Are you overwhelmed and overloaded with work in your photography business? In today’s episode on the Book More Clients Photography Podcast, we’re discussing how to work less in your photography business by outsourcing.
Today’s episode on the Book More Clients Photography Podcast, I’m sitting down with Morgan Lacheta and Haley Littlepage, two photography virtual assistants on my team to discuss how to work less in your photography business through outsourcing.
Brooke: Today’s episode is highly requested topic: how to work less and still be profitable. Isn’t that the dream and goal for everybody? One of the best ways for you to be able to do this is to outsource in your business. I don’t know why photographers like to drag their feet and not do this, but I’m telling you it will change your business.
Two very special guests are joining us for this episode to talk all things outsourcing, because they are the ones that photographers are outsourcing to, so that they can work less and make more money in their business. They are two of my assistants, Morgan and Haley. I’m excited for you to get to hear the ins and outs of the services they offer, how they serve photographers, and the different things that you can outsource in your business.
Morgan: I’m Morgan; I own Morgan Does It. I’m an all-around virtual assistant/administrative assistant. Some of my clients call me their online business manager. I take care of everything from inquiry all the way to gallery delivery, assisting in all of the ins and outs. I help behind the scenes with all of my photographers so they can really enjoy what they do, remember why they started and be able to really love on their clients and grow their business the way that they originally intended. No one ever starts a business to work 24/7. But as business owners, that’s where we find ourselves in the beginning. I’m here to take some of that weight and stress off of photographers.
Haley: I’m Haley, I own The Humble Help Desk. I’m a photography virtual assistant who specializes in blogging and Pinterest for photographers. Blogging and Pinterest are tasks that are back burner projects for photographers. They’re things that they know that they want to do, but there’s no time in the day to do it. I write educational/informative style blogs for photographers, blog about sessions or weddings, while pinning it on Pinterest to drive more traffic to your website.
Brooke: In case you haven’t noticed yet, not a single one of these ladies offers editing services. I want you to hear me on this because one of the things I hear over and over and over is, “I don’t want to give up the editing because I love it, I enjoy it.” or “I feel like I’m not stepping up to the title of photographer if I’m not shooting and editing the session.”
There are so many other things that you are doing in your business that you could hire a VA to take off your plate. You would get to do more sessions, more editing – the things that you actually want to do.
Brooke: What are some specific things that a photographer can take off their plate that you or another VA could step in and do for them?
Morgan: One of the biggest things people come to me for is their email to answer their inquiries. Because that is something that is absolutely necessary to respond to and someone has to be involved with. If you don’t respond to your inquiries, you don’t get bookings. People don’t just show up to your studio or show up to a field in the fall and say, “Okay, I hope I find a photographer.” They email or they find a way to get in touch with you.
One of the biggest things I do is inbox management and CRM management. Taking clients from inquiry to booking because we’ve all heard about ghosting. I’ve heard so many times, “It’s so time consuming and a waste of time when I could have edited an entire session in that time.” So that’s one of the biggest, initial things that photographers are ready and willing to outsource in my experience. I’ve heard photographers say, “I’ve had an inquiry sit in my inbox for seven days, because I just don’t want to answer it.”
Brooke: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. This is actually one of the ways that I use you in my own business, for inbox management. The reason why is because I have so many other things that I can be doing, rather than just sitting around in my inbox. Yes, I still check my email. I still respond to some emails. But I love having the freedom to go a whole entire day or, or a chunk of days and know that whatever’s coming into my inbox you’re going to take care of. We have a process for it.
In case you ever get an email you don’t know what to do with, I love that you’re able to come ask me, “Hey, we got an email. This is what it’s about. How do you want me to respond?” It makes me feel good knowing I don’t have to sit there and be chained to my emails in my inbox and my scheduling. For anybody that is not currently using an automated message system, you still know that going back and forth with clients can go a quick couple of email exchanges or a 15 minute conversation to days or weeks talking about getting a date on the books. So I definitely can see how you’re stepping in and saving people hours with this.
I’m going to switch to Haley for a minute. Why do you think blogging and Pinterest is important or necessary for some or most photographers?
