It’s The Small Things

I dream big. I see the finish line and want to get there as fast as possible. I want the best of everything right now.

To quote one of my favorite commercials- “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!”

I have been reminded lately that the larger picture can only be accomplished by the smaller goals. When I say small, I mean tiny. For example, I want to be healthy. I have tried dieting and exercise routines. However, I always quit. I need to start small. You know what? I want to drink tea every morning. A nice cup of healthy tea. It’s small, but it’s a beginning.

tea

In my business, I want a beautiful studio with LOTS of natural light and amazing lighting equipment and only the best cameras and lenses. However, right now, I need to concentrate on building my brand and providing an amazing experience to my clients. My dream studio will be there in time.

You see, I want SO much. However, if you grow too fast, you’ll fall. Right now, I’m content with my cup of tea.

-Kristen

Luke 16:10 – He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much…


Tulle, Fear, & Today’s Photo Shoot

I am very excited for today. So much so that I have been awake since 4:30 this morning. I have been preparing and thinking about what I want for today. Not going to lie. I am a little nervous. There is always that lingering thought of “Am I good enough? Will this work?” any time I venture into something new. No matter where you go in business, this thought is normal. What makes you professional and great is that you still do it, and learn from it, despite the fear. Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you love.

Since I was up since 4:30 this morning I have been softening and staining tulle. I am very excited to be experimenting with this. I LOVE Sue Bryce’s work and want to play with the look. Here is a shoot she did that involved tulle. Gold tulle has been sitting in my closet for a while. It has been through the wash three times to soften. It was very rough when I got it. I also bought white tulle yesterday, which I decided to tea stain.

 

I am teaming up with GlamLex today to bring this shoot to life! My mind is overflowing with ideas. Join me starting at 2:00 pm Live on Facebook! I will be going live multiple times during the shoot to show you behind the scenes! If you can’t make it at 2:00, no worries! The shoot will last until 4:00! Join us here!

-Kristen D.


It All Started With a Duck…

When I was little, I loved chasing birds. I wanted to catch one so badly. Birds were just amazing in my eyes and I wanted to be their friend. Of course, running after them with a box trying to catch them probably wasn’t the best way to do so.

I remember my dad smiling and laughing. His little girl thought she could catch a bird by running after it. I kept this up for months. Finally, dad said that if I could catch a bird then I could keep it.

One day we went fishing. A few ducks came around our boat and we started throwing pieces of bread to them. One duck just kept getting closer and closer. When he was directly beside the boat, I reached down and grabbed him. Obviously the duck didn’t like this and was flapping his wings and quacking, but I was oblivious. I was SO proud that I had finally caught a bird! I looked at dad through the commotion of feathers and asked, “Can I keep it, Daddy?”

Well, no. I couldn’t keep it. He got me to let it go. However, this was the beginning. I started to show just how determined and dedicated I could be in order to achieve a goal. This attitude followed me through school in band, color guard, and now photography. I put my heart and soul into the things I do. When I set a goal, I achieve it. It may take time, but it will happen. All through the grace of God.

My next phase of business will be adding portraiture. Weddings are still a large part of my heart. Portraiture will be an addition and will fit nicely into my brand. I am so excited to team up with GlamLex to bring this goal to fruition. Come with me on this journey. Like me on Facebook and tune in on Wednesday, December 7th, beginning at 2:00 pm. I will be going Live multiple times during the shoot so you can see behind the scenes moments. Can’t wait to see you there!

And to think, it all started with a duck.

-Kristen D.


Upcoming Projects & Christmas Spirit

Even though wedding season is over, engagement season has begun! I am staying busy with a few projects and am excited about them to say the least!

My first upcoming project is getting my portrait business off the ground. I am planning a shoot for next week and will be taking video of the whole process to really show my clients what they can expect! I have been wanting to add portraiture for a while to my business, and it is finally happening!

Here is a little information about my portrait sessions. My clients will receive a makeover before the shoot begins. The style will be glamour, with amazing dresses, hair and makeup. I am very much inspired by Sue Bryce. Her portraiture is amazing, and will definitely be an influence on my own. I will be offering portrait sessions for a portfolio building discounted rate of $350 for 10 women. Yes, I only have 10 slots open for this deal! If you’re interested, please let me know! Contact me here!

