060: Creating a Client Experience that Matches Your Brand, Amanda from Carrylove Design

Your client experience is more than just a gift for your clients

There is a lot more to a great client experience than just a thank you gift. Everything from your website to your first email response sets the tone for how your clients view your brand. 

And speaking of branding, don't spend all of your time picking brand colors; you should spend time designing how you want you brand to be known. Amanda is no stranger to creating amazing client experiences and she believes it all starts out with a well thought-out brand.

Find and connect with Amanda: Website | Instagram | The Brand Vault

Your client experience is more than just a gift for your clients  |  Focus(ed) Podcast 060

Show Notes

Amanda's background

Amanda went to college for graphic design. She then worked for Shell Oil and began climbing the corporate ladder. This started as side biz for her and grew into an Etsy shop. When Amanda found out she was pregnant with her daughter, she decided to invest and grow her business. She didn’t want to leave daughter at daycare all day. Amanda was able to replace her salary within 6 months.

Niching down your target market

Amanda joined the Rising Tide Society and began expanding her network. She quickly realized most of her clients were wedding professionals - especially wedding photographers. She decided that since these were her favorite clients to work with, she would begin working solely with wedding industry professionals. Niching down to mainly photographers has been huge for her business. It happened more organically and Amanda likes to call it a happy-accident.

What really determines your brand

Your brand is not just your logo and colors. It is the way you make people feel. What personality would your business have if it walked into a room? What would other people say about your business? What do you want them to say? Think about your business values and your why. How does that fit into your messaging and branding?

Matching your brand with your client experience (and which comes first)

Determining your brand comes first. Write down a few adjectives to that you want your brand to emote. You can use these words to help determine your client experience and guide your processes. How do you want people to think and feel about you and your brand? Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and ask yourself how you want to be treated. Hint: your client experience isn’t just about a gift. Don’t give gifts just to give them. If it doesn’t enhance your brand or your client, then it could be hurting your client experience.

What makes a great client experience?

Anytime you interact with them, you are participating in the client experience. From the first response to their inquiry the tone will be set for the rest of the relationship. Again, this goes back to putting yourself in their shoes. Add some personality to your emails, even if they are auto-responses! But remember personalization is better than automation. What are little things you’ve experienced from other businesses that have stood out to you and made an impression? Give your clients something unexpected and it will be what will set you apart from your competitors. 

Remain consistent

If you say you are going to do something, do it. Don't let there be a disconnect between your words and your actions. Again, this could be something that hurts your client experience rather than enhancing it. 

Your brand grows as you grow

When you're first starting out, you may not have systems and steps in place to ensure you have great client experience. But as your business grows, don't overlook areas you can grow for your clients as well. Don't let your clients fall behind while you're growing. Continue to build your foundation as your business grows. And it is okay to change things up as you continue moving forward. 

Make your client experience better today

  1. Think about the experience you want your client to have - your 5 adjectives for your brand. 
  2. Don't focus just on gifts - think through your systems and communication as well. 
  3. Put yourself in their shoes - what would be important to you?
  4. Be responsive and personable - set the expectations from the beginning.

Three Apps or Software Recommendations

Planoly

Calendly

Adobe

Find and connect with Amanda: Website | Instagram | The Brand Vault

059: Attending in person events as an introvert

It is okay for you to need time alone at an event

There are so many misnomers about being an introvert, but the fact is, it can be hard for introverts to attend in-person events. Large conferences and smaller workshops have their pros and cons. Every introvert will deal with each type of event in their own way. 

The key is to be aware of the pros and cons of each one and be prepared before you attend. This means scheduling some alone time and possibly taking a battle buddy with you. 

It is okay for you to need time alone at an event | Focus(ed) Podcast 059

Show Notes

Introvert Misnomers

  • Introverts can just 'break out of their shell' - never, ever say that to someone. 
  • Introverts hate leaving their house.
  • Introverts are anti-social and dislike people.
  • Introverts are quiet.

