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Business

3 Easy Ways Creatives Can Turn Inquiries into Clients

One of the most popular questions we get is: Should I put my prices on my website, or not?

After years of trial and error on this topic, having our prices on our photography website, then taking them down in a panic, then putting them back up, then changing our prices, then finally finding a sweet spot and sticking to it, this is what we found worked best for us…

  1. Put starting prices on website.
  2. Add space for those inquiring to include their phone number on contact form.
  3. Call and/or send video email message first, instead of writing an email back.

That’s it. Those are our 3 easy ways creatives can turn inquiries into clients and take care of that nagging question regarding pricing on websites. Sound too good to make that much of a difference?

Keep reading.

Let’s see what this looks like in real life and talk about how you can maximize these 3 easy things…

Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer (stick with me if you’re not in the wedding industry; the principles apply to you, too). There is a couple who’s been eyeing your work ever since briefly meeting you at the bride-to-be’s cousin’s wedding a few months ago. Said couple gets engaged and sends emails inquiring about wedding photography to five photographers they think are super talented.

You are one of those photographers.

Put starting prices on your website…

Said couple allots $3,000 for their wedding photography. Your main package is $3,750. If that’s on your website, said couple might see it and run, even though they enjoyed bumping into you at their cousin’s cake table, because they have four other options.

FIX: You shoot elopements for $2,500. Put this as a starting rate on your website. It opens the door for conversations you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Said couple already likes you. Your goal is to get a consultation with them. Buy them coffee and a chocolate croissant, learn all about them, connect with them, show them your true colors, discover quirky likes and dislikes you have in common, they start to love you, they hire you and you give them the best darn experience as their chosen wedding photographer!

None of that can happen if they count you out because of that $3,750 price tag on your website.

It’s important to note you’re not trying to trick couples into changing their budgets for you. What you’re doing, is creating an opportunity for couples to get to know you and your brand better, which also, a lot of the time, increases their perceived value of what you have to offer.

We do this all the time in everyday life…

I see a shirt at Nordstrom. I think it’s super expensive. But then, I try it on. It feels so soft. I look so good! I buy the shirt because I changed my perceived value of what it can do for me.

Add space for those inquiring to include their phone number on your contact form…

Said couple sees your $2,500 starting rate on your website! “WOO HOO,” they think! She was so awesome and this might work out, after all. They email you, along with those four other wedding photographers, in hopes you’re available for their wedding date. You’re excited! You want to put your best foot forward and stand out from the crowd!

The biggest mistake most creative entrepreneurs make when they get an email inquiry is replying to the potential client with a regular, plain old written email.

Pick up the phone and give them a call instead OR send them a video message response instead of writing back! I know it might feel scary or weird, but I promise if you proceed with excitement for them and confidence in what you do, you will stand out (and, you might just make their day because in this busy world you took the extra time to do something thoughtful and personal!)

Call and/or send video email message first, instead of writing an email back…

When you do this, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Know your purpose for calling/sending video. If your purpose is to simply book a meeting with them, you might say (or leave a voicemail that says), “Hi _______! I just received your email and I wanted to call and say CONGRATS! I’m so excited because I AM available for your wedding date! I’d love to get together with you and your fiancé so we can see if we’re all a good fit! What works best for the two of you?!” Feel free to add more of your personality, a little on-brand touch or anything else that feels authentic to you and the reason you want to chat with this couple.
  2. Smile. Smiling is contagious, even over the phone. Especially when they see your face in a video. Show them you’re friendly and easy to talk to.
  3. Write out a script so you have something to fall back on if you get nervous or lose your place.
  4. PRACTICE!!! Send your mom a video message. Test out your call script with your husband.
  5. Follow up with an email, AFTER you call/leave a message. (If you are sending a video message instead of calling, you can include more details below the video in the same email.)
  6. Calling/sending a video message instead of simply sending a written email might seem terrifying to you! We totally get that. This is a great opportunity for you to get outside of your comfort zone for the sake of BIG things happening in your business.

In a perfect world (and once you’ve built a brand that attracts your ideal clients this will happen), dream clients email you and already know they’re going to hire you. But this takes time and relationship equity and trust. If you’re not at this place in your business yet, following these 3 easy steps will help you turn inquiries into clients because you’re taking a regular situation (getting an inquiry) and creating an opportunity for yourself to show personality and thoughtfulness and therefore, stand out.

