Photography is dead. You can’t make a decent living doing this anymore… it used to be lucrative but now anyone with a camera can go out and call themselves a photographer. It’s time to get a real job. How many time have I heard this? And this same toxic scarcity mindset is rampant among small business owners everywhere. Good news. This is NOT TRUE!
Hey guys! I’m back and I’m stoked about this episode. Not only is it awesome and covering a topic that I literally got multiple emails and dms about this week, but it is also the last episode that I need to record before I officially launch the Updraft podcast! I wanted to make sure that I had a few episodes for people to dive into right away in case they are like me and love to binge on things. I’m a totally immersion type person. When I find something that I love I completely hyper focus and want to just get lost in it. Eat, sleep and breathe it. Hence why I have never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones. I can’t start watching that… my kids would probably starve and have no clean clothes until I finished every season.
Right now I am just quietly working away on it in my bedroom in the bits of time that I have managed to carve out of my schedule between kids, photography clients and everything else I need to do in a week. Not many people know about this yet, but I have promised myself that as soon as this episode is done I will start the pre-launch and start telling everyone about this new project I have been working on. Gotta do it quick before the doubt Monster comes for me! Ever notice that when you try to start something new ALLLLL of your ish comes up? I mean all of it. The negative talks, the scarcity mindset, the “I’m not good enough and no one cares what I have to say”? Our brains are SO good at keeping us safe. Unproductive, poor, bored – but safe! Thankfully I am SUPER stubborn and I’m slowly learning to just keep moving through it until my brain calm down and gets on the same page with my big dreams.
I feel like this exact thing is probably what holds a lot of us back from living our biggest dreams and accomplishing our crazy goals. Don’t let the negativity suck you in. If you aren’t getting enough clients, if you aren’t making enough money, if the world feels against you – take a breath, and then turn it around. Try to figure out WHY. Chances are there is something that you are doing wrong that is holding you back. Is it fear? Is it ego? It always sucks to look at yourself in that way, and it is so much easier to sit there in a victim mindset and believe that it is the world’s problem and not yours but as long as you sit in that mindset you aren’t going to make any headway.
This week I had originally planned on tackling an episode that was more along the lines of managing the Motherload, how to handle your kids and manage a business at the same time, or working on your marriage or relationship, but then I got 3 emails in a row asking me for help with marketing and increasing their client volume. So, here we go.
One of the first things I suggest that you do is to look into running Facebook or Google Ads. This is an amazing way to get your business in front of more people, really quickly while you wait for other strategies such as SEO, referrals, and more organic forms of marketing to kick in.
I know a LOT of people that I talk to say that they have tried boosting posts and it feels like they are just dumping money down the drain. I get it – I did that too. Last year I spent a couple of months learning how to use the ads properly and now I get fabulous results. It’s basically acts as a flood gate that I can open and close. I turn the ads on until I’m fully booked and then I just turn them off until I need to start booking again. It does take a bit of practice and tweaking, but it really does work.
There is so much resistance from many of my friends and small business owners that I talk to when it comes to marketing. I think some of this comes from them being burned by spending money on advertising that doesn’t work, and some of it comes from this place of negativity and believing that they can’t. Advertising is great, but if you don’t understand how to use each form then you really are just going to throw your money down the drain. Buying a huge billboard on a highway is great for building brand recognition, but if you aren’t a massive corporation then it probably isn’t worth it. Sending flyers around the neighborhood again might be ok for building brand recognition… or maybe not. Am I the only one that throws 99% of junk mail out without even looking at it, and then gets a little irritated that they wasted trees on that? People are wise to advertising tactics now, so you need to make sure that what you are doing isn’t spammy or scammy.
Take the time to understand your audience and then talk directly to them. Build a relationship. Address their needs. Don’t sell them crap they don’t need, or try to trick them with fine print and offers that sound way better than they are.
