The Seniorologie Podcast hosted by Leslie Kerrigan is a podcast dedicated to the study of high school senior portrait photography. Whether you have been a senior photographer for a while or are just starting out in the senior photography genre, this podcast will help you build a successful senior portrait business. Join me to learn all there is to know about senior portrait photography.
Ep 73 – 3 Common Fears about Raising Your Prices
Let’s face it… when it comes to running a photography business, one of the hardest things to figure out is pricing! Pricing is so personal. And, we tend to have all kinds of emotions wrapped up with money that it can make it difficult to charge the right amount for our services. I really do get it. I used to be the photographer who charged $75 and gave all of my images. It’s taken me years to get where I am and feel confident about my pricing. So today, we’re going to share 3 common fears about raising your prices and what to do about them.
#1 Fear: “If I raise my prices, no one will book.”
In my opinion, if you raise your prices you SHOULD be booking less than before. I won’t sugarcoat it, you may not book the same type of clients if you raise your prices. There are definitely people out there that want cheaper options… and that’s okay. We can’t be the photographer for everyone – nor can we physically photography anyone anyway! The way to combat this fear is to add value to your packages, and not just raise your prices. This will help you feel more secure in the price change.
How do you add value so you can significantly raise your prices?
Look the part! Make sure your branding, website and more look professional. Invest in your brand, and make sure to share what makes working with you unique and worth the money.
Enhance your senior experience! There are ways to give more without giving too much – and without costing you a lot of money! What are things you can add to your senior experience that will take care of your clients, make them feel like they are part of a luxurious expensive experience without costing you tons of money? Consider swapping to a call instead of an email template for something. Maybe you can do consultations or offer heirloom products.
Switch to in person sales instead of all inclusive to give more value to your clients! By adding in person sales, you are giving your client another opportunity to feel taken care of and you are giving them a chance to order products instead of just digital images. There is nothing wrong with digitals but if it is the only thing you offer you may not be creating the high value experience that you could be creating.
The bottom line is that if you want to combat the fear of not booking clients at a higher price, then make sure you are adding in value so that the more expensive price makes sense. Offering the same exact service at a much higher price won’t get you booked. But offering a better more luxurious and higher quality experience will get you booked at those higher prices.
#2 Fear: “What if a current client won’t use me again?”
When it comes to senior photography, there’s a good chance you’ve worked with a family before. Maybe you’ve photographed the older sibling or cousin, or best friend. I know it’s easy to be afraid that because you changed pricing between sessions, the family won’t use you again. But you have to remember that you were still learning, growing and gaining experience. With each year you are in business, you’ve grown, learned and improved! With these things comes charging more! There are tons of reasons why your prices should increase as you continue in your business. It’s normal.
So when it comes to raising your prices and combatting the fear of not getting repeat clients because of the price increase, know why you are increasing your pricing and tell them that. It’s okay to break down exactly why things have changed. Remember to show the change in value!
One thing I highly recommend when it comes to raising your prices for high school seniors, is to do it when the class changes. All I mean is that you don’t want two 2022 seniors comparing prices. So change it with the new class.
Fear #3: “I’m not good enough to charge more mon...
Ep. 72 – The Art of the Sale: Tips for Successful Ordering Appointments
When it comes to ordering sessions and in-person sales (IPS), I’ve heard all of the excuses from photographers. People say they don’t want to be pushy, they aren’t good sales people, whatever it is. But today, I want to share why you don’t have to be a pushy sales person to have a successful ordering session. We’re going to talk all about the art of the sale – and I can’t wait to get started.
A Story for You…
My grandfather was a used car salesman. I used to watch him and my parents sell cars all throughout my childhood. I know the stereotype of a cars salesman is the pushy, over-the-top, sleazy guy. But my grandfather was anything but that. He treated his customers like friends, with respect and honesty. It wasn’t about the sales – it was about helping their clients.
Watching my grandfather has helped me reframe how I think about sales with my own clients. For me, it’s been about reframing what these ordering sessions are really about. If we approach our ordering sessions as a chance to help our clients decide what they need or want or will use, instead of just a money-making appointment, we’ve already started to flip the script.
3 Key Elements for a Successful Ordering Appointment
I believe there are 3 key elements you need to make an ordering appointment successful when working with senior clients and their families.
