HOW I MADE $31,112 IN DECEMBER
Plus what my strategy and goals are for next month. BONUS: Questions & Answers at the end of this article!
This income report is special because it officially marks the end of 2016. This past year was incredible. I’ve traveled to islands far away to photograph weddings. Adventured to new places to explore. Photographed new life coming into this world. Taught hundreds of photographers how to create a profitable business doing something they are passionate about. Watched my 8 year daughter sell 11 of her abstract art pieces. Got lost in books. Cheered on my 4 year son while mountain biking. Fell even more in love with my husband. Made the decision to move my family to Hawaii. Lost 40 pounds. Learned more about myself and who I am than ever before. And all that happened in 365 days.
Now it wouldn’t be fair for me to just list the amazing things that happened, when we reflect on our year we often take a closer look at what we didn’t do, the things we would like to change, the part of us that we wish we could have done just a little bit better.
I don’t like dwelling on those things but will take the time to write about what I personally have struggled most with this last year so you all can see, I’m no different than you. I have things I struggle with just like everyone else.
When I first started my business I was awesome at balancing between work and life. The more I build my business the more it becomes part of my life and I struggle with not being able to do it all, all the time. I’m one person and hate the fact that I feel like I’m dropping the ball somewhere all the time. I love what I do, but hate that I often feel like I’m not able to be 100% a business owner, 100% a stay at home mom, 100% the perfect wife, 100% the best daughter, 100% the person who helps others. 100% the best sister, 100% be as excited to see my dog as she is to see me when I get home. 100% the fun mom who plays with her kids all the time and 100% the mom who shows her kids that their dreams are possible if they are willing to work hard. I try really hard to do it all, all the time. When really I should focus on being enough.
For the upcoming year, my plan is to spend more time focusing on the good. On the little and big achievements. The ones I do reach, or even just attempt at and should be proud of. I don't ever want to have a life where the little things don't matter or don't get celebrated because the truth is that those little things usually add up to something really important. I have worked hard in the past years to get to where I'm going, and it's easy to fall into the track of constantly having to push forward and not taking enough time to stop and celebrate. I have many big plans for myself, my family and life and want to make sure that each moment counts. For 2017 I plan to do exactly that. Making every little moment count.
a little bit about me for those who are new...
I am a mother, wife, business coach, product creator, and photographer who specializes in naturally styled portraiture. I started Modern Baby Photography & Modern Bride Photography with a passion in documenting real moments. My passion grew more and more over the years, and I realized that I also loved creating products to help make it easier for me to run my business. I started sharing these products with other photographers, and that's when Modern Market came about. It's now the largest online marketplace for professional photographers around the world with products ranging from pricing tools, marketing templates, blog themes, educational resources and so much more. I love dreaming big and helping fellow creatives turn their dreams into a reality through personal online business coaching.
Once a month I take the time to go over my personal business finances. I write down what I made, as well as how many expenses I had. It's a great way for me to hold myself accountable in reaching my personal goals and showing others that owning your own business by doing something you are incredibly passionate about is absolutely possible.
In addition to writing down my income and expense report, I will also go over what strategies I plan to implement, what I am currently focusing on, as well as my goals for the upcoming month. By reading these income reports, you'll get a front row seat to watching me run my business, so that should hopefully be interesting. Hopefully, I don't put you to sleep with talking numbers and showing you graphs.
The following numbers are gross income from my entire business which includes sales from my online store, my portrait, wedding, and product photography. I look at my business as a whole and have used the same business success steps and marketing strategies for all aspects of my business; these are the same strategies teach to other creatives in my Business Success Class.
Let's jump in!
DECEMBER GROSS INCOME: $30,112
Gross Sales: $29,127 (Net Sales $28,041)
Photography Business Class: $940
DECEMBER TRAFFIC REPORT: 53,438 Visitors
I wanted to add this display graph to show you how increased traffic = increased sales. The problem isn't usually that people don't know how to make more money, they just don't know how to increase what's working and have that translate directly to their income. If you look at what you are currently doing and think to yourself; If I could DOUBLE everything that's working, it would certainly increase your income right? It comes down to being a numbers game regardless for what industry you are in. If you can increase what's working, increase traffic, it will in the end also increase your outcome.