It is all based on energy and where you get that energy from. Introverts receive energy by being alone and having time to think through things. Extroverts get their energy from parties and people. And the opposite can be said of what drains introverts and extroverts. There is no right or wrong, there just is. Not sure if you're an introvert or extrovert? Head to www.16personalities.com to find out! 

Type of event

Large conferences, like WPPI, have lots of people and possible classes that may allow you to hide in the crowd and do your own thing. Smaller workshops that have 12-15 people will require you to participate with those people and typically won’t have any alone time planned. If you’re attending a styled shoot with other photographers, be aware that you will have to speak up in order to get your shots too. Overstimulation can drain introverts, even if they seem like they’re having a great time. Just because it is draining doesn’t mean that it was bad or that it was a waste of time.

Have someone to go with you

Going by yourself to any event will also heighten the level of anxiety for introverts. Find a battle buddy (Paul - your battle buddy is someone who goes with you to everything and you’ve got each other’s back) to go with you to these events. When Paul went with Cinnamon to WPPI it not only gave him perspective on what Cinnamon did, but it gave her someone to connect with throughout the day. Having a battle buddy also allows you to talk about what you’re learning and debrief throughout the day.

Schedule time during or after to recharge

Make sure that you give priority to your needs. If you need to book your own room, do it. The extra cost will be worth it for you each day as you had personal time the night before. There is nothing wrong with you needing time at a conference or workshop to be alone.

 

058: Question and Answer with Cinnamon

Answering all of your questions

This episode is all about the question you have submitted for Cinnamon to answer! Questions range from gear and shooting wedding suites, to SEO and travel insurance.

Paul couldn't be on for this episode and although we typically release a guest interview on Thursdays, we wanted to make sure we stayed on track for episodes each week. 

Question & Answer Session with Cinnamon | Focus(ed) Podcast 058

Show Notes

Podcast Questions

We use microphones from AudioTechnica and we chose the condenser mics. They only pick up sound right at the mic and not much further than that. We didn't use them correctly the first time, but now that we know how best to use them, we love them! You can find all of our podcasting tools in the Toolbox.

Most of our guests are not local, so we do them over Skype, and record the audio with eCamm Recorder. We have thought about recording the video for Youtube, but at this time, we aren’t going to do that.

Most ineffective way to use your work time

Going back and forth between tasks can cause you to waste time. It is best to spend your time on one thing and finish that before moving on. Also, having too many notifications can disrupt your time while your working.

What do you do when others in your industry ask you for help?

We are always encouraged to build community over competition, but it can be draining to help every single person who asks questions. It is important to be as helpful as possible but also protecting your time. One helpful way is to blog about your most asked questions so you can send them straight to the blog. Giving them resources helps them figure things out on their own instead of you having to walk them through everything step-by-step. It can also depend on your relationship with the person asking you. Another option is to monetize your advice by creating strategy sessions or webinars and courses.

Which networking events are best

Local events are amazing (especially for photographers) places to build your network. Meeting people in person deepens the relationship from the beginning when you can see them face-to-face. Choosing events that aren’t too big or overwhelming also give you the opportunities to really meet people and not just getting lost in the crowd.

Turning your work mind off to focus on family

This is an area that I think can be based off of season of life for every person. We don’t have small kids or a lot of other things going on right now. I love what I do and am okay with working more throughout the day. I don’t typically turn my work mind off too often. This will probably change after our move back to Seattle, but it just works for us right now. Take a look at your life, schedule and your goals in order to determine what works best for you right now. And then know that it is okay to adjust that as your season changes.

