new skills – as I did when I became a full-time coach. First and foremost they have to know how to use their camera and post-processing software, but there is also an art in learning how to market, and sometimes I find they don’t follow through with actions.’
What he means is that photographers aren’t reading the ‘business manual’. Instead, and like many of us, they just hastily rip open the box, throw the instruction manual aside and try to figure it out on their own. Only later, after a few mistakes, will they come back to it and take the time to learn how to run a business.
Bernie makes photographers accountable for their business, he said. Here he is with Fi Mims at her studio in St. Kilda, Melbourne.
Spending less is more When it comes to marketing, Bernie recommends spending as little money as possible. The best way to do this is by posting consistently on social media to draw attention to the brand. It’s cost-effective but obviously has limited reach and, frankly, everyone does it.
But marketing can also be a little more creative.
‘Starting a third party alliance with a business or organisation can be really handy and cheap, and I’ve noticed a lot of the successful, big studios do this. Let’s use car dealerships as an example,’ he said.
‘Make an agreement where each time the local dealership sells a car, have them send the customer a letter saying “As a thank-you we’ve organised a family portrait session with the area’s leading portrait photographer, with a print included at the value of $600”.’
But strategically targeting the right market is important. A photographer at the high-end of the market will yield better results by partnering with a Mercedes or Lexus dealership than, say, a Holden or Toyota dealership. Someone like Yervant or Rocco Ancora would be best suited with a Maserati or Ferrari dealer – ‘targeting is everything’.
For photographers in regional areas of Australia in particular, these strategies can prove hugely successful once word-of-mouth spreads.
New and up-and-coming wedding photographers often base their pricing off what others are doing – but that’s not always a wise strategy!
Perceived value creates opportunities Pricing is another area Bernie finds photographers struggle with because, again, many base it on what other photographers recommend.
He suggests to clients that they adopt a system of collections or packages, ‘perceived value is very important and creates opportunities to upsell’.
‘One of my client’s wedding packages averages around $10,000. He does this because he only does albums – no shoot-and-burn coverages. His incoming price is around $3000, but when the clients come in for the album design he sells about $7000 more. He uses the files at a lever to encourage clients to go with the upgrade.’
Given customers cannot resist the temptation of digital files, making the more expensive packages the ones with digital files can push a client to spend more.
‘It’s common for clients to specifically want digital files rather than prints. It’s a product that they want,’ he said. ‘So knowing that, perhaps offer prints in the cheaper collections, and then offer some files in the slightly more expensive collection. And the fourth collection – the most expensive – offer all the files. We know what the consumer wants, and if that’s files, we can encourage them up the ladder so they spend more money.’
Resist the trends! Lastly he thinks too many photographers – particularly those entering the industry as part-time professionals – tend to copy or mimic other photographers, rather than testing out what works for them.
When it comes to things like shooting style and locations, too many photographers follow the leader, making it harder for potential clients to differentiate one from the other. Ultimately they start making decisions based on prices.
Far fewer professional portrait photographers operate from their own studio these days.
At the moment the trend (latest fad?) among portrait photographers he’s noticed is to shoot at a client’s home with a documentary, black-and-white style. (Possibly because fewer photographers have their own studio and this keeps overheads low.)
Throughout his career Bernie said that when a trend emerged he’d resist it – when the majority started shooting portraits in the outdoors, he put more focus on the studio.
Bernie said he is currently running at 80 percent capacity with his coaching business. For the next month any photographers interested in his coaching but unsure whether to commit can try a four week ‘A Taste of Success’ program for $97 by clicking here.
He told ProCounter that not all photographers will benefit or be able to work with him and he will be upfront with a cashback guarantee.if that’s the case.
Bernie first appeared on ProCounter’s radar earlier this year when he was interviewed about National Family Portrait Month, a charity-based event he organised with the aim of raising the profile of professional family portraiture in Australia. (And… possibly his own business!)