How can a real estate or architectural photographer find a balance between their business and their family, and do it in a way that both sides win?
We know what it's like being a photographer - you shoot all day, then you get back home and handle the editing, the emails that you've missed, your social media posts, your invoices (both incoming and outgoing) .... and somewhere in there you try and get some quality time with your partner and the kids.
Is this how it has to be?
No it's not, and I've got two options for what you can do to better manage your business and your time so that you can have a life outside of running your own photography business.
I lay out those two options in this live video, but if you've got any further questions about how to implement these ideas in your business send me an email or message me through Instagram or Facebook.
Here's what we covered in this episode (you can jump to the different sections in the video timeline):
00:00 - Intro and welcome
1:27 - How to balance your photography business and your family
2:15 - Option 1: high prices
6:39 - Option 2: low time
8:03 - If you struggle to let go of the creative side ...
8:47 - What if your clients won't pay your higher rates?
10:43 - Summary
How do you balance your photography business and family so both sides win?
One of the biggest issues faced by a lot of photographers is that battle you have between your business and your family, and it feels like only one can win. If you want your business to be successful then you don’t have time for family, and if you want your family to win then your business struggles.
So how do you make it work?
As with most things in business it comes down to numbers – your pricing numbers and your time for money numbers. If you get one of those right then you’re in a good place.
So what can you do?
Option 1. High prices
Option 1 is to go for high prices on your photo shoot packages. For example, if you could charge $400 to do a shoot that takes you 4 hours to shoot and edit, and if you could do 5 of those a week, then you’re going to make $90 to $100,000 a year, and you’re going to have time to shoot, time to manage your business, and time with family, and if that income is enough for you then that’s a pretty awesome place to be.
So how do you get to $400 per shoot? One of my most popular photo shoots was a $495 real estate photography package, and that was just photos – that didn’t include any videos, virtual tours, or anything else, but my combination of image quality and great service was exactly what my clients wanted so they were willing to pay extra.
So it may be possible to increase your rates and deliver a high-priced photo package that clients love.
The other way to get there is to upsell additional services. So you might charge $200 for photography only, but then upsell a $200 a walk-through video and a $120 floorplan, and you’re at $520 for a shoot that you should be able to do in just a few hours. Again, do just 5 of those a week for 46 weeks a year, and you’re at nearly $120,000 in revenue.
Now these things don’t just happen in isolation, so what are the implications from charging higher fees? Drop a comment and let me know what implications you see, but here are a couple that come to mind:
One is, how do you get clients when you charge more than other photographers in your market?
So you’ll need to overcome that marketing issue and that brand positioning issue in order to have a steady stream of bookings. So a flow on from that is that you’ll need to commit time to building relationships and make sure you don’t rely on just 2 or 3 great clients, because if just one client leaves you, at those rates you leave yourself vulnerable because one lost client could mean a 20% decline in revenue.
Another implication from charging higher fees is whether you can rely on real estate alone, or whether you need to diversify your client base in order to bring in enough revenue, and if you do then there are going to be flow on effects from that in terms of skills development, marketing, pricing and managing those commercial clients.
Now both of those implications can be worked around, but you will need to put time into managing those and not just cruise along and hope for the best. If you take the right steps and establish processes then this can be handled really well and you'll be able to earn more but work less.
Option 2. Low time.
Another option is to go for low time for money numbers, which means you want to spend the minimum amount of your own time working on each project, and instead spend that time with your family, and this is where you’ll need other people to help you.
The most common way to do this is to outsource the editing of photos and other tasks to photo editing companies. So instead of you spending those hours editing yourself, you upload the photos to an editor, and you pay them $20 or $50 or whatever to do the editing for you. Now that’s an easy way to go and it works great, at least up to a certain volume.
Another option is to add more people to your team, and this is great because it means your business is not entirely reliant on you to operate, but there is a lot of work involved at least initially as you onboard your new team members. And let’s be honest, a lot of photographers have a tough time with this because they want to hold onto the creative side and do it themselves because, in their view, other people can’t do what they do.
Now I know this is really hard for a lot of you:
So if you struggle to let go of the creative side, then you need to go back to option 1 and you will have to charge more because there has to be a price associated with the exclusive nature of what you do.
This is really important, so I need you to get this - if you’re the only person in the world who can do what you do for your clients, and if you are absolutely 100% certain that your clients would not accept another photographer taking their photos, then you need to charge a lot more for the privilege of working with you.
So let me say it again - there has to be a price associated with the exclusive nature of what you do.
Now, what do you do if your clients love what you do but they won’t pay those higher rates?
If that’s your situation then you have to let go of the creative side and allow other people to work for you, and then you can charge those lower rates. It’s either you alone and you charge a lot, or you charge lower fees but be willing to bring in other people when the volume of work reaches a certain level. That’s simply the way the numbers work.
So what are some of the possible implications from bringing in other people?
First of all, you need to find the right people, whether they are editing or shooting. And when you find them, then you need to train them.
So before you get started, ask yourself - Have you got training processes in place?
And do you have the business systems to manage other team members who aren’t as familiar with things as you are?
Those are really big issues, and that’s something you would want to get in place before you start hiring employees or subcontractors to work for you.
The second implication from this is the cost associated with having other people work for you. Are your prices high enough to allow for that? Can you still make a healthy profit when you’re paying those staff costs or editing costs?
You wouldn't necessarily be charging as much as you would if you wanted to work by yourself, but you still need to have your prices high enough, and I'd say that's something you would want to manage before you add team members, not after, so try and get your pricing right before you start hiring people.
So there are your two options:
Option 1 is to go for high prices on your photo shoot packages, and option 2 is to minimise your time by building a team who can take on certain tasks, whether it’s editing or shooting or bookkeeping or whatever.
Can you think of any other implications from either option 1 or option 2? Or do you have any other questions about any of that? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to message me if that would help.