Photographing wedding paper suites

You can use a paper or fabric background on the wedding day to get those great shots. I keep a few pieces of fabric on hand (one cream and one grey) to use with details throughout the day. I know other photographers use props as well to style on the wedding day. Heirloom Bindery has amazing styling boards you can take with you. Another one is Simply Rooted Surfaces which is actually a roll instead of flat board. I don’t typically talk to the bride about styling because I typically use neutrals but I do put on the timeline that I need extra springs from the florist. Give yourself a little extra time for styling, especially if styling doesn’t come natural to you - an hour is a great place to start. Some photographers do it before the wedding, just make sure you get all the pieces beforehand.

Managing folders and catalogues in Lightroom Questions

The catalogue is the file where all of the edits are stored in Lightroom. You can have multiple folders within each catalogue but you can also create a new catalogue for each session if you want. You won’t be able to see photos from different catalogues while you’re working in one, but you will be able to see the photos from the folders in each catalogue. The lower the number of photos per catalogue will allow Lightroom to run faster. It may work best to have one catalogue per wedding, but you may not need separate ones for each family session. If you’re sending your photos to an editor you, how you organize them is important for keeping track of each session.

How I organize my photos

I have all of my photos in folders based on the year then the month and the 'thing' or event. I don’t organize by date within the month because you might have several things on a day. This makes it easier for me to go back and find certain events when I know when the event took place. 

When to delete RAW files

I don’t do this often, but I would say you are safe to delete your files after 2 years. Some photographers do it more often, possibly every 3 months, so it is definitely up to your comfort level. RAW files take up so much room, and although storage is pretty cheap, there is no need to spend money on storage when you can just delete the other 14 out of 15 photos of the same thing.

Sales Tax in NJ

There is no one right answer, but from what I can tell in NJ, if it is only digital - there is no need for sales tax. If you have collections that come with something tangible, then that is where it gets a bit grey. Everyone should check into their own state as this can differ state-by-state.

Oversees insurance

The best thing to do is check with your insurance provider to see what’s covered for you in another country.

Delivering HiRes photos

As long as your pixels per inch are above 100, then it is considered a full size image. A 4000x2670 PPI/DPI can be printed on a 40x26 (divide by 100). It works best to delete pixels versus trying to add them to a photo.

Getting park permits

This should be done by the client especially if it is clearly stated on the website. If it is a free session and you’re wanting to shoot there, then it is up to you to get the permit.

Bags, gear, and routine cleanings

I have two Mark IIIs - 50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.8, and 35 sigma art 1.4. Macro 100mm 2.6 Canon Lens. I do still have my Canon 6D, which Paul typically uses, but I still love it. It shoots a bit darker than my Mark III but it doesn’t have 2 slots for cards. I’ve had so many camera bags over the years. Currently I use the Think Tank bag (more info in the Toolbox) and a ShootSac. I would love to find a strap for my waist instead of my shoulder, but I think every photographer is always looking for one that’s better than what they currently use. Ideally, I would only have my camera in my hands and nothing else.There is a Canon facility close to me in NJ that I love using to clean and maintain my gear. If things are loose or broken they will fix it.

Dealing with SEO, Increases Traffic, and Blogging

Google is constantly updating how they rank sites. There is not a black and white answer to these questions because so much goes into SEO. You do need to make sure that Google Analytics is set up on your site. Backlinks are also really great to get traffic to your site. It increases Google’s trust factor for you. When it comes to your keywords, you do need to make sure you’re using the right ones, but you don’t want to “keyword stuff” every blog. Google sees you and they want to make sure everything on your site is accurate and consistent.

Links we mentioned

AudioTechnica

Heirloom Bindery

Simply Rooted Surfaces

Toolbox.

057: Taking Control During Family Formals

Small Headline

When we mention “family formals” we are mainly focusing on the large family photos that are staged at weddings. Getting everyone coordinated in one place can be one of the most stressful times during a wedding, but it doesn't have to be chaos. 

If you have a second photographer, it can be great to have them run the list as you run the photos. Cinnamon still typically does both when she main shoots a wedding, but know how helpful it can be to have a second photographer run the list. 