Haley: Blogging and Pinterest are those types of services that work for your client and establish your brand in a more professional way. What I mean by that is, if you’re a photographer who’s constantly getting frequently asked questions like, “What locations are best for sessions in your area?” or “What should I wear for my session?” You can write blogs to cover those topics. Blogs answer questions that clients have and inspires them to take the next steps in order to have a great session with you.
We often think about Pinterest as a way to just publish our blogs, right? But really, what works great about Pinterest for photographers is that it’s a place for your clients to find inspiration that you’re shooting sessions for. Most people are already going on Pinterest looking for inspiration for their next session. Whenever I went to book my branding session, I went straight to Pinterest and started looking up ideas, outfits, backgrounds and setups for my photography session. It’s a place where you’re leading clients directly to your website, serving them, providing information and inspiration as a way to help prepare them for their session so that they have the best session possible.
Brooke: I really love that perspective, because so often we hear Pinterest and blogging being talked about for the SEO capabilities. You always want to have something that is working for you even when you’re not necessarily working on it. Unlike social media where you have to show up all the time. Blogging and Pinterest are ongoing. As long as you’re abiding by the SEO strategy then it is working for you all the time. It’s leading people back to your website and to your social media. So I love that there’s two sides of the coin when it comes to Pinterest and blogging.
Even if it doesn’t necessarily bring you in new clients, per se, it’s another way to serve clients and to have that brand recognition and brand awareness. Consistency for me is so important. I do weigh people that I hire or people that I work with very heavily by the type of content and the way that they have their customer service laid out. There’s just so much value all the way around.
One thing that I encounter often, especially from students in my Blueprint Program, is I can teach you all the strategies in the world but nine out of ten times, you’re going to come back and tell me that you don’t have time to do that. You can do the strategies that you love to do, the ones you can handle and the things you want to do. The strategies that you know you should be doing, but you don’t have time for? That is what you can outsource out of your business.
Brooke: I have a question for both of you. What are some of the biggest objections that you guys see when photographers are considering hiring you or outsourcing something in their business?
Morgan: I would say there’s a couple of different things I have heard personally or through other photographers about outsourcing. One is they say, “I don’t have time to train someone in my business.” Which is very understandable. But one of the good things about what I do or what Haley does is that we are solely dedicated to photography.
The groundwork is the same even if there’s they have different CRMs or they do things just differently in their business versus another photographer. So that’s a big thing is that they don’t have time to train somebody on all of the things they don’t have time to even think about outsourcing. But when they do, immediately or within the first couple of weeks, it’s a huge relief and breath of fresh air and a weight taken off of their shoulders.
The second biggest thing that I hear is that they don’t want to lose that relationship with their clients. They don’t want their clients to feel like they’re not important or important enough to talk to them. Which is also understandable because you are the face of your business as a photographer. Most photography businesses have something to do with your name, or your name is the actual photography business. So, you want that relationship, but it also comes at a price if you don’t have time to answer emails. It may look bad, if you don’t have time to do all the backend things.
Those are the two biggest thing is, you know, they’ve built this business from the ground up themselves. So they’re very protective of it. In my experience with a lot of my clients, their clients know me now. They may not know me face to face or in person, but they know me. I’ll be in my client’s email, and there will be an email from a potential client that’s like, “hey, Morgan, I’d love to get on so and so’s schedule, and I heard you’re the girl to talk to” and we’ve had such a good relationship.
Photographer’s will get compliments on outsourcing. Client will say, “I’m so proud of you for doing it. Because I can see how happy you are or how much more time you have to spend with your family.” I have a client right now on a month vacation. She knows her business is taken care of because of the systems that we have put in place. So it’s very scary in the beginning, but I promise it’s worth it.
Brooke: These are so good. Actually, neither one of these popped into my brain for an objection. So I love that these were your objections because I’m going to speak to them.
The first objection – “I don’t have time to train someone in my business.” Here’s the thing, you’re never going to get more time. You just have the time that you have to work with. I remember when I brought Morgan on that, yes, there’s a little bit of a learning curve. I outsourced one thing at a time to her. She got one task for the first week. Then the second week, she’s like, “Hey, I’m ready for more.” Awesome! I gave her the next task. It’s a learn as you go process. She learned so quickly. I feel like she’s been in my business for years. When she’s actually only been here for some months. I say that because we don’t have time, but you have to make it. The coolest thing is as I was training her, I was able to do other things.
