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01/15/2006 09:39:35 AM · #51
I shoot alone. There are several local folks form DPC or FM and we go shoot for fun. Emmanuel is my new best photo friend ;). He is a home builder that does photography for fun, but he would like to make some money at 'to justify all he spends on it' He outspends all of us 2 fold LOL. He lets me borrow his stuff, hence my new bst friend LOL. For the pet portraits i got some volunteers from work to assist me, otherwise i shoot alone.

I have made money with the pet portraits and a little with HS seniros and a little with weddings. Around here HS seniors are very profitable so i am concentrating on that and some on weddings. If i can expand inot more 'lifestyle' portraits or events that'd be great too.

I have always wanted to be self employed so if i can earn a good living off photography that would be great. it seems to fulfill most of my needs - creativity, alone time, collecting, new gadgets, educational (never stop learning), experimenting, and meeting new people - and with luck it'll help me ego too. LOL

Two notes: Also marketing wise i am trying to get listed/linked to local sites that do referrals online (marketingtool.com, wedj.com i am on. 2 more i am trying to get on).. Why them? free...and google 'beaver photographer' and those sites come up.

A tidbit or two on websites - I am not a flash fan for several reasons, and here is one more - flash sites DO NOT get web crawled and listed on search engines. Links to your site will raise it's ranking on site engines also.
01/15/2006 09:50:45 AM · #52
Actually the flash sites thing is part-myth now. google and yahoo are using Macromedia's flash crawler now and it CAN crawl your site. Also, flash sites aren't good if that's the ONLY thing on the site - however if you build your flash site into an html page, that allows you to keyword, meta and build up your site ranking. If you look at our new page, it's not "really" at //www.pictureinfinity.com it's at //www.pictureinfinity.com/index.html and the html is LOADED with keywords. Do a google search for syracuse wedding photographer and oh- snap - look who's third? :) We're still optimizing the new site, but needless to say we still have some good results.

While links to your site help, it really only helps much if they are good sites.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/6900/thumb/281220.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/6900/thumb/281220.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

This table shows how many links of what type you need to advance to what level. As you can see, you need either 3,055 PR1 links or 1 PR6 link to get a PR4 for yourself. Needless to say if you can get that 1 PR6, it's more time saving than trying to get 3,055 of the PR1s.

Right now we're PR4 trying to get PR5 and you can see what we need - 16, 803 PR1s, 3,055 PR2s, 555 PR3s, 101 PR4s or 19 PR5s. Needless to say, we are going to have some combination of the above before we see PR5. ONE PR7 site link could do it for us though.

//www.pagerank.net

What is your pagerank on the major google ips? If you see them vary 2/3/2/2/2/3/2 you are likely in for a change next time google hits your site. If you don't have google toolbar installed and use it to see where you are linking to, you should.

Friendly SEO advice from someone who knows. :)
01/15/2006 10:19:30 AM · #53
Cool link. I'm gonna have to work on my ranking. I got a 3 on my site. Looks like I need to move up a little.
01/15/2006 10:40:43 AM · #54
Well, after reading through your posts, I think I'm probably not at the point where I should be in this group. I will continue to read, but my "business" is nowhere near as official as it should be for this thread.

Your posts are helping me, though, in planning for the future.
01/15/2006 11:17:03 AM · #55
I still want some idea of projections from you guys -

What did you do in business last year?
What are you doing in business this year?
What will you be doing in business next year?

Last year we did 14 weddings, for $19,000 and spent almost all of that on gear (20D, 70-200 IS 2.8, studiomax II strobes, backgrounds, two new computers, a 2nd 300D, 9 gig of CF, etc... plus advertising, bridal shows, dvd, website features, etc)

This year we are aiming for 35 weddings and $70,000. Our estimated budget is $55,000 which includes another 20D, another 70-200 IS, my salary for being full time, insurance, studio gear, a 12-24 Tokina or 10-22mm, 4 gig more CF, 2 550 EX's, and marketing, Photo One and other software we need etc. We picked up a new fax/copy machine to make copies of contracts and fax and receive documents as they get done.