This is honestly the best thing we can do in every aspect of our business, not just when it comes to sales… Educate your client from the beginning. When it comes to products and sales, this means showing the process, products, and outcomes as much as you possibly can – even before they book. Emotions are powerful and speak to your clients, so think about what these products truly mean for your clients (especially the parents!). Consider writing blogs about your products, create videos for social media – or photos, and write emails about your products. All of these can be consumed before your client ever sits down to order.
#2: The Pre-Sale
This education phase is about informing clients about what you offer – and WHY it’s a great thing for them. Again, it’s about preparing your clients before they ever come in the door for the appointment. I like to ask my clients what they’re interested in on their questionnaire so you can help prepare for those items. You can also prepare a reminder email and a link that contains your products again. You can also have your clients create a buying guide. This is a form that clients can use to make a list of anyone else who may want photos of the senior. There’s lots of ways to prepare and get your clients in this mindset, as you can see!
#3: The Ordering Appointment System
You need to have a set system in place that you follow for every single ordering appointment. This system includes how you show the images to your clients, samples on hand to show your clients, a pricing guide to hand to your clients to review, order forms to take their order and a way to collect payment. For all of my order appointments, I use an app that allows me to show my clients their photos in the form of a slideshow first. Then, they can scroll through the images and rate them. I always show samples of popular products and have a pricing menu available. During the appointment, I take the time to talk with my clients and decide how they want to use the images and what products make sense.
Having these three things in place will allow you to conduct a successful ordering appointment that is not sales-y but rather helpful and gives your clients a great experience. They will feel like you guided them and informed them rather than sell to them!
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Ep. 71 – Preparing for Busy Season as a Senior Portrait Photographer
I don’t know about you but spring is my busiest season for senior photoshoots! I live in an area where there is no yearbook deadline to meet, so my seniors get their senior photos taken all the way up until graduation. It’s great but it also means there’s a TON of seniors trying to get on my schedule. In today’s podcast episode, I am going to break down what I do to prepare for busy season as a senior portrait photographer so you can enjoy your work with less stress!
The Way it Was… and what I do now.
I used to be the stressed out, all over the place, busy photographer. You know what I’m talking about. Questioning yourself – why did I do this again? The anxiety and readiness for it all to be over. After a few years of that, I knew there had to be a better way. Because, the reality is that before every storm – there’s calm. The best way to handle the storm is to be prepared. It’s the same in business. The best way to find calm in your busiest season is to prepare before it comes. Here’s a few of the ways to prepare you – and your business.
#1: Systems & Workflows
We need to make sure we have effective systems or workflows for our business so that when busy season hits, we’re prepared. Here’s a few things to consider when designing effective systems:
* Does it serve your clients? A system should help make your clients’ experience seamless and stress-free.
* Does it work for you? A system should also work for you! Remember: we want to work smarter – not harder so make sure you have a system in place that allows you to flow through it easily and quickly.
* Can the system be automated? If you can create a system that allows you to spend less time doing each of the steps because some or all of it is automated, that’s great. That means you can still serve your clients well while taking care of other things in your business (like marketing, shooting, editing, and so on).
So what type of systems do you need in place for your senior photography business?
An inquiry system: When someone inquires, what happens? Do you have something in place to help handle them? If the answer is no, that’s where you need to start. Make a list of what you do from the moment they inquire to booking. Then review the list and determine if everything is necessary and if you can automate any of it. If you need more tips on how to create this system, check out a post HERE with my system!
A senior client system: Once they become a client, you should have a system in place to help prepare them for their session. Remember, you want them to feel prepared so they’re excited and not stressed about their session. Again, this is setup in my CRM with a set of emails to help them with everything from what to wear to my questionnaire about their session.
“After the shoot” system: As photographers, our job doesn’t end when the shoot ends. We need a system in place to make sure that after the shoot, our clients continue to feel well taken care of and everything is completed on time (and consistently). This system includes emails that get my clients ready for their in person ordering session, asks them for testimonials and more.
Editing workflow: If you don’t outsource your editing, make sure you have an editing workflow. And if you do outsource that, YAY for you! That’s amazing. If you’re doing it yourself, your editing workflow should help things stay streamlined and efficient. One easy thing you can to cut your editing workflow down is to reduce the number of images you edit. Then, think about if there’s extra editing you’re doing that may not be necessary. Review this process before your busy season starts so you can get into even better habits.
