HOW I MADE $43,258 IN NOVEMBER
Plus what my strategy and goals are for next month. BONUS: Questions & Answers at the end of this article!
So excited to publish my second income report. I really wish I would have started these a long time ago. It's a great way to put more thought into the upcoming month by simply reflecting on the last month. By making this information public, I hope that fellow photographers, entrepreneurs, and business owners can follow along and get inspired to pursue what they are passionate about. I manage every aspect of my business myself. I do not have a team that works for me or an assistant to help with the little things that need to get done. Everything you see is done by me personally. I hope that these income reports help inspires entrepreneurs to go after what they love. Remember, anything is possible with the right type of plan
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!
NOVEMBER GROSS INCOME: $43,258
Gross Sales: $42,971 (Net Sales $34,882.15)
Photography Business Class: $185
NOVEMBER TRAFFIC REPORT: 57,677 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. In the month of November, I did run a big four day long sale, which ended up bringing up the total amount I made, without really increasing traffic. When you're looking at trends, and it doesn't fall into the 'norm', it's always important to figure out what made it act differently. Sales can increase sales but might end up not changing your overall traffic much. In my Photography Business Success Class, we talked a little bit about how to run sales as a photographer.
If you're a photographer who isn't yet fully booked then offering a discounted rate on sessions is a great way to pull in more clients and fill out your booking schedule. With this sort of thing, you need to be very careful, and I would recommend limiting the amount you end up discounting or cap a number of sessions you'll book at a discount. The problem is that 'discounted prices' won't end up hitting your personal income goal at the end of the year. If you OVERBOOK discounted sessions, you might find yourself busy, but not making much which isn't what you want. Our goal is to get you booked solid at full prices.
If you're a photographer who is booked pretty solid and don't need the additional bookings, then what you should do for a big sale is offer discounts on PRODUCTS. Make digital files, albums, frames, prints, canvases discounted. You can make a lot of profits by selling all past clients some of their favorite photos in a new form. Often other companies are also having sales so if you get clients to put in more canvas orders during Black Friday, you can usually make more profits on it because the canvas company you use, is probably also having a black Friday sale. Win-win for everyone!
If you're a photographer, or any type of business that is selling a service, then try to find a way to discount products, not your actual service. You'll be able to make more because you won't have to cap it at all, and you can give that awesome promoting to all past customers which make it even better.
Now you'll also see that there was a HUGE spike in September, but sales stayed about the same. This is because of a blog post I wrote 30 EMOTIONS EVERY PHOTOGRAPHER CAN RELATE TO and it gave plenty of people a good laugh. I wrote it out of complete boredom one day avoiding a long to-do list, and it ended up increasing my traffic (which will help me get ranked better). But aside from that, it didn't get me any more clients or customers. I had a blast creating it so that spike in traffic was really just a fun bonus. Remember to add a little mindless fun into your work schedule.
NOVEMBER EXPENSES: $11,751
Post Planner*: $19
Paypal Fees: $998
Website Payment Fees: $196
Social Login: $2
Quickbooks Bookeeping: $29
(Anything with an * next to it is an affiliate link)
GROSS INCOME TO DATE $831,354.02
(income in graph below is only for January 2015 - now)
FACEBOOK, E-MAIL SUBSCRIPTION, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST GROWTH
- Facebook: 90,487 +1906 🎉 Yay for hitting 90K!
- E-mails: 43,040 +10,675
- Instagram: 5753 +210
- Pinterest: 4845 +245
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:
REVAMP PRICING BY HIGHLIGHTING PAYMENT OPTIONS
In the past years of having a photography business, I always made it possible for my clients to make payments, as long as it was paid in full before their session or wedding. I'm currently fully revamping all pricing to reflect only payment options. I want potential clients to see that hiring me as their photographer is possible because they can make smaller payments before and after their session. For the past years I always high lighted my all inclusive session price. My plan now is to re-structure my pricing to highlight their options a little differently. The way I look at it is this: a potential client might not have $1000 for a family session upfront, but they would be able to pay $84 a month for 12 months. In the end, they are paying the same amount, the one is in their budget, and the other isn't. Since many of my clients are already taking advantage of making payments vs. paying in full I know, this will only do more good.
CREATE STRATEGY ON BUILDING NEW CLIENT BASE IN HAWAII
This is the FIRST time I'm moving my entire business to a new place, and was going from Florida all the way to Hawaii. I don't have any family there and literally only know a couple of people there. This is something completely new for me to learn because I'll have to build a new client base from scratch. When I get there my goal won't be to open shop and start building my client base right away. Instead, I would like to explore enough and shoot on my own to find some beautiful locations first. I don't know what about Hawaii but my shooting style felt so different when I worked there. It will be interesting to see what my work ends up looking like and I can't wait to start exploring new places and connect with new people. I think anytime a photography business moves to a new location it's important to really explore that place. My favorite locations here in Florida are off the beaten path, and I'm sure the same will be for Hawaii. Building a new client base in a new location will be 100% built on creating new work, showcasing that new location.