My next two projects are a styled wedding shoot in January, and a bridal show that I have been thinking of for a while. More details to come! Lately, after a day of planning I have been relaxing with some Christmas treats. I found some Christmas cookies while grocery shopping Monday. I love how cute they are, and they’re delicious, too. Christmas music will be playing in my home until New Year’s! I love this season! What is your favorite part of the holidays?

-Kristen D.


Pricing Your Services

Money

As promised, I am going to help you determine what you should be charging. Now before we get into it, there is no standard formula. In the end you need to do what you deem best. Entrepreneurs and freelancers all do business differently, and their pricing formulas reflect this. So, let’s go…

Okay, I am coming at this from a photographer’s point of view. Please feel free to adjust where necessary!

Value your time.

 

Start with a salary that you know you will need to sustain your cost of living and determine the value of your time. For example:

You need $3000 per month to live. This includes shelter, clothing, utilities, phone, car payments, insurance, fuel, food, bills, debt, etc. All of this adds up to $3000 per month. So that is $36000 per year after taxes. So you need to gross around $47000 per year. Wait! Don’t forget to….

Value the cost of business.

This is another constant. Write down everything that costs money to run your business. This includes anything and everything you need to buy to do business. Cameras, lenses, speed lights, light stands, computer, software, fuel, etc.

Now the investments (such as cameras, computer, and lights) can be divided up by the number of years you will be using them. I know I’ll be replacing my computer every four years. $1200 divided by 4 equals $300. Do this for all your investments.

Determine your yearly cost of doing business. Don’t forget to include electricity, fuel, rent, professional memberships, yearly services, etc. Let’s say you come to a value of $15000 before tax per year. So, you would need to make about $20,000. Now let’s…

Value your talent and experience.

If you have talent, display it proudly and don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth as an artist. Experience is gold. The more experience you have, the more trusting your client will be. I put talent and experience together because of how I started in the Wedding Photography business. I had talent, but hardly any experience. So they need to be weighed together. So how do you value these aspects?

Think about this as a “raise”. You know you need a raise based on your experience and talent. So you march into your boss’s office and give a figure you think you deserve! The good news is, you are your boss. How much extra do you deserve based on your talent and experience? Let’s say you deserve about $5000 extra per year.

Okay, so your time is worth $47,000, cost of business is $20,000, and you deserve an extra $5,000. That amounts to $72,000 per year. So, you may average 20 clients per year. That would be an average of $3,600 per client. If you average 40 clients per year, that is $1,800 per client. Both are doable, but will be different clientele. Which is where marketing comes in handy!!!

I do hope this post has been helpful! Let me know your thoughts below. Thanks for reading!

-Kristen D.


10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business

Starting a business is scary. Self-doubt, an unsure future, and lack of experience in managing a business are huge factors that almost kept me from following my dream. If you want to start your own business, hopefully these things will help you get off on the right foot…

