March 7, 2023
We invited one of our students from our Photo Major course onto the show for a little mini- coaching call session, and BOY is it a good one.
On today’s coaching call with Sarah, we answered the biggest questions she had as she’s continuing to build her local photography business while also being a wife and mother. Sarah brought some SOLID questions such as how to strategically use reels to market a photography business when trying to market to a very specific local demographic in a very rural town, how to approach paying vendors for styled shoots, whether or not contracts are necessary for styled shoots, and lots more on styled shoots. And then we ended the episode with a couple of beautiful questions on how to practically know when it’s time to pivot something in your business (for example if you’re stepping into motherhood, how you can approach the pivot), and then Sarah asked us our biggest piece of advice or wisdom we’ve ever received that has deeply impacted us and our businesses.
Lindsey: Who are you? Where are you at? What stage of photography are you in?
Sarah: My name is Sarah Merck I am a wedding and lifestyle photographer. I’ve been in the industry for 4.5 years. Life changes from being engaged, married, having our third baby, and moving between states. I am at that point in pivoting my marketing more locally. Trying to navigate those personal seasonal changes and still serving my clients. Being present in both.
Lindsey: You’re trying to find the balance between raising children and building your photography business.
Sarah: Focusing mainly on social media marketing first. How would you navigate reels/social media marketing or other media marketing to hone down on my local ideal client avatar with reels since I am a local service-based business and not targeted for my specific area (North Dakota)?
Evie: Are you still wanting to expand to education in general at some point?
Sarah: As of right now the Lord has not put on my heart to dive full force into education, but in the simple sense of a graphic with education on a lower level, so yes.
Evie: There’s still a benefit and side of social media that is outside of that very pinpoint specific location that you can still have in the back of your mind. It doesn’t have to be at the forefront of your strategy. For your current business model, you want to keep it very local, but there is also potential for you to pivot down the road to a broader geographic region. There is a benefit still to growing a strategic purpose-filled page even if all of those clients aren’t in North Dakota.
Sarah: Yes, not neglecting future opportunities.
Lindsey: Geotags are where my mind immediately goes. Reels are great but don’t feel like you have to focus solely on them. For your social media, I don’t want it to be so focused on reels that we don’t ignore the reality that word of mouth, especially in a small town is so prime. Leaving flyers around town and in your church bulletin is just as powerful as reels when it comes to small-town marketing. Continue to focus on in-person stuff, but then connect with other local wedding vendors and do joint lives. Or doing swaps taking over their audience and giving advice.
Evie: Remember that reels are algorithmic and very targetted to certain people. You can still be very location specific with your reels.
Sarah: When you do a styled shoot it is a trade of services for a product usually. If a florist says they can’t do all floral for free but can do X amount, how would you navigate that? Is it a personal discernment?
Lindsey: Florists especially it is not unusual for them to ask for payment since they have to buy the flowers at cost anyway. When we’ve done styled shoots, I’ve paid for bouquets and usually, they charge for at cost. That’s not unusual. Sometimes makeup and hair artists do the same.
Sarah: If you are working with X amount of vendors and you make it clear the service traded is photos, etc but then you open it up to photographers to come and have to pay a ticket price. Is that undermining the other vendors? Since I’m getting the profit.
Evie: I don’t think so either, but it is very much situational. If you are getting all these vendors to donate their time and effort for free and you’re having 10 photographers come at $500 a piece and you’re making 5k, then no. Pay your vendors at that point. However if you are paying for the wholesale florals and have expenses coming out of pocket, then not a problem. It comes down to an honor system. It comes down to how many photographers are joining you and how much are they paying.
Sarah: Doing a local-based shoot, would you say each vendor and attendee have a contract agreement?
Lindsey: Yes. 100%, but I’ll be honest I didn’t do it at the beginning.
Sarah: How did you know it was time to expand your career within photography? What did that process and discern look like for you each?
Evie: For me, I got married a year and a half ago. The minute Landon proposed I begin to feel the urge to be able to step back from businesses. I don’t know if there were any key moments, but the proposal was definitely God shifting the seasons and making those obvious.
Lindsey: Even though I did do the hustle season before kids, even before Eloise came along I was giving my business so much time and energy. Andrew was getting scraps as my husband. That was when I made my first outsourcing, either a VA or editing. It was the overwhelm of hustle that I felt the urge to build a smarter system so when I did incorporate children it would be more sustainable.
Sarah: Make sure that your priorities are well-ordered. Your career should never come before your kids and your spouse.
Sarah: What would you say is the most pivotal advice you have received?
Lindsey: What are your priorities in life? And why did you build your business? So often when we start the side hustle and business we let that take over the priorities that we started it for in the first place. Never sacrifice things that are eternal and things that are not.
Evie: The number one thing that comes to my mind, is doing business, and life with God is the most rewarding, beautiful, and least chaotic thing in the world. There is nothing that compares to the wisdom that He carries that we have access to. The big picture that we can tap into for the world, our business, and our life.
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