Finding your ideal client and closing the deal, Tiffany Wayne

It’s not an overnight thing, but it's worth it

Many photographers start off saying yes to any and every inquiry that comes their way. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, there comes a point when not everyone can be your ideal client. Tiffany Wayne is sharing her journey to full-time wedding photography and how she began narrowing down her favorite clients by using her gut and communication style.

It takes time and a few not-so-ideal clients to help you determine your ideal qualities, but don't give up! Once you start saying yes to more and more of the right ones, the more you'll love the clients you work with and the referrals coming your way.

Find and connect with Tiffany: Website | Instagram

 It’s not an overnight thing, but it’s worth it.  |  Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

Tiffany's background

Tiffany took some photography classes in high school, but never dreamed of being anything other than a stay-at-home mom. She studied communications in college while still playing around with her camera on the side. While working for a law firm after college, Tiffany reached out to her high school photography teacher for advice on making photography her career. He suggested a 10 month course that Tiffany signed up for immediately. This led her to a career in fashion photography before spending 2 years in California working for a street photography firm.

When she decided to move back to upstate NY,  she realized she was limited with job opportunities in her career field and she was either going to have to move to another city or just start her own photography business. Tiffany decided to take the leap and start her business while living at home to support her new business.

Her biggest struggle with getting into wedding photography was that she wanted to be recognized as someone who had studied photography and not just someone who picked up a camera. As a lover of romance and weddings, she wished she had started shooting weddings sooner, but she is so glad she took the leap to get started 8 years ago.

Finding your ideal client

It took Tiffany about 4 years before she really found and booked her ideal clients. Coming from a beauty and fashion background gave her an editorial style when she started, however as she grew in her business, she wanted to highlight the love and emotion of everyday people. Things started clicking for her as a photographer once she made this switch. The same is true for most new photographers - many start taking all the inquiries and figure out their ideal client as they go. It is really easy to compare yourself to those in your area, but Tiffany encourages you to stay in your lane as you narrow down your ideal client.

Once Tiffany started putting more of herself out there, she began clicking with those hiring her and she’s still good friends with many of her clients today. The photographer is one of the vendors clients will have the most interaction with on their wedding day, so let them get to know you! One of the biggest mistakes we see people make is not having an about section on their website. Yes, you are running a business, but people are hiring who they know. They want to recognize and connect with the person they are choosing to shoot their wedding and sessions.

Making it work

Keep your list of ideal client qualities at the forefront of your mind when you are interacting with potential clients. We all know word-of-mouth referrals are the best leads, and the more you say yes to your ideal client, the more ideal referrals you’ll get. Tiffany schedules an initial call or meeting to get to know them and their ideas for their wedding. These calls allow her to determine if they are a good fit for each other before she sends over a proposal or a contract. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you don’t think it is a good fit, it can be hard, but worth it in the long run.

Closing the deal

No one wants to be pushy about getting clients to sign a contract which can leave everyone in limbo. Tiffany encourages you to really listen to what they are saying and try to answer all of their questions honestly. Having real conversations with them and not just pitching them your hook, line, and sinker allows you to guide them into booking you. Let them know what the next steps will be in working with you and how you will follow-up with them.

What about the ghosters

There comes a point in every photographer’s business when chasing old leads gets..well old. Your clients have a lot going on during their engagement season and Tiffany recommends you driving the process. Over-communicating the steps never hurts. You’re the business owner so be clear and up front with them about what you need and when to secure that day. Follow up with them a few times, but at some point it is okay to move on.

Start from within

Dig deep into how you can be strategic in what you’re putting out in order to attract the right clients. Many of the situations we see business owners facing might have been avoided from the beginning if they stood their ground. Take the time to determine what is important to you and who you want to work with and then start putting yourself out there so they can get to know you.

photo.jpg

More About Tiffany

Tiffany is an upstate New York native that treasures the bond of family, enjoys decorating in neutrals, large coffee mugs and everything with avocado. Tiffany is an internationally acclaimed photographer, published author and mom-prenuer. Her work is featured regularly as a source of inspiration for newly engaged couples and emerging photographers. Previous to opening her photography business in 2010, Tiffany worked in both New York City and Los Angeles holding leading roles in the industry- including Director of Photography for a national magazine. Her mission is to decorate homes with beautiful, authentic imagery that preserve moments of happiness at the highest quality for people that value family and elegance- delivered with a sense of warmth and unmatched professionalism. Her happiest days are spent taking pictures with her daughter and eating funfetti.

Find and connect with Tiffany: Website | Instagram

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

IPS, let's look at the actual numbers, Paul & Cinnamon

Growing your photography business with ips

These three little letters can drum up a ton of controversy in the photography world and for good reason. However, we don't think you can go wrong either being a IPS or shoot-and-share photographer. 

We believe there's one key factor that gets left out of the IPS discussion on a regular basis, so we've brought it to you in this episode.

 Growing your photography business with IPS | Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

Why IPS

IPS stands for “in-person sales” and there is some controversy surrounding whether this is something photographers should offer. On today’s episode, we’re diving into the whole issue of shoot-and-share and IPS sessions. When most photographers start out, they typically fall into the shoot-and-share category by sharing all the images digitally to the client. However, running a business this way can be exhausting and photographers began offering IPS in order to raise their prices and shoot less. Wedding photography is a whole other type that has their own way of doing things, so we’re mainly focusing on senior, family, and newborn session.

Printed photos and milestones

Today, everyone has a camera on their phones and can choose to take photos of their families at any given time. But with milestone photos, there is usually one official photo to mark that milestone like your children’s official second grade photo. When you think back to your elementary and senior photos, you most likely received an order form of print photo packages and it was easy to see the value in those yearly photos.