Next year we hope to expand advertising, get more referrals and higher $ on each wedding, maybe do 35 @ 3000 and buy some new gear, replace stuff that doesn't hold out this year, etc. We want to eventually have about 6 550ex for receptions and placing them around the room to remotely fire, good studio gear and a studio itself. We want to increase our portraits as we consider our weddings "budget" and our portraits "extra" so anything we make in portraits should be above and beyond what we expect, which is nice. We want to eventually build up some savings and better credit so we can buy a home and a studio and get rolling on this for real.
01/15/2006 01:27:14 PM · #56
Last year I did 12 weddings, promo work for everything from Hooter's calendars to movies & shot some family portraits & senior work. Didn't gross near what you did but I was able to buy the 1Ds, 20D, 2 Quantum battery packs, 2 AlienBee lights to bring me up to 4 in the studio and a ton of studio equipment. I think we ended up losing money last year, too. This year will be a different story. We have a couple of weddings scheduled and I'm picking up more. I think that because of the way we have waited to market ourselves this year I'm picking up a lot of the people who hadn't planned already (gotta make that contact to ever make the sale).

My goal this year is to sell 15 weddings @ my current prices ($1500 or $2000 which is an increase over last year but I have a good idea how much I'll pocket at those prices). I'd like to make $1,000 off stock work (I'm selling on 2 micro sites now but I want to put together a CD for Alamy). I'd also like to shoot 10+ senior portraits and make around $250 each in prints sold (more is better). I'd like to shoot kids' portraits but that seems like a market segment that requires some involvement with the families moreso than senior work and between my job and the business I don't believe I could support that line of business satisfactorily. I've no doubt its lucrative and I think I'd enjoy it but its just not a place for me to build my business' persona unless something gives. I think a realistic goal would be around $30,000 gross this year and put that into building my efficiency and business acumen as well as spreading my name. I doubt I'll see much of that as most of it will go back into equipment or marketing.

I hope that by the end of '06 I have a projector mounted in my home office to show clients their images in large size (20x30), have my workflow pretty well figured out for weddings, be consulting 4 brides per month and shooting family portraits. I'd like to build a clientele of 30 families that frequent my business by the end of the year and then increase that to 100 families in '07.

I'd like to buy either the 1Ds MkII or whatever Canon releases to supplant it later this year (I'm assuming) as the 1st generation just doesn't handle shadows as well as I'd like. I'd also like to purchase a laptop to use on-site to shoot tethered for group shots @ weddings or when shooting events (we don't normally make much money on those but our average sale per event has risen a little and its a streamlined process that does generate some cash flow). I'd like to purchase an Epson printer (haven't decided which yet) for archival quality prints that I can produce for small rush orders instead of having to order the prints all the time.

I'm trying to build enough of a business so that either my wife or myself has the option to quit or we aren't so dependent on the jobs we have or so that we can save faster for college funds & retirement. Any of those options are motivating and working so that we have the opportunity to choose which matters most to us in the future is what keeps me involved in this at more than perfunctory level. I am intrigued by working under my own rules but worried for a long time that I'd just screw up the opportunity; now that this seems to just be getting better and better I'm nore inclined to think it might be fun to be my boss; my current boss might not agree at times ;)

Kev
01/15/2006 03:12:08 PM · #57
2005: income gross of $1250 gove or take a few dollars. I spent loads more than that in gear, promo material, etc. I decided to go into business in march and made the first income in november. I did spend time building a portfolio.

2006: more gear needed (50D as i think it will be called, 12-24, macro lens, 4 Abs, back drops, color laser, misc stuff.
Plan to start marketing in easnest - most of that is figuring out how and cost, etc. How do i reach the HS seniros here? What is the cost? Same for brides. Next year will do a bridal show I think. I don't feel confident raising my prices - not sure if i am too low or too high, depends on who i talk to (potential customers or you folks ;) I'd like to do $15,000 in sales.

2007: I have not planned that far...
01/15/2006 11:23:53 PM · #58
the question was do you shoot alone or where I believe?
sometimes my sister in law helps and currently I am the second photographer for 3 weddings with another girl that is going to teach me the business and pay me. I did get the high school gig and proud to say it is paying and will include a head shot of the teacher after. I get to hand out my cards to all the students. I will either take a model of mine or my Mother to assist and hand out my cards.