The second objection – “I don’t want to lose relationships with clients.” I understand that. But here’s the thing, I want to give my clients a VIP service. But I’m telling you right now, there’s no way I can do that without the help. I think that you are going to give a better client experience by having the help because that person is going to be client forward facing. Then you get to pick up in all the areas where only you can step in and really serve that client. I love the story that clients have really gotten to know you, Morgan, because that’s amazing. That’s true for my business for both sides. Because people do respond to you and they know who you are, which I love.
Haley, what objection or objections do you see when photographers are on the fence about hiring you or outsourcing for your services?
Haley: One of the biggest objections that I hear, because so much of my services deal with copy and copywriting, is “I don’t want to lose my voice. I want it to feel like me, I don’t want it to sound like someone else is writing my blogs for me.” My strategy to help with this is using a blog questionnaire that prompts photographers to talk about their session.
Let’s say we’re going to blog about a family session. I would first ask the basic questions. Where was this session located? Did you help with styling? Did you use a client closet? Then we get into more intimate questions. Things like, what did this session make you feel? What would you say is the overall vibe of the session? Different questions that cause photographers to think a little bit deeper about what the session meant. Even share some memorable moments from the session. After that, I will take their answers and put it into the copy in a way that’s reflective of their responses.
Photographers all have a unique editing style. I love blogging because their images already tell a story. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? I just take that picture and pull those words out to put them into a blog. It always still feels authentic and genuine. Clients never have to know that somebody else is writing your blog for you. I act as a ghost writer in the background, and I let it be your voice that comes through.
Brooke: Oh my goodness, so good. Haley really does know what she’s talking about when it comes to blogging. I specifically love the way that she writes in my voice, or she’ll take a podcast that I’ve done and then transcribe it. I know I’m a little bit different. I’m not the cookie cutter photographer, where, you know, Morgan and Haley are just working in my photography business. They actually work in my education side and coaching side of my business. But I’m saying that to show you how it actually works for both sides. They’re able to show up for different people for different purposes.
All my blogs, for the last couple of months have been written by Haley. A lot of the captions that I’ve used for social media posts were written by Haley and they’re amazing. They sound like me. That’s exactly what I want. I can understand the objection of “I don’t really want to outsource that because I’m afraid of what it’s going to sound like.” I’m telling you, you have nothing to worry about when Haley writes your blogs, or anything else that she does for you.
Brooke: Morgan, if you are going to give a photographer, a snapshot of what it looks like after hiring you in their business, what are some of the pros, or some of the good things that you’re seeing your clients be able to do that they weren’t able to do before?
Morgan: One of the biggest things that I’ve seen my clients be able to do is create boundaries and hold boundaries. When they’re answering emails, or they’re in person talking to everybody, they say, “I really want to be able to go to my son’s baseball game” or “I really want to be able to spend the weekend with my family. But when someone asks me to have a sunset session, I can’t say no, because I’m afraid they would think poorly of me” or whatever that may be. When bringing me on, I’m here to help you hold those boundaries.
If you tell me, “Morgan, I only want to have seven sessions a month, let’s fill the weekdays first. If someone really, really needs a weekend, run that by me.” I’m here to hold those boundaries. So you can have the life that you’ve always wanted to live, while still being in control of your schedule. I always say there’s always exceptions to the rule. If there is a family that really needs a time that you’re not really willing to do, I always run it past my clients before I tell anyone no.
Another thing that they’re able to do is enjoy vacations. Like I said earlier, they’re able to truly unplug and not have to worry about, “do I need to answer emails? Are my DM’s getting answered?” Even though I don’t do social media, every now and then when they’re on vacation, they’ll give me three posts to make. I’ll make sure that they’re still showing up, even if they want to unplug, and just be able to live the life that they’ve wanted. We all start a business to be able to enjoy the little moments and not have to ask off and not have to be plugged into a computer or a desk all day.
The flip side of that is if family emergencies come up. Children are in the hospital, parents are in the hospital, something happens, and you just need to take a step back. I’m here to fill in the gap. Usually there’s never even a second guess of, “oh, I need to tell Morgan.” It’s already happening. I see the need and I just go for it and help you through whatever season of life that you’re in personally or business wise.