Trust me, your potential clients will notice.  

Want more help from here, after you get that meeting with your inquiries? Check out our How to Close More Sales to increase your booking rate!

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Business

5 Ways Creative Entrepreneurs Can Get Fast Referrals

More, more, more! Everyone wants more! More clients! More reach! More likes + comments! More followers! More money for more vacations! I get that. I often find myself in that same spot, thinking…

How can we improve our business? How can we refine our processes to influence even more creative entrepreneurs? How can we increase our numbers so we can build that savings account and retirement fund even faster?

I want you to STOP for a second. I want us to stop for a second.

We have everything we need, right now.

Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like it. But, there are incredible opportunities at our fingertips. Referrals, relationships, inquiries…there, waiting for us!

So, how do experience all the goodness that’s waiting for us? Well, we want to share with you 5 ways creative entrepreneurs can get fast referrals…

  1. Take a look at your inbox…what relationships are sitting in there, waiting to be nurtured? Who can you encourage? What action can you take to help someone who needs it? Who can you send a genuine referral to? Who can you connect with someone else you know?
  2. Take a look at your current clients (whether that’s 2 or 20)…who can you reach out to to show you care? How can you over-deliver on your promises + contract? How can you answer their questions before they have to ask so they feel super taken care of? How can you treat your client more like you’d treat your friend?
  3. Take a look at the networking event you’re going to this month…who’s going to be there that you’ve been wanting to connect with? How can you offer value to someone you look up to? What can you do to make their life easier or better? Who can you start engaging with on social media before your next event?
  4. Take a look at your Instagram comments…who’s been cheering you on? How can you return the favor? Who have you met in the last couple of weeks that you can go encourage on Instagram? How many supportive comments and genuine connections can you make in one day?!
  5. Take a look in the mirror…have you been giving your all to everything you already have? The opportunities? The relationships? The clients? The hours you put in working? Are you scrolling Facebook when you should be working? Are you feeling sluggish and need to go for a run before getting back to work? What do you need to do to function at your best?

More is out there, waiting for you. There are people looking for YOU! And, I know it’s tempting to go and try to find them all at once! I mean, there are so many rad marketing strategies waiting for you, like using Instagram stories, using video for your business in other ways, getting super smart with your social media posts, starting a newsletter, building life-giving relationships with your fellow creative entrepreneurs, giving Facebook ads a whirl…SO MANY awesome ways to show the world who you are and what you stand for and how you can make your ideal client’s life better!!! BUT…

Yes, there’s a BUT…

So often, we jump the gun and go there first. ALL of those strategies will help you grow your creative business, but, we believe it’s vital to take care of what we’ve been given, all along the way, no matter what stage of business you’re in or how much money you make.

We believe the easiest advertising you can do, the fastest way to get referrals, well, it’s at your fingertips. It’s giving your all to everything you’ve been given.

Make the most of it + I guarantee more will come your way!

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Business

My 5 wisest words of advice for creative entrepreneurs

In the last 8 years, Jesse and I have created two businesses. The whole point of this entrepreneur adventure, for us, is to share all we have with the world and hopefully by doing this, we’ve made someone’s life better. Oh, and we definitely dig mid-day bike rides and soaking up sunshine on the coast (which certainly has something to do with us living and loving this gig, too).

Since a quarter of my life has now been spent in entrepreneurship, and I’ve had approximately 97 meltdowns along the way, I figured I’d share with you what I do know. My lessons learned over the years. My 5 wisest words of advice for creative entrepreneurs…

Grace
Take it easy on yourself. No matter what you do or don’t do; no matter if you meet your expectations for yourself or not, give yourself some grace. We are our own worst enemies. Think of the respect, grace and understanding you offer your best friend when times are tough. Are you that kind to yourself? I know I’m not, a lot of the time, because perfectionism wiggles its way into my mind and I can be really hard on myself. But the more intentionally I work on grace, the less disappointed I am. I am happier, freer and actually more productive and successful.

Boundaries
There are two ways I’ve learned to use boundaries to my advantage. The first is probably the most obvious: establish boundaries for work/life balance. Shut the office door at night. Put fun, social, personal things on the calendar first each week, so you don’t run yourself into the ground. Create office hours. STICK TO THE OFFICE HOURS.

