My studio smelled like dirty animal.
You know, the smell of wood chips + animal poop, kind of like how your 3rd grade classroom smelled when you had Gerry the pet gerbil.
The reason for this?
8 cute, soft, utterly adorable -- baby chicks.
But worse than the stench of my studio?
Was that my seemingly AMAZING and CREATIVE idea that I thought nobody else in my town was doing? Cost more than the money I brought in - WOOPS.
My bank account was empty, and my ego was ashamed. I had people asking me, “how are your baby chick sessions going?”
And the only thing I could say was, “they’re going really good, I’m having a ton of fun!”
Never-mind I only had 3 sessions after spending at least 10 hours doing a test shoot and promoting it on Facebook.
Never-mind I freaking despised the sessions - I couldn’t get the damn baby chicks to do what I wanted while also chasing around crying 3-year-olds.
Never-mind that I was slightly frightened of the baby chicks because they pecked at my hands when I took them out of their cage (really just a WHCC cardboard box with newspaper).
So why did my idea flop?
Welp, I’m going to teach you why it flopped, and show you how to evaluate the ideas you came up from the last email to decide if it’s a Profit Puller, or a Profit Flop-er-oo. this is the process I go through, and I haven’t had something so shameful happen to me since.
...[ Teaser alert ] In tomorrow's email I’m going to share with you the 3-step blueprint I use, that you can too, to transform you irresistible idea into a 6k cash injection ANY time of year (in fact, I do it 3-4 times per year).
Why my idea flopped - aka “Two Ways YOU can have an idea that belly-flops like mine!”
1. The delusional thoughts that lead to my self-destruction.
AKA - “my idea is so unique” syndrome.
While I THOUGHT I was the only one doing a “baby animal” session around Easter, the truth was? I just didn’t know about them yet. There were at least 3 other photographers offering a myriad of baby animal sessions. To put it bluntly, my idea was NOT unique. Why should someone come to my studio when the next studio was doing it for cheaper?
And, I know what you’re thinking, maybe everyone else just copied you. OK, so maybe you’re NOT thinking that, but I was thinking that 4 years ago when I did this session. The truth? They probably weren’t copying me.
LESSON: your “unique” idea might not be unique.
2. The wimpy idea vs. idea’s on steroids.
The other photographers did the idea better. It was like they had my idea but on steroids. One photographer didn’t just have baby chicks, she had goats and bunnies! Another photographer had baby chicks and lambs! The point was, they had at least two types of animals. I only had one (and thank god for that)!
LESSON: your idea needs to be ON STEROIDS if other photographers are doing something similar.
Take 10 seconds, and go ahead and laugh at my expense.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of our system, let's take a looksey at the ideas you came up with from the previous email, and go through the “steroids” process. That is, the process of making your idea unique and not something every other photographer down the street is doing. All the benefits of steroids without the acne or roid-rage outbursts.
The Steroid Infused Twist Process
Step 1: Mix-and-match two categories from the idea generator worksheet (you can find it here).
Create at least 20 mix-and-match combinations.
Now, before you start shunning your ideas thinking things like, “sure it’s creative, but nobody would hang a wall portrait of that idea...nobody would buy an entire ALBUM of that idea…” I want you to look PAST that.
Because, 1) you’re right, most people won’t by a wall portrait of an album of these crazy ideas (like white-washing each other with snow, for example...ok, maybe I PERSONALLY would).
BUT, 2) your session won’t necessarily BE only the “steroid-infused twist.” The twist is what gets them to notice you and gets them in the door, the rest of the session is where the money is being made (more on the steps to do this in next week’s lesson)
Target Market + Twist = Irresistible Idea
Target market examples from your worksheet would be things like hockey team, tweens, people who sled, and snowmobilers.
Twist ideas are your wacky, sometimes incredibly insane ideas from your worksheet from categories such as“things to throw” or “things people eat this time of year.”
Example: Ice skaters throwing buckets of water (a la “flour” photos, or do an indoor spin on it and actually DO flour photos of ice skaters), snowmobilers and their families drinking cocoa and roasting marshmallows at their day-camp, tween sledding party.
Step 2: Evaluate if this idea can be profitable, by using the Pay Certainty Test.
You need a market both WILLING and ABLE to pay - the “pay certainty factor”
Let me share a little story of a past client with you.
She walked in with Steve Madden heels, a Loui Vuitton purse dangling from her elbow, walking arm-in-arm with her husband, the son of one of the largest construction company’s in town.
She walked out?
Let's be frank: The photos were legitimately good. And I RARELY get a “no purchase.” It happens maybe once every two years - and this time? It was a complete shock to me. So this is a case where they had the means to pay for the photos, but they didn’t put much value on the photographs themselves.
However, one could argue that it is a possibility that they actually didn’t have money in the bank - that all of their money was tied up in mortgages and the designer purses.
Unfortunately - you can never totally avoid these types of situations. BUT, you can minimize your chances of these things happening.
The Pay-Certainty Test
Step 1: Ask yourself, does this target market have the MEANS to pay for your work?
In other words, can they afford me?
I know what you’re thinking. How can I really know if someone has the money to afford me?
There are certain professions and even sports that have a higher household income.
But before I share some of these with you, I want to let you know that there are always exceptions. Not all people with certain professions or in certain sports have disposable income. And at the same time, some people with minimum wage jobs can live frugally and have other sources of income that allow them a disposable income.
A word of caution: the suggestions below are based around what I have found in my community of 33,000 people in Montana. Just because people who work for the city/county usually have disposable income, doesn’t mean they will for you (the cost of living here may be much lower).
Professions: Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists, Orthodontists, people with a 4-year degree in general, Miners/anyone that works in a working mine, people who work for the city/county, people who work at the hospital, owners of construction company’s (although you know how that one panned out for me one time), business owners who have been around for 10+ years (if they’ve made it this far - chances are they have a profitable business. This is not always the case, however).
Sports / Interests / Schools - these ideas come from the fact that to be in most of these sports, it generally costs a lot of money.
Hockey, traveling sports teams, traveling dance teams, equestrian sports (horses), skiing/snowboarding, (minus the college ski bum), snowmobiling, private school sports teams / groups.
In other words, while you can target families who like to go sledding, any family can afford to go sledding. You are targeting everyone from people below the poverty line to those well above it.
On the other hand, if you target people on the hockey team, let me be clear - the gear is not cheap. There is a lot of travel costs associated with it. And, it isn’t a “school” sport in my town, meaning everything expense related comes out-of-pocket from the parents - there’s no “school money” or “tax money” brought in to it at all.
Step 2: Ask yourself, do they WANT to pay for your work?
Just because they pass question #1, doesn’t mean they will actually put a high value on photography and pay you what you deserve to make.
This step is much harder to figure out. And the only real way to understand if they are willing to pay, is to offer something to sell and see what happens.
And your “offer” is something we’ll talk about next week.
Until then, here are your next action steps.
Cross off any session ideas above from the Steroid Infused Twist that don’t pass the “pay-certainty” test.
Mix-and-match at least 20 session ideas to create a Client + Twist (find worksheet instructions and the worksheet from last week here)
Commit to ONE client target idea, and come up with 10-20 variations of a “twist.” Then, circle your top 2-3 twist ideas.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's lesson - where I’ll share with you exactly HOW to go about generating cash from these ideas, and my most lucrative Client + Twist idea that brought me in 9k last year (this framework brings me in at least 6k each time I implement).
Cheers to 6k!
P.P.S. Don’t forget to like us on facebook - where we share MORE delicious, bacon-infused strategies for photography!