I haven't really made tons of money post this year, it was basically portfolio building and any money I made went right back into gear. When I do the lingerie store I will pay the model to assist and I have a makeup artist/hairstylist on hand to fix the client.

My plans are to see how much I can make this year. This month I am booked and plan to take off towards Seniors/Prom/Weddings. I am going to shoot a guy at my work and do some outdoor stuff to build my portfolio so I can market the Seniors. I currently shoot in my basement so space is limited.

I think our group is at different levels, I would hate to see anyone sit on the back burner.

I would like to buy lenses and another memory stick-2 gig this year. I have 20D, 200 Rebel, 2 1 gig cards, 2 400 AB's, 2 800 AB's, backdrop stand and about 7 paper drops, 2 muslin drops, cheap strobes, gels, honeycombs, softboxes, umbrellas.
01/16/2006 02:15:58 PM · #59
Sorry I've been away from the forum for a while. It's amazing how busy life gets and getting this business off the ground is going to take a lot more work on top of what I'm already doing... *sigh*

So, to answer your questions Mav (can I call you Mav?),

2005 - This past year I made about $500 - I started in September and got one job shooting a landscape construction job and doing some Christmas cards for friends.

2006 - This is the big year! I hope to be self-sufficient by September because I leave my current job in October. I hope to make about $20,000 take home, basically what I need to live on year-to-year. Anything more would be, of course, great! Anything less would be OK this year as I still have the primary job for 9 months. Gigs I hope to get include mostly graphic design stuff (brochures, flyers, etc) as that I think will be the biggest money maker right off the bat. I live in a touristy/resorty area so will be contacting many of them for possible business - this would hopefully include taking photos for them. Also, I live in a very remote area (nearest Wal-Mart is 45 minutes away) so I want to look into printing photos here at the house - finding a nice sub-dye printer and selling them at reasonable prices. On the photog side I have a lot of ideas, but have not pursued them as of yet. They include event photography (town carnivals/events, arts and crafts shows, town benefits, restaurant party events, personal parties, etc.), freelance for local paper, senior portraits (though the senior class is only around 20 kids), weddings (done friends' weddings before and would like to be a second photographer and learn the 'proper' way to do it), sell landscape/wildlife prints locally and outside of the area and also continue to photograph home and business construction projects (there are always new homes or renovations going on up here). (Sorry that was so long!)

2007 - Continue on with the business and expand what I will be able to do. Evaluate 2006 to see what worked, what didn't and where I need to focus my energies. I fear what I enjoy most (nature/wildlife shots) are the least profitable so finding a way to maximize those profits would be great. Hope to increase income as to buy new equipment as needed and pay off student loans!

IMMEDIATE GOALS: Develop logo, get website up and running, get business cards printed and get the word out!

~wee!
01/18/2006 02:44:06 PM · #60
Anyone else done a bridal fair? Its setup like many other trade show's with 10x10 or 10x20 areas around a convention room. We are still receiving all our marketing materials but I've gotten the 16x20's that we'll have in the booth. There are a dozen photogs setup and we expect 600 brides + their friends who tag along. It'll be 5 hours. Anyone have any suggestions? At an industry trade show I'd give something away in the booth that the person could carry out. I'm thinking of offering a 10% discount for anyone that pays a deposit & signs a contract at the event. Thoughts?

Anyone else shown at one of these yet?
01/18/2006 04:13:56 PM · #61
I visited one last fall - the outfit that does it here does 6 or 8 of them around the city. I went to checkout the 'turnout' and what photogs wree doing, disply and handout wise. My most local show is on the 29th held by the newspaper. i have an ad but couldn't get a booth this year. I hope to go and scope it out, i mean the competition. I don't know what the local one is, but the big outfit charges $375-475 for a booth, with discounts for booking multiple shows. Add in the display(prints, sign, alnums) and handouts i was looking at $1200-1500 expenditure to do a show. I should have most of the display items by next year's show so the cash outlay will be a more affordable $400-500.