Shoot-and-share: Looking at the numbers

If you’re looking to add a substantial amount of income to your family’s finances, you can’t just shoot and share your images without any additional sales. You will have to shoot a lot of sessions or have an amazing client experience to charge what you need to make. We believe and teach that a family session with digitals only is worth $250. As a community of photographers we have to create and educate others on what the standard is regarding sessions and pricing.

If you want to make $30,000 a year (gross, not net), and you charge $250 a session, you will need to do 120 sessions; thats 10 sessions a month and about 2-3 sessions a week. This means you have to schedule and communicate with 120 people. We understand that $250 seems like a lot for those sessions, but the value that your clients put on their yearly photos is huge. If your goal is just to have some fun money and see what this whole business thing is about, then this is a great place for you to be. It really does all go back to what your end goals are. To make $100k a year without doing weddings, you will have to do some sales in order to get there.

IPS and the numbers

There is some controversy on this topic because people believe that if you’re doing IPS, then you’re holding someone’s images hostage that belong to them. But there are plenty of clients out there who want to hire someone to manage all the printing, color correcting, frame and canvas options for them. People will spend money on what they value; so if they value their family photos, they will pay for the prints and for someone to do it for them. Newer photographers may feel like they can’t charge for prints because their work isn’t ‘their best yet’ but trust us, you can still do IPS with the photos you’re taking right now. The thing to consider is not your photos, but where you get them printed and what you’re printing them on. Cinnamon tested several different places and found out that Costco was the second best place to get photos printed, after White House. (pro tip: Walgreens is the worts). IPS can feel like a beast because there are a lot of moving pieces in this model. You have to set up extra time to re-meet with them, test your printing, deliver the photos, etc; but, you also have to shoot less sessions than you did when you were doing the shoot-and-share method which gives you time to add those high-end touches on the sales side. Look at the numbers again: If you decide to do IPS and charge $2500 per session, and you shoot twice a month, that’s $5,000 for 2 sessions versus 10 sessions for $2500 a month.

Making this transition is difficult, especially when you have repeat clients who are used to your old pricing structure. You can set it up in a way where you can educate them on why you’ve raised your prices and what you offer now. It doesn’t matter where you live or what your market is like, there are people who will pay to have their photos printed for them. You can even ask all of your past clients if they’ve ever printed their images from you and if they’d rather have it done for them. They may surprise you with how much they’d love for you to handle all of that for them.

Other hesitations

Some photographers hear that word ‘sales’ and cringe because they don’t want to seem pushy in selling something no one wants. You’ve got to switch your mindset because you know they want these photos or they would not have hired you to take them. This also goes back to educating your clients on the front end. Let them know before they hire you what all goes into the session and the prints they can get too. It is when photographers do this on the backend that the clients feel like they’ve been scammed.

Neither of these options is wrong, please don’t misunderstand us on this. It just goes back to what your goals are and how you want to run your business. We encourage you to take time today to think about your business model and how you can continue to make it successful.

We mentioned

White House Custom Colour

 

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

Protecting yourself online…a must listen!!! Kara Kamienski

We're not just talking about your website

You need to make sure your website is safe and secure. But have you stopped to consider the other areas of your business that need protecting?

For Kara Kamienski, the first thing that took a hit after her website was her Facebook page. She never saw it coming but is passionate about making sure her clients and other business owners are safe online. 

Find and connect with Kara: Website | Instagram | Facebook

 We're not just talking about your website  |  Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

Kara's story

She is a wedding photographer in Illinois. Kara was a special education teacher for 9 years before she stayed home with her kids. While at home, she wanted to get a little creative and help out with the financials. Kara saw a blog with amazing photos and asked them how they got them. She had a garage sale and passed out her photography business cards and used the money from the sale to buy her first camera. She booked 5 sessions from the garage sale when she didn’t have camera! Kara is now in year 9 of her business and she has a team of photographers and an editor on staff. When she’s not busy with her business she’s spending time with her kids and husband around the community.

The garage sale ended on a Sunday and she purchased her camera on Monday. That next Saturday she shot her first prom session all from handing out her business cards before she had a business! You don’t have to have it all perfect before you get started; sometimes you just have to start. Hiring a photographer can be a scary thing, so being the professional and having the confidence will be beneficial to your business too.

The first wake up call

Kara saw that her PayPal account was depleting and she wasn’t sure how or why. After talking with a local IT person, they found out it was through a widget on her Wordpress site. They then worked through removing certain countries from being able to see her site and limited it to just the US and Canada. Kara had loaded different widgets on her site with out really recognizing what they were doing. PayPal was able to retrieve and return her money and she wasn’t affected much in the long run.

The second call

That summer she was helping the kids with a charity in her town and let her computer open at home while she went to run an errand. When she got back home, she decided to check how many notifications she got on her latest post about the charity on Facebook. After trying to login a few different times, she realized again she had been hacked. Kara figured it would be easy again to contact Facebook and get everything swapped back over to her the next day. It ended up being a 6 week ordeal and not only did the hacker get access to her clients and business page, but also all the pages and groups she was part of. This second hacking showed her how vulnerable we are online and became passionate about helping business owners (and people in general) protect themselves online. Many entrepreneurs rely on their social media and websites to run their businesses and it can be taken from you instantly.

Protecting yourself

The first thing that you must do is make sure that the email you use to login with is your main email address. Kara had changed her main email over from yahoo to gmail, but she never updated her Facebook email and that is how the hackers got into her Facebook. The second thing you need to do is set up your “three trusted contacts” in your security settings. If you get locked out of your account, you can name one of your trusted contacts and Facebook will work with them to help get you back into your account. Kara had never heard of this feature but the hacker did and they friended 3 new people and named them the trusted contacts. At this point, she was at a dead end.

She had been working with local IT and even the FBI at one point to help get back into her account. Kara’s IT guy did warn her not to name her trusted contacts as her mom, sister, or husband. Pick people you trust but that aren’t obvious to others or people you interact with too much. The FBI agent told her there are sometimes when they get blocked on a criminal case due to privacy issues. That was probably the third wake up call for Kara.

