February 15, 2021
Have you ever sat down to work on your business, like blogging or posting on social media—the things that you know you’re supposed to do—just to find out that you don’t really know what to do? You sit down to work and you’re like, “Okay, I know there’s all these things I need to do. What do I do?” On today’s episode, you’re going to learn how to run a successful, busy, profitable photography business when you have no time. Sounds pretty great, right? Like almost unreal, but it’s totally doable. Because I hear from so many of you, “I have no time, Tavia, I’m so busy.”
First let’s talk about the difference between working on your business and working in your business. Chances are you spent a lot of time as a photographer doing things like answering e-mails, answering DMs, prepping for sessions, shooting sessions, and editing. Well, these are all things that have to be done as photographers, and they’re really important. But these are all examples of working in your business. You’re serving existing clients in some capacity. Working on your business is doing the activities that will help you get more clients, including things like blogging, posting on social, and running Facebook ads and promotions, things like that.
Let’s pretend here for a moment. Let’s imagine you’re getting all the work done. You need to get done every day in less than six hours. You have time to work out, do things that need to get done around the house, have coffee with a friend, play with your kids, read a book, and go to bed at a reasonable hour. And you’re actually excited to get up and do it all over again the next day. Does that sound like a complete dream?
Almost too good to be true? I mean, I totally get it, but that actually can be a reality for you. The truth is if you keep doing the things you’re doing in your business consistently, chances are you’re going to grow. Consistency, as you guys know I always say, is the name of the game when it comes to growing your business. But consistency taking the wrong actions will result in slower growth and more stress in your day-to-day life. I want to see you with a 6-figure photography business ASAP and a life that you love living. Both of those things. That’s the whole point, right?
If you’re thinking I’m going to tell you that you need to hire an assistant, an employee, or a team, you’re wrong. I do think that that is an important part of building a successful business, but it’s not required to make more while working less. The truth is, and you know this, we all have the same hours in a day and it’s how we choose to spend that time that directs our lives.
So how are some photographers able to be fully booked and do things like volunteer, homeschool or virtual school their kids, have date nights, and not stay up until 2 AM working? I personally work less than 40 hours a week running two businesses, and I’m always asleep by 9 PM. And that was true back to when my husband was working his nine to five as well. I actually recorded an episode with my friend Brandy, which comes out in a couple of weeks, where she said that she took off every Friday in 2020 and hit a million dollars in her business last year. How is that possible to work less than actually make more?
The answer is when you’re working, you’re working on a few growth activities that you know will make you money and bring in clients. It sounds simple, but let me explain what I mean and a little more detailed. Chances are you’ve heard about the 80-20 Rule, right? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t, but the 80-20 Rule says: 80% of results come from 20% of the action. You might hear experts talking about focusing on growth activities and spend your time doing the things that make you money in your business. This is what they mean, this is what they’re talking about: The 20%, and just a little sidebar here, in my companies it’s actually more like the 5% rule, meaning 95% of our results come from 5% of the actions. But at this point I have a team helping me and doing things for me. So the 5% that I’m doing to bring in revenue is much more specific because I have other people doing critical things in my business for me. Shout out to Stephanie! For now I want to start with you thinking about 20% of the activities that are going to bring in 80% of the revenue. But I just wanted to share that for us, it’s more like 5% of these really specific things bring in 95% of the revenue.
Let’s look at some examples about what this looks like, maybe in our day-to-day lives. Chances are, you have a lot of apps on your phone, but I’d be willing to bet that you only use 20% of them 80% of the time. I have a lot of workout gear, yoga pants, and like all kinds of stuff. Maybe you do too. But when I go to choose the clothes that I actually want to work out in, you guessed it: I choose 20% of what I had 80% of the time. And that goes really for all clothes, not even just workout clothes. If you have something like Spotify, you can listen to just about any song in the world. But if you’re anything like me, I bet you’re choosing the same set of songs, the 20% to listen to 80% of the time.
Focusing on your 20% in your business is what gives you the ability to work 20 or 30 hours a week instead of 50, 60, 70, 80, and still have a successful photography studio. And not only will you work less, but the things that you’re doing to grow will work faster because these are the needle movers in your business. Meaning these are the things that will bring in more revenue. So you’re with me so far if you understand you want to work less and earn more in your business and you know to focus on 20% of the actions that will result in 80% of the revenue.
You’re with me right now if you conceptually understand that. But chances are you’re thinking, “Okay, I got that Tavia. But what on earth are my 20% activities?” I’m going to share what mine were a few years ago when it was just me and my photography studio, but I want to let you know that mine are different now. As I’ve grown my studio, I’ve brought in photographers and team members, and we’ve grown The Beauty in Birth online. Our 20%, or 5% in my case, has shifted to things like team-building, leadership, and visioneering. Those are my 5%. (PS. I didn’t realize that visioneering is actually like a real word. I thought visioneering was a word that made up in my head because I thought of it as engineering my vision. So I was like, “Oh, visioneering! I’m so clever.” And then I Googled it and found out that it’s actually a real word that people use.) Those are the 5% that I focus on. Content, team building, leadership, and visioneering makes up our 5%. I just wanted to share that mine looked different now than they did five years ago in my business.
Let’s talk about what they were five years ago with my business. These are the Three 20% Activities to Create 80% of the Revenue (and they all start with C because I love alliterations whenever I can possibly use them).
Content is giving away something of value for free. For photographers, this typically looks like blog or social media content, but it doesn’t have to be. Content is something valuable. It can be education, it can be inspiring, or emotional. So does content bring revenue into your business? Because we’re focusing on a small percentage of activities that are actually going to bring in 80% of your revenue, right? The answer is, in a roundabout way, it does, because what great content does is it takes a cold audience, which is people who have never heard of you, and it quickly warms them up. It builds trust. It builds brand recognition and you’re the brand. And people are much more likely to purchase from you when they trust you.
