About six months ago, I decided to make a massive change to the way I structured my business. Instead of packages, I moved to having a session fee and a range of product options to purchase after the session. Not going to lie - it has been an interesting six months. I have learned what I have been doing right (and plenty of things that I have been doing wrong!). So I thought I would pull back the curtain and share a few things with you
The biggest fans won’t necessarily stay (and new ones are just on the horizon!)
When I set my business up in early 2020 (I know, terrible timing!) I priced myself at the bottom end of the market (actually, tbh, below the lowest out there). Packages were cheap and I definitely wasn’t covering the time I was investing in my sessions, the editing and prints.
Those first years, I fostered a certain section of my clientele for whom price was a deciding factor. And I totally get that. There have been many times in my life where price was the only factor in deciding whether or not to invest in something.
But, as I mentioned, I wasn’t coming close to covering the costs of doing business (photography is an expensive endeavour) or the time away from the family. I had people who shared my name amongst their friends and were big fans (they will always have a special place in my heart). So I was busy – but I wasn’t getting anywhere.
What I have noticed over these last six months is that I don’t hear from those clients, or their friends, anymore. My model no longer suits them and that is ok. There is no judgment whatsoever. My business just wasn’t going to be sustainable with that approach.
So now, I am developing a different client base. But it has felt like I am starting at square one again - getting my name out there, building the brand and building trust with a whole new group of people.
Trust the process
Ok, so over the last six months I have gone back and forth whether changing my pricing model was a good idea - particularly as things have slowed right down. But a fellow photographer pointed out that I needed to trust the process. This has become a bit of a mantra.
There is a base cost for people - the session fee plus the smallest digital package (5 digitals) - is $550. This is on par with packages offered by some other photographers in the region. Extra costs come with incredible value - including albums, canvas prints and now framed prints. The more I see these print products, the more I know that clients will love them - and that they are worth it.
The new model requires a new way of doing things
In the past, I have spent hours editing 50-60 images, then loaded them up to the gallery platform for clients to have them choose just 10 out of the lot. This is a great deal of wasted time (and delays getting your gorgeous portraits to you!). The old saying is to work smarter, not harder. I am now doing “soft-proofing”. This means doing basic editing before showing them to clients. Once clients make their selection, I complete the editing process. This is a much faster and efficient process. It also means that I can do much more detailed editing because I am not trying to edit on mass.
From July, I will be introducing client ordering sessions in person or on zoom to help guide clients through the ordering process. There won’t be any pressure but it is a great opportunity for clients to look at their options, discuss packages and even arrange discounts for packages of print products.
So, what does this all mean? Firstly, thank you for reading this far! Secondly, I am aiming for business sustainability and growth that works with my family and my forever elusive goal of work-life balance.
I also just wanted to share the journey with you. As a small business owner, I am constantly learning and adapting and I wanted to be open about that process with everyone who supports my work.