You can also check out where your Facebook profile has been logged into geographically and you can confirm or deny that you were there. Once you tell Facebook you weren’t at a certain location, they’ll block that IP address. It takes less than 10 minutes to do, but it can be huge for your protection.

Further impact and protection

This didn’t effect her website too much, any accounts (like her PayPal again) associated with that old email address were effected. Kara started using the 2-factor authentication for logging into pretty much anything. They will send you a code that you enter in after using your login and password. Kara took everything she learned during this whole issue and wrote a blog post about it that she sent out to others. Her photographer friends started sharing her blog all over social media in order to help people protect themselves and their businesses online. As this post began to spread, someone put her in contact with a connection at Facebook and she finally got back into her own account after 6 weeks.

Taking back control

Kara finally got back in her Facebook and she took screenshots of everything that transpired in her messenger app, new friends, photos sent, etc. She even decided to translate some of the messages from Arabic to English and she realized nothing was right. Kara called the FBI again and handed over the all the messages and photos to them and never asked what they discovered.

Kara knows that social media is important for any business to use; she is just more aware of her online presence and what she shares. Her biggest concern is educating other business owners on how and why they need to protect their businesses, their clients, and their data. She urges you not to see Facebook as just Facebook. It is another place (Instagram too) that you need to make sure you’re protected and your clients are as well.

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

Kara Kamienski

More about Kara

Kara Kamienski is a wedding photographer based in central Illinois.  Since starting her business in 2009- Kara has shot over 300 weddings all over the United States and internationally.   She believes strongly in success that is bred from hard work and humor:)  When not shooting weddings, Kara strives to help other women succeed in business through mentoring young girl entrepreneurs and serving on her local Chamber of Commerce board.   Kara is married to hot farmer husband of 15 years, and has a 13 year old daughter and a 10 year old son.  She coaches basketball and loves all things sports.  Fried pickles are life.  She has a strange fascination with true crime and wants to go undercover for the FBI one day.  Random moment of Fame- Kara was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune in 2015 and won:)

Find and connect with Kara: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Let's talk Sole Prop vs. LLC, Paul & Cinnamon

Getting your business legal

We know there is a lot of information floating around the internet about forming LLCs, filing taxes as an S-Corp or Sole Prop. Heck, those  abbreviations can be confusing enough to begin with. In this short but sweet, episode we're giving you the definitions and basics of those terms! 

 We know there is a lot of information floating around the internet about forming LLCs, filing taxes as an S-Corp or Sole Prop. Heck, those  abbreviations can be confusing enough to begin with. In this short but sweet, episode we're giving you the definitions and basics of those terms!  |  Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

*This episode is solely our thoughts, none of it is legal advice.

Sole Prop vs. LLC

As a Sole Proprietor you are saying that you alone are running a business. You are not saying the business is a legal entity. If something happens (negatively in your business), you are responsible. Your business and your life are one in the same. If someone sues you, they can come after your house, for example, because it is not separate from your business. Cinnamon ran her business as a Sole Prop and everything was totally fine.

A Limited Liable Corporation (LLC) declares to the world that your business is separate from you as a person. If you get sued as an LLC, only your business is as stake. As an LLC, you might have to set up a separate bank account, and even if it isn’t required it is a good idea to have (check out this episode). It can be really expensive to form an LLC in some states, but it can still be worth it to have. Cinnamon transitioned hers to an LLC when she moved to Seattle just because she was growing and wanted to make sure everything was safe.

Basic tax info

When you get your LLC, you have to decide if you want to be taxed as a Sole Prop or S-Corp. It comes down to when and how you want to pay taxes and how much money you profit each year. As a Sole Prop, you will do your taxes the exact same way. You file them as you file your personal taxes and with your personal taxes. If you begin to make more than 50-60k in profit each year, you may want to look into being taxed as an S-Corp instead of a Sole Prop. We’ll talk more about taxes in another episode.

What you need to do next

If you’re getting an LLC, you will need to register your business with your state. Every state is different but Google and your local government will have the steps you need to get it started. You will also need an EIN from the IRS for tax purposes. The last thing that you need to do is set up a separate bank account for your business taxes.

If you’ve got any questions about this topic, feel free to ask away in the Facebook group and there might be someone in your state who can help!

We mentioned

The Contract Shop by Christina Scalera
Joey Vitale of Indy Law
Amy Northard, CPA
Nerd Wallet

When am I ready to hire and what do I do first?, Ashley Cox from Sprout HR

outsourcing made easy

Turning your passion into a profitable business takes a lot of energy and work. At some point you will realize that you can't do it alone and you will want to bring someone onto your team. Knowing what to outsource in your business and who to hire is easier than you might think.

There are steps you need to do before you begin interviewing and when you're making your final decision. In this episode, Ashley of Sprout HR, walks you through the process to ensure it is as stress-free as possible.

Find and connect with Ashley: Website | Instagram

 Outsourcing Made Easy | Ashley Cox, Sprout HR | Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

Ashley’s background

Ashley helps creatives hire, train and lead happy and profitable teams. She loves focusing on the happy and profitable pieces because if your not happy or profitable, then your just draining your money and your energy. After leaving her corporate job, she started doing brand photographer, however, as a people person, this was draining her personally. As a photographer, Ashley joined the online entrepreneur world and realized how many people were asking questions about growing teams and Ashley knew she had their answers.

When to outsource

If you’re running a business, you have got to love business. Your passion becomes secondary as you build a true business. This does mean that their are some tasks you just don’t love doing, but according to Ashley, you should not outsource all of the things from the beginning. When you become competent in a certain area in your business, that is when you should start to outsource. You know what and how that area should be working and can easily hand that over to someone else. If there are tasks that aren’t your strong suit, like finances or social media, you can outsource those as well, but you still need to have a base knowledge on how it all works so you know when something is broken.

