Tuesday, April 16, 2013

business love/like stuff

I need to change my business model.
I upped my prices last fall but also included a shorter session. I've only done one full session this season, and it was booked before I offered the shorter sessions. So I'm editing less per session but am frustrated b/c I have more good shots that I'm not letting the clients see b/c they don't want to upgrade.

I'm considering not offering the digital files. Right now I barely sell prints. My business model wasn't set up to sell prints. It was set up to make all of the money up front w/ no hidden costs so families could budget for me. But of course they need to do something w/ the images! And I don't just mean putting them on Facebook.

I'm not doing my clients a service giving them the files and ending our relationship there. I do have mostly repeat clients, so it doesn't really end, but they need help with what to do with the files. I should help them put them on their walls or make books or unique gifts. Some do awesme things on their own like scrapbook ages that I couldn't do, but they DO buy quality prints from me for the scrap books. I should not give away the files like they're cheap. Turning the negatives into the digital files takes a million hours away from things like this personal blog. This year, I have done only 1 full session (with last year's price), 1 full that I only charged $200 (b/c they said it would only be 6 pictures and I figured it would be up to 10), 5 short sessions, 3 head shots, and 8 for free. Most of those free ones were for my own  kids or just up to 3 pics, but still.

We just paid taxes and saw how much overhead I have in black and white. I'm not spending anything before I have the $.

Here are my options:

1) quit photography
I don't think I would be able to breath though. I couldn't quit on the booked year I already have. I could probably find coverage for some, but any time I've tried to refer away, the clients don't want it. They want me only. Or I end up redoing it after their not-so-me photographer.

2) charge more for the same packages I have
I can't really do that for this year even though I say that prices are subject to change. I tell clients that once they book, they lock in the price. I guess I could contact clients and ask for the deposit and give them a due date when my prices will change. Prices can still change 'til I get a deposit. And how much should it go up?!

3) stop including digital files
I know I would need a separate ordering session. And with a minimum purchase I could throw in a fancy phone app or a phone friendly and social media friendly gallery that would satiate the facebook need. This is the way to go to make this a real business, but it takes double the time for me b/c after editing and gallery making, I would be married to the clients (whom I love so that's not a problem) but I would need to hold their hands in how to order and what to order and why and explain how awesome my products are. I couldn't do it after hours, I would need an additional evening or Saturday probably to go over to their houses. Then I'd need to make, order, package, and deliver them. But this is just a part time side job, not my career. Being a wife if my career. I already had to stop making my dental part time job my full time career. Back when I stopped working 5 days a week and more recently when I was doing a ton from home. So do I do this and quit my dental job? No way right now, no WAY. But each week I find myself wishing that I could find coverage for a full 8 hour day so I could go to bed on time and start my to-do list at 8am instead of 10pm. But my patients love me there too and it's a huge mess to clean up at work when I mess with my 2 days/wk system. So I get a babysitter for a Wednesday for a couple of hours so I can get work done (for ffp or for the house) and I feel completely guilty for not being able to be a mom on my only one day/wk where I get to have nothing planned but being a mommy to my own kids.
And I would need new software to be able to help the clients visualize wall groupings, and how to narrow down pictures to their favorite versions. And I would need a laptop at least to take to their house. And I would need sample products. I already need some other items as it is and although I've been crazy busy, I don't have much to show for it. This is the year that I want to profit. I can visualize it all if only I had the time and $. I want to rock it!
Or do I?

4) Book more sessions
Not an option. I couldn't provide quality anything. It would be like my Portrait Innovations pics I guess, no light in the eyes, no zits removed, dark images, background stuff showing, poor crops, awkward poses being good enough, whatever. I couldn't put my name to that. I'd just be a mess. Not an option. I decline over 50% of the requests now. But I still can't say no sometimes. I like what I do! And I love making people happy!
Picking blueberries with my babies
On some happy notes, we went to the zoo this morning then I and 5 kids played in our pool this afternoon!

1 comment:

julie babcock said...

Hi Tiffany, we understand your pain. It is good to have pride in your professional work. Mom guilt is always going to be there. I would say outsource as much as you can. Is it possible to find college students skilled in Photoshop that you could trust and charge a mark-up? Keep yourself on the front end with the clients that love you and find others who would be happy to help with the behind the scenes technicals. A lot of people don't charge enough for doing the work they love. It would be great to find that sweet spot where you have the fewer clients willing to pay for your quality. --David