Are You Taking Care of Business?

We know that you’re doing business.  The evidence is everywhere.  You sign contracts, shoot jobs, process images and deliver products to customers.  But are you taking care of business?  Are you keeping in touch with customers the way you know you should?  Are you getting in touch and spending time with people who can bring business your way?  Are you keeping up with your blog and Facebook page?  Are you taking care of business?

Successful photographers may not necessarily be better artists or technicians than their counterparts, but they do know what they are selling and what it means to be taking care of business.  What they are selling is a personal relationship with their customer, and that can’t be done sitting in front of your computer, no matter how late you stay up.  They understand that taking care of business means getting up out of the chair and out the door.

Yes, your blog and Facebook page are important, but they are tools in the on-going effort to build a successful photography business.  To sell yourself as a photographer, you have to get out and let people know you as a person.  My father, a traveling salesman all his working life, once told me: “You will never sell your products until you sell yourself.”

Great, so how do I get all of my work done?   That’s a good question, but if the work is not related to marketing and selling yourself as a photographer then it might be time to re-prioritize how you spend your time.  Here’s a useful exercise:

  1. Make a list of all of the things you do for your business today other than shooting jobs.  Use broad categories like the following:
    1.  Marketing
    2.  Direct Sales
    3. Customer Relations
    4. Customer Service
    5. Post-Production Image Work
    6. Order Fulfillment
    7. Accounting & Administration
    8. Training & Education
  1. Now list them in order of how much time you spend on them.  If your top four don’t include a. through d., then you might want to change that.  It will help your business because these are the activities that lead to revenue.  The next three reduce costs but don’t build the business.  Training and Education is a cost you have to incur, so allocate it wisely.   Use it as a marketing opportunity whenever possible.

It may seem counterintuitive to pay someone else to do work that you are perfectly capable of doing just so that you can fill out a few note cards and attend a few receptions for event planners.  This is especially true if business isn’t what it should be and you need every penny you can squeeze out of every job.

Understood, but think about this:  If you could spend just another few hours selling more prints and other products to existing customers you could more than pay for any post-production and order fulfillment that you are now doing yourself.  You don’t even have to bring in any new customers – you just need the time to cultivate the ones you already have.

Happy customers lead to new customers, so there is an additional benefit to refocusing your efforts away from those things that don’t make you money and toward those things that do.  Then you can say for real that you’re not just doing business – you’re taking care of business.

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Comments

  1. You are exactly correct! When you’ve developed a good reputation as a quality photographer – sometimes – just getting out among people is a great marketing/sales tool. And if you’re sporting a camera – that helps ‘market yourself’ even more. I recently purchased a Nikon waterproof point and shoot that hangs around my neck like a pair of glasses. It is black like my big Nikon DSL – yet very tiny. I have a painful spinal condion so my plan was to use the 16M baby camera for non-paying volunteer ‘snapshot’ journalistic photos yet found it is an ideal marketing tool. It is both a great conversation starter and reminder for prospective clients. And when my friends ask – where’s your big camera – I enjoy saying – I only bring it when I’m getting paid!

    Bottom line – Jerry’s point is spot on – I seriously thought about not attending a large band party this weekend because I had work to do… but went (wearing my baby camera) because I wanted a few photos for a newsletter and wanted to listen to the band. I wasn’t feeling up for it socially – yet – was cornered by two people in a matter of minutes after arriving. One is a friend of a good client and another a cousin of a different good client. They both had made a decision to invest in family photography – but the timing of seeing me – cemented their choice of ‘the’ photographer to hire. So I picked up two small commissioned natural light group portraits jobs – which is something I don’t even advertise. I’m sure that would not have happened without going to the party. What I don’t know is if the baby black camera made the difference – I’m thinking yes.

    So get out amoung folks – parks, parties, strolls, or other fun events – you just never know you might be asked ‘can I schedule your services?’ instead of having to look for ways to market yourself! The same type thing happened when I was out on another commissioned job (with 20lbs of gear in hand & DSL around my neck) and I ended up getting hired for a huge year long commercial portfolio project… So get out and about (& outsource what you can to PWD). But don’t forget to wear a ‘camera’, your smile, and bring business cards!