Financial threshold for outsourcing

Outsourcing doesn’t mean you have to hire someone on an ongoing basis. There are certain areas you can outsource for a one-time fee (like your website) and still give you a great return on your investment (ROI). As you grow, you can begin to find other areas to outsource. Ashley recommends giving yourself 6 months to create a stable income to determine what you can financially afford to outsource. Start putting some money aside to use as an investment for your VA.

Getting ready to outsource

Ashley always tells people to start with your number one employee - make sure you are taken care of first. Her recommendation for your second employee should be someone who can help you set up systems in your business. Again, this could be a one-time project in which you hire someone to help set up your Honeybook or Dubsado. But before you hire someone, Ashley wants you to go ahead and brain dump all of your processes in one place so when you are ready to hire them, you have an outline for what it is you do and how you do it. The next thing to have in place for your new hire is a contract; sometimes your contractor will have their own but there are also templates you can get to make this easier. The main point is that there is a contract in place to protect each business that everyone agrees on regardless of who provides it. The contract doesn’t have to be elaborate, but you need a clear outline of what is being provided and what the parameters are. Also consider having a non-disclosure policy for them to sign. If someone is hesitant to sign your contracts, that is a red flag from the get go.

The next steps to outsourcing

The full process will be different if you’re hiring a contractor or an employee, but the best place to start is asking for trusted employees. Ashley recommends turning to others you know and ask if they know someone who fits the bill. The best way to get the best referrals is being super clear in WHO and WHAT you are looking for. If you aren’t specific with who you’re looking for, you’ll get more referrals than you need and the chance of them being the right person is slim. The first place to announce you’re looking to hire is on your own pages; you may not know who has been following you and wants to work with you but they don’t know how to start. Then turn to your network and ask for their referrals. Give them one way to contact you, and you’ll be able to see who can follow the basic instructions first, and limit the avenues you have to follow up in. You can and should interview multiple people for each position before hiring one. Take the time to chat with them to see if the connection is there since you’ll be working closely with them. Ask them about their services, specialities, and pricing to make sure they are the best fit for you. Interviewing should take longer than you think; it is okay for the process to take a few weeks for you to make the best decision.

The difference between an employee and a contractor

Ashley says the difference between an employee and a contractor is the degree of the control that you have over them. Are you setting the exact hours of the day they have to work? That is an employee and not a contractor. A contractor is someone that you set some parameters for, but then you let them do what they’re best at; when you hire a contractor, you let them do their own jobs.

Tips for saying no and following up

When you are letting someone know that they didn’t get the job, keep it simple and short. You don’t have to over explain why, but you can let them know briefly that you have chosen to go with someone else. If it is someone who made it through a few rounds of interviews, Ashley thinks you should give them a phone call to let them know. The biggest thing here is to follow-up in some way. We all know the feeling of waiting and never hearing back, so do the courteous thing and let them know. There is a human being on the other side of that resume, so do the human thing and follow-up.

We mentioned

The Contract Shop - this is an affiliate link

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

Ashley_Cox_Headshot_Square_2018.jpg

More About Ashley

Ashley Cox is a dual-certified HR Pro with over 12 years of leadership and HR experience. After a decade in the corporate world, she kicked off her heels and traded in her pencil skirts for yoga pants to work with small businesses. As the HR Partner for creative entrepreneurs at SproutHR, Ashley helps business owners hire, train, and lead happy and profitable teams. When she's not getting nerdy with all things HR, Ashley loves going on adventures with her husband, Mike, and getting into trouble with their quirky rescue dog, Myla Mayhem. 

Find and connect with Ashley: Website | Instagram

Why you need a website and when you need it, Paul & Cinnamon

Are you running a business or a hobby?

Before deciding to invest the time and money in a website, you've got to determine what it is you're hoping to accomplish. Do you want to turn your passion into a business or keep it as a side hobby? As you listen to this episode, use this question as your guide! 

 Are you running a business or a hobby?  |  Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

First things first

Don’t forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners Facebook group! That’s the place we discuss each episode and do lives with some of the guests. There are also lots of questions and topics brought up by others in the group so if you’ve got questions, come ask them inside the group!

Okay, so why do you need a website?

Your ideal clients and customers need to be able to find you. It gives you a bigger platform to showcase your work. Having a website takes your passions from a hobby to a business. Many entrepreneurs start off with a side hustle they promote on their personal Facebook or Instagram. There is nothing wrong with that, however, if you want your business to truly be a business, and have other people take your business seriously, you have got to have a website. Having a website validates you as a business owner and allows you to charge true business rates.

Typically, there are so many moving pieces to a business (like explaining your packaging and pricing) that you just can’t explain it all on a Facebook page. We know it costs money and time to start and run a website, but you really can’t skip this as a business owner. If you aren’t willing to invest that time and money, then are you really ready to run and own a business?

Starting your website

You can buy a domain from GoDaddy or directly through Squarespace. Squarespace even has templates you can use and a free 15-day trial. There are different plans to choose from pricing-wise, so you can choose what works best for you. You can literally start your website today!

When do you need a website?

The moment you decide that you want a professional business, that is the day you need a website. Again, if you just a hobby, please don’t let this discourage you. That is a-okay and you don’t need a website. But if you are wanting to take that next step, a website is the first one you should take.

We mentioned

GoDaddy
Squarespace (use code GIMME10 for 10% off)

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

Let's talk SEO! Taylor Bradford from Boss Girl Creative

Super Simple SEO for Your Business

We know SEO can be a daunting topic, so we wanted to give you a breakdown on the best ways to use it for your business. Taylor of Boss Girl Creative, has taken her years of blogging experience and turned them in to a podcast helping creatives learn all about blogging and SEO. 