DECEMBER EXPENSES: $13,564
Paypal Fees: $983
Website Payment Fees: $146
Post Planner*: $19
Social Login: $2
Quickbooks Bookkeeping: $29
(Anything with an * next to it is an affiliate link)
GROSS INCOME TO DATE $861,466
(income in graph below is only for January 2015 - now)
FACEBOOK, E-MAIL SUBSCRIPTION, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST GROWTH
- Facebook: 92,360 +1873
- E-mails: 43,200 +158
- Instagram: 6189 +436
- Pinterest: 5035 +190
TOTAL GROWTH: 2657
It was important for me to add this information into my income report because I do use social media to grow my business. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and e-mail subscription is what really made it possible for me to build my business so quickly. If you compare starting a business to the time before social media was in our life, it was hard. Someone had to open up an actual store business to be found and then count on foot traffic and phone books to be found by potential customers. We live in an INCREDIBLE time where we have tools such as social media to make it easier than ever to connect to the right people. I'm sure there's plenty we all dislike about running a business with social media, but don't kick it to the side by underestimating it's potential.
MY STRATEGY AND GOALS FOR NEXT MONTH:
PAYMENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR SESSIONS
One of the big changes I plan to make for 2017 is to offer a payment plan option for clients. My goal will be to have all clients use the convenience of a payment plan. When I first started my photography business I invested every penny I made straight back into my business. The money I made of sessions and weddings was helping me upgrade my equipment, allowed me to invest in better tools to help run my business. I basically counted on that money to just keep my business alive. Later on, I grew my business to be the sole income for my entire family which felt amazing. I no longer had to count on each session to be invested back into my business and was able to put some into my business, some into paying my bills and save the rest.
In the past, my clients always had the option to make payments or pay in full. If they paid in full, it was great, but I never minded them paying over time as long as it was paid in full by the time their session came around.
That part I'm kind of changing around. I want to make it more flexible for my clients to make low monthly payments over 12-20 months and by doing so will increase my package amount as well as create a long-term income from those sessions and weddings. Instead of getting the full amount, I'll get monthly payments for multiple sessions and weddings, and in turn, that amount will continue growing into a larger amount.
Here's a quick look at some numbers:
Portrait Session | Pay in Full $1500
12 monthly payments of $125
20 monthly payments of $75
$1500 for a lot of photographers seems like a lot to charge for a session, but let's say that those clients who REALLY want to book with you, but don't have $1500 to spend in full, would be completely ok with getting their dream session with you, while making a $125 month payment. (you could even make it as low as $75) You see, $75 a month is a lot less scary than $1500 in full.
So let's say you shot 4 sessions per month, 48 sessions per year, and your clients pay you $125 per month for 12 months.
With those numbers, you would be making $6000 per month, for 12 months GUARANTEED. (that's 72,000 a year GUARANTEED)
Payment plans are nice because you see what's coming your way ahead of time. As photographers, we often don't know how much we will make in 5 months because it greatly depends on who ends up booking us and paying us. But by making payment options available, you can easily see how a small monthly amount can quickly add up to a nice income over time.
REDUCE CLASS SEAT AVAILABILITY
2016 was the first full year of teaching my photography business success class; I had the pleasure of teaching photographers and a few unique creatives how to turn their passions into profitability, and it has quickly become part of my own business that I’ve grown to be incredibly passionate about. In 2016 I allowed no more than 30 people per month to sign up for the class, this year I’ve decided to limit it to 10 per month which will allow me to give those who I mentor even more 1:1 attention. It's really important for me to get to know everyone in the class on a personal level. I know there are hundreds of online classes out there to choose from and they often have it as a goal to get as many people as possible to sign up. I also know how many people complain about the fact that once they had signed up for the class, the person 'teaching' was nowhere to be found, wasn't there to answer questions to give people actual feedback on what they were doing. My class material is all online, but the reason it comes with a private group is that I want each person who signs up to have a convenient way to reach me if they need additional help or have questions.