When I was a little kid my Mom got a flyer from someone in the mall that offered her a free photo shoot at a department store photo studio, and she would get a free 8×10! Awesome right? She was pretty excited, she dressed us all up and went and had the photos created. Back then this was pretty much as good as it got. Custom photography wasn’t really a thing yet, and of course she loved the images. She then went through a super high pressure sales session that left her feeling like garbage and spending $400 that we DIDN’T HAVE. We were so broke and that was not money that she could afford. Guess what? She NEVER got professional photos done of us again. There are lots of beautiful images that she took on her own film DSLR, and she did a pretty good job – but there are no more family photos. That was the end. That company never saw a dime from us again because she felt duped. The trust was broken and it left a bad taste in her mouth.
I vowed never to do this to my clients. I am straight up and completely transparent with my pricing and offers. I don’t do a ton of deals of discounted promotions, but if I do then the offer is made as clear as I can make it. I would far rather the person leave happy and telling all of their friends because they got exactly what they paid for, paid what they expected and had an awesome experience to boot, than trick them into giving their money and never see them again.
Ok, back on track, back to the ads. Keep them simple, keep them honest, make sure you are addressing a particular issue or pain point and talk directly to your ideal client. Did you know that when you create an ad instead of boosting a post you can actually target specific demographics? So if you are a baby photographer you can actually go in a target people that have “liked” pages for stores that sell baby gear, or events that are designed for new parents. If you are a wedding photographer you could target people who have put their status to “engaged”. You can target specific genders, ages, interests, shopping habits. You could even target people who follow other people who are similar to you. If you are offering a product of service that is location specific, you can target people in certain cities. For me this is huge – I don’t want to target people who live super far away because chances are they aren’t going to be willing to get in the car and drive 6 hours to go have their baby’s photo taken when there are probably lots of photographers who are local to them. (Although I will say I have had clients come from as far as 6 hours before, which was crazy flattering) It isn’t an option in Canada but in some countries you can even target people based on their income bracket. A word of caution though, I wouldn’t put too much stock in that one. Personally I have found that income status and job does NOT determine how much a person is willing to invest. The key is more about how much they VALUE the product or service. Some of my best, top spending clients have had lower or more average incomes. Some of my most thrifty clients have been in super high paying professions.
Once you have created a really detailed profile to target people that fit all of your criteria you can start creating your ads. I found it helpful to create 2 – 3 different ads with the same audience defined and run them with a few different pictures. I would track the results of the ads for about a week and see which image performed the highest, then turn off the lower performing ads and try adding a few new pictures to see if any of them would outperform the best out of the first group. After a few rounds of this you will get an idea for what pictures are most likely to grab people’s attention. Spoiler alert – it’s almost never the picture I expected! Some of my favourites failed miserably and often the images I threw in just for kicks did amazing.
Once I had my top performing pictures I would start altering the copy or verbiage to see what captions did the best job of converting clients or getting people to click through to my site. The trick here is to create captions that speak directly to your ideal client – you want it to sound like you are talking to a friend. Test out using emojis, different attention grabbing titles, starting with a question – see what is most likely to grab YOUR client’s attention.
Facebook does an amazing job on tracking all of your results through their ad manager. You can see how much you are paying per click, you can install tracking on your site and track exactly how much you pay to attract each paying customer, you can see all sorts of different numbers and stats so that you can determine which ads are performing best and are worth paying for. If you are a numbers and statistics nerd like me you will love it – to me this is a blast, I love seeing the numbers change and trying to beat my past “best score”. If you aren’t a numbers geek then please check them anyway, you don’t want to just set it and forget it or you could be throwing your money away for nothing.
Google ads are similar and google actually has a support team that can walk you through the whole process of setting up their ads. I don’t run as many ads on google anymore because I come up so high in the organic results with all of my key words, but if you have a newer business with a newer website it can take quite a while to climb the results. This is definitely something you want to invest some time and effort in (or pay someone to do for you) but ads are FANTASTIC for bringing in traffic while you are waiting to climb to the top.