Ep. 70 – Sticky Situations for Senior Model Teams and What to Do About Them
Let’s face it: no matter how prepared you are, sticky and difficult situations are bound to arise for you and your model team. While I wish I could prepare you for every single situation, there’s just no way to make that happen. But, I can tell you about the sticky situations for senior model teams that I’ve faced and how I dealt with them. I hope that my experiences help you feel more confident about your own model team! Let’s dive into a few common situations and what I recommend!
Your senior model uses another photographer.
This is a big one and something I have definitely had happen to me over the years! As a senior model for your photography business, the model should be using you for their senior photos and should not be promoting another photographer. It doesn’t make sense, there’s no way around it. While I’m all about community and promoting photographers, if you’re my spokesmodel… you should be working with me. But I have had this happen to me and it is not fun!
So what do we do when this happens? First things first, try not to take it personally! I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at me right now. It’s hard not to take it personally but they are teenagers and we have to remember that. The second step is to go straight to the source and talk about it. Try to understand the situation and avoid confrontations. Ask them what happened or why they chose to use that photographer. Then after you listen, remind them of the contract and agreement they have with you. Explain why you have that policy in place so that they understand. I have found that a lot of times they forget that part of the contract or maybe they didn’t fully understand it in the first place and thought you didn’t mean this particular situation. I recommend having your senior and parent initial by this particular part of the contract to avoid any confusion.
Your senior model edits or uses a filter on your image.
I had this happen to me – and honestly the senior became famous because of it, ha. But looking back, I realize it was 100% my fault. From the start, I failed to set out my expectations about edits or filters on images. Now, I have it in my contract that they’re not to add filters or alter the images in way. Again, have your senior and parent initial if you’re super concerned about it. Remember, your models are JUST teenagers – and they don’t do these things out of hate. They just don’t think it through! Just like with the first example of a model using a different photographer, when I see or hear about a filter, I go straight to the source and discuss it. Open communication is key.
Your senior models come to shoots unprepared.
This is definitely something I have to take ownership of in years past when it comes to models not coming to shoots prepared. Maybe they showed up with the wrong outfit that didn’t fit the theme or they were late. No matter what the situation, I can say that it happened because I didn’t do my best job communicating to them what I wanted for the shoot! I believe there is no such thing as too much communication and especially when it comes to shoots. A lot of the shoots I do with my model team have a very specific look to them, a vision that I have and I can’t expect them to fully understand that vision unless I explain it to them!
So I started creating details shoot inspiration boards with a list of what to wear and what not to wear. I share what colors to stick with and which to avoid, as well as the kind of outfits. I encourage them to text me their outfits and I send out lots of reminders about the session, too! And, there’s always my client closet if all else fails!
An applicant just… isn’t the right fit for your team.
This sticky situation is probably the hardest.
Episode 69 – Model Team Fears and How to Overcome Them
No matter how long we’ve been in business or how old we are, we all have fears that sometimes can keep us from doing things for our businesses. I work with lots of photographers who want to have spokesmodel teams and a thriving senior photography business, but they’re often stopped by the fear of failure…. Especially about the idea that no one would join their model team! Today, I want to break down some of the most common model team fears and how to overcome them as senior photographers!
I understand: starting anything new can be scary and it’s normal to be worried about whether or not your model team will work out. But, if you don’t put a team out there, no one can join! Then you’ll have missed the whole experience.
The Truth about Spokesmodel Teams
Honestly, the truth is that you don’t need a huge team of 20 models to get started. My very first model team had only four members. And those four came from a friend, not a huge search. But, if I had been too scared to start small and start there, I’d never have my current team of 34 models. We have to start and have a day one! We can’t let fear keep us from doing something that could be the thing that allows us to grow our businesses!
If you’re interested in starting a model team, the first thing that you can do to help with the fear of no one joining is to do some work proactively. Find a few potential models! When you’re starting your team, it may take a little bit more time on your end to find some potential team members instead of just posting on social media and hoping that someone responds. As you do this work and find those potential members, the fear of no one joining will diminish.
Now before you say, “but Leslie, I don’t know any seniors!”, stop and think for a moment. Do you know anyone that knows a senior? Everyone knows someone! Start a list of people to contact who may know a senior that could be a good fit for your team. Then reach out to those people and be sure to tell that person who gave you their name! Look at you marketing already!
What if your program fails?
The second fear is that your program will fail! Well let me tell you the truth about this one….mine did fail! And I survived! I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. I think the only way to truly succeed at something is to fail and then try again. How else can you learn what truly works for you and your business?
