How To Run a High-End Portrait Studio When You Just Want A Simple (and profitable!) Life.


Hey, Camille here!

I want to share with you today a post about a very close student and mentee of mine…

 

A photographer probably quite like yourself!

 

But, before I do, let’s recap.

 

In the past 2 blog posts, I’ve showed you…

 

How To Get Your Share Of The Top 1% With Your Newly Aligned Photography Business - WITHOUT Years (or even much of any) of Experience

 

AND

 

Why You Don't Have Enough Photography Clients... and what to do about it.

 

You are probably pretty excited about turning your photography business around and into a profitable luxury business…

 

And I'm not talking about raising your prices just a little bit either…

 

We need to be thinking high-ticket clients!

 

A business that taps into that 1% we talked about, right?!

 

A high-end photography studio is one that offers heirloom products and a custom designed portrait session for clients, and charges between $2000 to $5,000+ …

 

Packed with life-changing memories for your clients, an experience that's well worth that investment.

 

Now, if that makes you feel a little scared, or possibly intimidated, don’t worry!

 

You’ve probably realized by now that I went through a lot of trial and error when I first started running my high-end business.

 

I totally relate to your situation. I understand what it’s like to be worried about jumping into the high-end market and leaving all your cheap clients behind, no matter how good the numbers look.

 
Usually at this point when I’m working with photographers, they start to ask me questions like:
 
  • Where do I even start when it comes to upgrading my business to high end?
  • What kind of photography experience do I need to actually be able to charge these crazy prices?
  • How much is this going to cost? 
  • How much time will it take for me to make real money?
  • Does my area really need this? Can’t they just order nice quality products on their own after I give them digitals?
  • And what am I supposed to sell them that makes me worth all this money?
  • And where on earth am I supposed to FIND these clients and make them want to book with me?

Let me take you to the heart of what I wanted to share today.

 

This is a common theme that comes up when I’m coaching photographers through high-end transition…

 

How do you do this if you're not high-end yourself?

 

At the start of my own photography journey, I struggled with this too.

 

The truth???

 

We make it it a lot harder than it needs to be 😉

 

You read in my first blog post how I used to charge $100 and then did 30 sessions in a single month…

 

It felt exciting at the time for a newbie to have that many people lining up to book with me. But I knew that changing my systems was “it” – that one thing that could save me from the time-for-money vortex trapping me from increasing that income…

 

So I gave it everything I had – and looking back, I probably gave it too much.

 

When my new clients weren't calling, I went back to the drawing board.

 

I grabbed my computer, opened a fresh google doc, and decided to make some changes.

 

First, I deleted everything from my price list that had never sold… whether at high-end prices or cheap...

 

Then I made a note to find only the very best products to sell, things that I could sell for 3k a piece.

 

(that's right, when a client spends 3k in my studio, they are usually only getting 1 product. If they spend 5k? That's usually 2 products.)

 

Then I moved onto my marketing, and began to just brain dump.

 

Several hours in, I wasn’t nearly done, and my document looked a little like this:

 

I'd taken every single idea on how to bring in clients that came to my mind and written it down.

 

I couldn’t believe how overwhelmed I was by all the fresh new ideas – I already had plenty of options. They just needed to be explored and worked with one at a time to live up to their potential!

 

And that’s when I realized…

 

If I wasn't actively marketing using any of these methods, how the heck did I expect people to know about me?

 

Of course I wasn’t getting any clients…

 

I had only done bits and pieces of a few of these ideas, I'd never actually followed one through all the way!

 

I needed a simple way to outline my marketing plan, because this brain-dump of information was exactly what I needed to see before I jumped in.

 

When I first met the student I mentioned earlier…

 

He reminded me a lot of myself at this moment.

 

He was a photographer, like yourself, who was ready to harness the power of a high-end brand to support his family, while living a better lifestyle than working his 9-5.

 

I sent him away to get the ball rolling by doing a similar brainstorming activity for marketing his own photography business where he lived…

 

And here's the key…

 

He had to only come back with things that would fit into this new lifestyle he wanted (20 hour weeks and 150k a year were his goal).