One of the most important tricks I learned when I was creating google ads (and it worked SO FREAKING WELL) was to use very few keywords and always make sure that they are long tail keywords. If I am losing you here then the short explanation is that there are short tail keywords and long tail keywords. A short tail keyword for my business would be baby photography. A long tail keyword would be Toronto Area Baby Photography. Long tail keywords are far more specific and people searching those terms are WAY more likely to actually make a purchase.
Google would love for you to use every possible keyword that is even remotely relate to your business. This is how they make money. The more clicks you pay for the more money for them… but honestly, they don’t your money, they have lots. You need to make sure that you are getting the best possible return on your investment so by making sure that you are only coming up in results for people that are getting super specific and are already warmed up and read to buy you are giving yourself the best possible shot at making a sale.
This is huge. Please hear this one. Don’t get suckered into the idea that the more exposure you get through a huge variety of keywords the more likely you are to make money. It’s just not true. I passed this tip along to a friend running a local bridal store and within a year she was opening a new location. Obviously there were lots of other factors including her great eye, excellent systems and customer service and all that jazz, but she said that this simple little shift from advertising in more conventional ads like business directories and flyers to super specific and carefully targeted google ads made a massive difference in her revenues.
Paying for ads can be scary. But if you do it effectively it is a GREAT investment. I spend quite a bit of money on ads every month, but the money that is generated in return is WELL worth it.
Alright so that is my paid option, but I also have one other little FREE way to help yourself convert more people to paying clients, and it is SO SIMPLE.
Get Google Reviews. Yep, that’s right. It’s a game changer and it is super easy to do!
I only started asking people for reviews a year ago but I started to see a shift almost immediately. I have clients come in all the time that tell me that they found me in a google search and picked me because I had so many great reviews.
The market IS saturated. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for you too, but it is super saturated. This means we need to find a way to stand out and reviews are a super simple, easy and effective way to do that.
Think about it… you are looking for someone to bake a cake for your daughter’s birthday. You do a search and literally hundreds if not thousands of results come up in google. So first of all, you probably are only going to look at the first few, because honestly who’s got time for more than that. (So this is where your ad comes in, because if you have an ad you will be right at the top above all the organic results) but it’s also where your review comes in. Of the top 3 or 4 results let’s say 1 person has no reviews, the other 2 have 15 – 20 and there is one with 70 raving reviews. Which would you pick? Pretty sure that the one with 70 is going to appear as the safe choice, as long as they are good reviews obviously. And that is exactly what I’m hearing from my clients. They got overwhelmed and went with the person with the most reviews.
Haven’t been asking for reviews? Have none? Go back through your client list and send them a message or email. Ask them for a quick review and make it SUPER simple for them to leave one by adding a direct link right in the email. Keep it short and sweet and let them know how valuable this is to you, and that it really does make a huge difference to your business. Generally if you have done a fantastic job and they loved working with you they are naturally going to want to help you succeed and will be excited to help you out. Not everyone is going to have time, energy or whatever else might stop them, but I promise lots of people will! Worst case scenario they ignore your email? What have you got to lose?
Then moving forward I want you to evaluate each client interaction you have. Were they happy? How happy? Were there any issues or hiccups in the experience? If so, were they addressed and resolved? First off this is a great business practice, and second, it will help you evaluate who to send an email to asking for a review. If you find that you aren’t comfortable asking the overwhelming majority of your clients for an email then you probably need to reevaluate your systems, customer service and offerings. If you know that your clients are thrilled then you are on the right track and should be sending a request for a review to virtually every client.
I have actually added the exact email that I use to request reviews from my clients to the freebies section of my website and you can find it at www.annyamiller.com/e4 Feel free to take it and tweak it so that it fits your own business and your voice and then use it to start collecting reviews on your site. I promise this one is worth your time!
While we are on the topic, have you left a review for the Updraft podcast yet? If not I would LOVE it if you could take 3 seconds and leave one. It makes a huge difference to the success of the podcast and helps other people find me so I can help them too! Also, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!
Thank you so much for listening today, I hope you are able to apply these to your business and start seeing results fast! See you next time!
Get your Freebie! www.annyamiller.com/e4