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Posts Tagged ‘business tips’

The Juggling Act: Time Management Tips for Busy Photography Moms

To celebrate moms, we took time to chat with a couple of our favorite photographers, Natalie Licini of Je Revele Fine Art Photography and Chrysta Rae of Chrysta Rae Photography, about how they juggle successful photography businesses with raising their family. They’ve shared a little insight into how to get the kids to the dentist and  invoices in the mail, all while keeping their clients happy. Like all moms, keeping all those balls in the air is a struggle. But one that is rewarded with the best of both worlds – time with their children and paying the bills doing a job they love.

Today we’ll see their top five tips for getting everything done like a pro. 

Photo by Chrysta Rae

1) Make – and Stick to – a Strict Schedule

One of the biggest advantages to being your own boss is setting your own schedule. But that doesn’t mean that work has to slide into family time and vice versa. Find a balance between the responsibilities of your business and your children no matter how tough it is, especially when your office is at home and you’re truly never far from work.

Natalie Licini:

I try to work Monday through Thursday and keep weekends free. Each day I wake about 8am, spend time with my children, check email, drink coffee, and then drive to our New Jersey office by 10am. We have two photo shoots per day on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday with Tuesdays reserved for client viewings (sales appointments), usually late in the day to accommodate working clients. Fridays I reserve for accounting at home. Every day I handle client inquiries and questions and head home about 5pm. Every other Saturday is date night with my hubby and every single Sunday we have dinner with my parents, brothers, aunt, and cousins. It’s my favorite day of the week. We just relax, talk about life, and enjoy the company.

Chrysta Rae:

I drop the kids off at school, then I’m off shooting. I can book 1 to 6 shoots a day (once I did 9, but I almost died). While I’m out, I have to find multiple addresses and deal with realtors, homeowners, builders, and managers on location. I help stage, clean houses, make small talk, shoot, and then I scoot to my next booking. I pick up my kids and take them to hockey, or go grocery shopping, or pick up their friends, etc. Both my kids love it and thrive in hockey. And in my schedule, hockey is non-negotiable. They are members of a team, and that has huge value. Nothing interferes with that. And as much as I can, I’m at each practice and every game cheering them on.

Photo by Chrysta Rae

2) Stay In Focus, No Matter Where You Are

Focus on the job at hand. Be present in the moment, and with the people you’re with at that time. Give all your attention to your clients when you’re working with them, and to your family when it’s their time for your attention.

Chrysta Rae:

My main focus is always my boys. Their needs come first. Work is always there, so I just make sure when I’m with my kids, they know they’re my priority. I’m lucky they understand how hard I work, and that I’m doing it to better our lives. And when I’m at work, I build a true bond with all my clients. Simple things like not bringing my phone into a client’s home—it’s easy, but important. They know they’re the only focus I have while I’m with them. I ask questions and talk about my personal life; my clients truly know me and, in the end, they know they’ll get my best effort AND that I truly care about them.

3) Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource

Whether it’s help with the kids and the house, or with the non-photography tasks of your business, know when to hire an extra set of hands or two. Relinquishing control can be hard, but you’ll save that much more energy to focus on the things only you can do.

Natalie Licini:

We have an au pair who lives with us. She helps with the children during the day while I’m at the office, feeding, dressing, playing with the kids, and getting them to and from school. In New York City having an au pair is more economical than day care, which costs 35-50% more. My team helps with editing, printing, writing, and preparing our clients’ orders for pickup. I’ve hired additional staff to write for Je Revele, and we have an in-house editor.

4) Love What You Do

We hear from photographers all day, every day, that they love their jobs. Keeping your heart in line with your hands is the best way to guarantee success, and that you’ll wake up every morning excited about the days ahead.

Chrysta Rae:

The biggest perk of doing photography for a living and raising my boys is they SEE daily that if you love something, you can find a way to make a living doing it. Work should be something that gets you out of bed in the morning, not something you press the snooze button on while dreading the day ahead of you. The bottom line is I do what I love and have found a way to make money doing it, and I also have balance with my family. Being a mom is the most important job in the world, and the most rewarding. I truly think I’m giving them a very big life lesson in finding their passion and empowering them. With enough persistence and passion, anything’s possible—it’s there for them to grab.