FINISH NEW WEBSITE
My photography site is getting an overhaul right now, and I am planning to launch it in soon, my goal was to launch it in November but that didn't happen with how much other stuff I had done. It takes so much time organizing a site and making it as efficient as possible, and I'm super excited to get that big project completed. It's one of those things that is really time-consuming but soooo worth it. For anyone who's worked on their own site you can completely understand how much goes into. Since I have so many aspects to my business it's really important for me to have a way that they all go together.
ADD MORE CONTENT TO MY PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS SUCCESS CLASS
One of the main reasons I moved my Photography Business Success Class online was to make it more convenient for photographers to learn the ins and outs of running a successful business. Another big reason was because I wanted to have the option to easily add more content to the class when needed. I'm constantly learning new things, and social media is always changing. It's crucial for me to keep the class up to date, so those taking the class get the latest, most relevant information. When I learn something new that works, I find a way to add the new material to the class. With that said, there's a few new topics I want to add which will be added to the online class as well as shared in the private online Facebook group. (those that are in my class are also part of this private group because I want them to have a place to ask me questions.) I've met some incredible photographers in the group and being able to see them put in the hard work in learning the important steps and making real changes is so rewarding. If you're currently in the class, keep an eye out for that new content, it's coming!
SURROUND MYSELF WITH DREAMERS
I got to chat with someone super awesome about an upcoming business opportunity. It was so funny to talk to a complete stranger and fully 'get them' and their ideas. It's a fellow entrepreneur who loves to think big. I love talking to people who dream big and are fully invested in going after what they are passionate about. I can't talk about the idea itself but what I did want to write about is the importance of surrounding yourself with people who make you feel like someone. The ones that don't make you feel crazy for thinking something is possible just because it hasn't been done yet. The people who are cheering you on and excited for what your doing. Surround yourself with the dreamers, and learn to walk past those who tell you that you dream too big.
COMPLETE ADDING NEW PRODUCTS TO MODERN MARKET
I also have some big plans for the online store which is now also selling Nikon and Canon gear. EEEEKK! Every day I get messages, comments and emails asking for camera and lens advice and I realize that it's probably largely due to how other stores are set up. I know for myself, I always had a hard time deciding on a lens because I didn't know how it would shoot. My goal for Modern Market it to carry all the top portrait lenses, and write up information on each item on what I personally love about it. This way when someone is in the market for a new lens, they will have more than just camera specs to help them along. My goal is to make Modern Market the online local camera shop portrait photographers feel comfortable in finding the perfect lens or camera. Another problem I was hoping to solve is the high cost of photography equipment. I know when I started out it was so hard to get my hands on gear and I wish there would have been a way for me to have more flexibility in paying for the lens. I recently added the option to use Paypal Credit for those expenses lenses and cameras which mean people will have the option to use that at checkout which will make it possible for them to pay for the gear they love with smaller monthly payment. It will be interest-free for the first 6 months so it's an awesome option for those who would like to have more time to pay it off. If you'd like to read about which lenses I recommend and see shots taken with specific lenses then take a look at the Canon Lenses section!
FIND NEW HOME WITH POTENTIAL STUDIO SPACE IN HAWAII
Our house is officially on the market, and this is literally the last thing we have on our list to do before making the jump over to Hawaii. While our house in on the market I've been scoping out different areas in Hawaii that we would love to move to and what I would love to find is a home that can also have enough space for another in-home photography studio. Our current home has a ton of outdoor locations to shoot at, including a beautiful all white barn but with a full wrap around porch, it's really removed a lot of natural light. I miss having that cozy in home space that's filled with gorgeous natural light. We have no idea how long it will take to sell our current home, but I'll be house hunting online all month.
FIND NEW HOME WITH POTENTIAL STUDIO SPACE IN HAWAII
SWITCH GEARS OVER THE UPCOMING MONTHS
Since we are in the middle of planning a move which is 100% dependant on how long it takes us to sell out house, I have to switch up my business strategies. I'm not yet able to start booking clients in Hawaii, but also have to be careful on how many clients I take on right now. I'm greatly limiting bookings simply because I have no idea when we will actually be moving. It could be as soon as January. I have always booked months in advanced and I'm not able to do that right now. With that said, it's nice to have multiple aspects of my business that I can focus on. From now until our official move I'll be focusing more on the store, and will only take on sessions until January. (and then extend it if our house still hasn't sold). Once we made the move I'll switch gears again and turn the focus back around, location scout a ton and start booking clients there. I'm already beyond excited about living by the beach and being able to offer more sunset sessions. Beach sessions is something i've been wanting to offer more of. Right now it requires me to drive two houses to the beach, shoot for about two hours and then return home which takes another two hours. (about 6+ hours total just to shoot the session) and I'm REALLY looking forward to having stunning beaches to shoot at that will be a quick little drive. It will allow me to offer more of those sessions which I'm so excited about and I can't wait to get back into a routine of having sessions scheduled for months in advance!
BONUS: READ THE QUESTION & ANSWER SECTION BELOW!
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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.
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!