Despite many of our clients initially thinking that we just turn up and press a button*, any photographer knows that the demands on our time are huge, many and varied.
As photographers we are selling our time, not paper or digital files. Clients are buying our expertise and creativity, not a piece of paper. The more efficiently we manage our time, the more money we can make.
1. Don’t be afraid to turn clients away
This seems crazy in the current economic climate, but bear with me. If you can tell by speaking with your prospect that they don’t particularly value what you do and they’re only interested in the price then don’t be scared to let them go. Of course most clients will focus on the price initially so be careful here – don’t be too quick to give up. But, if you spend time talking with them on the phone and the following warning signs continually crop up then it may be wise to let them go:
I realise it’s hard to turn down the money, but the time you’ve saved by not photographing that client can be better served improving your sales and marketing. How many hours would a ‘bad’ client take up if they booked you for a wedding or a family portrait? Anything between 5 and 25 hours? In that time you could have arranged for several more exhibits or referral programmes which will form the foundations of a successful business.
Your ambition should be to be a high end photographer who charges a decent amount. Therefore, not everyone will be your client, nor should they be.
2. Things to prioritise
Start the day with a plan. Prioritise the things that will make you money now, or have the potential to make you the most money in the future. If you find yourself doing things that don’t tick either of these boxes then put them off until you have a quiet period.
So, every morning you want to plan out what client work you’re going to do that day and what you can do to get THE MOST clients in the future. Exhibits and partnerships are the two best ways to get those new clients. They’re also two of the easiest things to put off as they take a bit of effort. But if you take the time to prioritise and execute these initiatives a wonderful thing happens. You’re getting so many enquiries that it becomes much easier to pick and choose your clients.
3. Things to put off
There are several things that distract us from what we should be doing. They’re the mermaid on the rocks, or the chocolate cake on the dessert trolley! They’re fun and they may even make us feel like we’re being productive, but they’re not the MOST productive thing we could be doing. These are just some of the culprits:
4. Improve your wedding photography workflow
Obviously you want to ensure your wedding photos look as good as possible straight out of the camera, but there is inevitably a lot of post processing, saving, editing and organising to do. This video explains how I do it to save time:
5. Don’t take too many photos in the first place
I used to show my family portrait clients between 50 and 100 photos. It took me around 3 hours to do all the post production work. I thought that people would think they were getting better value for money if I took more photos. All it ended up achieving was giving the client information overload. There were so many photos they couldn’t choose which ones they wanted to display as wall portraits in their home. I recommend keeping down to around 15-30 photos.
This is one reason why many clients end up asking for a CD because it saves them making the decision. If you do find you’ve created too many photos then creating a family album is a better solution than giving them a CD. The album will have a far higher perceived value than the CD and ensures you’re staying in control of your work. You see the trouble with CDs is that the client could end up printing them at Boots (or Wallmart if you’re in the US) and the quality will be terrible and your art will be judged accordingly.
Never forget that your time is so precious. Create systems to ensure your time is used as efficiently as possible and is focused on the things that make you the most money, now or in the future.
*Every step of your photography system should be educating your client to the value of photography. This includes important steps like:
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