In this episode, she gives you the overview of SEO, Google Analytics, and the Google Search Console. Don't worry! She doesn't go into the techy stuff, but just the basics you need to know to get started!

Find and connect with Taylor: Website | Instagram

 Super Simple SEO for Your Business | Focus(ed) Podcast, Taylor Bradford

Show Notes

Taylor's background

Taylor has a long background in blogging. She started her blog "Tales of a Used Car Salesman" in 2008. After falling in love with the Pioneer Woman in 2011, she changed the name of her blog to “Goings on in Texas” which had nothing to do with Texas and blogged 5 days a week until April 2016. Taylor had started a 40 post series called #Bloggeredumacation on her site in 2014 that became really popular. She heard her first podcast and decided to use #bloggeredumacation as her starting point for her own podcast.

She also purchased other courses specifically towards podcasting. She got the green light from a lot of her friends, but launched to crickets initially. Taylor knew she had to re-think and treat it like a business with her built in audience from her blog. She went from B-school to Fearless Launching and Boss Girl Creative went live in July 2015. Most of her episodes are solo episodes where she teaches the basics of blogging and SEO for online entrepreneurs.

What is B-School?

Marie Forleo has an 8 week program of intense education to get your business started. Although it is pretty expensive, she adds new modules for it every year, so there are new things to learn each year. Taylor recommends signing up through an affiliate because then you get even more 1:1 attention.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and most people talk about in terms of Google only. It is how your website ranks in Google and allows you to show up higher and higher in Google Search.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is there to show you about your readers and statistics about your pages/posts. It will also show you the information on your referral traffic and where your people are coming from. You can use all of this information to determine who your audience is, what they want, and where they hang out. This allows you to determine where to spend your time and energy. Installing Google Analytics is pretty simple as they guide you through the process for each web platform. Be aware that it could take 24-48 hours for data to populate, but don’t start analyzing the data until you have 30 days worth of data. Even if you aren’t planning on doing anything with the information now, go ahead and set it up ASAP.

Google Search Console

Just like Analytics, Search Console is free and you need to set it up. Taylor loves this tool so much. Google will show you exactly what people are searching for that allows them to find you. It will even show you the click-through-rate (CTR) for these search terms. There are 10 spots on each Google page (not including paid ads) and the Search Console will show you where you are showing up for that keyword/phrase. Once you know where you are showing up and what you are showing up for, then again, you’ll know where to spend your energy when creating your posts and pages.

Pillar Pages

Taylor recommends having 3-4 pillar content pages and using your Search Console results will give you topics for your pillar pages. Each time you write a post on one of your pillar topics, you need to link it back to your pillar page. This shows Google that you are constantly updating that topic and creating NEW content for your readers. Google loves active and new content and will continue to rank these pages (plus, backlinks to your own pages is great for SEO too!)

How to actually optimize your website

If you don’t know your WHY for your business, Taylor believes you’ll have a very hard time optimizing your website. For Taylor’s vintage rental business, she knows that she needs to tap into Google’s local features. This includes claiming her local business profile which tells Google she wants that local search. As she builds out her site, Taylor continues to use the tags for “Dallas Event Rentals” to rank in local searches. If you’re a blogger, this will be different, but her point is the same - what are you doing and why? Make it clear to Google. Taylor recommends using more words on your home page because that is the first place Google starts to rank you and you need to give them more information on what you’re about from the get go.

Using keywords

When you are building out your pillar pages, those topics are also your keywords and phrases that you want to to be ranked for on Google. Think about the different types of photography you may offer, and build content around those as your keywords and pillars. Since most photographers are looking for local clients, you need to include your location in your posts and pillars as well. Your keywords and pillars go back to your overall “what do you want to be known for”. Here is an example - “Toronto Photographer” would be the overall who, but then you can create your pillars around ‘Toronto wedding photography’ and ‘Toronto childhood photography’.

Find your ranking

To find out where you rank, you need to get off your own computer because Google knows when you search on your own computer. Google will return your own site higher for you, because they know it is you. Go use a public computer at your local library or Best Buy and do a search. You will never know where you exactly rank, but this is the closest way you can find out. Some of this information you can find out if you’ve activated Google Search Console. Taylor is wary of paying for services that offer to give you your ranking  because you can find out so much for free from Google.

How to get started with SEO

  1. Start a blog. You don’t have to put out a post every day, but it is an easy way to get some local rankings by writing about other vendors too. When people search for those other vendors, they’ll find you too. Most people in the wedding industry don’t blog the way they should so just by starting, you’ll be a step ahead.

  2. Focus on one social media platform first. Find out where your people are hanging out (Facebook, Instagram) and get active there. If you’re people on on Instagram, use the location tagging feature and tag the venues and cities so you can get found there too.

We Mentioned

Marie Forleo's B-School
Fearless Launching
Boss Girl Creative Podcast

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

Taylor Bradford, Focus(ed) Podcast

More About Taylor

Taylor Bradford is host & creator of the Boss Girl Creative podcast & community. In 2011, Taylor started a blogging tip/tricks series entitled #bloggingedumacation on her lifestyle blog, Taylor Bradford Blog. After writing over 40 lessons, she decided to take her lessons and advice and turn them into a podcast which launched in July 2015. Her podcast teaches the whats, whys & hows of blogging business & being a creative entrepreneur. Taylor has a passion for teaching and helping other Creative Entrepreneurs. She has a knack for business and a life-long dream of sharing it with her fellow Boss Girls.

Find and connect with Taylor: Website | Instagram

Can you be profitable from the start of your business? Paul & Cinnamon

Setting your business up to be profitable

It can be uncomfortable to talk about finances, but if you're wanting to truly grow your business, you need to know your numbers. This episode is a quick breakdown of the points in Profit First by Mike Michalowicz and we share how it has been working for us the past few months.