Natalie Licini:

If you love what you do, and can pour your heart and soul into growing your business, do it! Don’t let fear hold you back. I’ve had photography mentors over the years who’ve really helped me grow and establish my business. Attend workshops with some of the masters in our industry and you’ll find your skill level improve dramatically.

Photo by Chrysta Rae

5) If  You’re Just Starting  Out

Making the leap to start your own photography business can be the most exciting step of your life, especially if you’re coming away from being a full-time parent, or a more traditional job. Here are two final tips to keep in mind if you’re looking to go pro.

Chrysta Rae:

Set a timeframe. I gave myself one year: if I could pay my bills and still afford a few luxuries at the end of it, I would continue. It started up quite quickly for me; I posted on Facebook that I’d offer $50 photography sessions for families while I was still in school. It was truly just to give me things to shoot and learn “in the field.” From that one post I did hundreds of portrait sessions and, after I graduated, I was confident enough to even shoot weddings.

Natalie Licini:

Network! I suggest networking with your community, business owners, moms, and dads. Always gently mention you’re a photographer and be prepared to hand them a brochure of your work. I have little accordion brochures in my purse that I give out by the dozen, thanks to a suggestion I heard on creativeLive from Sue Bryce. Rather than having someone lose my business card, I give them a brochure so they can see my work immediately. It makes a good impression that helps them make a call to book a session with me.

Do you have your own secrets to running a tight family ship? We’d love to hear them! Add your comments at the end of this article.


About Chrysta: 

My name is Chrysta Rae. I’m a professional interior/real estate photographer working full time in the Edmonton, Alberta area. I have 2 amazing children, Tyson (he’s 11) and Grayden (he’s 10). The boys are in grades 5 and 4, and both play in high level hockey all winter, and both play spring hockey as well. My kids are exceptional people. They’re funny, kind, thoughtful, dorky, and loveable. I love being their Mom.

My family was first. I started photography professionally when my youngest went into grade 1. I have always been a very self-empowered business person. I previously owned a closed captioning business that ended when my youngest son was about 2. With the recession and new technology, the business just slowly died. I was a stay-at-home Mom until both kids were in school… then I needed to fill my days back up again! I had always loved photography and decided to focus my attention on it on a “professional” level. I enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography and devoured everything I could to learn every single thing I could about every aspect of it.

About Natalie: 

I was born and raised in New York City. I reside there with my husband and 3 children. We have 2 girls ages 5 and 4 and our son is 11 months old and already walking. Yay! My daughters are in dance, piano and have singing lessons. It’s busier than it sounds, but we have a manageable schedule.

I opened my business 6 months after my first child was born in 2008. I started photographing clients using backdrops in my basement in 2008. In 2011, I left my full time job and moved to my first studio. Then in 2012, I rebranded and opened our flagship studio in a historic New Jersey Castle.

Your Favorite Smug Tips of 2013

December 23, 2013 2 comments

In the last year we’ve put out a lot of posts on this blog: product announcements, tutorials on taking better photos, tips to make more moolah and articles on how to get the most out of SmugMug.

So in case you weren’t glued to every moment we typed here, we’re sharing one last chance to catch your top 5 favorite articles that you may not have seen:

Festive photo by Rachel McFarlin Photography

1) 5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell

Think your camera is your best friend? Think again! Keep these tips close so that you get the perfect picture in even the trickiest situation. Read more >>

2) How to Make a Photo Blog

The new SmugMug’s powerful customization options makes it a snap for Power, Portfolio and Business account holders to create their own completely custom Pages… perfect for bloggers. Read more >>

3) The Save Photo Reminder

Scared that people are stealing your full-resolution photos out of your gallery? Don’t worry, we show you how you can tell if it’s happening or not… and what you can do to stop it. Read more >> 

4) 5 Killer Locations for Your Portrait Sessions

Bored of the same old look? Try these ideas for fresher, fun family portraits, or with your next photo shoot with any client. The best locations may be hiding right under your nose. Read more >>

5) Guide Your Guests to the Gold

Why confuse your site visitors? We picked some of the best examples of beautiful, easy-to-navigate sites on SmugMug and show you just why they work so well. Read more >>

And since we’re talking about recaps, it only makes sense to share the “top” five of the more subtle articles that deserve a second round in the spotlight! Here they are:

Beautiful Boudoir portraits by Je Revele Fine Art Photography

1) How to Succeed in the Business of Love

Our friends at Je Revele Fine Art Portraiture explain their secrets behind building – and maintaining – a happy client base. Perfect for planning your 2014 portrait and wedding schedule! Read more >>

2) Why Events Are Best for Your Business

If you’re a pro with a Business account, Events are our #1 favorite tool that you probably don’t know about. Here’s why they work, what your customer will see, and some tried-and-true suggestions for integrating them into your portrait and wedding workflow. Read more >>

3) 5 Things Your Client Needs to Hear

Are your subjects happy? Confused? Confident in your ability to get the shot? Here are our pros’ top tips on what to tell your models so that you have a successful photo shoot… and they have a great time, too. Read more >>

4) How to Make your Visitors Feel at Home

Having a great website is more than just throwing some photos up on the web. Here are our suggestions for creating a helpful, pleasant experience for the people who browse your site. Clients, too! Read more >>

5) How to Organize a Photo Walk

Our photo-fiend-friend Scott Jarvie is known for his ability to rally local photographers to get up and get out shooting! If you’d like to take action and inspire your photo-neighbors to go snapping with you, here’s a few planning tips to get you on your way. Read more >>

We hope you have a safe, warm, happy and thoroughly joyous holiday!

Podcast: How to Make Money in Your Basement

October 15, 2013 1 comment

If you’ve ever considered opening your own photo studio for your clients, this month’s SmugMug podcast is just for you.

Studio photography offers a ton of convenience in a compact space.  You’re in total control, leaving nothing to the weather, light, temperature, or anything else that could complicate your interaction with your clients. But renting a commercial space can be expensive. Why not use the extra space you’ve already have?

New Podcast: Having a Home Studio

We talked with family and senior photographer Steve Harrington about how his booming business began right in his basement. He answered questions that you may have wondered about having a home studio, like:

  • How did your family react to this decision?
  • Do you need special insurance?
  • How do you handle marketing of your address on social media?
  • Have you ever had a customer just arrive at your door?
  • Did anyone pass on your services because you were working out of your home?

Photo by Steve Harrington Photography

Listen to the podcast now on our new podcast site! And we hope that those you considering the move to studio photography learns a bit more about the options available to you.

PS. If you’re hungry for more, don’t forget to visit SmugMug’s education site for more podcasts, video tutorials, our live events calendar and tons of articles about photography, running a business, and how to get the most out of your SmugMug site. See you there!

New Online Events: Nature Photography and Making the Leap to Pro

August 22, 2013 3 comments

Making the Leap from Mom to Pro

As the new school year creeps closer, it’s time for many of us to transition back from full-time parent to  full-time pro.

This month’s SmugMug podcast features Clickin Moms’ teacher and mom extraordinaire, Alicia Gould, of Alicia Gould Photography. Like many professional photographers, she started out by taking photos of her family, then watched her hobby blossom into a successful pro business. We sat down and asked her about all the fun and hard work that many women experience when making the leap, and what issues you might face when you start your own new business.

You’ll hear answers to questions like:

  • Do you need previous experience or an artistic background?
  • How and why you should balance your time with your family?
  • How do you judge success as a momtographer?
  • What’s the most important decision you can make when starting your business?
  • What are some unexpected mistakes you may end up making?
  • What kind of equipment is in a successful family photographer’s kit?

Photo by Alicia Gould Photography

Download the podcast right here and have a listen while you put the finishing touches on your latest summer photos. We think you’ll be inspired to take your shooting to a whole new level!

Composing Images in a Natural World

SmugMug Webinar's guest nature photographer, Steve Gettle If you prefer photographing trees to toddlers, join our upcoming webinar, featuring world-reknown nature photographer Steve Gettle.

We’ll focus on the many elements that make up the composition of a beautiful nature image, using hundreds of examples and practical, real world situations. You’ll learn the “rules” of composition as well as when and why to break them. You’ll find out how to see the picture, and how to work a subject to maximize the potential of every situation.

In addition, we will cover how to control such things as lighting, backgrounds, depth of field and perspective to enhance your composition.

Composing Images in a Natural World
Thursday, August 29th, 2013
8:00 PM ET, 7:00 CT, 6:00 MT, 5:00 PT and 1:00 AM BST
Register HERE

Photo by Steve Gettle 

***UPDATE!*** You can watch the recorded webinar on our YouTube channel.

We hope that everyone out there has been having a great summer full of wonderful experiences… and the pictures to prove them!

