I want you to really think about what you are doing with your time. Are you spending it on FB and social media? Are you doing busy work but not work that will move the needle in your business?
There are a couple of popular business people teaching entrepreneurs that you need to hustle to make your business work, and you need to “work your face off” if you want to make real money in your business.
I am here to tell you that it is just not true. And I am not alone. There are plenty of successful entrepreneurs (actually super successful entrepreneurs) who feel the same way, that you should not be sacrificing your time and sometimes your health to make your business work.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying running your own business is easy. And I am SO not saying that you don't need to do work… and yes, sometimes it’s a lot of work...and you MAY be hustling and working your face off… I just don't want that to be the goal. I want you to have a plan to get to a place where you don't need to work like that always and forever. I need there to be a light at the end of the tunnel for you.
If you've read to one of my other blog posts you probably already know that I am a big advocate for working less and making more money, and I know you are thinking:
Sign me up- that sounds awesome, but HOW exactly do I work less and make more money?
Let's talk about that.
What I am proposing you do, as an entrepreneur and CEO of your business, is to get yourself out of the weeds. To stop doing “busy work” and spend your time on the things that you should be doing to generate more business and move the needle forward in your studio.
So, updating your images or your “about me” page on your website, or social media maintenance. Those are examples of things that will keep you super busy, but NOT make you more money.
You need to outsource these things. Yes, you do. Now, before you say it, I already know what you are thinking. You are saying you can't hire someone because you can't afford it, or you don't want to give your work to someone else because this is your baby and no one can do it as well as you.
Well, you know I am gonna call you on that.
There are SO SO many reasons why you should be outsourcing the day to day things in your business. The main reason is that if you keep doing the little things, you will never have time for the big things that your business needs to grow.
You already know how easy it is to lose a whole day, updating your social media or editing your images. Hell, editing your images can be days or even weeks. And what is happening to your business while you are editing images from your last shoot? Where are your next clients come from while you are editing? Are they hearing from you? Are you putting out content they want to hear from you? Are you being visible? Do they even know you exist?
Or are you doing what most photographers do, which is, frantically put together a promo or mini session to get some clients in… then you get your bookings and get super busy shooting those clients and managing that. Then you are super busy while you edit all those sessions, then your head is STILL down as you process their orders, and design their albums and send their digital images… then what happens?
You look up and realize it’s been weeks or even months with no marketing done and now that you can breathe after your busy season or your mini sessions, you have no clients in the pipeline and nothing booked in your calendar so you have to struggle to put something else together to get people booked and the crazy busy cycle starts again
I am here to tell you it 100% does NOT need to be like that. You need to have a system in place where you are consistently marketing your business to book clients. So you can be booked consistently.
Once you figure that out, you won't need to have that up and down roller coaster cycles of bookings then crickets.
Take the admin stuff off your plate.
Just do it.
Hire an assistant or even a virtual assistant.
Give them the tasks that keep you busy… and making no money.
I will put together another article on how I hired 2 VAs to do my admin and repetitive stuff for me, for less than $10 per hour by the way.… but this is where I want your head to be. This is what I want you to start thinking about.
YOU should not be doing the “busy” work.
You should be doing the work that will get you, clients.
What sort of work should you give to an assistant? Here are some ideas to get you started, of course, if you are just starting out with assistants, you can start with one or two tasks at the beginning and add more from there are you get more comfortable with outsourcing.
A good basic rule is for you to outsource what is not in your zone of genius. The zone of genius is a phrase created by Gay Hendricks in his book The Big Leap, but I first heard about it from Michael Hyatt, in his book Free To Focus
In any case, the zone of genius refers to you doing the jobs in your business that you are really good at, AND that you enjoy. So there may be things that you are good at, but you really really dislike doing (for me that is editing. I am really good at photoshop and editing my images.. And I have grown to enjoy it, but it is a big big time-sucker, and I don't really enjoy sitting for hours doing repetitive things over and over… and my neck does not appreciate it either… who else has really bad posture while editing? Man- long editing sessions really kills my neck) so I have someone who edits my images for me.
On the other hand, you may have other things that you really enjoy but are not so great at, that could be things like, designing graphics in canva, or copywriting, maybe you are not the greatest at these things, but you do enjoy doing them.. You could (and should) outsource to someone who will do a great job, but you can still keep some of these tasks, or be a bit involved since it’s something you enjoy… just give the bulk of it to someone else.
Working in your zone of genius is doing things you love AND are good at. These things will come easy to you, and doing them will keep you happy and fulfilled in your work.
HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER: There needs to be a balance. You need to remember you are the CEO of your business, and if you tell me that social media posts are your zone of genius, or sending out newsletters and blog posts are your zone of genius, then maybe you need to be in another line of business… maybe your business needs to be based around those things.
If you are a photographer and you want to make money as a photographer, I am going to assume it's because you love photography.
So you should be shooting… and (as a business owner) you should be marketing yourself.
Some photographers I know even have others shooting for them, or in addition to them, but that is a whole other conversation around associate photographers, and growing your studio into a high volume studio… My studio is a luxury boutique studio so what you will hear from me is having a low amount of shoots and pricing yourself higher. For the record, I do a max of 2 shoots per week and make well over six figures. I am saying this to let you know that it is totally doable- if I can do it, so can you.