ADD NEW PRICING STRATEGY CONTENT TO MY SUCCESS CLASS
I spent December writing out more marketing material for photographers to use, focusing solely on a strong Remarketing strategy. I won't go into too much detail but remarketing is amazing for photographers because it allows you to instantly 'reach' potential clients who are interested in your service. Imagine being able to connect with every single person who comes to your site. That would make getting the booking process a whole lot easier right?
Imagine there's an expecting mom looking for a newborn photographer, she comes to your site (along with five other local newborn photographers) and loves what she sees but isn't ready to book yet. With remarking you can have your business information show up directly in front of her wherever she goes and gets reminded of what you have to offer. The other five photographers aren't remarketing yet, so she completely forgets who they are. When it comes to choosing a photographer, she remembers you, and books a session!
That was a quick explanation on remarketing, in my photography business class I'll go in much more detail and walk them through the process of setting everything up correctly and show them how they can use remarketing to quickly get potential clients to turn into booking clients.
FOCUSING MORE ON THE 80/20 STRATEGY
The truth is that most business owners will jump feet first into the new year, cheering about 2017 and won't take the right amount of time to reflect on this year. The only way you can grow into the direction you want to go is by taking a close look at what you did this year, find out what worked, and find a way to put more focus on what worked, and remove what didn't. Make a list of the services and products you offer. If you're a photographer you'll want to make two lists. One for sessions you offer, and one for the products you offer.
Next, you'll need to look at how much you made from each type session. (write down how much you made in 2016 on just newborn sessions, baby sessions, maternity sessions etc.).
Once that's complete take a close look at your stats. You'll see something pretty important in those numbers and that is this:
80% OF YOUR INCOME CAME FROM
20% OF YOUR SESSIONS
What does that even mean?! 20% OF YOUR HUSTLE ACCOUNTS FOR 80% OF YOUR RESULTS
If you have 10 different sessions, the top 2 sessions brought in 80% of the money.
And the other 8 only brought in 20% of the money.
If you KNOW what your top 20% is, you'll be able to spend more time promoting that and in return bring up sales for next year. The truth is that a lot of business owners spend too much time on their 80% which is only bringing in 20% of their sales. This happens because most people have no idea what their "top 20%" is. I know it's a little time consuming, but take the time to write it all out, take a look and know where your numbers are.
The 80/20 rule also applies to your products. Make a list of all the products you offer to clients, and then write down how much you made on each type. You'll quickly find out what your top 20% is that is bringing in 80% of the sales. You'll know what items 80% of your clients want, and you'll then be able to promote those items to potential clients as well.
The game is simple. Find out what you love and what works; promote that. Find out what isn't working and remove it.
If you love fun stats like this you'll love my long list of examples for photographers showing how the 80/20 rule works. You can read the whole list here.
Here's a few of my favorites:
CLIENTS & BUSINESS
80% OF BUSINESS COMES FROM 20% OF YOUR CLIENTS
Figure out who your top 20% clients are – these are your superstar clients!
80% OF YOUR NEW CLIENTS ARE REFERRED OVER BY 20% OF YOUR CURRENT CLIENTS
Who are your top 20% referring clients? They bring in over 80% of your NEW clientele!
80% OF CLIENTS COME FROM 20% OF THE BUSINESS REACH
What is your top 20% business outreach strategy? It is bringing you 80% of your clients!
80% OF COMPLAINTS COMES FROM 20% OF YOUR CLIENTS
Unhappy clients are hard situations to deal with but realize that it’s only 20%. (Although in the moment it might feel like 80%)
SALES & SESSIONS
80% OF SALES ARE GENERATED BY 20% OF YOUR CLIENTS
This is KEY – Who are your most loyal clients? They generate 80% of your sales!