 

But when she came back the next day, I couldn’t believe what he brought me.

 

It was disorganized, sporadic, and needed some new formatting...

 

But he'd literally just gathered and expanded on over 20 specific marketing ideas for his area.

 

He wasn't in the big city, you guys.  

 

Think small southern town. 

 

But taking my basics as a starting point, he got a "slam dunk"...

 

After his mind dumping session, he mapped out 5 marketing methods in detail, branching off of each idea to maximize each method for the most benefit for his time.

 

I call this method "Spider Braining."

 

I have students all the time come to me and say... "Camille, I'm just so stuck. I can't think of a single marketing technique that will work here in my area."

 

The first question I ask is.... have you spider-brained the marketing methods for your area?

 

Their answer is usually, um... no. Not yet.

 

Another question I love to hear is... "Camille, I've been doing this for 3 months now, completely aligned. Why am I not getting client inquiries?"

 

I always respond with.... "What marketing have you done?"

 

Usually they say... "Oh, I donated to one auction. And I've been posting on facebook and instagram."

 

 

Seriously?  I spend SO much time in the course teaching you how to market... if you don't take your marketing offline directly to these high-end clients... how do you expect them to find you?

 

They don't find you on facebook.

 

That isn't how these ideal clients tend to roll...

 

So when I  said in the other blog post that I work about 10 hours a week?

 

6 of that (max) is directly with clients, meeting or working on edits and product orders.

 

The other 4?

 

MARKETING.

 

OFFLINE.

 

OLD-SCHOOL. 

 

You have so much knowledge inside your head already…

 

Because you know where you live.

 

And even if you've never lived a life of luxury... you have seen it on TV. And you probably know where they hang out in your area.

 

You just don't realize that you already know what you need to do.

 

Sure posting on facebook is easy…

 

And if you're selling $100 sessions/digitals, you'll probably get a lot of bookings.

 

But I don't want a lot of bookings…

 

I want my life to be simple.

 

I want time to enjoy my life, and the money I earn.

 

 

Could I make way more money if I doubled my workload to 20 hours a week like this student of mine had in mind?

 

Of course I could.

 

But we each have our goals, and to me, my priority is being a mother to my kids, a good wife to my husband, and finding ways to serve in my community.

 

Those things would all suffer if I worked more hours than I do.

 

It's my choice... I decide how much money I make.

 

 

This photographer who I mentioned earlier....

 

He's far exceeded his goals of $150k per year. He still works just 20 hours a week, while his kiddos are at school.

 

 

In an effort to provide value, I’d tried to attack marketing from as many different points as possible.

 

In reality? Now?

 

I focus on the 3 or 4 that make sense for my current location, lifestyle, and laziness factor ;-)

 

(and those methods were different when we were living in Texas - different location = different methods)

 

It all came down to this:

 

Simple = better.

 

Better can be substituted for... happier... more free... more calm... and a lot of other "wild at heart" or "hippie-like" vibes.

 

Everything else, I ignored!

 

Throughout this growing process, I developed a strategy that has served me and my students very well ever since.

 

 

To take the overwhelm out of your marketing calendar, get your marketing off social media, and help you truly value your limited time.

 

Because we want to work less, not more --- right?!

 

My students know that there's one big factor to my offline marketing methods....

 

And that's ALIGNMENT.

 

If their business isn't aligned, the marketing won't work.

 

To get from CHEAP and overworked to PROFITABLE and working less, they’re going to have to hit certain milestones, usually in specific order…

 

Those milestones make up the modules of my business course.

 

And that’s it.

 

My students get 6 simple milestones/modules they can achieve, that will take them quickly to being able to market for a PROFITABLE and low working hours photography business.

 

Do the class in the right order, and you'll get the outcome you want when you bought the course.

 

When I map out my module order into these simple steps, not only does it make sense to my students…

 

It makes sense to me too! I could teach this, because you, my students, are getting serious value from it.