Is That a Smartphone in Your Pocket?

July 17, 2013 4 comments

The best camera is the one you always have with you… but that doesn’t mean you should just point, shoot, and hope for the best.

In our next webinar, we’ll talk about the explosion of this little thing called mobile photography and how to leverage that more-powerful-than-you-think camera phone. More than just a convenient device in your pocket, your smartphone is a valuable marketing tool that most pros simply overlook.

New Webinar! Mobile Photography with Angie Garbot

This month, we’re talking with full-time Chicago photographer and instructor Angela Garbot, whose professional work spans a variety of subjects from beautiful brides to culinary delights. She was recently featured on CNN.com for being one of the few wedding photographers who work with the ubiquitous camera phone, rather than against it. Because of her insights, we’ve asked her to show us why the versatility and portability of your camera phone is the best thing to happen to the photography industry, how to shoot winning camera phone pics, and how you can harness the power of mobile photography to boost your business.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
8:00 PM ET, 7:00 PM CT, 6:00 PM MT and 5:00 PM PT
Register for this event!

We’ve all got smartphones in our pockets, using them to snap and share on the go. But are you happy with what you’re getting? Do you actually think before sharing those with your friends and fans? If you’re like most of us, you probably answered “No.” But mobile photography is no excuse to take a bad photo! And if you’re a pro, you could be missing out on a vital piece of your business’ marketing plan.

In this webinar we’ll show you how to maximize your built-in camera app functions, introduce you to some powerful editing apps and then discuss how to use social media and your smartphone images to enhance your business. We’ll talk about some do’s and don’t’s in sharing, the importance of hash tagging, ways to engage your clients using your smartphone images, and tips for live-tweeting with images.


See you there!

All photos by Angela Garbot Photography

Podcast: How to Get Paid What You’re Really Worth

June 27, 2013 3 comments

One of the most popular (and constant) debates between photographers is how to properly price your work and know that you’re not over- or under-charging for what you do. We’ve covered this topic before, but like fingerprints, no two photographers are the same. How do you know that someone else’s magic number is right for you?

Pricing Podcast with Dane Sanders

Tune in to our latest podcast with the inimitable Dane Sanders: photographer, entrepreneur, educator and author of countless business strategies for photographers like you. He’s no stranger to helping passionate people find their stride, get their businesses off the ground and turn their love into a lucrative way of life.

In this podcast, you’ll hear answers to some of the most important pro questions, such as:

  • Are you a freelance or a signature photographer, and why does it matter?
  • How do you get past the “newbie mindset” and stop sabotaging your success?
  • Are there any benefits to being new, and how can you leverage the opportunity?
  • Can you afford to accept that next photo gig?
  • How do you charge a fair price without scaring the client away?
  • Why should you trust your print lab?

Dive in to iTunes right now and start listening! Podcasts are the perfect way to give yourself a competitive edge while you’re processing last night’s photos, or while you’re stuck on your morning commute.

Bride and groom in veil by Dane Sanders

Photo by Dane Sanders

We REALLY Want You To Succeed! Listen and Win More Ways to Learn

If you’re hungry for even more photo knowledge, we’ve got a Full Scholarship* to give away for Skip Cohen University’s Summer Session in Chicago, August 11-14, 2013. One lucky winner will get a chance to fine-tune their photo and business skills, meet other photographers and recharge their creative batteries. Read more about the program here.

* Airfare and accommodations not included

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Listen to our most recent podcast with Dane Sanders.
  2. Tweet your most memorable “A-ha!” moment at us and use the hash tag #ahasmugmug

We’ll pick one lucky random winner on July 3rd, 2013.

So keep listening, keep learning and start getting more light bulb moments when it comes to your business!

UPDATE: Congratulations to our winner, Joy Michelle Photography (@joymphotography)! We’ll be in touch with you ASAP with all the info for SCU’s exciting summer session.

How to Create Success with Amanda Reed Photography

May 1, 2013 9 comments

Next up in the lineup of pros we’re tapping to chat with is Amanda Reed, a fun and fearless high school senior portrait photographer. We love her attitude (in addition to her gorgeous images), so we had to ask her how she built her business from the ground up, how she keeps it alive in her tiny West Virginia town and what inspires her to keep capturing those teens at such an important time of their lives. Amanda’s got some amazingly fun ideas for promotion and marketing, too, so read on to see what she says!

