In today’s episode on the Book More Clients Photography Podcast, we’re discussing what to do when you’re feeling defeated in your photography business and questioning everything.
Feeling defeated in your photography business? Do you find yourself questioning everything? Today’s episode on the Book More Clients Photography Podcast, Stacy and I are discussing strategies to implement when these feelings arise.
Brooke: Before we dive in, would you give us a run down of who Stacy Tushcl is?
Stacy: I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years and own two businesses. I started in the dance world, teaching dance classes then we added music in. We have two performing arts schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I put systems and teams in place and have removed myself out of that. I started teaching other businesses how to do that as well. That’s how foot traffic, my second business got started. I coach and consult other small business owners how to scale their business not just by making money but gaining time and freedom back as well.
Brooke: I’ve worked with you in multiple ways. You’re very creative, innovative and always find a solution. That’s why I want to talk to you today. How do we keep running our businesses in seasons of economic hardship like what happened with the pandemic? Or when we are feeling down and defeated in our photography business and bookings are lower? You can look at photography like a luxury service where it would be cut as an expense compared to something else.
Stacy: My brick and mortar business, dance and music, is a luxury as well. We need to make sure we dial in our messaging to why they want us because I believe that people can afford what they want to buy. I have seen someone plop a $3,000 Louis Vuitton purse on the front desk while saying they can’t make a $70 payment. People afford what they want. You’ve got to make sure you’re convincing enough and paint the picture of why they want it.
Are all your photographers in the same niche or different?
Brooke: Everybody is all over the place. For me, I’m family and newborn.
Stacy: I’ll use you as an example. Newborn feels like cheating because who is going to sacrifice not having newborn photos? Your avatar is the mom who would never miss out. A very frugal mom I know went overboard with maternity, newborn, 3 and 6 month mini sessions all for her wall.
You have to make sure you’re expressing what they’re getting. Not just, “You’re going to get a picture.” But, “You’re capturing a moment, in a season.” For families – “You’re holding onto the moment and the memories. This goes so fast.”
No matter who you are or what you sell, you have to pivot your messaging and know what’s going on in the world. Use that as a part of your messaging. Like, “how many moments have these kids missed?”
There was a studio that canceled their recital, no pictures, no dancing, nothing. How could you say ” I know you didn’t get the recital pictures but we can take pictures in her recital costume.” Or like the kids who had graduation skipped. How do you recreate these moments? Get creative with your messaging.
Brooke: This is something I teach and I see so many photographers struggling with. They say “I don’t know what to say” or “I don’t know what my messaging is”. Do you have one or two tips they can take with them to create their messaging?
Stacy: If you have an amazing client you love, you can ask them “What made you want to get newborn photos?” She could say “I saw everyone on social media with cute pictures of their newborn and I really wanted that for my child.” Or maybe their story is “My mom didn’t have any photos of me growing up.”
When you hear these stories, you can then say to someone “Are you somebody that has no childhood pictures? Do you want to give the gift of that to your children?” You’re not thinking of what to say. Your clients are thinking of it and you’re turning it into copy.
Brooke: That’s something that anybody and everybody can do. Whether you’ve had one or one hundred clients. Go back and ask questions. “Why are family photos important to you?” or “Why are you not cutting costs when it comes to wedding photography?”
Stacy: Clients you love will happily answer those questions for you honestly. That could be something you put in place as a system after they’ve signed up and paid for it. You could have a questionnaire before they come to a shoot and ask things like:
This is the kind of stuff where you see them taking you over someone else. How do I get more people to do that?
Brooke: This is gold because most of us have this question in our questionnaire. “How did you hear about me?” But now we can go deeper with it. Get a why and a how at the same time.
Stacy: Let’s dive deeper. Brooke, how did you hear about me?
Brooke: Someone else’s podcast.
Stacy: You heard about me from someone else’s podcast so now I know I need to prioritize things like this because it’s an activity that will produce potential clients. You probably didn’t just hear about me on a podcast and buy something. Maybe then you went to my social or my podcast and it prompted you to do it. So there are actually two activities we have to be aware of how you found me. Then, what converted you because most people don’t find you and buy you the same day.