 

I know it can be super tempting when you purchase to jump right into the marketing month.

 

But if you do, you'll be denying yourself real success... because unless you follow all the steps to be high-end, raising your prices or marketing to rich people won't help you.

 

The alignment of your photography business is that simple. It's an actionable step of 6 modules that I wish I’d had from the start…

 

So if you’re just starting out with charging for your photography, or if you need to revisit your structure because it’s not working as well as you hoped…

 

You can save yourself the stress and fails…

 

And skip straight to the insanely profitable, value-filled asset your business could be.

 

To show you just how profitable offline marketing has been in my business, check out my paycheck from just one of my clients below:

 

Want to see another?

 

Maybe one more???

 

 

I’m not sharing this with you to boast, but to show you the potential of tapping into the 1% market wherever you live…

 

And how you and your luxury photography business can be part of this massive industry, by aligning your business as the elite photography brand in your area.

 

Now, remember I’m talking about high-ticket portrait sales…

 

Not $500 digital sessions…

 

But $3000 – $5,000+ portrait sales that can allow you more freedom with your time…

 

Solving the burnout that is the number one problem in our industry - the reason most photographers quit.

 

(did you know 85% of you will go out of business within just TWO years of starting? Don't be part of that statistic!)

 

You see, when it comes to pricing your services and heirloom products I know it can be super scary to charge a what to you might be a month of living expenses for a single session. 

 

(What my clients invest in a single session is ALWAYS more than my husband's paycheck, currently at a whopping $2300 in take home pay after 60 hour works weeks.... but more on the teacher pay plight affecting our country another day!)

 

But here’s the thing:

 

Emotions = Investment.

 

The better you connect with your clients with a high end, emotion filled experience, the higher their commitment to paying for the images you capture will be.

 

Which means your high-end studio will be filled with committed, excited, passionate clients ready to work with you to create heirloom memories!

 

They're so much easier to work with than cheap $100 clients who booked you because you ran a fall mini session.

 

SOOOOO much easier.

 

 

 

At this point you might be worried that you still don't know where to start…

 

Even if you know where you'd like to be!

 

(making 3k per session is where you want to be.... just trust me on that)

 

But that’s the best part of this formula…

 

It takes the guesswork away.

 

Instead of worrying that you’re going to underprice, oversell, or possibly sell crappy products... 

 

You can have confidence that your photography business is going to be life-changing for you, because you’re not going into it blind.

 

Maybe you’re also asking, is this is going to take me years to put together?

 

Here's the best bit: it won’t!

 

You can create and launch your business as high-end in a matter of months, or even weeks if you're dedicated or far enough along in your business already.

 

When you have an easy, proven formula to follow, you save so much time and energy…

 

Why? You know what you should do, and in what order you should do it

.

Maybe you’re also worried you’re not experienced enough for this…

 

You don't have a degree in photography...

 

But let me be real: I’m clueless when it comes to all the technical terms.

 

That’s the best part of being in a business that almost no one has a degree in anymore…

 

(and there are tons of students I've taught who HAVE had degrees in photography and they all say... it was the worst use of their money and years of their life, EVER!)

 

You don’t have to be the best photographer to launch a profitable, high-end portrait studio.

 

Or maybe you struggle with the same trap so many photographers are in…

 

You worry that this market is dead - it's far too overloaded with cheap photographers offering digitals that it makes no sense for someone to hire you for so much more…

 

So you doubt that anyone would even think to inquire.

 

But listen up…

 

No one anywhere in the world can run your photography business in the way you can.

 

No one else has that secret ingredient that you possess…

 

No one else is you!

 

Please, don’t sabotage your business with mountains of excuses and self-doubt.

 

Take what you DO have. Make it work for you....

 

In your area!

 

 

So if you’re ready to try this Simple and BETTER way of doing things…

 

And start filling your photography calendar with excited clients, ready to absorb what you’re offering…

 

email me for more information on joining my exclusive membership program - Upscale Photographer.

  

Camille Lindquist

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