Need to vent, and get some advice…

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by NicoleEverson, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. NicoleEverson

    NicoleEverson TPF Noob!

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    :grumpy: Howdie yall, I am new to the forum, and I just need to vent, and get some advice. I have been in biz for 2 years, but this year I really took off. I have put my heart and soul into my biz, and work my butt off, and I have been feeling very accomplished until recently.. I have a home studio, but it is renovated and very nice, so nothing ghetto or anything. I have a young child and only want to have her in daycare part time so I have set a limit/goal of 4 sessions a week (she is in daycare for 12 hrs a week). I also have a goal of at least 2,000 a month. I have been hitting my $ goal but not my session goal. Some weeks I get 4 sessions, but most weeks I have 2 sessions and a few weeks I have had no sessions. I want to have 4 sessions a week on slow months, and on busy months to have a waiting list.. That is my goal, and with that session goal I want to bring in at least 3,500 a month.. I really want to raise my desk print prices and sitting fees, but with the problem I am having getting more clients I cannot risk raising my prices.
    This is where my frustration comes from. I work my tail off with SEO marketing ect, and I am not seeing the return I am looking for. What am I doing wrong? Every client I have had just loves my work, and they always tell me how much they love my website etc, so what is the problem?? I would really love some CC or advice.. I know the economy is part of my problem, but I know if ppl could just find my biz online that they would book me… I expected to be crazy busy this month and last, and it is killing me that I am just steady…
    Nicole Everson Photography
    http://nicoleeversonphotography.com/
    New blog http://nicoleeversonphotography.com/blog
    Old blog http://nicoleeversonphotography.blogspot.com/
     
  2. misol

    misol TPF Noob!

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    I am in a very similar situation, I am a full time mom with two young kids and have them in preschool 12 hours a week. I do all on location shoots now but after the new year I am converting a large high ceiling room in my home into my office and studio (so excited!). I really think word of mouth is really important. That and keeping clients. Dont be afraid to give satisfied clients extra business cards. Get a face book fan page. I dont think people in our situation are likely to get alot of cold bookings online. I have had a couple, but they are almost always through someone I shot before.

    Also a huge help in setting goals has been offering the CD with printing rights. I push this, but since I started, everyone has bought one. I sell mine for $300 and I have a $75 sitting fee (waved for the holidays). My goal is to make $3500 a month and do 10 sessions or less. The real plus of this is it makes my life SO MUCH EASIER! Am I losing some sales? Maybe. But I think I am more then making up for it in saving time, being able to see more clients, keeping frustrations of people stealing images to a minimum and attracting people who only want this service.
     
  3. digital flower

    digital flower No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi Nicole. Welcome to the forum.

    Don't be so hard on your self. I think you really hit the nail on the head with this:

    As a small business owner for the last 20+ years (non-photography) I can't say that I have ever seen conditions like we experienced over the last year. People are just not spending like they used to. General consensus among the business owners I know are 10-40% declines this year. So I would say steady is actually like an increase right now.

    Just hang on. If the economic pendulum swings back to the good side your going to be in a better position then all the people that start business because of a good economy.
     
  4. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sears charges 20 I think, and $200 for CD.
    Then again, their quality... pretty crappy :( but they are cheaper :)
     
  5. misol

    misol TPF Noob!

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    I am not in the same market as sears and I wouldnt want to be
     
  6. jbylake

    jbylake Dodging the Men in Black Supporting Member

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    I would like to echo the "economy" aspect. I work in a Custom Bike shop, have a 50/50 stake in the website business. Cool because I'm technically retired, and the economy hasn't hurt me too bad. But people aren't buying, especially high end stuff. If it comes down to the mortgage vs. a couple of grand in chrome goodies, people are going to keep the house. Even the "well heeled" customers are cutting back.

    Photography, family shot's etc, would seem to me to be "back burner" stuff, in tough times.

    Hang in there, things can't get much worse, only way left to go is up (I hope):mrgreen:

    J.:mrgreen:
     
  7. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    Web space is great for allowing customers an initial sample view of your work but its world wide and this type of business is local, you need to market/advertise locally, get flyers printed and use the time you don't shoot posting to potential clients. I have had excellent response from local news ads and also from gleaning email addresses from yello pages small businesses with similar email shots, its time consuming but boosts business in lean times. If you use the local newspaper get the ad on the "womens" page, men, at east over here are phillistines regarding family photographs. H
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum Nicole.

    I had a look at your website and your work is excellent. I had a look at your prices, and they are too low. Your time is valuable but your sitting fee tells people that it's not really worth much. Once you figure in all the other time required (meeting with clients, getting to and from, EDITING, etc) you are probably paying yourself a couple dollars an hour...or less.

    Sure, it can be hard to raise your prices when the economy is down and you are looking to bring in new customers...but with a quality product like this, it should be your goal to make more money with less work, which you can do by simply raising your prices.
    You want clients to come to you because they like your work, not because you are cheap. Some photographers work the price into the initial sitting fee, some end load it with higher print prices...either way can work.

    A good strategy is to to add more value to your products & packages, without adding too much actual cost to yourself.

    As mentioned, getting your name/biz out in your local area is a good idea. A website is great but even with great SEO, people still have to be looking for photography in order to find you.
     
  9. PHILLIP MAC

    PHILLIP MAC TPF Noob!

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    The only thing that might help is that price is not the key. People expect to pay a lot for a good job, I found I wanted to cut back on bookings so I doubled my price the result even more clients. They want quality and they are willing to pay for it. You must be ready and able to live up to your new found status though.
    I'd rather be a Rolls than a VW.
     
  10. VirtualPhotographyStudio

    VirtualPhotographyStudio TPF Noob!

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    Hi Nicole

    I am one of the biggest supporters of online marketing - I've been at it for over 15 years, and have had tremendous success with it. That said, there is still the human side as well. Because you are trying to attract clients in your area, what are you doing to connect with people in your area? Try putting up a display to show off your work - I was at my local rec center recently, and a photographer had filled the walls of the information area with her images.

    Also, what are you doing to build up the referral part of your business? Are you sending to all your existing clients regularly? They will refer you, but you have to remain on the tip of their toungue.

    Also give specials to those that follow you on Facebook or Twitter. You have to use it and let people know what they can expect if they follow you on a social site. I posted a blog post yesterday with a great idea from a photographer who is using her blog amazingly well - you might enjoy the idea.

    One Great Idea – Meet Mandie Haberman | Virtual Photography Studio - Digital Photography Business Guide To Resources, Products and Information

    Good luck!
     
  11. misol

    misol TPF Noob!

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    I agree, I looked at your prices and they seem too low. I have mine kind of too low too, but I used to charge much less and I booked less then I do now. You could be Ansel Adams and if you charged low prices, people will think you arent very good.

    If you want to raise prices without people being too upset, try restructuring your packages and then pump it up and great new options or deals. You know, what Mike said
     
  12. mikesphoto

    mikesphoto TPF Noob!

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    I don't mean to sound negative here...but one thing I've learned too is ...they will ALWAYS love it but won't always pay for it. I have people that I have not seen in years find me on Facebook. The send me private messages saying "I WANT you to photograph my kids! I just love your work!" I send them info on my portrait services and they never bring it up again. Just trust in yourself and know what you are doing will work. Not every person is your client.

    And as others have said, if you up your prices you can take in more income on less sessions as well.
     

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