  1. You have worth. When I first started photography, I was practically giving my sessions away. A guilty feeling would come over me any time I thought about asking for money. Then I watched Sue Bryce (an amazing photographer and business woman that I hope to meet one day). She stated, “In what other business do you feel guilty asking for money?” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t go to the counter in a grocery store and haggle with the cashier. Nor would I do this if I hired a roofer, carpet cleaner, portrait artist, or personal trainer. Why in the world should I feel guilty about setting a price that will allow me to not worry about bills this month? I was losing money because of time, travel, and product cost. So, I set my standard. You can, too. Don’t be afraid. You have worth.
  2. Define your ideal client. This is marketing 101. If you don’t know your ideal client, then you really have no direction and are wandering aimlessly. I was challenged by a Jasmine Star (another photographer and business woman I would love to meet one day) while watching one of her classes to define my ideal client. Saying, “A bride is my ideal client,” isn’t good enough. I had to think about her habits, likes, what she might watch on tv, where she would shop, her age, her job, etc. Really define who your ideal client is, then you will be better equipped to market to them.
  3. Your brand is an experience. You are not just selling a service. If you are a chef, you are not just selling your food. You are creating culinary art that is beautiful and delicious. When you sell a service or product, you are selling your brand. Define your brand, what it stands for, why it’s different, and what you can do for your ideal client. Create an experience for your client that will have them talking. It doesn’t have to be huge. It could be a small gift you give as a thank you. Define your brand then create an experience that compliments it.
  4. Under promise and over deliver. When you tell your client you will have a project finished in three weeks, but it turns into four, will your client be fully satisfied? You may have done a beautiful job, but you came up short on your promise. Now, if you promised your client the project would be done in six weeks, and you finished in four weeks, you will surprise your client with being done earlier than you stated. Which will get you better reviews.
  5. Network! The more you give, the more you get back. One way I love to network is by creating styled shoots. A styled shoot needs a hair stylist, makeup artist, attire, models, a baker, florists, venue, rentals, and more. This is a great opportunity for me because it lets my creativity shine and provides photographs for vendors. Because of this networking technique my work is on a billboard, been published on a blog, and vendors pass out my business cards. So go out and create opportunities through networking. Join Facebook groups related to your business, have a vendor luncheon one day, work with other professionals and help build each other’s businesses.
  6. Balance. Life is hard to balance when you are starting a business. I spend a lot of time on the computer answering emails, researching, writing, booking, updating, networking, and editing. I travel all around Kentucky every week. I am gone all day when photographing a wedding. Trying to balance a home life and my photography business gets tough. What I am beginning to do is every week I write down what I would like to accomplish. This includes accomplishments in my home life and business. This helps me stay on track and know that I can be successful in both.
  7. Workflow, workflow, workflow. Okay, I’ll say it again. WORKFLOW! When I first started, I was all over the place when it came to getting things done. I admit, this is something that is still developing. However, I am in a much better place than I was years ago. Make your life easier and write down everything that has to be done for your clients. Then put it on a timeline. Here is what typically happens once a client decides to book with me:
    1. I send a contract for them to e-sign.
    2. Once signed, I send an invoice for the retainer fee.
    3. Once paid, I hold their date on my calendar.
    4. Four weeks prior: Email a questionnaire.
    5. Two weeks prior: Email and confirm timeline and send last invoice.
    6. Photograph wedding.
    7. Post sneak peek on blog that evening.
    8. Edit photos.
    9. Upload to online gallery.
    10. Email client.
  8. Don’t spend money on SEO. No offense to the SEO people. They can do wonders, but (at least for me and my business) it was a waste of money. Did they get my website up in the ranks? Yes, but could I afford to keep them forever… no! So, I ended up having to get a new website that I could afford, which brought me back to square one. If you can afford it, more power to you. However, client referrals and networking will generate more clients in the beginning of your business than SEO will.
  9. Back. Up. Everything. Especially for us photographers. The last thing you want is to have that sinking feeling in your gut when your hard drive fails. I backup my files on two hard drives and have a working file on a thumb drive. I also don’t clear my SD cards until after I have delivered the final photos to my client. That makes four separate places that I can retrieve my files. Don’t take the chance; back up your files!
  10. Have a system to determine your pricing. One of the mistakes many newbies make (myself included) is basing your pricing off of other photographers. Or you would price yourself extremely low in comparison thinking, “That will get customers!” Has it worked? It didn’t for me. When I began thinking about the value of time, travel, experience, and cost of production I started to understand my own business a little better. Now I have a price system that reflects all these things. I will write more about how to determine your pricing on Friday’s blog!

Sound Business Decisions

So, when we lived in Alabama I got a phone call from an SEO company. They were legit, no worries. They offered a package to create a beautiful website and work on my SEO so that when you search for ‘lexington ky wedding photographer’ I would pop up on the first page on google. They said this would take anywhere from three to six months.

They did a good job. We had six keyword phrases that we decided to use for my site. Most of them got on page one of google. However, ‘lexington ky wedding photographer’ is still not on page one ten months later. I understand that this is because there are A LOT of wedding photographers in Lexington. So it is no fault of their own. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles…

Something Old-Recovered

Yesterday I called them and asked how much it would be to just keep my website live and drop the SEO. It was simply more than I am willing to spend every month. So, I had to cancel the contract. Now, I have created a new website. I love the look and since it is created on the same site as my blog, the SEO will slowly but surely begin to creep up the google pages.

So, here is my advice to anyone starting a business. Make sounds business decisions. My thought process behind hiring SEO experts was that it would bring me many more clicks on my website which would generate more leads. I haven’t had a single booking through google. I know it takes time, but that is money I could have used elsewhere. Now my site is up and running for $70 a year, which is less than one month with the company who built my old site.

Make sound decisions. Business is a process. I’ll get there and you’ll get there. You won’t be at the top right out of the gate, and that is okay. Reputations take time to build. It is your reputation that will gain you the most clients. Not the top spot on google.

So take a look around my new site! www.kristendphotography.com

-Kristen D.