When you do fail, the first thing we want to do is just quit and say we couldn’t do it. But, I encourage you to pause and think about things from a different point of view. That first team failure gave me content that allowed me to show what I wanted to photograph, which was seniors! It gave me experience at a time when I didn’t have a lot of senior clients. In turn, that gave me confidence to know that this was what I was meant to be doing. And I do believe it did help me book clients. They may not have said by name that someone sent them to me, but I truly believe the content and expertise I gained helped immensely.
If we let the fear of failure stop us from trying then we are failing because we aren’t even trying!
What if I get nothing in return?
The third fear I hear a lot is that photographers are afraid of doing all the work and then getting nothing in return. But, that’s kind of what model teams are. There is a lot of planning that goes into your team – fingiding members, events, styled shoots, marketing, not to mention editing and photographing their sessions. You have to be willing to put in the time, while being realistic about what you will get in return. We can’t have these crazy expectations that we can just sit back and the models will do all the work for us! The truth is we have to do the work.
Remember to set expectations for the models right from the start! I know when I think back on the times that I may have felt like I wasn’t getting...
Episode 68: Is it Too Late to Start a Model Team?
If you haven’t started preparing or advertising for your Class of 2023 model team, this episode is for you! In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten the question: is it too late to start a model team? Although it’s early February, the answer is no! It’s not too late to start a model team for the Class of 2023! Honestly, the truth is that there’s no specific date you have to have your model team organized by. In my opinion, you can totally start a senior spokesmodel team anytime before the models begin their senior year. I do think there’s some strategy involved as to when you should be looking for models, though. So let’s talk about that more!
Searching for Your Spokesmodels
A lot of photographers plan to search for their spokesmodels before the members of their team will be seniors. Frankly, it’s just about available time and energy. For many photographers, this search takes place during their slower season, so that they can give it their attention and focus.
When I began my spokesmodel team the first time, my search took place in the spring – so the models were juniors at that point. I had come home from WPPI in Las Vegas with this idea of a “spokesmodel” team floating around in my head and I knew I wanted and needed one! Back then, I didn’t really know what it all entailed, how to structure one or when I was supposed to look for spokesmodels, but I was excited and wanted to start it right away! So in the spring of 2011, I set out to find my first spokesmodels. I didn’t do a formal launch or any sort of big search. I simply called a friend, asked her for a few names of girls that were soon to be seniors and contacted them.
Don’t search during your busy time!
But after that first team, I learned that searching for the girls during the spring meant I was searching during one of the busiest times in my photography business. Unfortunately, that meant things could fall through the cracks or just not have my full attention because I was busy shooting and editing sessions most of the day. It was too much.
I knew right away that I had to do things differently the next time. I began to think about when in the calendar year I was at my slowest for the business… not only would it give me more time to focus on what I needed to do, but my business would use the little boost from the search. There may not be a magic date when you should start but there is a better time to start the search for your team.
Launching the search for a spokesmodel team in a less busy time will give you more time to actually plan out the search, have the time to get to know the applicants and will give you something to promote in your business when you aren’t shooting as much.
How to Know if You’re Ready to Launch Your Team
There’s a few questions to ask yourself as you prepare to launch your team search. The first is: Why do you want a model team? If your answer is to build a team of high school seniors to help market your business, have content to show what you want to shoot and create a community of your ideal clients (AKA: seniors), then now is a great time to start your model team.
The second question to ask yourself is…do I have the time to plan and execute a model team? The search alone takes a bit of time. You have to promote it, spend time finding models, accept applications and more in order to find the right people for your team. I didn’t plan out my first model team and that was a big mistake. Don’t do that! Take the time to sit down, plan everything out on a calendar so you can see exactly how long the search will be to know if you have the time to dedicate yourself to finding your spokesmodels.
The third question to ask yourself is…When is your busy season with senior clients? You want to make sure that you search for your new team during a time that won’t take away your focus on your already booked clients! For me,
Thank you, Leslie, for being so generous with your knowledge, and for always inspiring us to level up and be better! I appreciate you so much! 🥰
The Best Resource for Senior Photography
This is by far my favorite podcast when it comes to improving my senior photography business! Leslie gives simple, helpful tips for every aspect of the senior photography experience. She’s so down to earth and fun to listen to. I look forward to every episode!!
I love love love this podcast. As a senior photographer, I have gained so many tools for my toolbelt by listening. Leslie is so helpful with teaching marketing strategies. Highly highly recommend this podcast if you want to become a better business person.