Small Business Smarts For Photographers

Today’s guest post is by Jared Bauman who has built a photography studio in Southern California that photographs over 200 events and sessions annually. In business for a decade, Jared’s clients fly him across the world to document their big events. Jared is a Co-Founder and President of ShootDotEdit, the #1 post processing partner for the professional wedding photographer. Known for his business background, Jared has released several educational DVDs and tours the country speaking to photographers about their small business. Follow him on Twitter.

Think Like An Owner

Mention that you’re a small business owner to anyone, and more than likely the response is along the lines of “Wow, you must make a lot of money and have a lot of time off!” Contrary to popular opinion, being a business owner seems to be synonymous with being a jack of all trades and master of none. Being a small business owner is overwhelming, time intensive, and all consuming.

In his book “The E-Myth”, Michael Gerber talks about going to work ON your business, rather than IN your business. By stepping back and watching your business, you learn to develop a system that will work outside of you. Systems don’t make mistakes … Only people do. So by developing a system, you can ensure that your business will run smoothly and effectively, providing the best possible product and experience for your clients.

Think of how much time we waste each day. Imagine if you weren’t the owner of the business … But merely just an employee. What would the owner think of how you spend your time on a daily basis? Are you working just to get things done? Or are you going to work and acting like an owner, working on tasks that only an owner can to grow and advance the business?

Determine the tasks in your business that only you can do. Spend time developing a system at your studio. It takes a lot of effort. But, by creating a manual for your systems and operations, you’ll be on the path to working ON your business, rather than IN your business. And this is where you’ll experience all of the freedom that small business owners dream about.

Efficiency

As small business owners, we are responsible for every part of our business. Most days, we juggle email, phone, calendar, billing, editing, production, IT … All in addition to our busy shooting schedule!

Because of this, becoming hyper-efficient at the tasks we are required to do becomes imperative. If we HAVE to do the task (reference the previous entry for more on that), then we need to perform the task as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is the only way we’ll be able to spend our time growing our business, rather than just operating it.

Here are some great tips for becoming more efficient in your daily tasks:

1) Set up Drafts and Rules in your inbox to handle frequently asked emails. Typically speaking, most of the emails we receive … We’ve answered before. Save your answer as a Draft, and next time you get that same email, copy it over as a response. Add a personalized intro and close, and send it off!

2) Utilize Rules to sort through emails that you can delay for later.

3) Utilize shortcut keys. Apple has a well-developed set of shortcut keys, along with Gmail. Shortcut keys can shave minutes off of your daily activity, but these add up to hours each week. You can see what that adds up to each year.

4) Take advantage of software like Text Expander to further reduce duplicated time.

5) Maximize your usage of a To Do list app, like Wunderlist or Things. Tasks that can be handled quickly (under 2 or 3 minutes) should be taken care of right away. Anything else is placed on your to do list, with a defined due date.

6) Much of this seems mundane and somewhat extraneous. However, if you can maximize efficiency on day-to-day tasks, you leave yourself able to do more of what you love…. And isn’t that what we all got in this for?

Pricing & Packaging

Pricing. It’s often the last thing we think about as photographers. We focus on our website, our branding. We pour over reviews of the latest gear, and try to learn how to light for every situation. Email monopolizes our time, and fulfilling client orders takes up our off days. And yet, pricing is one of the most important pieces of our small business.

Believe it or not, there is actually a science behind Pricing. From the beginning, you should set your goals BEFORE you construct your pricing. Do you know how much you want to work? Do you know how much you want to make? All of these things should be taken into consideration as you construct your pricing.

Confusion is usually the main reason prospective clients don’t book. Confusion enters the picture when the pricing is introduced. It might be confusion through the structure of the pricing, and they couldn’t find a package that suited their needs. Or maybe they were interested in an album, and there were just far too many options. Maybe they didn’t see an engagement session anywhere, it wasn’t in the packages, and they couldn’t find it on the a la carte list.

Simplifying the pricing process gives you a huge advantage when it comes to booking.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1) Have an odd number of packages. This gives your pricing a “natural middle” point, which naturally guides your clients towards certain options.

2) Whenever possible … Less is more! Reduce the number of options available.

3) Don’t show them the whole menu. Save the details for later.

At the end of the day, keep it simple, and remove confusion at all costs. This will ensure you give yourself the best chance of booking the wedding, and working with the couples you really want as your clients.

Jared Bauman

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  • http://twitter.com/akrishnamraju A Krishnam Raju

    Efficiency, Pricing and Packaging – Excellent post for a starter like me. Learned something different than the usual. Thanks!

  • gewald

    I would add to the pricing section to think twice about posting your package prices online. You could say starting at…, but when you post much detail it drives price shopping. And these days brides want everything for nothing. We need to start taking back some of the lost business. 

  • http://twitter.com/ERICFOLEY Eric Foley

    Great read from a great source! I just completed a one-on-one session with Jared to overhaul my pricing and marketing approach. He scientifically broke down the philosophy of pricing and the proper way to implement it into my business. His theory is based off what your brides prioritize in a package and what you, the photographer, need financially. He also helped us get our associate model and pricing on the right track too. One of the best investments I’ve made in a long time. I strongly recommend Jared if your serious about simplifying your pricing and making more money.

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  • http://www.milkywayphotography.com/ Tim Mielke

    As a small business owner of Milky Way Photography, I found this article a good refresher. There are so many things to juggle when running a business. Thanks for the reminder to stick to my strengths.

  • Stan Your Photo Coach

    I envy your acumen and success. I have been in the business for 36 years and this past year has been the worst in my history! I have passion for what I do, the clients who hire me love me and my work, but the last couple months my business has died. Marketing is always changing, and I hope I can find something that will reach the triggers of the buyers in my market!

  • http://www.mirchevphotography.com/ Nikolay Mirchev

    Overall is quite demanding running your own photography business, at least until we build good network of clients and contacts, which may take some time, but overall you made some good points here that are quite helpful for people who are just starting.

  • http://www.crystalmadsen.com/ Crystal Madsen

    It was so much easier before I ever did this as a sole business. When i was just shooting for friends and family it was so much more fun too.