Let's dive in! 

 Setting your business up to be profitable  |  Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

What does it mean to be profitable?

The traditional equation for profitability is sales - expenses = your profit. In Profit First, Michalowicz talks about how it may take awhile to truly be profitable because you do have many expenses when you’re first starting out. Mike points out that most small business owners first look at their bank account to see what they have left to see what they can spend. His theory is that you should take your profit on the front end, you’ll reduce the amount of money you have to spend and then you’ll spend less.

Example: If you start with $100, and go ahead and set $10 aside, then you know you only have $90 to spend. You’ve already made your profit of $10. If you don’t and then you end up spending over $90 first, then you won’t have made any profit.

What about using credit cards?

There are many businesses that will use a credit card first to pay for things as they are getting the business off the ground. They see this as okay because it looks like they have the money, but they’ll never be profitable if your spending more money than you actually have. You need some restrictions on how much you spend when you start out.

Personal restraint

Setting these restrictions allow you to prioritize what you need to purchase first. It really does come down to your priorities and personal restraint. Many businesses start out as a side hustle for extra money, like it did for Cinnamon. But as your business grows into a real business, you need to know your numbers and start turning a profit. Dave Ramsey says ‘If you don’t tell your money where to go, it will just go there on its own.”

The five accounts Mike recommends

Each week or month, you should assign a percentage to each of these categories and zero out your "money in" account.

  1. Money in
  2. Money out
  3. Taxes
  4. Owner Compensation
  5. Profit

Once you start doing this, you'll begin to see the money building up in your profit account. This will let you know the amount you can spend for the 'money out' in the following months. Hint: it should still be less than your profits.

Getting started

Cinnamon started this plan in April and May. She has 4 accounts because she keeps her money in and money out in the same place. Some banks do have a minimum requirement to keep an account open without a fee. Make sure you check into this so you don’t pay the fee. Now that Cinnamon has been tracking this, she feels more confident as a business owner.

To grow or not to grow

If you are still just in the hobby phase or planning on staying as a hobby to have some ‘fun money’ then you don’t need to worry about this. But if you ever want to start taking it more seriously, we highly recommend knowing your numbers and setting your business up to be profitable from the beginning.

We mentioned

Profit First*
Dave Ramsey
Nerd Wallet

*affiliate link

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Are you making these mistakes with your website? Amanda Olson

Your website design matters

It doesn't matter how many followers you have on social media, if you don't have a website that is working for you. Your website is the online home for your business and should convey clearly what it is that you do.

Amanda Olson, of Anchor <A> Design, believes your website should be more about your visitor than your pretty logo and script style fonts. On this episode Amanda breaks down the most common mistakes business owners make on their website and how a well thought-out design can make all the difference. 

Find and connect with Amanda: Website | Facebook | Instagram

 Are you making these mistakes with your website? Amanda Olson, Anchor &lt;A&gt; Designs | Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

Amanda grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit she inherited from her grandfather. From a young age, she sold lemonade to her siblings and convinced them to take gymnastics from her although she knew nothing about it! Her passion still lies in the entrepreneurial world as she helps trail blazing business owners reach their own goals. 

Part of reaching your goals does have to do with your website and the message it conveys to your visitors. Amanda doesn't just create websites for her clients, but she helps them with strategies to drive traffic to them. 

Why are websites so important

Amanda believes your website should be your online home. All of the other social platforms should drive people back to your website. With algorithms, you are at the mercy of each platform, but with websites, you’re in control. Websites also provide you with a level of credibility. People may find you on social first, but they will definitely check out your website before deciding to hire you. So make sure your website is up-to-date with all of your latest work and information!

Most common website mistakes

PRE-LAUNCH

Not Planning or having strategy

Before you log into any system, start making intentional decisions about how you want your website to work. What flow should your visitors follow? And what do you want to share to attract them and get them to stay? On your homepage, Amanda recommends stating outright what you do and who you do it for. Photographers can fall into the trap of just using images to relay this information, but you need to go ahead and spell it out. Never assume that people will know what to do; be super clear with your messaging. Clarity over cleverness is key to remembering when choosing your homepage design. Sometimes cute and clever lead to confusion for your website visitors. The last thing you need to think about planning for before your site is your SEO keywords. Use these keywords as you set up your website.

WEBSITE CREATION

Not having professional photography

These photos are created just for you and are one of a kind. This allows you to start standing out in the market. Ask another photographer to take your photos so you can look the part of the professional you are. You can use these photos in so many ways, not just for your website.

Not having social proof

Make sure you include any testimonials or reviews that you’ve received along the way. Amanda recommends sprinkling your testimonials throughout your website so visitors will see them on each page. Also, have a place on your website to promote where you’ve been featured. Again, this goes back to your credibility.

Don’t check out of the process

As a designer, Amanda prefers that her clients don’t check out. Make sure you communicate with your designer about what you do and don’t like. They should have a process in place for this, but if they don’t, speak up. It lends to your final brand and it should be right.

Cosmetic fixes

  1. Small fonts - Google is starting to consider docking your SEO if your font is hard to read (this goes for script fonts as well). Be cautious with how you use your fonts.

  2. Proper contrast with your colors (think white text on light colored background). There are online contrast checking tools you can use to double check.

  3. Image files that are too big. If the files are too big, your site will slow down and this can also hurt your rankings as well

  4. Making your logo too big. Your website is not about you; it is about your client and how you can best help them. If your logo is too big, it conveys the message that you’re the focal point instead of the client.

AFTER LAUNCH

Just as you need a strategy for getting your website up and running, you need a strategy for how you are going to keep driving traffic to your site. Also, don’t just set it and forget it. You don’t need to overhaul your website every year, but go in and update the photos as you go. Don’t forget that blogging is a great way to get your website out there and shows that you are still active in business. Your website is a living thing and it should be growing as you grow.