80% OF YOUR BOOKINGS COME FROM 20% OF YOUR SESSION TYPES
What sessions do you book most of? It accounts for 80% of your total bookings!
80% OF PRODUCT SALES COME FROM 20% OF YOUR PRODUCTS
What are your BEST sellers? Those items account for 80% of product sales!
80% OF REVENUE COMES FROM 20% OF YOUR CLIENTS
Again – Who are your BEST clients? They account for 80% of your entire business revenue!
BONUS: READ THE QUESTION & ANSWER SECTION BELOW!
Want to save this article for later? Pin it to Pinterest!
Turning dreams into reality is my specialty! This class is for photographers who are truly ready to build the business of their dreams and learn the important steps in developing a strong business, brand, and client base. When I first start my photography business, I had to learn a lot of important things by trial and error. After years of building a business of my own, I'm excited to share all my business knowledge with those of you that are ready to build something you are truly proud of. Something that will make you independently strong as a person and as a business owner. If you have a dream and are willing to work hard at it then you'll absolutely love this class -- It will completely change your life.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
I thought it would be fun to also add questions into these income reports because many people had asked questions on the last one I posted on Facebook. I'll add some of the ones that were often asked as well as those that were asked before posting this. As always, I love talking about business and if you ever have any questions send them my way!
What to include in print packages (strategically)?
Anything you love. There's a huge difference between people who "sell" something they love vs those who are trying to sell it because they just need to sell it. No one likes a sales person, and people will avoid using people that they feel are trying to 'sell them' on something they might not even stand behind themselves. On the flip side, when you see someone talk about something they love, something they believe in and are in all honesty recommending because they love it, people love it. They see the passion behind it. That person's eyes light up, and you can just see it. I don't care if you want to be a photographer who sells luxury albums, or prints, or one that sells them an online gallery with digital files as long as it puts that spark in your eyes. THAT'S what you want to include in your packages strategically. When you sell something you love yourself, it basically sells itself.
What does your "sales" category involve?
The sales numbers are gross income from my entire business which includes sales from my online store modern market, my portraits, weddings, and product photography. I look at my business as a whole and have used the same business success steps and marketing strategies for all aspects of my business. The way I currently have it set up is that anything I make that is paid through my site is reflected in the sales amount. ( this is anything from digital products, physical products, portrait sessions, weddings, etc.) I do list my Photography Business Class income separately because I currently have that set up separately so I don't have to go in and dig around to find out specifically what I made of one type of item. I am in the process of separating income earned from portraits and wedding, but it's all mixed currently.
How do you find your clients? I started photography at the beginning of the year, and my main source for getting clients is thumbtack.
Word of mouth and Facebook. I built my client base quickly with creating loyal clients. It's always amazing to look back and see how everything is connected. This is one of those things that most photographers struggle with, and I enjoy teaching that strategy to those who are in my Photography Business Success Class. Facebook has also been amazing, especially when it comes to finding people in new places. It seems like anywhere I go, I can easily connect with someone new, and that's thanks to Facebook making it easy to have a way to connect with people around the world.
How many sessions made up that $40k???
Answering that will require a little more information. The income earned this month from sessions isn't necessarily from sessions I shot in the month of November. My clients have the option to pay in full, or make payments over a period. Often they choose to make payments which work out perfectly for them and me since they have the flexibility of making payments over time. Any income that was made in the month of November from portraits or weddings could have been from clients in the past year, or those in the upcoming year. I actually shoot very little during the November-December time frame. I used to be completely swamped with work during these months and had a really hard time enjoying my own family during the holidays. I decided that instead of being overly booked during November and December I take that time to do more work for my store and business coaching which I can do 100% on my own time at home.
When is your next class?
The class is 100% online and available every month. I do accept a limit amount of people into the class each month to make sure that to get started they can get enough attention from me personally and so I can make sure to answer all their questions as they take the class.
Is this a 12-month program or do you purchase a download?