Why you need to take control during family formals.  |  Focus(ed) Podcast 057

Show Notes

Why you need to take control

If the photographer (or second) doesn’t manage the time with the family well, it can cause added layers of stress to the day. By taking the lead, you get to step in and be the professional who is in charge of the situation. This can be your big shining moment as a photographer by handling all of those people well. They hired you to think about this moment for them. These also may be the most important photos (other than bride and groom) of the day - older family members, the first time in years everyone has been together, etc.

Tips on managing family formals

  1. You need to have a list prepared ahead of time. Make sure to talk to the bride and groom beforehand to discuss the must have photos of the day and a detailed list of names who should be in each photo. Bring a pen or pencil with you (and a second copy for your other shooter). Use people’s names to grab their attention when it’s their turn.

  2. Stick to your list and your timeline. You may have people asking you to take other photos not on the list - that is totally fine, but let them know you need to take it at another time. When you get the list from the bride and groom, feel free to rearrange to make the combinations work. Start with either the largest group and take away little by little, or start with the smallest group and then add from there. Look for those you can group back to back so you don’t lose people as you check off the list. Also, consider any older family members and try to get those photos in first.

  3. Stay in control. You have to be communicative and you may have to be loud. Don’t worry about being too bossy, they are expecting you to be the one running the show at this point. There is no need to get mean to get their attention; you can definitely use humor instead.

For second shooters

If you’re not taking the photos, you have a little more headspace to look for ways you can make this process smoother. Help pose people or hold their jackets for them. If someone isn’t looking, get their attention. You can also help round up the family members for the next photo.

055: What is a destination wedding and how do you book them?

It's time to understand the destination wedding world

Many photographers aspire to have a few destination weddings each year. Some of them may not realize that they're either already destination photographers or they have no idea how to become one. 

Once you understand the full meaning of a destination wedding, you'll be able to determine if you're a destination photographer or not. Also, there are a lot of details that go into working with a destination wedding, but it can be worth it if done right. 

If you want to book weddings outside of your location, go for it! But please know that if you’re the only one traveling, it isn’t technically a destination wedding.

It's time to understand the destination wedding world.  |  Focus(ed) Podcast 055

Show Notes

Knowing the definition

There can be some confusion around what exactly is a destination wedding. Hopefully this will be cleared up for you today!

It must be a destination for everyone attending the wedding for it to be counted as a destination wedding. If everyone, including you, is traveling to California, it's a destination wedding. If you're in New York and the whole wedding party is traveling to New York, it's a destination wedding. If the bride and groom fly you to their wedding in Seattle, where they live, it is not a destination wedding.

Definitions are important when you’re in business. You want to make sure when you’re talking about something, that you’re talking about it accurately.  

Why is this important?

If you’re looking to shoot weddings outside of your typical location, that doesn’t mean you’re a destination photographer. Most brides and grooms aren’t looking for destination photographers, they’re looking for photographers who will travel. How you talk about it on your website matters - where do you shoot, will you travel, what are your travel fees, etc. It is important to think about it from the couple’s perspective, so keep your language easy to understand and be upfront with them. Some photographers even list their dream locations on their websites so couples can see if they are getting married in those locations. Also, if it is a goal of yours to shoot a wedding in all 50 states, you need to tell people.

Don’t forget your meta data

You need to think about this in terms of your SEO as well. If you’ve gone to certain locations, make sure to put all of the info into the blog post and photo data. This allows you to start gaining traction for those other locations.

Other things to think about

If you're traveling to a place that is accustomed to hosting destination weddings, they may require the couples to use most on-site vendors, so make sure you know who you'll be working with on the day of the wedding. Traveling with your equipment can cause complications and certain places require certain documents and visas. You’ll want to check any homeland security restrictions for the areas you’re headed to as well. When you’re calculating your pricing, you’ll need to make sure to factor in all the pieces in order for it to be beneficial.