As you know, or if you are just starting out, maybe you have not figured this out yet, but running a photography business, or any kind of business really, you need to be better at running your business than doing what the business is… so yes, you started because you love photography, but you won't be successful or make money if you don't learn how to run a business.
And so, back to our topic of not working your face off….
Again-You are the CEO of your business. I've said this before but you are going to hear it a lot from me.
YOU ARE THE CEO of your business.
You are the visionary.
YOU are the reason your clients are booking.
Therefore- YOU need to be the one that does the work that will grow your business.
So what are examples of work that YOU should be doing?
Yes, I said it. I know this may not be your most favorite thing… but if YOU are the face of your business, then YOU need to get your face out there. Doing business in person is still the best way-(as a side note: this is also why I insist on doing in-person consultations with clients). When you meet someone in person, they get a much better feel for who you are and if they want to do business with you. So go to those networking meetings, and get out to your local businesses and say hello. Buy their stuff, attend their events, photograph their staff… do the things you know you need to do. Just do it. I promise it gets easier, the more you do it. Remember, networking is an ongoing part of your job- it does not produce immediate results, but it produces real relationships, and if you keep at it, they will last and help you build trust and get clients.
Networking also means attending conferences and other business events…recently I was in California attending a conference for entrepreneurs, and I made so many connections that are going to be beneficial relationships. I have met people that will be on MY podcast, and I will be on theirs. I have made connections to be involved in masterminds with business owners that are making big money, and boing in those groups will help me get ideas on how to grow my business. Running a business can be lonely, and you only have your brilliant ideas in your head...meeting with other business owners gives you access to THEIR brilliant ideas as well- you would be amazed at the perspective you get from these types of conversations from these types of events…. That only comes when you are THERE. In-person.
Imagine the opportunities you will have. Imagine the opportunity I would have missed out on if I was too busy to attend because I was sitting in front of my computer, editing!
Get your message out to your clients. Do that via social media posts and newsletters. I don't want you to hop on all the social media platforms because I don't think you can master all of them… Pick 2 where you clients are… for me, it’s Facebook and Instagram… for most photographers, I think that will be your two… but if you are a senior photographer, you may want to check out snapchat or tik tok, since your clients are younger and are probably hanging out in those platforms.
Facebook for sure, because I want you to start running ads, and no matter what you heard, facebook ads DO work. I can give you hundreds of successful entrepreneurs who use them and they work… I don't expect you to know what to do when running ads… It's more than can be covered in a podcast, and for sure way outside my own expertise.
I bought a course from Easton Reynolds and it is fantastic. Teaches you to step by step how to run ads, and he is a photographer so the course is geared for photographers, which is awesome. I literally go through the course, follow his screenshots on my computer and press pause while he takes me through the steps. Seriously worth it, and I would not have been able to run my ads without it. If you are interested, click here to check it out.
In any case, using your voice and getting your message out with posts and newsletters is key to getting clients to get to know you, which will get them to trust you, and ultimately choose you as their photographer. You want people to get a feel for who you are, and get them thinking that they will want to do a shoot with you… and to do that, you stay in touch.
Content also includes your actual voice… and face-You need to get in front of the camera AND spend some time doing live videos and posts. Yes, I know you may shudder at the thought of live videos, but you need to get on board. Don't overthink it or make it more difficult than it needs to be.
You already know that FB gives priority to videos, and even more, priority to live videos, so just do it.
If you think it’s too hard, its because you are making it hard. Pick up your phone (please clean your lens first) open FB, press the button that says live. Then talk to your clients. Exactly like you would talk to them if they are in front of you.
People will book and buy from, people they know, like and trust. How are they going to know you if you are hiding in front of your computer, stuck in the weeds of being busy every day?
#3. You should be doing your own sales sessions.
I know this may be something you are not very comfortable with, and because of that, you may be sending your clients an online gallery and asking them to choose. Switch to in person sales, and do it right now. IPS is the best way to help your clients make their decisions around purchasing what is right for them, you will sell more and your clients will appreciate the attention and help with choosing. Part of running a business is doing sales, and if you don't like doing it then you either need to start liking it… or at least start doing it so you can get to liking it OR you need to not have a business. Too harsh? Maybe, but you know I am gonna tell you it like it is.
Keepin it real and all
Ok, so getting back to it.
What are some of the things you can get someone else to do for you?
You can even outsource stuff you do at home, so you have more time to work on your business: things like
I just want you to start thinking like a CEO, start giving 10 and 15 dollars per hour tasks to others, so you can make hundreds or even thousands of dollars per hour on new and existing clients.
Does that make sense? Pay someone $10 per hour to edit your last session while you do work that will get your new clients. Which will make you more money.
I know as photogs we love sitting behind our computers and “running our business” I am right there with you. I would much prefer to be in my office...in front of my computer…. In my comfy pants and no makeup.
I understand when you are starting out it’s important to get things going yourself, You may not have the budget to have others do things for you, and I get that as well. We all started there, and I do think it’s important for you to have at least a basic knowledge of how to do things before you outsource them.. But if you are noticing that you are getting caught on the rollercoaster of being busy, then crickets while you market again… then it may be time for you to start looking at hiring someone even for a few hours a week to help with the time-consuming tasks so you can concentrate on growing.
Otherwise, you can only go so far on your own.
Let work LESS and make more.
You with me?