Absolutely not. Building a successful business takes time, that's why the class material, community, and personal support will be there forever. You can sign up for the class with a monthly payment of $37 and get instant access to all the class material and then pay off the class over 12 months while you see real results. This way you're literally able to apply the steps, grow your client base and have the class pay for itself over and over again.
Is that sessions only? How long were you a photographer when you started making this much per month? Was it a slow steady progression or did success happen suddenly?
No, sales include all income earned from portrait sessions, weddings, products, online store and business coaching. I jumped into photography in 2009, and started my business in 2012. I tried a lot of different things to get my business off the ground until I decided to really fine tune what worked for me personally and then built onto that over the years. At first, It was definitely slow and steady and required me to put a ton of time into trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. Once I figured it out and saw that it worked it was easy to implement those strategies, and it quickly helped my build my client base and allowed me to grow my business to what it is today.
What is the price of your sessions?
My regular portrait sessions are currently $1500. I like to keep my pricing simple and only offer one all inclusive session for all types of sessions I offer.
What do you use for bookkeeping?
I use Quickbooks, and my accountant handles all the official filing and making sure everything is being done correctly.
Do you make this much because you do IPS?
I've actually never done in person sales due to having clients that will come see me from anywhere from 3, 5, 10+ hours. Having them come back to view their photos would be a lot to ask. I think it's a beautiful structure for photographers, but I love offering my clients and all inclusive session which includes their digital galleries. Often they will purchase additional products such as professional prints after their session which is all done online. I've taught a lot of photographers who offer in-person sales, and plenty who offer all inclusive sessions. I really believe that as long as a photographer sells what they love, building a strong income with it is totally possible regardless of someone choosing to do in person sales, or all-inclusive digital packages.
How do you find clients willing to pay what you charge?!
By creating work I loved myself. Everything changed when I started creating worked based on what I loved. I spent more time doing casting calls and shooting sessions for free and had full control in making the sessions how I had them in my head. Once I was able to show the vision I had, I was able to find clients who loved it as much as I did and saw the value in my own work. Often photographers struggle to find clients who value their work because their not yet creating work that they love and value themselves.
Ins and outs of Facebook advertising!!! Does it work...how much revenue came from that advertising specifically?
I might need to make a special class for those that are interested in learning more about Facebook advertising specifically. There's so much that goes into it, and it's a very easy to do incorrectly. Does it work? Only if you put in the heavy lifting before ever spending a pretty penny on advertising. Many people think they can open a business, put a quick ad together, add some money to it and will instantly get a return from it. If this were the case, everyone would use Facebook ads and see amazing results. So when do Facebook ads work great? When you build a business correctly, and have a well-rounded business plan in place based on strategies that are proven to work. Any type of advertising will only amplify what your current business is doing. If your business is doing good, it will do better. If your business isn't doing good, you'll end up losing a lot more money.
Here's an example for photographers:
Photographer A has a business, their work is good, their pricing is set up correctly, and they are slowly but surly building their client base with strategies that work. If this photographer continued everything they were doing, and then created an ad to promote they could AMPLIFY what's already working for them.
Photographer B has a business, their work isn't yet where it needs to be, their pricing isn't nearly where it should be, they have no idea how to get more clients to their site, let alone to book a session with them. If this photographer continued everything they were doing, and then created an ad to promote they will simply waste a lot of money on a strategy that wasn't working, to begin with.
Sorry for the super long answer on this one, I really love teaching about business and the importance of setting up a business up currently, this way any type of advertising can help someone boost their results.
What advertising strategies have worked best for you and which ones are not worth the ROI?
I have tried everything from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Ad words and always come back to Facebook. I think this will also depend on what you are selling, and who your audience is. Personally, I have used Google ad words and did not find that to have a very great ROI, but that's not to say it wouldn't work great for someone else.
When do you know it's time to increase your charges?