the one i went to also claims a turnout of 300 to 400 brides. Hard to day, but it didn't look that busy to me when i was there. There were 4 photogs displaying their wares. A couple had lap tops/TVs with slideshows going, a couple did not. All had handouts of some kind - one was a colage of pics on an 8x10 fuji paper print (seems like an expensive handout to me at $1.99 per). One handed out CDs - i have not looked at it (been 4 months...my bad). All had a selection of albums and most had framed prints hanging. Only one booth stood out - a corner set up with the 8' table set an an angle, a wall they brought with hanging pics, their name, spot lights clamped ot the wqall lighting all the pics and their name. the table was overflowing with albums - 6 or 8 of differrent sizes and styles. If i recall they are the ones that gave out the CD.
I will be printing a tri fold brochure very soon from vistaprint.com - tyhey hav a sale now - 250 full color for $75. can't pass that up. here it is Their brochures are nice.

For short run things today i ran to staples..and came home and ordered a printer. Mixed reviews, but at $299 for a color laser WITH DULPLEXING i'll give it a shot, and the consumeables are reasonable ($350 to refall all 4 and hi capacity too). (samsung CLP510)/ I'll report on my take when it arrives, but you can easily print color handouts etc this way for tons less than an inkjet, and it duplexes too! (konica minolta 2430 was my first choice, but the duplex option is $400. the printer is $300 after rebate! hi capacity refills here are $450 and not as much capacity)
01/18/2006 04:20:13 PM · #62
Originally posted by KevinRiggs:

Anyone else done a bridal fair? Its setup like many other trade show's with 10x10 or 10x20 areas around a convention room. We are still receiving all our marketing materials but I've gotten the 16x20's that we'll have in the booth. There are a dozen photogs setup and we expect 600 brides + their friends who tag along. It'll be 5 hours. Anyone have any suggestions? At an industry trade show I'd give something away in the booth that the person could carry out. I'm thinking of offering a 10% discount for anyone that pays a deposit & signs a contract at the event. Thoughts?

Anyone else shown at one of these yet?


' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/6900/thumb/283146.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/6900/thumb/283146.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
This was our setup for BridesWorld. We had two metallic 16x20s, one 11x14 canvas framed and 3 albums plus give away dvds. The dvds are a HUGE hit. The show format makes it hard to talk to anyone for very long tho - nobody will really "stop and sign a contract" 99.9 % of the time. It's just too fast and too "browsing." Our booth was $850 and we spent about $450 getting ready - dvd, new biz cards, the bookstands etc.

Don't try to appeal to everyone - just appeal to who you want to book. What is your ideal client - how will you GRAB their attention?

Message edited by author 2006-01-18 16:23:21.
01/19/2006 12:33:54 PM · #63
I said i'd report on my new laser printer...under 20 hours from ordering on line until i had it in my hands, free shipping too - staples.com. Highly recomended!

As for the printer - Samsung CLP510. For the price, $299, it is hard to beat. Output speed and flexability are great. Output quality is acceptable. The reviews i read are pretty dead on - the print is fine, but not as sharp as my 1993 era HP 4P 600 DPI laser. Better than inkjet though.

For photo printing, which is NOT why i bought it, it will print them. I upsized ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/16648/thumb/278264.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/16648/thumb/278264.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' to 7x5 inches at 600dpi and printed it - 47.5Mb file size (printer has 64mb of ram). Printed no problems. I used plain paper and for office work or handouts or such it will be fine. The image looks decent - until you compare it to the on-screen image.

I got this for general office work and making flyers/handouts. For that it will be very nice to have. And FAST. My old HP is 4 ppm. This beasty is 21ppm black, 5ppm color, single or duplexing supposedly.
01/19/2006 03:10:28 PM · #64
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

I said i'd report on my new laser printer...under 20 hours from ordering on line until i had it in my hands, free shipping too - staples.com. Highly recomended!

As for the printer - Samsung CLP510. For the price, $299, it is hard to beat. Output speed and flexability are great. Output quality is acceptable. The reviews i read are pretty dead on - the print is fine, but not as sharp as my 1993 era HP 4P 600 DPI laser. Better than inkjet though.