Photos by AR Photography

Bright sunny senior portrait by Amanda Reed

What is your niche, and how did you find it? How would you describe your specific style of photography?

My photography journey starts with a personal tragedy that took place when I was 10. When you are 10 you are mostly concerned with Scooby Doo episodes and your bike. Not me. When I was 10 and my youngest brother was 4 he suffered a brain aneurysm. To make a long story short, his life is a miracle. Doctors told us he would not have anything to offer the world, that his life expectancy would be a maximum of 18 years. Damage from the aneurysm was indeed severe. He requires 24-hour care. Epilepsy now wreaks havoc on his body and my now 27-year-old brother will always mentally be my 4-year-old brother in an adult body. So, the doctors were wrong.

When he was 21 and about to graduate high school, he needed senior portraits. Watching my brother be ridiculed, watching him tire after a seizure, I knew this would be a daunting and stressful situation. I told our mother I would handle his portraits. I was always documenting everything with my camera for as long as I could remember. So, I took my brother’s senior portraits. In that moment I realized I captured a moment doctors had told me would never happen and that these images may be all I have to hold on to one day.

That moment changed my life. People recognized my work. My love for photography became more than documenting moments – it became an outward expression of what moves my soul and a journey to perfect this profession.

In 2008, Amanda Reed Photography had legs and of course high school seniors are my niche. It is where I got started, where I feel most creative and where I feel I can have the most impact on a young adult’s life. Growing up in West Virginia it is very easy to be sheltered by our beautiful mountains and heritage. It is easy to be convinced that you will never have more than what your family has. The fact that I still live in the small town of 1500 people I grew up in and have a successful career, that I can travel and experience new places and situations inspires the clients I come into contact with. I want them to know that with hard work and faith your dreams can fly you to places you only dreamed about.

Dark soot senior portraits by Amanda Reed

How did you find your “happy place” in your profession? Did you know how you were going to make AR succeed from the start?

That is a hard question to answer. I shoot from my heart. A few years ago I got caught up trying to emulate what other successful photographers were doing. I spent a lot of time reading blogs, trying to figure out their style and yet I was very unhappy. I began examining my life, my choices. I was working way too much for way too little. I spent half of the night on the computer. I was spending more time with other families than I was my own. My business was running me and I was not happy.

In 2010 I attended my first WPPI convention and learned the importance of a business plan. I came home and went to work on finding me. I stopped reading blogs. I hid every photographer and photography page from my Facebook wall. I developed a business plan. I stopped working weekends. I scheduled work hours from 9 to 5, Monday through Thursdays. I quit relying on sweet light and relied on skill to manipulate and create light. I honed my craft and I found me.

If you want to find your style, turn off the noise, tune out what everyone else is doing and look for you in what you create.

In 2010, the market was saturated with photographers and the economy was in a down turn. Our business was thriving. Every six months it seemed liked I reached a point where I said “go big or go home.” We went big and broke ground on my studio in 2011, by the winter of 2012 we were moved in. Was it scary taking on the debt of a studio when the economy was crashing? Yes, but I knew when the market recovered I would be way ahead of photographers who were relying on nice weather to run a business. While they were praying for warm weather I could master in-studio lighting. Operate on a 12 month calendar of income instead of the 6 month on-location photography calendar. Right now, we are sitting pretty and I could not be happier with our success.

Blue outdoor hat senior portrait by Amanda Reed

Apart from technical skill and perseverance, what do you think is the secret to your success?

I attribute 75% of that to my personality. I am a people person. I love honestly and openly. I know that when you walk into my studio that smile on your face may be hiding hurt and insecurities. High school is a tough time. My high school years were some of my hardest, personally. I want my clients to feel comfortable. We talk personally and comfortably. They are making an investment in my work and I am making an investment in them. I come from a genuine place in befriending my clients. I want every young adult who walks in that door to walk out feeling better than when they arrived. Not only do I invest in my client but I invest in what is important to them. We often joke that I give away more money than I make but I have no problem with that. I give back to our high schools, I rally around them. I want Amanda Reed Photography to be integrated in the happenings of not just my town but my state. If it is a charity event, a sporting event or a simple prayer that I can offer my heart to then you better believe I am going to make every effort to be there.

