I’ve gotten a lot of email and comments about how expensive it all it is. I want you to know that I – of all people – GET THIS! I started my business the summer before my husband started chiropractic school. We bought my first camera with his graduation money and then sold his laptop to buy my first pro lens (He’s amazing!) Since the day I had my first paying shoot in 2008, I have been our sole bread winner and I have built everything up very methodically. This was not a hobby where if I made money fun, and if I spent hubby’s money, oh well – I had to be profitable, and I wasn’t going to sacrifice my time with my kids to do it. There was a learning curve… Severe one but eventually I set the goal- it was one session a week, $200 Session Fee with an average sale of $2000. I got to work. I took every opportunity to create a brand that would portray quality as well as attract the right client type for me and my business!
I wanted to share a little bit on how I did this in regards to a budget…
#1. I do NOT believe in buying things before you’ve earned them! In other words say NO to credit, instead plan one extra session a month where all the money goes to your business! An example of this would be that I didn’t order Frame and Canvas Bags until I actually sold my first Canvas.
#2. Be thrifty! When I designed the Ultimate Marketing Kit, it was for myself before I ever thought of selling it. I created everything to be as affordable as I could possibly make it! Many of the items designed for the Free Stuff at Vista Print!
I just finished this logo design and custom marketing kit for the oh so awesome Debra R. today! Here are items from her Custom Ultimate Marketing Kit that can be purchased through Vista Print for Free or almost Free!
#3. When designing your brand, invest in creating an experience for your clients before you invest in other items that will not affect your bottom line (props). It’s in the experience that referrals are cultivated! I knew I wanted to have a larger Session Fee to cover the cost of a retouching artist so that I could have more time with my family, so I built that in. I also use the larger session fee to prepare my clients for large orders but with that fee, I knew it was critical that I immediately reassure them of the value that they were getting! I do this with my Welcome Packet that is mailed out right after the session fee is collected. Of course, it couldn’t break the bank either! This is the first edition of my welcome packet and it costs me $2.40. I use one branded sticky note and leave a little hand written note on the front. I bring pens with me to use at ordering appointments but I don’t give them away.
Today my welcome packet includes: Engraved Logo Folder, Welcome Letter on letter head, Contract, Model Release, Magnet, Business Card, Session Premier Menu, Style Guide (ordered from Vista), Collection Menu , I stick a hand written sticky note on the front and use a return address label from the Ultimate Marketing Kit to send it off.
You don’t have to be rich to rule my world… Sorry I just had to finish it. When I started typing the first 6 words there was no way I could finish the original sentence. But seriously – It’s not about pouring ridiculous amounts of money into your business. I’d rather think that it’s about receiving ridiculous amount of money from your business while doing what you truly love! Sounds a lot better, doesn’t it? We are all at different stages of the game looking to fulfill different needs. Some are part time while others have studio overhead to maintain but it really doesn’t matter how many sessions you do each month, what matters is your profit margin, your referability and what your brand is saying about you!
Before I ever purchased a prop, a gizmo, or a backdrop – I invested in my business because I believe in it and I want to thrive! Create the identity – establish the brand – invest in your marketing and the rest will fall into place!