Time to take action

Don’t feel bad if you relate to any of these mistakes, everyone is prone to making mistakes along the way. Go through your website with an open mind and see what sticks out. After that, have someone you trust go through it as you listen to see what their thoughts are. (Listen to the full episode to see what Paul helped fix on our site!)

  1. Make sure it’s clear what you do and who you’re for
  2. Check your font color and size
  3. Don’t forget your social proof

We mentioned

Contrast Checker

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

amanda-olson.jpg

More About Amanda 

Amanda Olson is a designer, front-end developer, and dreamer based in Nebraska. With 8+ years of design industry experience, she loves empowering her fellow business owners with magnetic branding and striking web design that makes a big impact to their bottom line. When she’s not pushing pixels or writing code, you might find her reading the latest Sophie Kinsella book, eating cookie dough, taking yet another photo of her cat Minnie, or hanging with the fam. Get in touch on her website &/or connect via Instagram.

Find and connect with Amanda: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Saying "no" with Grace and Purpose, Abby Grace of Abby Grace Photography

saying no can lead to a better yes

For anyone starting out in business, it is easy to get caught up in trying to book any and every client that comes your way. The downside of this is that it can lead to burn out quicker than you've ever imagined. Abby of Abby Grace Photography loves what she does and has found a way to say 'no' that allows her to step away from burn out and towards success. 

Learning how and when to say 'no' for your business will be a game changer in the long run. It allows you to set boundaries in your business that will also impact your personal life. Saying 'no' to things that don't align with your business and brand will allow you the time and energy to say 'yes' to the right things when they come along.

Find and connect with Abby Grace: Website | Instagram | Blog | Youtube

 Saying 'no' can lead to a better 'yes' | Focus(ed) Podcast | Abby Grace Photography

Show Notes

Back to the beginning

Abby took a dark room class during her junior in college which taught her about developing film and making prints. She fell in love with photography during this time as something special just for her. After talking with her professor, she decided it was something she wanted to do as a career. Fall semester of her senior year, Abby reached out to several photographers about working with them and began to work with one as her main mentor that first year. She stayed in her communications major which has helped her in her business as well. Her communications degree has still played a role in her business today.

Why saying no is hard

Most people tend to equate 'no' with negativity. But Abby believes there is actually freedom in saying no. The typical mindset on the negative side of saying 'no' causes creatives to think that if they say it too many times then their business will dry up. However, you should be using 'no' in more a of protective way; think of they way a parent tells a kid not to touch a hot stove in order to keep them from getting burned. It can be used to protect you from certain things (which we'll get into later). Others don’t say 'no' because they feel like it is easier to say 'yes' rather than explain why they should be saying 'no' or simply out of fear for hurting someone else's feelings. Saying 'yes' in these situations can lead to resentment towards what you said yes to.

It is hard for photographers to say 'no' to friends and family discounts, but Abby wants you to know discounting your services allow customers to devalue your business and second guess your expertise. Abby has 2 reasons for ever discounting her photography - 1. are they close enough to be in her wedding party if she were to redo her wedding right now; and 2. when she feels led to offer one.  If someone asks her for a discount, Abby believes there is already a level of distrust and devaluation going on and feels confident saying 'no' to the offer.

When to say no

Now that you understand why you need to say 'no', you need to determine how and when you say it. Here are two questions Abby wants you to think about for each inquiry you receive. 

What is your hesitation for saying yes? Is there a red flag you’re already aware of?

If you don't want to say yes immediately, there has got to be a reason deep down that wants you to say no. Be honest with yourself and then be direct with your response. Reasons for saying 'no' can come in all forms and will be different for every person and inquiry. Take the time to evaluate your hesitation before moving forward (especially if there are red flags!).

Where you are in your business and what do you want to focus on?

Do you love weddings, maternity sessions, or families? When you’re first starting out, it can be hard to figure out what you love and the next thing you know, you've said yes to 10 different types of sessions. It is okay in the beginning to some extent, and when you have a slower season, but you need to check in with yourself every few weeks to see what you’re loving and what is doing well for you financially. 

Abby believes you can and should start saying no early on in your business. Just because someone requests information doesn’t mean you have to book them. Start building out your referral list too, so you have other photographers that might be a better fit for those inquiring with you (style, budget, date, etc). Many clients will be more appreciative of your honesty when they’re not a good fit, than having feelings of resentment towards photos you don’t really love.

Tips for saying no gracefully

Abby recommends saying no early in the inquiry process. Going back on your word is not something she recommends and again, it keeps you from resenting your 'yes' later. Don’t make it personal and about them, but be direct and let them know it doesn’t fit in with your business plan, For example, if you’re a wedding photographer and you get asked to shoot a first birthday party, kindly let them know you are flattered at the request but that you don’t shoot birthday parties and offer up a name or two of photographers who do. If you say 'yes' and the day of the birthday party arrives, you may find yourself resenting the event and not want to go any more, but you can't go back on your word. 

Referring out

This is covered a lot in this episode, but offering up a few names of other photographers is the best way Abby recommends ending a 'no' response. Remember you want to love what you do and if someone is asking for a different style than you typically shoot, that should be an easy 'no' and easy referral. Photographers don’t have to be in competition with each other. Get to know other photographers and what they like to shoot so you can have easier no’s in your business.

Potential opportunities when you say no

Abby believes you will have a more fulfilled and happy business when you’re taking on the right clients. Your personal life is also affected by your business, so making the right decisions for your business will spill over into your personal life as well. Setting boundaries and saying 'no' will open up opportunities for you to say 'yes' to the right things in and outside of your business. Abby has set up her business in a way that allows her to spend more time with her family and friends and keep the business burnout to a minimum because she truly loves what she does.

