Discouraged and seeking advice about business

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by eric-holmes, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Lately I have decided to turn by hobby into a more productive venue. This came after many requests from people to shoot pictures of them or their kids. Now that I have decided to move forward in this, I cannot seem to book any sessions. This discourages me. What am I doing wrong? What am I doing right? Please check out my websites below and tell me what you think. There are prices listed on my facebook fan page. Are they too high? I typically charge $30 for a sitting fee and $10 for each extra person.
    Please give me some input and advice. Much appreciated.
     
  2. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,797
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Southwest Virginia
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Well I guess I'd first ask how long ago you just decided that you were going to try and make money from this? Did you just throw up a web site w/ the "if you build it, they will come" attitude? How much marketing are you doing? As for your website, I'd nix that hodge-podge of stuff in the photography section. I'd probably also cut most of those of Nick as well as most of those of Craig and Jessica and they don't seem very comfortable in front of the camera. I'd also get a dedicated site instead of smug mug if trying to make money. The website looks a little thrown together and haphazard.

    I guess if I were trying to make a go of it, I'd first go and try to build a portfolio. You've tried to do that by just throwing together what you consider to be your best shots, but there's no cohesion and if someone's looking for portraits, they don't give a crap about that stuff in the other section and it just detracts. You're trying to make something from nothing in other words. So send out an invite to friends and family, church, where ever that you'll do some portraits either at cost or for little of nothing. Another option is to put out fliers with a "chance" to win a free session + cost of prints. In reality, everyone is a "winner" but you don't tell them that of course. What you gain is some experience and something to put in your portfolio b/c now you have nothing. Don't try to pad a resume that isn't there. From little acorns comes mighty oaks.
     
  3. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Thanks for taking the time to go over this with me. I am going to go through your post and try to answer the best I can. I know that the more information I can give you the better you can help me. I got my camera about a year ago and decided to make a go at it probably about 6 months ago. I have a full time job as a nurse so I am in no way trying to make this a full time job. But, I do enjoy doing it and would like to do it more often. I did the website, not have the attitude you mentioned, but more of a attitude of a website for marketing. I know you have to sell yourself.

    I started doing the general photography and I added those at the time because it was all I had. I didn't know it was taking away from my site so badly. Nick, well he was my first one. Now that I go back and look I do see flaws in his pictures. Craig and Jessica, they too were one of my firsts. I took these for their Christmas pictures. I was a bitter cold winter day. Craig was also not too comfortable in front of the camera.

    I am going to PM you on a couple of questions...
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  4. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,797
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Southwest Virginia
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I sent you a PM.
     
  5. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    So you think I should totally nix the general photography gallery? You mentioned about getting away from smugmug, like use a different site? I could never make my own. I like the look of Bludomain flash templates.
     
  6. McMommy

    McMommy TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Seaside, Ca
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I don't know how well this works, but I have seen many photographers promote their businesses by offering "special complimentary sittings" for a specific group of people. (Newborns, or kids, or families, etc.) Sometimes I've even seen them offer a free 8X10 print.

    I think this would be a good idea to build up your portfolio. You want one that appeals to your clients, not just "I need photos of my kids" but also "and I want YOU to take them!" Examples of your first work might be sentimental to you, but it might not showcase your best work. You want to WOW people, ya know?

    Now all of that is said with no professional experience... but just as a consumer and amateur amateur photographer. Off to check out your website, and I'll see if I can give you any helpful feedback based off that.


    Oh yeah, and last thing I did learn was that it's hard to raise your prices later, so make sure if you do what I suggested above, you let people know it's a special, one-time offer.
     
  7. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Thanks, I am currently revamping my website so there will be some shuffling going on until I get it set.
     
  8. McMommy

    McMommy TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Seaside, Ca
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Okay so... keep in mind I'm NOT a professional, but you're going down the path I hope to one day go down as well.

    1) I'd suggest less "chatter" on your webpage. I think it's okay to leave the stuff about using photos to advertise via facebook or any other means to the contract they sign with you. It should be made clear that you own the pictures and they can order prints, but they're yours to use however and whenever you want. But that all can be in a contract.

