Let's talk about the biggest mistakes we, as photographers, are making.
If you find that you are making any of these mistakes it could mean that you're losing money, you're losing bookings and that your business will fail to thrive. I wouldn't just leave you with a downer though. I'm also going to tell you how to avoid these mistakes so that your business CAN and WILL thrive!
1) ONLINE VIEWING/ORDERING
To start off, the number one mistake that I see boudoir photographers making is doing online viewing and ordering sessions. I know a lot of you are gonna say “but you know that's what I offer, that's all that I can do” and you're gonna say that “you're busy or you don't have a studio or you have kids excuse excuse excuse.” I'm here to tell you that if you want to have a successful business and make the money that you know you deserve, you need to realize that you are screwing yourself over by doing online ordering sessions. I know so far this is a lot of tough love but don't worry because I'm here to teach you how to fix this!
Online ordering sessions are a problem because no matter what precautions you try to take, truth is, your clients are in charge, and you are not. Even if your client isn't tech savvy enough to steal the images from your online host, they will be able to put off actually making an order and instead they will have that online gallery available to them to go and see their photos whenever they want to, for as long as they want to delay paying you. I know you can set rules and deadlines for their order but the bottom line is that you want their money for the work you did and they KNOW that. So saying you'll “take down” their gallery in 2 weeks won't scare them because they know you want their money 😉
I also feel like you are really doing your client a dis-service by putting them in a room with their boudoir photos and not making yourself available to help them with their choices. After all, we want our clients to have the best photos from their shoot, and the photographer's opinion is valued! I've known other people in the area doing online viewing and ordering instead of in person sales, but with in person sales the client knows that they will only have this one chance to make their order, and at the same time you know that you will be making a sale. Plus, you will be there to help your client out, and they will thank you for that, honestly, they shouldn't have to do all the work, that is what they are paying you for after all! With in person viewing you can avoid all of the problems of online ordering, while also adding value to your sessions, which means you are able to charge more, and you are definitely setting yourself apart from the newbies. Bottom line, if you're still doing online viewing do whatever it takes to switch to in person viewing and ordering (or better yet same day) as soon as possible.
If you want to learn all about how I prep my images for SAME DAY in person viewing click here.
2) FAILURE TO EDUCATE CLIENTS
Another mistake i see photographers making is failure to educate their clients. By taking the time to make sure that your client understands the process you will save everyone a lot of grief. If you find that your clients are asking a million questions, or that they have problems understanding order time and pricing then this might be a mistake that you are making.
It might take more time to educate them but the extra effort is worth it. In the end you'll have larger sales and more satisfied clients! The easiest way that I have found to educate my clients is with the use of a boudoir questionnaire. I created my own questionnaire and tweaked it out over many years until it was perfect for me and my business. A questionnaire has been the easiest and most efficient way for me to educate clients and to ensure that they understand what I expect and what they should expect for their shoot. I do agree that having a personal consult is great, but sometimes you and/or your client will have such a crazy busy schedule that you will find that it's going to be impossible to schedule the meeting, in which case a questionnaire is the perfect thing. Now, you might be wondering how asking questions will work to educate a client, so here is an example question that I use for my clients:
Do you have your outfits ready to be photographed?
- Yes! I have my outfits ready
- Yes, but I have more than 3 outfits, I would like to add outfits!
- No, I don't have my outfits ready. Please call me!
Now, in this question the client can see that I expect them to have three outfits for their shoot, if they have more than three they can either add more outfits to be photographed in (great up-sell) or they can bring them all and we can discuss which ones work best (narrow them down to 3), and if they don’t have their outfits picked out they can call me for advice. By developing a questionnaire that suits your business, and stuffing lots of information into your questions you can make things run smoothly for you and your clients, educate them at the same time, and everyone will be happy.
3) SHARING CONTRACTS
I see so many photographers sharing contracts, merging contracts together, and buying contracts from non-lawyer based services. As a photographer I too did the same thing when I was first starting and I WISH that present Molly would have woke past Molly up in the middle of the night and told her to “get legal with it!” I mean, reality check, this shit is important!! It's funny how we view something like a contract to be secondary to posing, lighting and props. How ridiculous is this? The repercussions of not having the best backdrop are far less then that of having a weak contract.
In our (photographers) defense I think most of us just simply. DONT. KNOW. We maybe don't know where to get a real contract. Do we contact a lawyer? Can we buy one online? As creatives this is pretty damn foreign. I'm happy to share that a fellow photographer, who is ALSO a LAWYER has contracts specifically for boudoir photographers. You can buy a specific contract individually (it's super affordable) OR you can buy the whole bundle which is SO worth it. You can sleep at night having an amazing contract PLUS a payment plan contract, etc. You can check them out here.
4) PULLING PRICES OUT OF THIN AIR
Problem number 4 (saved the best for last), Pulling prices out of thin air. When you're first starting a photograph business it might seem easiest for you to just look around at what other similar businesses in the area are charging for their services and price your own work accordingly, or maybe a little bit less hoping that it will bring in more business, but this is a huge mistake.
What you really need to be doing is taking the time to sit down and calculate your exact expenses. I know that this sounds super boring but it is crucial for your business to thrive. If it's between taking an hour to set aside and do all of the math for your pricing, or not having enough money to send your kids to college (or insert your dream of choice here) , what do you think you should choose?
Now, if you aren't exactly sure how to do the pricing math, I have written an article with exact steps on how to price your photography here. I also have a full excel spreadsheet where you just plug in your numbers and it shows you the expenses and how to find your hourly rate and how to figure out what you should be charging. I’m begging you, do this! The plug and play worksheet I've created is included in my online course, Boudoir Business Camp. Don't put it off any longer…
…because I don't want to see you fail. Close to 50% of businesses fail within the first three years, and having accurate pricing is one of the things that will help you to succeed! Once you understand your pricing and start to have a lot of money coming in, trust me, you will learn to LOVE NUMBERS!
What do you think is the biggest mistake boudoir photographers are making? Please leave your feedback below – I'd love to hear from you!