Abby’s additional thoughts

Your clients are looking to you to guide them in the process. Letting them know up front about your boundaries regarding when you do and don’t shoot, when you check emails, etc will be more beneficial in dealing with your clients than getting into the process and then letting them know. They will respect your boundaries, and if they don’t, that will be a red flag for you that they’re not your ideal client.

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

AbbyGrace_HS.jpg

About Abby Grace

Abby Grace is an international wedding & anniversary photographer for the old-school chic couple in love, based just outside Washington, DC. A Francophile, Hufflepuff, and ballet enthusiast, she’s had the joy of teaching creatives in France and across the US. She’s a communication guru with a passion for talking (degree in PR should tip you off) loves helping creatives get back to running a business they love that supports a life they love even more. Her secret weapon is a tube of red lipstick. 

Find and connect with Abby Grace: Website | Instagram | Blog | Youtube

 

WOW your clients with Same Day Slideshows, Luke & Ashley Photography

Your couples don't know what they're missing

Same day slideshows may seem like old news or an oversaturated idea to many photographers, but Luke & Ashley believe this is one of the best ways to market your business on wedding days. 

All it takes is a little extra prep, and a quick dinner, to allow you to surprise and delight your couples (and their guests) on their wedding day. If it still seems overwhelming or you're a solo-shooter, they've got some great tips for you, too, to wow your couples!

Find and connect with Luke & Ashley: Website | Instagram | Education

 You're couples don't know what they're missing out on. Same day slideshows with Luke &amp; Ashley Photography |&nbsp; Focus(ed) Podcast&nbsp;

Show Notes

Luke & Ashley's background

They bought a water business right after they left the military, it failed within a year and needed to find a way to get out of debt while they were pregnant with their 3rd child. They paid off $86k in debt with their photography business in 2015!

They mainly shoot weddings, but are working with some small businesses on branding and content. At one point they were doing both photography and videography for weddings, but realized they needed 2 perspectives for each medium. Instead of spending the money and hiring two second shooters, they decided to save the money for their debt and focus just on photography.

Why they offer same day slideshow

When Luke & Ashley first started using same day slideshows, it was a newer buzz term in the industry and knew they needed to take advantage of it for extra client experience. It creates a wow-factor for the bride, groom and their guests. Bonus: is a great marketing tool as well! They do recommend putting your information out there with it at some point, but they don’t currently have an ‘end slide’ of info on the slideshow. Using same day slideshows also build trust with the clients and sends the couple off on their honeymoon knowing they made the right choice with their photographers.

The couples don’t know about the slideshow. Luke & Ashley create it and then put it in a place that can be seen, like the bar. They show the moms and maybe a few maids, but let word-of-mouth spread it to the couple. Waiting for the reveal and the build up is one of Luke & Ashley’s favorite moments at the wedding.

Preparing for the slideshow

The slideshow is something they plan for at most weddings, unless they already know there will be a time crunch or no first look. As Ashley is finishing up photos of the bridal party, Luke scouts out a place at the reception to put up their TV. Knowing your timeline and educating your couples on how and why you like to work is one of Luke & Ashley’s key tips for making sure you have the time to do this. During dinner, Ashley imports about 100 images from the cards and does a quick edit on them (nothing too detailed!). They put them on a USB drive that plugs directly into the TV and begins to play! Luke & Ashley use Lightroom to deselect/select the photos and do the editing. The entire process, uninterrupted, takes about 25-30 minutes. They recommend choosing photos that show emotion and represent the couple at their best. Also, either have presets in Lightroom or choose photos that you know won’t need a lot of editing.

They decided to use a TV because it allows them to set it up and leave it alone. You can use an ipad or a laptop, but you may find yourself worried about it all night long. Take a USB drive to BestBuy and test out the different TVs to see which one you like best!

How they’re clients are responding

Luke & Ashley use their slideshow to reassure the moms that they made the right choice in hiring them. The couples already know how well Luke & Ashley work because of their engagement sessions, but showing the mothers the slideshow reveal is a highlight of the day. It is always an added delight (even their photographer bride loved it!). It may seem like an old idea to you, but to your clients, it may be a whole new concept that keeps you top of mind for future clients. Don’t forget all of the photographers you follow on Instagram aren’t at this wedding. You are getting free marketing to 150-200 new people, and Luke & Ashley recommend using the whole day to serve your clients well and market your business along the way.

Solo shooters can do it too

Every photographer should have a dinner time built into the timeline. Again, this could be your biggest marketing tool that day, so going into the day with the intention of doing a slideshow will be your best guide to getting it done. There are definitely times when either dinner doesn’t happen or toasts are given during dinner, and your slideshow just doesn’t happen. Luke & Ashley want you to know that it is okay, but start the day with the intention to try.

Basic steps to getting started with same day slideshows

Luke encourages you to have the confidence to just try it. If you’re nervous about doing a full slideshow, start with airdropping a few photos to the couple and vendors so they can leave the wedding with something to share that night about you. Make sure you have all the equipment you need - a TV, laptop, card reader, laptop charger, and USB (grab Luke & Ashley’s guide here). Work with the coordinator to make sure you have a dinner/down time built in and you can even do a trial run at a wedding for everything up to actually using the TV. This will allow you to get comfortable working during a limited time and you’ll still have photos to share at the end of the night!

We mentioned

Same Day Slideshow Checklist
Luke & Ashley’s First Focus(ed) Podcast - Taking the Scary out of OCF

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

PC_Dani_White_Photography__3.jpg

About Luke and Ashley

Luke and Ashley married over 12 years ago in Anchorage, Alaska and had no plans of starting their photography business. Six years ago they started their wedding photography business on the side as a way to help pay off debt. Ashley had always loved the story and emotion captured in her grandparents' wedding photos and wanted to capture that for other couples. Now they shoot weddings all over Virginia while raising their children.
Find and connect with Luke & Ashley: Website | Instagram | Education