My essential gear:

  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon 70-200 IS L series lens
  • Adobe Bridge/Photoshop
  • PhotoVision Reflector goes everywhere I go.

Native bear senior portrait by Amanda Reed Photography

We hear you’ve done some pretty fun events to market your brand. What are they?

One year we decided to see how far our fans would go to show their love for AR. The craziest idea would win them $1500 worth of products. My brother kicked things off by shaving my logo into his hairy chest. Yep! Things only got crazier from there. A few examples of entries were: my logo burned into a field, a sleeping baby lying beside milk spilled into my logo, people with backstage passes to concerts having music artists sign autographs to “AR.” All of these were fabulous ideas but the winner tattooed AR on her leg. Those were not her initials, not by any means! We had over 200 entries. Lots of them amazing so it was going to take something big to seal the deal and this did it. I posted every entry to my Facebook account and tagged the entry. When you tag 200 entries and multiply that by their number of friends we were getting maximum exposure. People were waking up to see our page and the craziness going on around it.

This year we are going to prom. Yes, prom. I offered a free session and an iPad mini to the first person to take me to prom. I have no plans of crashing the prom. Only to create buzz, arrive in the limo with clients, pose for prom portrait and be on my way. If you missed out on taking me to prom then you can take Flat AR. It is a twist on the Flat Stanley character. Snap some images with my flat AR persona with you getting ready for prom, family portraits, at dinner, on the dance floor, etc. Whoever shows Flat AR the best time at prom and documents it through images wins $1500 worth of products.

All of these fun ideas create a ton of buzz for our business and our clients realize that we are about having fun.

The promotion I am most proud of is our Annual Toy Drive event. During two weekends in November I will photograph 34 sessions. The cost of these sessions is a new toy valued at $35. Each session lasts 20 minutes with option of purchasing another 20 minutes for another toy donation. Our print pricing is deeply discounted for this event but that still doesn’t stop some clients from ordering over $1800 in products from a 20-minute session. Each year we donate toys to a different charity so that I can spread our love back to different communities who support us. Some of our clients really outdo themselves by donating bikes and electronics to make a child’s Christmas a little brighter.

Archery senior portrait by Amanda Reed

We have to ask: What are your favorite SmugMug features?

High school seniors live in the moment. I believe the faster we can put products in their hands, the happier the client experience will be. That’s where SmugMug comes into play. The ability to link clients to their galleries and the sharing options they have right from their computer or mobile device leads potential clients directly back to me. If I am photographing a charity event or a high school basketball game, the option my clients have for to downloading and sharing the display copies directly from my galleries creates amazing word-of-mouth advertising for our business.

Football senior portrait by Amanda Reed

So, what would you say is the #1 secret to success?

How you define success is very important and my definition should be different than yours. I define my success by the quality of my life and the time spent with the ones I love. It is not about the money, the exposure, magazine covers or speaking engagements. When photography affords me the opportunity to make a difference in an individual’s life, that is when I am most successful. Please do not get caught up in the “do it all” mentality. You do not have to be on the cover of a magazine, have a million dollars in the bank, be on speaking circuit, and have products to sell to the photography industry to be a great example of success.

I believe you have to carry a smile in your heart. When you find you, you find success.

As a final note, I know you are going to visit my blog and website but please do not spend much time there reading about my life and my work. That is how you waste time worrying about the competition. Instead, grab your camera, go find you and find success!

7 Rules to Keep You In Business for 7 Years

April 22, 2013 17 comments

At SmugMug, we’re all about supporting your business and we love to help you succeed. Today’s guest post is by our longtime SmugMug customer and successful full-time professional photographer, Kathy Rappaport. She is CEO (Chief Everything Officer) at Flash Frozen Photography Inc. in Woodland Hills, California. For many years she kept her pencil sharp as an Accountant and honed her Marketing and Operational skills as a VP in Bank Management. She’s a QuickBooks Certified Advisor and consults with photographers on best business practices when she isn’t photographing families, children, dogs and women in lingerie (though usually not all at the same time). So, we were thrilled when she shared her tips with us, and we wanted to share them with you.

By Kathy Rappaport

The US Small Business Administration says that 80% of small businesses fail in the first five years. So what are some good business practices for photographers so they don’t fail? Or better yet, so they succeed? Here are a few of mine!