For photo printing, which is NOT why i bought it, it will print them. I upsized ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/16648/thumb/278264.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/16648/thumb/278264.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' to 7x5 inches at 600dpi and printed it - 47.5Mb file size (printer has 64mb of ram). Printed no problems. I used plain paper and for office work or handouts or such it will be fine. The image looks decent - until you compare it to the on-screen image.

I got this for general office work and making flyers/handouts. For that it will be very nice to have. And FAST. My old HP is 4 ppm. This beasty is 21ppm black, 5ppm color, single or duplexing supposedly.


I'm in the market for a nice color laser as well. Need something for proofs and to make marketing materials. Anyone else have thoughts on these?

Message edited by author 2006-01-19 18:34:12.
01/21/2006 11:27:35 PM · #65
Sorry for the absense - bit of a burnout on my end.

//www.dpchallenge.com/forum.php?action=read&FORUM_THREAD_ID=335525

I'm not leaving this thread, just so y'all know. :) I'll try to post something tomorrow or Monday.
01/22/2006 12:32:29 AM · #66
Originally posted by wee_ag:



I'm in the market for a nice color laser as well. Need something for proofs and to make marketing materials. Anyone else have thoughts on these?


Check out the konica minolta 2430 (or one of the ther 2400 series). They do nice work and the 2430 is onsale/rebate at Staples till the 28th for $299. The beastly 5430 is at the same price at the moment - refills are pricey for it but last a long time, and it is 21ppm color or b&w. Again, the duplexer is $400. I want/need duplexing so I traded print quality for duplexing. HP makes nice stuff too, but their low end unit is just that - low end. No paper drawer, and to add one bumps the price nearer $600 or 700.
01/22/2006 12:37:10 AM · #67
Need marketing ideas!
I want/need to reach the current HS juniors regarding senior pics. I have spoken with 2 schools and 1 school board member and you;d think I was the first photographer to inquire about asvertsiing access to the seniors!

Does anyone do this, or have kids of the age that get marketed to?
My thoughts...
- direct mail (i can buy lists, but this is not a cheap option - est $1.50/kid for 2 mailings per kid)
- flyers handed out in the school (by home room teachers? not sure about this one)
- posters in the school (would it work? put biz cards with poster, or tear off forms or ??)
- ads in school pubs - yearbook (too late), newspaper, sports programs (what sports?)
- any other ideas?
01/22/2006 09:08:37 PM · #68
We attended the bridal fair Saturday. We generated a lot of interest and have already scheduled some consultations. I met most of the other photographers at the show and must say that the sense of community they had inspired me; I'm going to their next meeting (which isn't the big local meeting but seems to be one for the more professional wedding & portrait folks).

Friday night during setup was a real downer for me as I saw some work there that truly astounded me at one booth in particular. Nevermind that I found out later that the husband-wife team pull down at least 3x my going rate and often more than that . . . their work looked worth it. My wife went back with me to look around and we made some last-minute changes.

Our handouts seemed to be one thing that sets us apart; well, that plus our pricing which looks to be about $500-1000 less than most at the show (and considerably less than others). Everyone who walked into our area walked away with a matte print of our work along with some text and our contact info even if they didn't stop to get a pricing sheet or anything else. That may be trash to the majority but if it nets even one wedding it will have paid for itself and I felt that we looked pretty good with those items. Apparently no one else gave out any pricing at the show. It was nice to have hundreds of customers in a vertical market come by and see the service/products I labored to create and validate that they like the work. I'm including the shots that garnered the most attention as well as a photo of our booth. If we attend the next bridal show (next month) or the Sept version of yesterday's show we will definitely do some things differently in the booth. We'll either go for one of the 10x20' booths ($1150 or so) or pare down to only 2 people as I felt 3 were too many for the space we had. We'll also get our big photos up higher and perhaps frame another one or two. I'll invest in some individual lighting next time, too. It really does make a difference.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/9232/thumb/284744.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/9232/thumb/284744.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/9232/thumb/284746.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/9232/thumb/284746.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/9232/thumb/284747.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/9232/thumb/284747.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Our booth
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/9232/thumb/284745.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/9232/thumb/284745.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

EDIT:
p.s. - The shirt is hanging up 'cause I didn't change until after 'load in'. We also had several brides who came by the booth and checked dates with us and mentioned that they received our flyer in the mail and liked what they saw online. That was encouraging.