The second way is this: Guard your heart. Not everyone is going to understand, be interested in or possibly even support your ideas and decisions in entrepreneurship. That’s okay. Keep those relationships about something else. Don’t pour out your heart about your business dreams to these people if you know their response will disappoint you. There are so many people who DO get it (umm, hello, we’re right HERE!!!).

Strategy
The fastest way to get to where you want to be is by having a strategy. This comes in all shapes and sizes, for all sorts of things like networking, how you spend your time working on your business and in your business, social media advertising, marketing . . . you name it, you need to have a strategy for it!

Ask yourself: What is my purpose? What can I do with this partnership, Instagram post or conference I’m going to that will better my business and take me to the next level? How can I make this a win-win situation for everyone involved? If strategy isn’t your strength (yet), write one of these questions on a Post-it and put it on your computer as a reminder to guide your business in that direction.

Persistence
Those who make it to the top of the mountain have had plenty of crummy days in the valley. But the reason they “made it”? Persistence. You will doubt your dreams. You will want to give up, for good. Don’t do that! Instead, cry it out. Do some yoga. Just breathe, and maybe get yourself a brownie, too. And then, tweak your plan and try again. Repeat after me:

“Fear, pride, comparison, naysayers, self-doubt and failure will not stop me from living to my fullest potential.”

Use those challenges and setbacks to grow and position yourself as a leader whose ways are tried and true.

Gratitude
Gratitude is a cure-all. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy and experience true joy. And it’s the absolute BEST way to start your day. Even in the crappiest of situations, there’s something to be grateful for. Nothing is too little to go unnoticed either! Wake up each day and set the tone for all that’s to come. Make it a new habit to inject gratitude into your day.

Soon, this new habit will shape your new sunshiny perspective. This is HUGE when you’re a business owner because there will always be ups and downs. The more successful you become, the more potential there is for complicated challenges. Gratitude is one vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to a solid mindset.

No matter what situation I’m in or challenge I’m facing, one of these words is usually the answer. Try them out. Let me know what words have taught you the most and help you be and do everything you’ve dreamed up for your business!

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Business

The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin

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If you’re familiar with Seth Godin’s writing and overall mentality, you know that — through his powerful and clever words — he makes you feel like you can conquer any and every adversity that’s ever weaseled its way into your head or heart. And if you don’t, well, you’re just not living life to the fullest. Word to your mother, Mr. Godin. Thank you for being so severe that we can’t wiggle away from ourselves. Somewhere in the middle of The Icarus Deception, Godin says, “What I’m hoping I might do is get under your skin enough that you’ll ask yourself some hard questions about why you’re not achieving as much as you would like (and why you’re not as happy as you’d like to be).” Mission accomplished.

First order of business: Who’s Icarus? In Greek Mythology, Icarus’s father, Daedalus, created a set of wings (made of feathers and wax) for himself and Icarus, so they could escape Crete. Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high or too low. We mostly remember the part about Icarus letting his hubris (self-confidence) get the best of him. Entranced by his ability to fly, he flies too high, too close to the sun and ends up melting his wings, falls to the sea and dies.

Godin says we’re consistently warned not to fly too high. But what about flying too low? Is that really a better option? Complacency. Settling. “Sit quietly, do what you’re told, and perhaps, one day, you’ll get out of the debt and be a winner.” No thanks.

And maybe you’re currently killing it at work. Maybe you are your boss’s righthand (wo)man. You’re smashing it for their success and happiness. But what about your success? What about your happiness? “Just because you’re winning a game doesn’t mean it’s a good game.” Yes, it’s frightening to break free from the cookie-cutter mold. I mean, cookies are one of the best comfort foods. Am I right? And maybe you’re currently killing it at work. Maybe you are your boss’s righthand (wo)man. You’re smashing it for their success and happiness. But what about your success? What about your happiness? “Just because you’re winning a game doesn’t mean it’s a good game.”

Okay, so it’s time to break free. It’s scary business. But guess what, it was (and still is!) scary for anyone that’s done it. “All of those people who you say are your artistic heroes…All of those people who have made such a difference in the world…None of those people were ordained. None of those people were pre-approved,” Godin reminds us.

Godin wants to know: How high will you fly?

Well, that’s up to you. That’s up to the ruckus you want to ensue. “We can be as safe as possible and it’s not going to generate growth, it’s not going to take advantage of the myriad connections we can now make, and it’s certainly not going to benefit you.” It’s up to you to share your passion and talent. It’s up to you to leverage your network to increase your impact, says Godin. We have a big, fat open door. Just waiting for us to connect, to grow, to influence. It’s called the Internet.