1) Good Accounting!

If the reason you work is to make money, then you’d better track how much you make, how much things cost, who owes you money and how much you owe the government. My favorite solution is QuickBooks. It comes in Mac and PC Flavors and even Online and mobile editions now. My personal favorite is the Premier Edition (which is for PC) because you can track your costs and customers in detail. There are many good features to the program like customized invoices, sales tax tracking, customer tracking, inventory and product sales. It’s pretty easy to learn and maintain. Take care of your money and it will take care of you! There are other solutions, but, this is reasonable and comprehensive. And way better than a shoebox.

2) Good Pricing!

“My camera is paid for and I love to shoot so anyone who pays me something is my client.” Well, just because people pay you doesn’t make you a professional. A Professional has a business license, insurance and charges money for their products and services. You have to have good accounting to figure out good pricing. A good place to start is to figure out how much a fair hourly wage is for your skill level. Then multiply that times three or four. Why? Your camera will need replacement, your lenses will surely need service, your cost of business (like insurance, props, gas, supplies, your phone, printer , software, internet) are a part of price you charge. Don’t forget some of your time is spent on editing and finishing your work. You need to include saving for your future. Your retirement, taxes, and replacing your equipment. You can add up your costs and figure out a daily/weekly/hourly rate plus time to arrive at a price that will keep you in business.

3) Good Customer Service!

I hear over and over from some so-called professional photographers that it’s not necessary to call customers back or that they wait weeks to deliver work. If they have some miscommunication they send an email. The best thing you can do is be omnipresent to your clients. Respond NOW. Call if there is a problem. Knock their socks off and they’ll tell their friends. Disappoint them and they’ll tell the world. Underpromise and overdeliver. Find something special to say thank you. Maybe an extra print from the merchandise selection of your SmugMug catalog. Even a handwritten greeting card says you care.

4) Have a Good Plan!

Don’t just have an idea and implement it right away. Think about it. Plan it out in the form of a business plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Plan your marketing efforts, your customer service initiative, and your business goals. Make a calendar and a task list. Plan out the amount of money you want to make, how to get there and budget it out. It’s like taking a cross country trip without having a road map if you do things by the seat of your pants.

5) Delegate!

As a solopreneur, you shouldn’t do it all. You do need to get legal advice and accounting advice. You can get contracts online, but, they might not be right for your situation. Same with accounting. You should never take everyone’s advice when it comes to accounting and taxes. They are really personalized. Find out what kind of entity you should be. I hear S Corp and LLC all the time as advice but they really might be wrong for you and cost you big time in the tax department. You might have some graphics skills, but, a good printer and graphic designer will present your work to make you stand out. Maybe you even need to hire someone to train you in how to do something so you can do it properly instead of guessing. I don’t know the first thing about HTML and having an expert handy makes me sleep better at night knowing that everything is right.

6) Do Things the Official Way!

Don’t be a scofflaw. Get your location permits, business license; your DBA, carry liability Insurance, your Sales Tax License, your tax Identification number. Go to your local chamber of commerce or accountant and see what you need to do to be a real business. Not having those things can cause you to have penalties, interest, fines, or expensive legal and accounting fees. If people pay you to photograph, then the end result is you have a business. The IRS says you have to file a tax return if someone pays you as little as $400.00.

7) Market!

Practice your craft. Up your game. Take care of yourself. In your marketing plan you should be out there meeting people both inside and outside the industry. Learn about business just as much as you spend time learning about the latest lighting techniques. Up your game and keep improving and learning. Read good business books. You will never know everything, but don’t stop adding to your bag of tricks. Challenge yourself to reach for the stars. I know you can do it.

In Case You Missed It: The Business of Love

March 27, 2013 Leave a comment

In the eight weeks leading up to the biggest Wedding Photography tradeshow of the year (WPPI!) we’ve been posting up a storm of great posts featuring sage advice, photo tips, and SmugMug tricks all aimed at helping you become a better photographer in the business of love.

We truly hope these articles have been inspiring and educational, whether you’re a seasoned pro ready for the best wedding season of your career, or a beginner looking for ways to meld your love of photography into everyday life.

Here’s the recap, just in case you missed one of these great articles along the way.