Kev

Message edited by author 2006-01-22 21:11:43.
01/22/2006 09:26:06 PM · #69
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

Need marketing ideas!
I want/need to reach the current HS juniors regarding senior pics. I have spoken with 2 schools and 1 school board member and you;d think I was the first photographer to inquire about asvertsiing access to the seniors!

Does anyone do this, or have kids of the age that get marketed to?
My thoughts...
- direct mail (i can buy lists, but this is not a cheap option - est $1.50/kid for 2 mailings per kid)
- flyers handed out in the school (by home room teachers? not sure about this one)
- posters in the school (would it work? put biz cards with poster, or tear off forms or ??)
- ads in school pubs - yearbook (too late), newspaper, sports programs (what sports?)
- any other ideas?


This too is an angle I want to market. I have been thinking about posting an add in the local paper or meeting w/the local schools and requesting to put up a flyers. Even having a drawling. I do have a school gig w/the band next week. I plan on handing out my business card to the students after I am done shooting the group. I am offering a free shot to a friend hows child is a JR in school and pretty popular (another local school). I am hoping his buddies will see it. Now to find a popular JR girl.
01/22/2006 10:53:14 PM · #70
The only marketing programs i know of are an 'ambassador' prgram - shoot a girl and guy for free and they act as your salesman in the school, and a studio here did billboards last year. Billboards can cost $1000 for a month for one.

Kevin - glad to hear about your experience at the bridal show. Was the attendance what they thought it would be? Did you mailing get mentioned by any booth visitors? You say you're priced below the competition - I have heard that bridal shows are aften full of price shoppers - any idea if that was the case?
01/23/2006 10:21:52 AM · #71
Someone on another forum asked me "why do customers choose you?" So I answered and with the time I put into that, I figured I may as well share it:

Why clients should pick me over the "other guy":
---------------------
1) My personality - The other guy isn't as funny or enjoyable on the wedding day. He will likely contribute to stress whereas I will minimize it for the bride, groom, parent and anyone else. Humor cures.

2) The photos - nobody around here is doing the stuff we're doing as far as cross processing this photo, b/w with color that one, high contrast b/w this, etc. We make it very clear up front what our style is by showing them LOTS of pictures and giving away a dvd of our work - if they like our work, it WILL stand out in their minds because it is so different from the next guy.

3) The products - We offer more stuff and better stuff. I've done my research more and better. I have looked into offering probably 50 different albums with 20 different companies. I currently offer 5 different lines of albums, frames, canvas prints, Metallic wallet photos, signable guestbooks - stuff that isn't photo IPOD, but it sure does sell. If it exists, chances are we've seen it.

4) Two photographers - you aren't just getting me! The double-bonus is that Sarah will be there shooting behind the scenes - people tend to forget about her and bang, there's the real candid. I am "the photographer" and she is like a net - we also have a third photographer available in case one of us is sick. We WILL have two there and they will be quality.

5) The whole package - our clients get Picture Infinity Studios. Right now, that may not mean much to anyone who hasn't seen the package, but what our clients do is show their family and friends. They don't say "oh, yea, we booked our photographer" they say "LOOK at this site! LOOK at our engagement photos!" They invite us over for cake tastings (true story), they want to be friends with us as much as we want to be friends with them. They are getting the brand name and the clients who book us understand that. They see "Picture Infinity Studios" as something other than Matt's business name. They see our logo, they see our work, etc. They know that when they get Picture Infinity, they are getting a great deal on someone who won't be affordable for them next year. (we've quadrupled prices in 2 years, doubling each year).