    For your front of your webpage, you should really put up the best example of your favorite medium of photography. If it's kids, have a gorgeous picture of a kid up, if it's weddings, do that...etc. While the eyeball is a cool picture, I just don't think it screams "CLICK ON ME AND HIRE ME TO BE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!" Think sexy website... ha ha. You want it to say "You want me and you know it...grr baby"

    (Had a margarita with dinner so forgive my silliness)

    2. Can I suggest you put your galleries closer to the top of your site? People are lazy... they want what they want, and they don't want to mess around, usually. That way, if someone is looking for something specific, they can go straight to it.

    3. That kid in the vest is really cute. You should definitely find a way to appeal to a select number of test clients (10 maybe?) so you can practice working with people, expand your portfolio with ever-improving work, and get your name out hopefully by these 10 people recommending you to their friends.


    Okay, hope that is helpful in some way! Happy weekend!
     
  9. ghpham

    ghpham TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2007
    Messages:
    535
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I'm not a pro photographer, so take this with a grain of salt. Websites are a dime a dozen. No matter how well you make your site, it's not going to gain you business without you being pro active. That means you will need to network around your local area. For example, go to local kids sport venues and start taking some pictures. Get to know the parents and perhaps show them the photo's. If they like it, perhaps you can try to sell the prints for cheap...OR...give it to them for free and pass out your business card. If you are good...and lucky perhaps one in ten will call you up for a photo session. You need to realize that this will be a "business" and as with all businesses, it's not going to be all rosy. The key to survival is perseverance.

    Off topic, but my friend (and now my boss), is a partner in his business for 6 years now. The first year he was in business, he DIDN'T draw ANY income at all. You cannot have just started and already be discouraged. Get out there and network!
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,100
    Likes Received:
    3,767
    Location:
    UK - England
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    You might find these critique videos of interest: zarias.com :: The blog of editorial photographer Zack Arias Critique

    They are all quite long and the advice flits from website building to industry ideas through to photo critique - but the overall info is very good and you can pickup a lot of tips as well as advice on marketing yourself. Plus they are all pretty entertaining too!
     
  11. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    38,240
    Likes Received:
    5,009
    Location:
    Iowa
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    www.sba.com The US Small Business Administration.

    www.score.org The Service Core of Retired Executives.

    Both give free, expert business advice and will help you write a realistic business plan.

    There are also free business/marketing/salesmanship resources at the public library.

    I would suggest generating a flyer offering a discounted sitting fee and print pricing for portfolio building. Don't shoot for free! It is far easier to discount prices than it is to raise them.

    Something like:

    "I have decided I want to add some new images to my portfolio.
    For a limited time eric-holmes photography will be offering a 'portfolio building' discount on all sessions, prints, and other products. This is important and exciting enough to me that I will give a 40% discount on all session fees and other products bought during this limited time offer.

    While this discount is in effect available session times will fill up fast so schedule yours today."

    Raise your session fee to $100 ($10 for each person over 4), double your print prices, then put out the flyer. You get to decide how long your 'limited time offer' runs for but it does have to be for a limited time (say up to 4-6 months).

    When you do a session show the full price on the invoice and then subtract the discount so they know that the next time it will cost them twice as much. Get 50% of the session fee at the time they book, the other half at the beginning of the session.

    You have a good contract, model release, and all the other required business paperwork, right?

    You need local word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising and that means satisfied paying clients. WOM about the free pictures they got

    Do you know how to write and send a new release to your local newspaper's business section editor?

    You could send a press release announcing your redesigned web site and restructuring of your business model, or some other change in your business, like the completion of a seminar or class. Promote yourself from photographer to principal photographer and send in a press release.

    Marketing and selling is all about the sizzle, not the steak.

    Your next goal should be to identify what market level you want to target.
     
  12. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Thank you for everyones input and critiques. It looks like I have a lot of work to do.

    So are you saying that I should just raise my prices for the half off thing or raise them to that in general? Doubling the print prices seems like a lot.
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page

answers athomasimage

,
cogs codb other expense
,
discouraged about business
,

discouraged with photography business

,
what discoirages runaways from seeking help