Brooke: Let’s transition into photographers who are questioning their pricing. Their mindset is “people can’t afford me.” Should anything change during times of hardship? Should they lower their pricing? Should they find a creative way?
Stacy: I think if you lowered your prices it would look concerning or desperate. Who in the world is lowering their prices right now? I’m not going anywhere and finding deals. I’m finding the prices skyrocketed 20%, 30% or 50%.
If you’re charging $400 and thinking of going to $350, whoever is going to pay $350 is going to pay $400. Unless there is a crazy discount, there’s no difference.
I want to buy from winning businesses and business that I think are taken care of. A photographer that everyone is hiring, is getting booked and raising their prices. I’m nervous if my photographer is starting to do desperate stuff.
I really think now is the time to raise your rates even if you’re comfortable. Everyone is raising rates, no one is even going to question it. Everybody knows that the world is leveling up to our inflation rate. Please don’t lower your prices or even stay the same. I want everybody going up.
Brooke: I really agree with that and think a lot of people will struggle with that challenge. Why not try it and see what happens?
When it comes to pricing, you’re going to get different groups of people. You’re not helping your future business by lowering your prices because now you’re talking about a completely different clientele. Keep your prices or raise them.
Stacy: How can you add value if you do raise them? How can you uplevel your onboarding experience so the client sees why you raised your prices? Maybe you print a photo and mail it to your client. Something to surprise them.
I had a photographer that would just give you all of the images through email. Sometimes I wouldn’t print any of those out. They’re just a CD sitting in the basement in a box. My one photographer sent me photos in the mail. I didn’t order them, but she sent me a 4X6, printed, and this really cute trifold of three pictures. Those are the only pictures I ever printed. I didn’t even print them myself. But I see that every time and I think of them and how they went above and beyond. Nobody has done that since.
Brooke: How can you show that you’ve got more to offer than just taking pictures before someone books? Is there any marketing we can do to show we’re more than the average photographer?
Stacy: Educating people on what it means to buy from you and the experience. Maybe a couple minute video on what it looks like to work with you. Then people can go on Instagram and press play to hear your process.
The more you can show and talk about how you’re different, the more people will say yes. You can even have your people show and tell their experience and keep it as a highlight on Instagram to share with others.
Brooke: I need to do that. I made a huge pivot in my business by opening a brick and mortar studio. You’re giving a lot of ideas I can use there. I think a lot of it is showing your process and behind the scenes. Do you have any other tips that we can use in seasons of hardship or if we don’t want to show up?
Stacy: This is all mindset, right? I just gave a million strategies but if your thought is, “this won’t work for me.” It won’t and that’s it. My thought is “I will figure this out”. I don’t care what you give me, I don’t care what happens. I don’t care who the president is, I don’t care what pandemic comes next, I will figure it out. When you believe that and you start to act as if you believe it, things start to work out.
Now, they don’t work out immediately. Do you know how many things I tried in the pandemic that totally flopped? I just kept having these amazing ideas, and then I put it out there and nobody would buy it. It didn’t stop me from trying again, and trying again until we did figure it out.
You have to step into the mindset of I’m not going anywhere and I’ll be the last one standing. This is survival of the fittest.
The goal is to break even as fast as possible and then grow profit 1% then 2%, then 3%. Just keep baby stepping. But if you think you can get 1% smarter each day, you can do that. It’s a mindset game. The more you surround yourself with people that are positive and doing things, the better chance you’ll have than talking to your neighbors or your mom.
Brooke: That community you talked about is what my photographers have in The Blueprint Program. If you don’t have someone to give you tough love to snap you out of it, it’s gonna be tough.
Stacy: The people that get most discouraged are the ones that tried something and it didn’t work. They only tried once and they’re done. Try again, try to do it better. Try to do it a different way with a different client and a different approach. Eventually, it will work out if you continue to work.
Brooke: That was a gut punch for someone. So where can listeners find you?
Want more marketing tips, editing tips, styling tips, content ideas and more to help you when you’re feeling defeated in your photography business? Tune into the Book More Clients Photography Podcast.
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