Top 5 that didn't make the list:
- customer service & speed of responses: we NEVER wait 48 hrs to answer email and it's worked everytime in our favor.
- style: every photo that comes out of Picture Infinity has been artist rendered to give it our flavor.
- DWC: they are getting the knowledge base that we have here. If I don't know it, SOMEONE does and I can learn it before I need to.
- ambition: I only know of one photographer, a non dwc-er, who works more than I do. I would guarantee that none of the photographers in our area are trying as hard as we are to make it work.
- the goal: our customers get someone who wants to be THE best. Not someone who is willing to blame the market, etc. Our customers get someone who listens to Gino, Parker, Bambi, Mike Colon, Fong, Mitche Graf, Jeff & Kathleen Hawkins, the Woods', Rob Isacson, Huy... we listen. We keep what's useful, discard the rest. There's a LOT of junk in this business, but there's a lot that will make you better.
---------------------
So that's the answer. It's not short but I fortunately have no trouble coming up with 5 and even 10 reasons people want or should want us. Some are intangible things they can't see. Some are tangible and they KNOW the difference. (5 photogs at the bridal show - 4 are showing Art Leather or Renaissance. One is showing Renaissance, Illuma AND Asukabooks when nobody else knows about Asuka around here - we win that war every time. "yes we can do what they do...AND we can do this."

Our clients basically know "this ain't for real - we can't really get these guys for $2500 can we?!?!?" We try and do exactly what Gino said "whatever package we come up with, I can pretty much guarantee that it's too low for what you're getting."

Ok, I promise to end now.

M

01/23/2006 10:30:13 AM · #72
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

The only marketing programs i know of are an 'ambassador' prgram - shoot a girl and guy for free and they act as your salesman in the school, and a studio here did billboards last year. Billboards can cost $1000 for a month for one.

Kevin - glad to hear about your experience at the bridal show. Was the attendance what they thought it would be? Did you mailing get mentioned by any booth visitors? You say you're priced below the competition - I have heard that bridal shows are aften full of price shoppers - any idea if that was the case?


Ambassador programs are often great I'm told. I have a friend who does mostly seniors only and like 5 weddings a year and her workload is broken up into more manageable chunks AND she's happier overall. So that's cool.

As far as the schools you went to - the question is, are they contract photographer schools or "anything goes" schools. If they are anything goes, you need to talk to them about getting a list of seniors and addy's for some shooting - maybe tie in the prom. I'll shoot the prom, cut you guys in 10% and you get me a list of juniors and to send flyers to so we can both make as much off this as possible and you can get a larger take. Tell them what's in it for them.

Also, if you're a contract school you need more info that we can provide here. Get a copy of Ed Lilley's book - something about How to Run a Successful Photo Studio or something. :) It's a great resource for doing portraits.

As far as the bridal show - we had a lot of tire kickers sure, but since we DIDNT hand out pricing, we hand out a dvd - it has 7 slideshows set to music. It's about 35 mins long and I bet if they watch it, they remember us over the next guy every time. We have had people book us because their friend gave the dvd away after they were done with it.

Kevin - your setup looks good. If you want to get photos "higher" what we did was hang them with wire from our background stand. The wire was hidden by our 2x6 foot banner so it wasn't "ugly wire" hanging. It looked sweet imho and people seemed to love the two metallic photos we had hanging.


01/23/2006 12:58:47 PM · #73
As far as schools - i seem to be stopped at the phone aswering secretary - they don't know who to put me in contact with - the decision maker. When i have been transferred, i get vmail and no return call.
Perhaps I should ask for the Principle?
then ask what...?

Mav- as for you offering every album under the sun - I like the idea, but every salesman/book/philosophy says offer 3 - a high end (which you show first), a middle fo the road (which is what you sell the most of) and the low end product for the tight budget (and it makes the others look better). No one wants to be the cheapskate, so moving up to the middle choice is usually farily easy. By offering only 3 you keep the prospect focused and you can close quickly. You put 50 choices in front of them and they cannot make up their mind - they leave without having made a decision.

You want to see good salesmanship in action go car shopping - the salesman will asess your needs/wants, pick a vehicle or 2 and get you 'landed' on one car. They have lots of little tricks (if they're any good) - they pull YOUR car (they call it that) out from the line of cars to isolate it - to get you focused on one car. They make you drive it - so you can feel like you own it. When you return to the dealership you are told to park in the 'sold line' - again, isolating the car and doing a trial close. The price negotiating stage is as much psychlogy as anything else - the 'games' we all hate salesman for playing. Once you know the game, you can actually enjoy watching it played!
01/23/2006 01:31:51 PM · #74
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

Mav- as for you offering every album under the sun - I like the idea, but every salesman/book/philosophy says offer 3 - a high end (which you show first), a middle fo the road (which is what you sell the most of) and the low end product for the tight budget (and it makes the others look better). No one wants to be the cheapskate, so moving up to the middle choice is usually farily easy. By offering only 3 you keep the prospect focused and you can close quickly. You put 50 choices in front of them and they cannot make up their mind - they leave without having made a decision.