Think about this: let’s say your ideal client is scrolling Facebook and they happen to see a link posted to your blog content and they see, “Huh, the title sounds interesting.” And they see who posted it, which is you, which is a little ping in their mind because that’s the first time they’re seeing your name. Maybe they don’t even click on it, but they’ve seen you now, right? And a few days later, maybe not seeing person’s Facebook friend shares a blog post that you wrote, maybe about the best things to register for in your city when you’re expecting a new baby. And that little ping happens again in their brain when they see your name. They’re starting to recognize and become familiar with your brand.
Do you see how creating content can start to build trust with a cold audience? It shows them that you’re reliable and you’re consistent. And if you’re those things for your blog, well in their mind, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be reliable and consistent for them as well. I wholeheartedly attribute creating consistent content for my massive growth from 2015 to 2017 and 2016, 2017 was when we had to start turning birth clients away because it was just me and my schedule is fully booked.
Creating content is still a primary part of my 5% even as our companies have grown. In fact, my 5%, like I mentioned earlier, are:
Those are the 5% activities that I know move the needle in my business. Let’s get back to you. 80% of your results will come from this part of the 20% creating one piece of content that can be repurposed for social media, e-mail newsletters, and building trust to bring in clients. So if you’re not currently creating content, this is your sign. Get going, girl.
I want to say one more thing about creating content before we move on to number two. And that is it’s important to create content that drives demand for your services. So you’re not just creating content to create content. If you’re just throwing it out there, it’s going to be much less effective.
For example, as a birth photographer, I could create a blog post about how to decorate your babies in our story. This applies to my ideal client because she’s going to have a baby and cares about having a well-designed nursery. Or I can make one small tweak to this blog post to keep it relevant to my ideal client and create demand for my service. And here’s that one small tweak: how to use maternity and newborn photos in your baby’s nursery. Do you see how that one small tweak and content from just how to decorate your baby’s nursery to how to use maternity and newborn photos in your baby’s nursery then starts to create demand for you as a maternity and newborn photographer.
So you’re not just creating content to create content. You’re thinking, how can I serve my ideal client for free as well as create demand for my service?
What does this mean? Basically, don’t take your existing relationships in your business for granted like your existing clients, your existing community of moms, your followers, your e-mail list, and your existing community of vendors. Invest your time and energy into these relationships before you start running out, looking for new connections. Think about it like this, and this is a mistake that I see. I definitely made it and I see a lot of newer photographers making where they feel like they have to keep growing their audience, they have to keep increasing their following, growing their e-mail list, and they’re not taking the time to cultivate the people that are already there, the people and the relationships that they already have.
Think about it like this: Let’s imagine you’re having a dinner party and your home is full of people, having fun and eating and talking and there’s music. And then all of a sudden you neglect your house full of people to run out to the street. And you start yelling, “Hey, everyone, we’re having a dinner party in here. The food is so good. We have gluten-free options, vegetarian, we have desserts, mocktails for those who don’t want alcohol. Hey everybody, did you hear I’m having a party want to come?”
So while you’re outside screaming for other people to come join your party, the people in your house would start to feel pretty neglected, right? They might even think that you don’t care that much about them anymore and they might even leave. This is the importance of cultivating the connections you already have. The 80-20 Rule absolutely applies here as well. I don’t know about you, but 20% of my clients send me 80% of the referrals. And 20% of my vendor partnerships send me 80% of the new moms who hire us. So stay in contact with your connections and go the extra mile. Treat them with excellence, like valued dinner guests.
So we’re almost done with the list, but I want to make sure that you stick around and listen to the end. If you found any value in this, because I’m going to share a free training that we have coming up that will explain everything we’re talking about today in even more detail.
(GIVE A) CALL TO ACTION
A call to action is an invitation to your potential client or existing client to work with you in some capacity. That might be joining your e-mail list or a free Facebook group, or fill out your contact form. People need to know that you’re available and they need to know when you have openings, what you do that is amazing, and why they should hire you and then tell them how they can. I’d be willing to bet you’re not putting out as many calls to action as you could be to grow your business.
Try this little exercise: have a look through your most recent social media post. When is the last time you made a post telling people that you have an opening and to contact you? Do you have to scroll way back to find one? Typically, photographers fall into one of two camps: They’re either only posting on social media to sell, or they’re primarily only posting on social media to give. And if you fall into the last one, mainly giving on social media and not really asking for much in return as far as a call to action to purchase from you, I’m going to invite you to create every other post for a while with a direct call to action and see what happens. What NOT to do when you’re doing this is saying like, “Hey, I have three openings for birth in September, DM me.” Sorry, but that is lazy. That is a call to action, but there is like zero value in that whatsoever with the person reading it.
You can still give value in your post and have a very direct call to action. So what to do is to talk about birth photography and why it’s valuable. How does it make people feel? Do you have a testimonial that you can share? Give some kind of education and inspiration, then throw in your direct call to action. These calls to actions are most definitely the 20% that bring in the 80%. This is how you make money so you can serve more families.
So now, you know what steps to take for the 20% of activities that will move your business forward. If you need more help figuring out things like what content should I create and how can I get tasks into a repeatable system so I don’t forget anything to make them take even less time and see better results faster, come check out my training all about the booked-out photographer method. This is the method I used to retire my husband from his nine to five back in 2018. And I want to share it with you so that you can start seeing progress and growth in your business too. This training is TOTALLY FREE. You can sign up at getbirthphotographyclients.com.
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And don’t forget my friend. If you have a passion, there is a reason not everyone loves the thing that you love. So whatever it is, get out there and make it happen. Have a great week guys.
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