Let me tell you a quick story before I deep dive into my miserable first year of business.
Then I’ll share the strategies I used to grow to 24k, then 50k, then $99,978 (I’m calling it 6 figures!) 3 years later.
I heard a version of this story recently from a class by Andre Chaperon (not an affiliate link...just giving credit where credit is due!)
It goes something like this:
There are two farmers.
They decide to go in together and buy and sell pickles at the farmer’s market.
They load up a truck with pickles they buy at $2/jar.
They spend all of Saturday at the market, selling pickles at $2/jar.
At the end of the day, they do the math and realize they just broke even.
Farmer 1 says to Farmer 2:
“Next time I guess we need to load up a bigger truck.”
I’m sure you can see what’s wrong with that comment at the end.
A bigger truck just equals more work, and will still be break even on the pickles!
The moral of the story, is that if it’s not profitable now, scaling up will only make things worse.
So what’s this got to do with my photography business?
And how can you scale to 6 figures, is it impossible?
(the short answer is NO - I’ll share the simple math equation below, and you can get more free resources here).
So the first year I was in business, I was also working full-time as a secretary at a copier and toner refill company.
Like many of you, I was working my tail off to hopefully in the end make it a full-time and profitable gig.
After all was said and done, I profited a whopping $24, without paying myself a dime!
Now obviously it isn’t as cut and dry as the picle truck example, nothing is.
I had to buy gear, prints, website hosting, the list goes on. You get it.
But at that point I realized things weren’t working…
If I doubled my clients from 18 that year to 36 clients the next year, I would STILL only make $48!
Ofcourse that’s given the same average sale, same price list, same expenses, etc.
It wasn’t the number of clients I was getting, it was the equation I was working with.
It will ALWAYS = 0.
Any ways - I knew I needed to gain some knowledge on how to make my business work.
I became addicted to conferences, blog posts, online learning, you named it.
And one thing I came to realize, was that it was all great information.
However, there was a very specific ORDER in which things needed to be done.
And nobody was really talking about that.
If you just started getting more clients but you weren’t even making a profit, just like in the above example, you would just work more and still not make a dime!
The same is true for time, by the way.
Even if you’re making say 50k/year, and you’re working 50 hours a week.
And say you want to earn 100k next year….so you want to double your clients.
Now using simple math, you’ll be working 100 hrs a week!
That just doesn’t work. At least not if you want to have a family, a life, or get any sleep.
Again, their are obviously variables, but we’re going to keep it simple.
So the question becomes -
How do we change 2-2=0,
To 3-2=1? (Earning more per client)
Or even 2-1=1? (Cutting expenses)
Or how about 3-1=2? (BOTH earning more per client AND cutting expenses)
At that point we can scale. We can absolutely scale!
A truck starting at 3-1=2
Then doubling its volume
Will now be 6-2=4.
Thus also doubling it’s profit.
And of course there are a lot more complex things going on...like when you scale up some of your expenses will stay the same, so you’ll make a higher profit. But also you may start needing to hire on help, so you profit less there.
We aren’t going to go into those complex issues today.
So let me ask you a question -
At the current state of your business, whether you’re breaking even, losing, or highly profitable, how can you change the equation?
Let me give you some ideas and a resource (it’s free) that will help you start putting these things into place.
Making more per client:
Start either doing in-person-sales (Christine Yodsukar NAILS IT and takes you step by step through the process)
Tweaking your marketing to attract people who want to purchase products (Chris Scott talks about how to set your website apart, and literally come to YOU over others, because of your specialized gallery that’s different from the norm)
Modify how you sell online (Vicki Taufer teaches how she uses a simple email to get clients ready to purchase more, which works even for online gallery selling)
Cutting out the waste:
Do you REALLY need all of that extra stuff? (Melissa Reynolds talks about how she scaled down and moved her studio, so she could work less and make more)
Stop over spending by knowing what your bills coming up are (Megan Lane talks about a simple system that requires NO accounting knowledge that will let you quickly peak at your bank account and know what you get to spend, what to pay yourself, and what needs to stay in the bank!)
Now it’s time to scale!
First, start saving time so that you can use that extra time to market!
Save time by using technology in a smart way (Cole teaches how to use a free technology to make thinks run smooth, show you as more professional, and give your clients a better experience)
Offload the tasks you don’t need to be doing (Garrett and Jared show you how to look at all of your tasks, and see what you should NOT be doing. They’ll show you how to save time by outsourcing editing, blog posts, and more)
Now let's get more clients!
Get FOUND and SEEN with simple SEO tweaks (Joy and Time Vertz share very easy tasks that won’t take you much time, to get you to the top of Google)
Make your website a client generating machine (Nate Grahek shows you the 5 website mistakes that are very common, and how to tweak your website so you get actual paying clients)
Use Facebook ads the RIGHT way (Easton Reynolds will arm you with strategies to write mouth-watering ad copy, and how to grab attention)
This is just a SMALL list of the 39 classes at the free 6 Figure Year Online Event that’s about to start!
You can signup right here at this link.
P.S. I never really did explain how I scaled up, did I! Just gave you the strategies and the link to the 6 Figure Year Event.
I don’t want to leave you hanging - so here’s the simple answer:
Step 1: I changed my pricing. From a $199 and $299 package (the only options I had) to $249-$1250. My average changed almost immediately from $250 to $749.
Step 2: I was FREAKING AFRAID. To change my pricing. Of what people would think. Of not getting booked. But I knew my numbers, and knew this was a MUST. It was all about knowing my numbers while also figuring out mindset (also a BIG topic of the summit)
Step 3: I switched to IPS and projection. In 2009 I quit my day job. And Within 3 years (so in 2011) of that crappy $24 year, I was able to bump my average portrait sale to $1,050 and my average wedding to $2,700. Soon after I started doing engagement sessions with IPS, and that added an extra $600 to each wedding.
I started basically taking on less clients, but overall making more per client, and profiting more.
Obviously the above is a simple explanation - the classes in the 6FY will give you a lot more how-to, from super smart people on those topics.