Brooke: So good, so good. Haley, give us a little snapshot. What are some of the wins that you’ve seen? Or the differences that photographers are able to experience that they weren’t able to without having you in their business?
Haley: When you’re fully booked and running wide open, you start to get nagging to do lists in the back of your brain. Your schedule is full of shooting, editing and spending any extra time with your family. Those backburner projects just aren’t getting attention. But you want them because they excite you to have them. You want the beautiful blog to share with your clients, the resources to help educate about your process, or just anything that helps them along in that journey.
You also want Pinterest because you know you have beautiful images to share. But you just don’t have the time to get to them because you’re being so poured out everywhere else. I’ve had a client say, “It’s such a relief. I finally did it. I wanted to blog forever, and I’ve been putting it off but now it’s done”
Something we do, especially for an educational or informative blog, is create links that can be sent out in newsletters. Those blog links can be sent out in emails. So you’re not constantly answering the same questions for your clients over and over again. You have a workflow of information and resources on your photography website to help them along. The mental space that it clears up for photographers to have that already done for them is amazing. It’s a time saver. That’s the whole point of outsourcing, right? Saving your time because it’s precious and to protect it for the things you love. But also know that it’s being taken care of and taken care of well.
Brooke: There are so many more wins that I have seen. But obviously we would be here for hours, if we just shared win after win after win. Having your mental space back and not feeling like you’re constantly just weighed down with all that you have to do is big. Having at least one team member or VA helping you hit those business goals that you have that is worth everything.
Brooke: I’m going to give you each the space to pitch your services to photographers. Where can they find you? What kinds of things do you offer? What’s the best way for them to reach out to you and learn more information?
Morgan: I am on Instagram @morgandoesit. My website is morgandoesit.com. Either email me, or message me through Instagram. I am always checking that for any inquiries that come in, even if you just have a question. I’ve had so many photographers, either email me or Instagram message me, “I’m not really ready to outsource quite yet, but when I am, I know you’re my girl”. They have a couple of questions and that’s okay. You don’t ever have to be fully ready to hire me in order to ask me questions.
A little overview of everything that I do: Email management and CRM management. I offer photo culling. I do a ton of culling for my clients. That’s another really great way to free up some of your time. Just an overall business management/administrative assistant position. Doing all the ins and outs. I do client gifts, put together client galleries, books and albums. Any of the things that aren’t physically something you have to do. You have to show up to the session and actually shoot it, most people want to edit. But other than that, I am here to take care of the rest.
Haley: You can find me on Instagram @thehumblehelpdesk. That is the number one place where I get inquiries and answer questions about blogging and Pinterest. Those are the main services that I offer. I also offer different package sizes. Small, medium or large packages for blogging and Pinterest. So if you’re unsure about outsourcing, I have packages that are designed to help dip your toe in the water. Then I have packages where you can go all out. You can do as much blogging or Pinterest as you want per month.
I craft my packages in a way that let’s you decide what you need because everybody’s needs are different. Sometimes you just need to try it out first. If you have any questions about blogging or about Pinterest, you can message me over on Instagram @thehumblehelpdesk, and I will be happy to help or send an investment guide your way.
Brooke: Okay photographers, here’s the episode you’ve been waiting on for a very long time! All the ins and outs of outsourcing and what that looks like. It doesn’t have to be editing. That’s the best news of all. There are so many things as a business owner that you guys have probably learned on this podcast that I’ve talked about that you’re like, “Yeah, I should do all these things and I don’t have time.” These two ladies as well as many other VAs out there are able to assist you in your business.
I highly recommend by the time this podcast comes out, when we’re going to gear up for a busy fall season, using the month of August to train Morgan and Haley to outsource with. So that you don’t find yourself in October wishing that you would have done what I said. Here’s your call to get them in your business.
Obviously, they can’t take everyone. It’s a first come, first serve thing. But I’m telling you, they’re amazing. They’re not leaving my business anytime soon. I would see what time they have available to serve you and your photography business. I really hope that this inspires you to work less in your photography business by outsourcing.
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