Most photographers (me including) start their business not knowing anything about pricing themselves correctly. It's one of the hardest things new photographers will face and sadly it's something that ends up sticking with many photographers for years. After getting to the point of creating work you love and see the value in it yourself you should price yourself 100% based on personal goals. READ ARTICLE ON PRICING HERE When you have your pricing aligned with your goals you'll guarantee keep building your business until you hit those goals without ever having to double guess your pricing. Eventually, you'll get to a point where instead of raising prices to connect to the right clientele, or to reach goals you might end up having to raise prices simply due to demand. If you are "running out of time" for sessions which is a good problem to have you might want to raise your prices to actually slow down bookings. And remember, just because you are slowing down bookings doesn't mean you are making less, most likely you will probably end up making more at this point. Check out the Pricing comparison sheet to read a little bit more.
What is your main marketing tool?
My main marketing tool is word of mouth and Facebook. My most important marketing tool is all of it. When it comes to marketing, it's crucial to never put all your eggs in one basket because you have no idea what might happen. Your #1 marketing strategy is to use many different types of marketing tools that all lead back to your website. You should be using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Email newsletters, your website SEO, everything that's out there to build content that will bring potential clients straight to your site. When you use all marketing tools at once, you'll see the best return and know you can fully count on any future changes that might arise from different marketing tools.
Can you tell us sometime about how you got started? (Financially) Right out of college and into marriage and I have zero funds! How long did it take you to start your business and make it stable?
Of course! Like many photographers, I got started when I had my daughter. I fell in love with photographing her and quickly fell in love with portraits. Photography is amazing because it's something you can jump in with very little. It's also the most frustrating feeling knowing that a better camera body, or upgraded lens could help you get to the next level and not have the money for it. It's also a little painful when your own dad loves photography as well and has multiple high-end camera bodies and lenses that he lets you play with. You can literally see the difference and then put it aside because there's no way you could spend that much on a camera and lens. A big bonus with my dad was that he gave me his used Nikon D300 (it's like $250 used) and a 50mm. I shot with just that one camera and lens for a LOOOOOOOOOONG time. I mean a long time. My clients would look a little confused with me showing up with one camera and lens (totally left my camera bag in the car...oh wait...no...this is all I have) I rocked that camera and created some great work it. Work I'm still proud of that work today. I never let a 'cheap' camera stop me from growing as a photographer. Eventually, I booked enough clients and was able to upgrade my gear and then, later on, made the switch over to Canon.
My advice for you? Use what you have. If you want to shoot portraits, get a good prime lens like the 50mm and rock it until you can upgrade. Learn as much as you can about posing, lighting, and create work you're proud of. Don't let the limitation of having high-end camera bodies or lenses stop you in creating beautiful work because it's totally possible.
Now let's also talk about when it's time to upgrade. If you're creating great work, booking more clients then spend the money and get that dream camera body and lens. You deserve it! Expensive camera gear won't make you an incredible photographer, but if you're a great photographer and then upgrade to your dream camera or get that lens you've been swooning over it will help you create more beautiful work which will, in the end, allow you to attract more clients.
Are the Facebook ads that are successful the ones you are using to market to other photographers or for actually booking photography clients?
I have used Facebook ads successfully with promoting all my photography sessions, weddings, workshop seats, products for photographers, online classes I teach, literally anything you could think of, I've tried and tested. I've found facebook adverting to work wonderful if it's done correctly and targeting the right people.
That sums it up for this months income report and Q&A. I had a lot of fun answering all those questions so if you have any at all, feel free to leave a comment below, or in a comment on facebook, or message me personally on facebook, so I can be sure to answer it in the upcoming income report!
Turning dreams into reality is my specialty! I teach photographers and creatives how to build their dream business. With strategies they can implement right away to build a striving business that has an income they can count on! This class is for photographers who are truly ready to build the business of their dreams and learn the important steps in developing a strong business, brand, and client base. When I first start my photography business I had to learn a lot of important things by trial and error. After years of building a business of my own I'm excited to share all my business knowledge with those of you that are ready to build something you are truly proud of. Something that will make you independently strong as a person and as a business owner. If you have a dream and are willing to work hard at it then you'll absolutely love this class -- It will completely pay for itself over and over again after implementing my business plan and strategies!