Challenging Fear

Currently I am redoing my work space. As I was shopping, I discovered a book and the title captured me.

You see, I have been letting fear get in the way. It had started creeping into my business about a year ago. Lately it’s been hindering me so much that I decided to do something about it. Then I come across this book in the clearance section. Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You. How perfect is that?

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So for the next year I will be challenging myself to be fearless. I invite you to do so as well. I have created a Facebook group called Fearless Creatives. I invite you to join if you are a creative, and want to be a part of a community of like minded creative and entrepreneurs.

Let’s challenge fear while supporting each other! Thanks for reading!

-Kristen D.


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…


My Silhouette Obsession

Okay, next to twirling brides, this may be my next favorite. I LOVE SILHOUETTES! There’s just something mysterious and romantic about a silhouette. I especially love this technique with a sunset! Here are a few of my faves from 2016!

2016 has been a wonderful year for my business. I still have a few dates in the Summer of 2017 available, but they are going fast! Click here to contact me for availability! Tell me your favorites below in the comments! Thanks for reading!

-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!