Ever since I started running my own business, I learned that there is a LOT to learn. Sure, I get to work the hours I want and I can even edit in my pajamas and no one is going to care. Because it’s my business.
But I wanted something more than just sleeping in and working in my pajamas. I knew there had to be better ways than what I was doing. I’ve worked on making my post-wedding workflow super efficient and getting albums done in record time, but still, I could be doing more. I just didn’t know what.
So I bought some business books. Not photography business books. Just business books. I read The Tipping Point, The 4-Hour Work Week, and Creating Customer Evangelists. I know you’re probably thinking, “wow, she wants to work as little as possible and have people worship her every move, what a snob!” But let me explain.
The Tipping Point – I was pretty much sold by it’s back cover. It reads “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” I thought to myself “I want my business to spread like wildfire! I feel like nobody knows about me. What do I have to do to get people to know who I am?”
The first point in this book was about knowing the right kind of people. People who know all the great places in town and have all the best recommendations. People who know people higher up. People who can sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves (quick! name that movie!). From this I learned that I don’t really want everyone talking about me. I want my clients to come from referrals of friends and past clients. I have now and have had such awesome clients in the past, and I know that if any of their friends or family were to book me in the future, I would be one lucky girl getting to work with even more awesome people.
I don’t necessarily want my business to spread like wildfire. Have you seen what wildfires do to forests? I don’t want my business to be burnt up and ugly after everyone knows about me! I would much rather be a nice, green forest with lots of pretty shade for taking pictures! :-)
The 4-Hour Work Week was not on my original list of books to read, but someone was starting a book club and I thought ‘hey, why not!’ And then no one ever got back together after the month to discuss the book. So I’ll share what I learned with you. :-)
I learned that I do not want to be one of those CEOs that starts up a business and then teaches other people how to run it. No thank you. but I did learn ways to make the work I do more efficient. Like checking my email. Twenty times a day. Totally unnecessary. While reading (technically listening to, I downloaded the audio book) this book I tried to limit myself to checking my email only three times a day. Once in the morning, at lunch time and in the evening. And then I finished the book and I’m back to staring at my computer screen waiting for a new email or blog comment or ‘like’ on facebook.
Creating Customer Evangelists sounds like it would be the most outrageous of the three, but it was actually my favorite. I struggle with figuring out what my clients want. Great pictures, that’s for sure, but what else? I’d love to sit down with each one of my clients and plan their wedding with them, but that’s probably never going to happen. What can I do to solidify the relationship I have with my clients?
So here’s where I’d like some help from you guys. These are all ideas I’ve gotten from reading this book. I think they’re great, but I’m not everyone.
1. Create a newsletter to get clients involved: Ask what they really want. Ask their opinion on possible new products or special sessions. Would you subscribe to a newsletter? Would you read it and respond or just hope you get a free session just for being the only poor soul who actually reads my newsletter?
2. Lifetime followup: send cards out for the couple’s anniversary, their birthdays and their kids’ birthdays. I started sending out anniversary cards. Do you think clients would be weirded out if I asked for their birthdays?
3. Make full pricing available on my website. I’ve heard lots of different ways to show pricing on websites. And I’m torn. Are you a price shopper? Do you first look at the price and then the work? Or do you notice my work first and then ask for a price later to figure out which collection you want?
4. Host a ‘get-to-know-me photography party.’ My friends are never short of facebook profile photos. But what about you? Would it be fun to get all dressed up with your friends and have a little party with cute decorations and yummy treats and plenty of portrait opportunities?
I know, I know, this is a lot to ask! I’m sorry! But I would be so thrilled to hear your ideas on what more I could do for you and for my business! And if you think my ideas are either stellar or absolutely ridiculous. You won’t hurt my feelings (too much) if you say my ideas are awful. Just be gentle, k? Thanks. :-)