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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

Transitioning from part time to full time

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Let’s talk about that uncomfortable time in-between wanting to do your craft full-time and not knowing if quitting your 8-5 is realistic. I completely understand what that feels like. On Instagram it seems like everyone in your industry is living the life with their mid-day beach breaks, daily coffee house outings and constant flow of vacations thanks to destination clients. On Twitter, it seems like they’re booked out through 2015 with the raddest projects on planet earth. All the while, you’re still stuck in cubicle hell. While some of those things may be true, I urge you to start your transition into full-time self-employment by dropping the comparisons between your real life and someone else’s on-line life. Things aren’t always as they seem and you’re not quitting your job just to copy someone else.

So. For those of you who desperately want to be self-employed, I ask you these questions:

1. What’s your plan? What product or service will you sell to pay the bills?
If you’ve been building momentum already, how can you take some risks while you have stable income to say no to clients who aren’t the right fit and go after the ones you’d prefer to build your business with moving forward? The goal here is to make a significant change that will lead you to the life you want, not simply make a lateral move from your current job to an equally awful experience only this time from the comfort of your home. Without a solid plan in place for how this business is going to help create the lifestyle you crave, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.

2. If you’re developing a product or service it’s going to take some time. How long will you give yourself to develop it to a point where it’s ready to launch?
If you’re still working an 8-5, a hard deadline for getting everything put together is a good way to get yourself on track for leaving your existing job and it’ll help you allocate your extra time appropriately. If you need time to develop your plan/product/brand and quitting your job is required to fully dive in, I would highly suggest making the realistic timeline for the development process and moving to step 3.

3. Take the timeline you’ve created in step 2 and make a plan for saving enough money to cover your bills for the development period BEFORE you quit your job.
There’s nothing worse than getting a few months in and realizing you’re already compromising values and goals because you need to pay bills that you could have covered if you would have saved more money while you had steady income.

4. If you have a spouse, are they 3,000% on board with this transition?
Not sure more needs to be said about this.

If you don’t have an answer to one or more of these questions, I wouldn’t suggest the leap quite yet. If you’re solid on all these points, you’ve gotta ask yourself, “What’s REALLY holding me back?” Chances are, the fears you have are a little exaggerated when the worst thing that will happen is a bruised ego and/or a brief financial drought. For some, the worst thing that could happen is having to sell their home and moving into a small apartment. WORST CASE. As badly as that would suck, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t mind that scenario if it mean moving one step closer to their dream. If the realistic worst case scenario seems manageable and you have a plan set in place, I ask you again, “What’s REALLY holding you back?”

Get a plan in place, start saving, define your start date of self-employment and take control of the life you want. Oh, and don’t compare your real life with someone else’s on-line life. That’s a sure fire way to get you off track in a hurry…especially in the early days of a transition this big!

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Business

Mind Your Own Business

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Do you ever find yourself comparing your business to another business? Or comparing how much you charge to how much they charge? Ever wish your business could just plain be more like that one? Then I have some bad news. Your business can’t be like their business. And you don’t want it to be.

Trying to be a BETTER business turned into trying to be more like someone else’s business.
In 2009, Becky and I blindly started a business. Having no experience in entrepreneurship, we began devouring information from anyone and anywhere. We were trying new things and testing the waters as business owners. Learning how this new industry worked. And as we started learning more about the industry and the other businesses in it, it became harder and harder to not compare our business to the others. Trying to be a BETTER business turned into trying to be more like someone else’s business.

We started using these unhealthy comparisons as a guide. We let them decide our next move. We were so focused on trying to do what the competition was ALREADY doing that we couldn’t think outside the box that we let them put us in. We assumed that because they were doing it, it must be working for their business and that it would work for ours.

Our new business was doing alright. We grew here and there and learned some good lessons along the way. But if we would have stayed on that track, we would have always just been mediocre. Always looking to do what everyone else was doing, which would ultimately have lead to ALWAYS playing catch up and never getting ahead.

When I say it like that, it sounds like a no brainer. Of course we don’t want that for our business. As creatives, we didn’t start a business for it to be just like another business. We started a business because we wanted to create. To build something that allows us to do what we love and make money doing it.

This can be a difficult thing to remember, everyday. We hear about what is helping this or that business grow. We see it on social media. We hear about it over coffee with them. Hell, we pay people to tell us about it at a workshop.

Stand up for your business. Let it be its own. Make it be its own.
So what’s the key? It’s simple. Stand up for your business. Let it be its own. Make it be its own. Sure, take an idea a colleague gave you. Absolutely, read a ton of books. Go to workshops. Sit down with another entrepreneur to pick their brain. And use what you learn. But whatever it is, make damn sure it fits into YOUR business and how YOU want to run it.

What’s even better than that? Figure out, on your own, new ways to grow. Brainstorm regularly. Come up with a plan. If it fails, tweak it. Try again. Failed again. Try again. Failed again. Scrap it. Make a new plan. It worked? Make it better. You get the idea. Eventually, you’ll find something that works for your business and no one will be able to do it quite like you.

Do that enough and you’ll start to notice you don’t care so much about what anyone else is doing. And after you spend some time doing that, you’ll be the one people are asking to coffee.

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Business

Tips for introverted entrepreneurs

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I’m an outgoing introvert. I like hanging out in small groups, for a while, and then I like to come home and get into my sweatpants. You may or may not find me wearing those same sweatpants the next morning at work, in our home office. If I STILL have those same sweatpants on that evening, I know things have gotten out of hand and it’s time for me to go for a bike ride, meet a friend for coffee, or just take a shower.

It’s not just good hygiene. It’s good business.

I learned early on in entrepreneurship that it’s super important to be intentional with your schedule, especially as an introvert. As self-motivated as I am, too many office days in a row make me feel depressed. Too many meetings, shoots or events in a row drain me. Balance is king. It keeps me sane, and it forces me to get outside of my comfort zone and outside of myself!

Introverted entrepreneurs! Ditch the sweatpants and ditch the comfort zone. Staring at your computer won’t spark any creativity. I know you might just want to be alone. You might already have a long list of reasons why it’s okay that you’re a shut-in. BUT IT’S NOT OKAY! Being around other people can be hard work for us introverts. But we have to use our strengths to our advantage (small groups & one-on-one conversations), rather than letting our weaknesses (ginormous networking events or ANY room full of more more than 5 people) get the best of us.

A few tips for introverted entrepreneurs:

  • Hang out with other creatives, in small groups.
  • Make yourself go to one event a quarter that leaves you craving sweatpants and alone time.
  • Just listen. Be a sounding board for someone without co-workers.
  • Have coffee with a new social media friend. One-on-one dates aren’t so bad!
  • Invite an entrepreneur friend (or a small group) to your place to work.
  • Only schedule meetings on one or two days a week, so you can keep your energy high the other days.

Introverts! What else do you do to make the most of your work days and sanity?