Really Bad Advice I See Given to Photographers
As an educator and photographer, over the past 13 years, I have had a lot of access to coaches, education, mentors, and courses that ALL promise photographers HUGE success in their business as long as they follow this framework, success path, or proven method to create a great business. Whatever that means. I can say without a shadow of a doubt most of the advice that I have seen put out in the photography marketplace is junk. (Yup, I said it.) It reeks of the idea that if you only do ONE thing you will book a hundred clients in 30 minutes and see all your dreams come true. (insert sarcastic firework emoji here)
The reality is that pricing, mindset, and the right business plan are all hugely important when it comes to success in photography. It doesn't matter how many jobs you take or what your pricing structure looks like if you don't have a good strategy behind it then YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. We KNOW this. This isn't a surprise when you see it in writing. Yet, how many fake guru's are getting rich from your dollars because we all want a quick fix. That isn't how business works. But oh, do I wish it did.
I can count on multiple hands and toes the amount of bad advice I have seen promoted out into our industry over the past few years but here are a few of the highlights AND the reasons this advice can hurt your business.
Charge what you feel comfortable charging.
No, just NO. You should never feel emotionally comfortable with what you charge. If we charge what we are comfortable charging, we forget the entire foundation of business. That we are business to do one thing, MAKE MONEY. Now I know we all want other things with our business like personal satisfaction, the creation of beautiful art, clients that love us, etc. . . BUT none of that can happen if we aren't making a profit.
If you are not profitable, you will resent your business and that resentment will override all the client satisfaction, personal satisfaction, and beautiful art. Because I don't know too many who can just afford all the things our businesses need without taking in money from our clients. If you can do that, go you! But that isn't my story and I don't know of many others who would be able to do that either.
Pricing is based on a foundation of knowing your cost of doing business. Ugh, I know, I brought up math. Trust me, I hate it as much as you do. BUT in order to run a business, you MUST know your numbers. All of your numbers, not just the ones that you want to see, but you need to know the numbers that hide out in the shadowy places as well. Once you know your numbers, you will see that the price you must charge to stay in business and serve your clients well AND take some home to your family at the end of the day, will most likely, the numbers you see after calculating all this out will not make you comfortable.
Success is ALL about your mindset.
Don't get me wrong, mindset is something that I personally believe is very, very important when it comes to business success, however, it isn't everything. You can have the best mindset ever but that doesn't mean your photography business is going to suddenly take off. It takes the combination of a great mindset, a solid business foundation, and beautiful art to make a great business.
Take every job that you are offered when you are starting out.
Again, NO. Just don't do that. Start with a particular genre in mind and work specifically in that genre, then once you are really good there, branch out if you wish.
I personally believe you do not need to specialize in one particular genre to run a successful business but I do believe that you need to start with one kind of photography and then when you get really good at that one thing, branch out. Starting with too many different genres is confusing to your clients and it makes it really challenging to promote a new business.
Never turn down a paying job.
Again, just NO. Even if a job is paying you that doesn't mean you should take it. I get having to pay the bills so this is really more of a personal decision. I did take my fair share of bad jobs at the start but don't use this as a blanket policy. Just because you might be new or growing your business does not mean you must take a job with anyone who throws some cash your way.
Your success is inevitable.
Is it? Really? I am seeing this more and more in the coaching world and every time I read it, I cringe a little bit. Because success in business is not inevitable. It simply isn't. Ask the 50% of business owners whose businesses fail within the first year. There is no guarantee that you are going to be a success in what you want to do. I believe this is a really dangerous, dangerous message to be putting out into the world to new business owners because it simply is not true.
However, if you add an awesome strategy, proper business foundations, a great attitude, a great coach, and beautiful images that you sell your clients with pride, this makes your success highly probable. Call me a skeptic but I will put my money on highly probably over inevitable any day.
Be careful in who you listen to when building and growing your business. Don't take everything you read from so-called "experts and read it as the truth. Business is flexible, people are flexible. What works for someone else may not work for you. And what works for you, may not work for someone else. Be true to yourself and how you want to run your business. There truly is no concrete right and wrong in any of this. And remember when you need help navigating all of this, I am here waiting to help you build the business that you desire. Let's connect.
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