I just got back from Imaging USA, and as usual, I had a great time meeting up with friends and seeing some great speakers. I met so many great new people on the trade show floor who I had a chance to introduce to AfterShoot, and we had a lot of happy selfies.
And as usual, I noticed the seminars that were teaching new lighting or posing techniques and the photo walks with models were jammed with people.
But the classes that taught professional photographers how to make money?
Now, some of this comes down to human nature. New gear is sexy! Shooting and learning new techniques? Super fun! Especially fun when you are starting a photography business.
Who wants to talk about sales tax when you can talk about the latest cameras and lenses?
Knowing your profit margins? Not nearly as sexy to photographers because sometimes that means facing nasty fears like we don’t have a business plan and are not making as much money as we think we are.
Being a business owner means that we have to understand that just taking pictures is just a tiny part of a photography business. Knowing your bottom line, understanding how to acquire clients, and understanding what aspects of your business make sense to do yourself and what to outsource is critical.
So, we go along, ignoring the business of photography, convincing ourselves if we could just have this or just learn that it would make or break our photography business. We shell out money for another online class we’ll start and never finish, and we’ll download that downloadable PDF to read “later.” *Raises my own guilty hand on this one*.
In the meantime, guess what we are not doing? Making money for our business.
I call this “Procrastiworking.” It’s the art of convincing yourself that you’re moving your business forward by doing busy work and not the hard work of talking to clients and closing deals that pay your bills.
And while some of this “Procrastiworking” can be productive to a point, if you don’t have clients, you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.
So, where do you start? From the end and work back.
How much do you want to make in your business this year? Do you even have a business plan?
Then, do the math. How many sessions/weddings, whatever, do you have to shoot to make that happen? (less your COGS and taxes)
If it’s more work than you could possibly do in the year, it’s not your photography; that’s the problem. It’s your business practice.
How would your business look like if, for the rest of this calendar year, you swore off learning buying more courses you don’t have time for, banned new gear that wasn’t 100% necessary, and focused all of your energy on:
- Streamlining your workflow (might I suggest AfterShoot?!)
- Perfecting your follow up techniques
- Drilling down on your COGS
The next time you sign up for a conference, consider dividing your time 50/50 between the technique classes and shootouts and the marketing and business classes. I think you’ll see a return that will pay off!