R.L. Morris Photography, on the Business of Love

Photo by Lee Morris

The Business of Love

  • Intimate Portraiture: A behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make your boudoir studio truly successful. Guest post by Je Revele Fine Art Photography.
  • Are All Weddings Created Equal? How and why traditional engagement photography techniques won’t work for same-sex couples. Podcast with Kathryn Hamm and Thea Dodd.

The Love of Photography

Your SmugMug Toolkit

  • Privacy Cheat Sheet: We’ve got a number of safeguards that can be mixed and matched to create the perfect bouquet of privacy for you, no matter what you shoot.
  • Print lab Love: You’ve probably noticed that SmugMug offers not one, not two, but FOUR fabulous print lab options, each offering a full array of great print products. Here they are.

Wedding Boot Camp: How to Leverage SmugMug to Make the Most Money

August 13, 2012 3 comments

Pssst, wedding pros! Whether you’re a veteran Smugger or you’re just trying us out, we thought we’d share a few tips today on how to use the powerful features you already have to make your business an astounding success.

You’ll find these tools (and more) baked right in to every SmugMug Pro account, so let’s get started.

Tip 1: Don’t Make Them Think. Or Hunt. Or Search.

It’s important that you do as much as you can from ONE place (your gallery!) so your clients don’t get distracted or lost. Here’s how:

Use a Custom Website URL. You can already pick pretty much any SmugMug nickname that you want, but take it a step further and grab a custom domain to match your brand. SmugMugDomains.com gets you one in just a few steps.

Funnel, Funnel, Funnel. Our Events feature corrals errant wedding galleries into one link that you can share with the bride. This way she doesn’t have to hunt and peck around your vacation pics from 2005. Best of all, she can pick her Favorite photos, put them into a separate gallery and buy prints.

Shorter is Easier. Don’t scare fans away with long links. You can drop any size gallery or photo URL into our Smu.gs link shortener to get a bite-sized link… which is mentally easier to share, too.

Show Them Samples. To tempt their palates, order a few of your best photos in a few of your favorite formats. Showing your clients finished examples of your work and letting them touch, feel and see the quality for themselves makes a world of difference. Don’t forget SmugMug’s 100% guarantee.

Tell Them What to Do. The gallery description is an untapped resource. You can enter info about the photos in that space, but save your visitors a few brain cells by giving them step by step instructions on how to place an order, any limited-time coupons you’re offering, and which sizes and products you like best.

Tip 2: Create Urgency.

Everybody loves a deal, and limited time promotions are the sweetest to cash in.

Limited-time Coupons. Look in your Account Settings to create five different kinds of promotional coupons that get clients buying now. You can create one for each client, or one for your event. Don’t forget to set an expiration date so they can’t procrastinate forever.

Close the Loop: Order Branding. It’s not over even after they buy. You can upload any design or message to be included in the delivery box as a 5×7 Thank You Print. More ideas? Incorporate your contact info, heartfelt thanks, referral details for an upcoming event or even a discount code for their next order. The sky’s the limit!

Tip 3: Be Serious.

Charge a Fair Price. We’ve covered this before but it’s always worth reminding you Pros to be sure you’re charging enough. The more you value yourself, the better your business will be.

Prove Your Work is Mag-worthy. Who wouldn’t hire a published photographer? Our friendship with Two Bright Lights can make all the difference. Sign up for an account, upload some portfolio photos and let them do the heavy lifting.

Marketing: Never Settle. Leverage the power of Facebook and Twitter every time you get published, have a great photo shoot or just want to share a few pics. Carry business cards wherever you go so you’ll never be unprepared.

Tip 4: Resources. We Have Them.

Blurb Books. These make perfect guest books, and let you put your photos into their hands in a way they won’t forget. Blurb’s easy-to-use book building software lets you drag and drop your images into templates, and you get your choice of stunning covers and papers. There’s something for every budget. And every bride.

MOO business cards. Don’t get caught without your contact info in-hand. MOO cards are affordable, portable portfolios you can keep in your pocket, so you’re always ready to show off and share your details. Talk about multitasking!

Photo Albums. Busy? We understand. Our friends at zookie pro and KISS are ready and waiting to slurp your photos and design and turn them into beautiful, perfect albums your clients will cherish forever. All while you sleep, shoot, and get on with your life.

We hope this info inspires you photographers to get out there and be the best wedding pro you can possibly be. And as always, stay tuned for more tips coming your way.

Link roundup!

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