Whether we intend to or not, what we say and how we interact with anyone and everyone we meet, will somehow affect them. Godin says the only questions are: “How will they be different” and “How different will they be?” Every interaction gives us an opportunity to disappoint someone OR exceed their expectations. Of course, we all want to exceed the expectations of our clients/customers. “It’s easy to market and manipulate your way into the quick smile or the Broadway-theater obligatory standing ovation. What’s more difficult is to do the less-congratulated work of getting under someone’s skin, of changing the conversation, and of being missed when you’re gone.”

Godin says we need to dig deeper and invest in long-term connection, through our art. We must be genuine. We must get real with ourselves before we can expect anyone to really take us seriously. We must withdraw ourselves from the popularity contest and stand up for what we believe in. Create art and conversation that is meaningful. There will be naysayers and critics. Fear will pound at our doors. But Godin says, in this connection economy, in which we live, “it’s the person who doesn’t enter the arena who is punished…We’ve greatly exaggerated the risk of sinking, without celebrating the value of swimming.”

So, we must connect. There are endless opportunities for us to connect and influence online.

Here’s a good place to start:

  • Who do you want to connect with?
  • How can you make art and/or conversation that will connect with those people/groups?
  • What problems can you solve publicly?
  • What is your mission?
  • Who can you add to your tribe along the way, as you make progress on your mission?
  • How can you encourage others in their missions?
  • What forums or groups can you get involved in?
  • Who would benefit from you reassuring them?

“We built this world for you. Not so you would watch more online videos, keep up on your feeds, and LOL with your high school friends. We built it so you could do what you’re capable of. Without apology and without excuse. Go.”

Read the book! As with any of our book reviews and summaries, they are not replacements for reading the book yourself. You can get it here.

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Business

Incorporating Your Strengths

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Last week, we learned that using the StrengthsFinder® assessment starts the conversation of where our greatest capacities lie. This not only gives you some ammunition to work with when building a better brand, but it also helps justify why owning your unique abilities is crucial to long-term success.

I want to take it a step farther and help you identify areas where you can begin creating more space to function in your strengths more consistently in the day-to-day tasks of your business.

Start incorporating your strengths by taking some time to answer these questions:

What tasks exhaust me?
What about my work is energizing?
What can I delegate to function more in my strengths?

Out of the answers, did anything surprise you? Do you feel you have people in your life who can alleviate some of the tasks that keep you from functioning more in areas where you naturally excel? This isn’t an excuse to be irresponsible and abandon everything about running a business that you hate. The IRS will be on your tail in no time flat if that’s what you’re getting from all this strengths talk. What I’m saying is that a MAJORITY of your time should be spent on things that energize you. There are still going to be days when you have to be a responsible adult/business owner…our apologies. There’s no free pass for that one. The goal here is to streamline your process and carve out space to hone your craft. If your business is slow right now, this is the perfect time to analyze reasons why you aren’t attr acting more clients.If your business is slow right now, this is the perfect time to analyze reasons why you aren’t attracting more clients. You may just need to identify someone you can partner with that will provide the yin to your yang. Or maybe you just need an outside perspective (we highly encourage feedback and tough love).

Here are some helpful tools to keep you on track:

Set office hours. Sticking to those hours will make it harder to compromise your values, easier to accomplish your goals and make you more intentional about how you spend the hours you have in a day. With limited hours, we tend to function with more focus and feel better about delegating tasks that aren’t the best use of our limited time.

Create a workflow. It’s likely most of you have a good workflow already. You know how much time it takes to complete each task and are fully aware of what pieces of the puzzle you aren’t super stoked about doing. The goal here is to be realistic about what steps of your workflow you dread (and consequently leave you backlogged) or completely drain you altogether. These steps either need to be farmed out to someone else OR you need to come up with a system that allows you to tackle those tasks without wanting to punch yourself in the face.

Write a job description. Here’s why writing out a job description is important: it gives you clarity in terms of what your responsibilities are, keeps you from spending a majority of your time on work that doesn’t reflect your greatest abilities and sheds light on areas of your business you need to delegate to people who are better at those functions than you. If you’re an army of one, you still need a job description. It’s unbelievable how much time we spend on tasks that really aren’t as important as we make them out to be in our heads. A job description mixed with a tight workflow and clear office hours will give you so much more freedom to do what you love.