What I Learned From JCP That DOUBLED My Sales

I never worked at JCPenney, but that didn’t stop me from learning a business strategy that doubled my income!

I went into a JCP and just watched how their portrait photography section did everything, trying to learn the why’s behind their success, and then see if I could apply that success secret to my own business. Big businesses like JCP are really good at one thing, and that’s what has propelled them into massive growth and success. That one thing: systems.

That’s pretty general, I know. Let me break it down into three specific systems:

1. Set-ups

At JCP, there were just a few set-ups, and they stayed set up! They didn’t waste time with set up and tear down every day, and they didn’t worry about switching things out or creating new sets for every customer.

As creatives, as photographers, we’re always trying to create something new. We want things to be exciting and special, but we end up running ourselves into the ground trying to always come up with new ideas or new special sets. Here’s what I realized by watching JCP: every client is new, so even though what you’re doing is old to you, it’s new to them!

I have three go-to set-ups and I leave them set up at all times! It saves me so much stress and so much time, which in turn makes my shoots better. I might change little details, like the sheets on my bed, the backdrop I use, or the accessory I feature, but the general concepts stay the same. My client doesn’t know that I didn’t make this set-up for her and doesn’t feel any less special.

2. Viewing and ordering

My world was rocked when I saw JCP immediately show their clients the pictures and immediately go into the ordering session. It made so much sense! It made for one less session to schedule, one less trip for the clients to make, and it would significantly cut down on editing time! Think about it: when you call your clients back for a separate viewing session, you’re showing them all of your shots (minus the obvious duds) and all of those shots are edited, but the client will only end up purchasing maybe half of those images. If you quickly cut down to your best 60 or so shots, don’t edit, and then show those images to your clients right away, you’re saving yourself time, energy, and money!

I wrote more extensively on this topic over here: DAVO

3. Poses and facial expressions

Same thing as the sets: stop reinventing the wheel! The same poses and the same expression work for every single client. By having 5 core poses and then doing the same 4 facial expressions with each pose, I immediately have 20 shots per set-up that I didn’t even have to think about and that I know with certainty will result in something my client will love.

If that feels boring or too systematic for you, you can still mix it up! Get your consistent shots done and out of the way so you for sure have some good shots, and then spend the last 15 minutes or so of your shoot playing around and trying things out. Or get a friend or a model in about once a month to just experiment.


What you really need to remember is that you’re a business owner, a professional photographer. The biggest difference between hobbyist and professionals is the seriousness. If you’re a professional, you want people to take you seriously, and you want them to pay serious prices. The easiest and fastest way to achieve that is consistency, and you get consistency from systems. Remember: it’s not about what’s new to you, it’s about what’s new to the client. If you can consistently deliver amazing photos and an incredible experience without wearing yourself out, that’s how you create a successful business.

I teach these systems more in depth and with a few other trade secrets in my Boudoir Certified course and my students consistently exceed! If you’re ready to have a successful business and make a six-figure income with boudoir photography, book your complimentary 1:1 strategy session and we can create a custom plan for you to make that dream come true.


JCP had it right: what I learned that DOUBLED my sales

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Molly Keyser

Boudoir photographer and business coach, I am dedicated to changing the world with the power of a camera. Originally from Wisconsin, I'm now in Texas, but I help photographers around the world learn how to go full-time with boudoir photography.