You want to see good salesmanship in action go car shopping - the salesman will asess your needs/wants, pick a vehicle or 2 and get you 'landed' on one car. They have lots of little tricks (if they're any good) - they pull YOUR car (they call it that) out from the line of cars to isolate it - to get you focused on one car. They make you drive it - so you can feel like you own it. When you return to the dealership you are told to park in the 'sold line' - again, isolating the car and doing a trial close. The price negotiating stage is as much psychlogy as anything else - the 'games' we all hate salesman for playing. Once you know the game, you can actually enjoy watching it played!


Chris - as far as the schools ask for the yearbook advisor or leave a message for the student yearbook editor to give you a call back. That will get you past the gatekeeper.

As far as "the salesman's guide" let's put it this way - I know that in wedding photography, Jeff & Kathleen Hawkins offer every line of high end books they can get their hands on - but that's ALL they offer. They keep about 8 styles sitting on their coffee table, have customers flip thru and pick "which" they want. They're ALL high end. But when you walk in the door of Hawkins Photography you know that already.

My philosophy is this - get what you want. I tell the clients - here are the albums we have. "Which" do you like - which would you like in your package? My low end albums I get for about $80 and resell for $400 so I make $320 on them. My middle albums (asuka type) I get for $120 and sell for $600 so I make $480 on them and my high end albums (Pictobooks etc) I get for $650 and sell for $1500 so I make $900 on them. If I sell a low end album, no problem. Decent markup and I'm happy to do the job for my time (well compensated) plus the album (which I sell with almost every package). Honest truth - sales books are often written by guys who .... read other sales books. Jay Levinson is the man. Other than him, nobody blows my mind in this respect. Mitche Graf will teach you to market. Ed Lilley will teach you to manage and Jay will teach you to "git r done!"

I stopped assessing the couple's needs and just ask them - "we can make your package anything you want it to be - if there's a budget we're trying to keep in mind, the more we know about that, the less I'll help create a package that's too low or too high for you." Probably 80% give us their budget without thinking and then catch themselves. "Well we want to stay within $2500" at which point they look at each other like "WOOPS I should have said $2000 so we had room to bargain!" I then create a package worth about $2700 and work with them on tweaking it. If 2500 was solid, they tell me - and if not, they stretch. That's my take. :)

01/23/2006 02:17:42 PM · #75
Originally posted by mavrik:


I stopped assessing the couple's needs and just ask them - "we can make your package anything you want it to be - if there's a budget we're trying to keep in mind, the more we know about that, the less I'll help create a package that's too low or too high for you." Probably 80% give us their budget without thinking and then catch themselves. "Well we want to stay within $2500" at which point they look at each other like "WOOPS I should have said $2000 so we had room to bargain!" I then create a package worth about $2700 and work with them on tweaking it. If 2500 was solid, they tell me - and if not, they stretch. That's my take. :)


I like this concept - how to market it and not sound high end, like a restaurant with no prices on their menu ;)
I'd like to do this for HS seniors, but not sure how to get the idea across. I saw somebody's website - he charges a sitting fee of $35 - good for a year - as many pics/poses/sittings as you want. He makes no mention of his 'other' prices - prints and the like. the first part sounds really good, but you know there's a catch - the print prices.

I like this business model though - could be applied to weddings as well - $500 for photographic coverage. Prints, albums, CDs, what have you is priced seperately - you kind of have to have such pricing (in your mind anyway) to be able to put a total package price together.

Have you had any trouble doubling your prices? This is one area that books and forum posters are VERY outspoken on start where you want to be at, and that raising prices creates all kinds of issues (like referrals that get quoted tons higher quote than last year's bride you shot). Just wondering if this has been an issue and how you handled it? I could 'afford' a cheap year at $400-500 weddings IF i knew doubling that for next year would work. I'm afraid that at $500 the quality of my work be called into question.
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