Checking In: Changes and Improvements at CMP
Learning to be a responsible small business owner
First Things First
I heard about Courtney on a podcast. I always have a podcast on. Doing dishes? Check. Driving without Rufus? Check. Going for a walk? Check. It is not surprising then, that a podcast led me to one of the best discoveries I have made for my business. Her story and drive to help creatives really understand how to build a sustainable business resonated with me and I reached out to her that night.
Courtney is a well known wedding photographer who went back and got her MBA, started Creative Homeroom, and her wisdom and wit won me over right away. I hired her as my business coach and we dove in immediately. This has been a summer of intensely examining and strategizing for how to make my business function and flourish, how to provide value to the families I work with, and really digging deep to understand what makes my business different from the many family photographers out there.
A few quick takeaways- I learned that in order to take the time and provide the experience I want with the families I work with, my business model and pricing structure was not going to hold up. It seems so simple, and yet it was not.
My Old Ways
Previously, I had been offering my services and photos under one flat rate. There were options to buy albums and prints, and a few clients did, but it was easy to simply have all of your digitals to share immediately on social media and the downloads to use “someday.” This was a disservice to my clients. I am a mom, I am busy, and I know that it is not easy to get organized and use your photos. When really taking a close look back, I saw that so few of my families ever used their photos for anything.
You are investing in these pictures, and I want to help you bring them into the world.
Anyone who has recently had a wedding, or perhaps had an album made or framed a few photos around their home, knows that you do not need hundreds of photos. What will you do with 100 photos from the same day? In my experience shooting over 100 family sessions, 5-35 GREAT photos are where it’s at. My job -- the service I provide, is to very carefully help find and beautifully edit the best of the best. I love so many of the photos, I will always deliver quite a few, but together we will narrow it down so that you can showcase the best moments of your family.
The all inclusive model was failing me as well. One rate to edit huge numbers of photos that may or may not be used, including all of my time, editing, communication, assistance, organization before and after our session just didn’t add up. After I walked through a financial strategy with Courtney, I discovered that there wouldn’t be enough time in the day to make this model work. I think about the new pricing like this: The session fee covers our time, our communication, my research on locations and light, the guides I provide to make this process easy, and the actual photoshoot. My collections of framed prints, digital files, gift prints and albums are purchased after you receive your gallery of photos. This is great for all of my clients for a few reasons. (1) They choose the photos they love and that they’ll actually use. And (2), with a smaller up-front rate, it’s less of a commitment to purchase more that they’ll be able to use. I love it because I feel like my photographs and artistry are receiving proper value, and the important family memories won’t get lost in the digital abyss.
Here is what I want to stress: I could not, would not change my pricing without changing the way I approach my entire service. To start, I thought long and hard about what family photos mean to me.
Family photos are a way to build a legacy.
The photos, which are a delicious combination of keepsake and art, help kids to feel secure and confident, and give parents the gift of being truly seen. And to get out of digital limbo, they need to be printed and printed well -- in albums and framing that will last for generations.
So, you will see some changes over here. A new pricing structure, new offerings and services (that I am honestly so pumped for). I plan to keep on being vulnerable and blogging about motherhood, IVF, and mental health, as well as invite more moms to come and share their stories. I am also excited to dive deeper into ideas and recommendations for printing and hanging your photos.
I feel so confident knowing that Courtney helped me slog through what was working and what was not. I filled out more spreadsheets this summer than I have in my entire life and it was SO worth it.
I appreciate each and every family that I photograph. I want you to cherish your photos and be happy seeing them in your house for years to come. Send me any questions you might have about the changes and be sure to look at all of the new services I offer!