The Secret to Growing Your Photography Business Quickly

Today’s guest post is by Kate Anderson of Plumeria Album Design. Kate started her album design business after realizing how much she enjoyed designing (and redesigning) her own wedding album. Kate’s wedding photographer jumped at the opportunity to have Kate start designing client albums for her, and Plumeria was born. Read on to see how you can outsource as a way to grow your business. I am super, super excited that Kate is offering a FABULOUS giveaway for one PhotoMint reader, a 30-page wedding album design. Scroll to the end (I mean, read the entire article) to enter the giveaway.

Outsourcing can be one of the best things you do for growing your business. Outsourcing work like editing, color correcting and album design allows you grow your business faster, and have a life outside of your business. You may think outsourcing means losing all creative control of your art, leaving your art at the whim of some other artist. Of course, no one wants that. However, outsourcing has less to do with the artist side and more with the business side.

As a photographer, you’re both an artist and a businessperson. Outsourcing allows you to be a better businessperson, by giving you time to focus on the business more, or have more time for your family and friends. This can have the pleasant side effect of allowing you more time to work on your art, too.

Planning for outsourcing

If you’ve read The E-Myth by Michael Gerber, you’ll know that the basic premise of the book is to work backwards in your business. Decide where you want your business to go, then put things in place to get you there. <– Click to Tweet

You may want your studio to become a busy wedding studio with a full calendar of weddings and portrait sessions, so make it part of your plan to outsource parts of your business that keep you from growing it.

Unless you have a super-efficient workflow (most photographers struggle with this), chances that as you get to the point of having a fully booked calendar, you’ll be too busy to do everything that needs to be done to run your business plus get sleep. Set up your pricing right from the start to account for the expense of outsourcing, so your business is ready to grow into it.

A great album design takes your work to the next level and will help you sell more albums.

You’re the business owner, the heart and soul of the operation. You should be focusing all your energies on growing the business and all the things needed to grow it. The big picture stuff. That’s probably shooting weddings and sessions, marketing to new clients and networking with other vendors to build up your referral base. If you’ve been in this business for any length of time, you know that’s a full time job right there! That’s what working ON your business means. You are working on building the business bigger and better.

Album design or editing is work you do IN your business, and that’s not the best use of your time or money. Say it costs $500 to outsource the album design and editing of a wedding, work that would take you 6-10 hours to do. If you take those 6-10 hours to network and do photography marketing, how many new clients could you potentially get? And how much would those new clients potentially spend? If you don’t waste the time you get back that $500 that you spent could allow you to bring potentially thousands more in bookings and sales. Can you see how this can start to snowball?

One of the biggest problems that prevents photographers from outsourcing or taking on some extra help when they really need it is they haven’t charged their clients enough. This is especially problematic in weddings.

Say your clients buy their wedding package in January of 2012 for $2000; the wedding is in June 2013. At this price, you may just barely be making money if at all. During 2012, you get a lot of success with bookings, and 2013 is a full schedule. Awesome! As 2013 gets well into the busy season, you’re getting overwhelmed with editing and album design, and your customer service is starting to slip. You need to outsource, but can’t afford it because you didn’t build that cost into your packages booked in 2012.

Most of that money is spent on taxes, insurance, your costs for goods sold, your second shooter fees, and other overhead expenses; there’s not even much for you to pay yourself. In fact, there might not be anything to pay you. Bummer! Now you’re stuck; you raise prices for 2014 weddings, but that’s doesn’t help you make ends meet any easier in 2013.  It’s going to be a long year.

That’s why it’s important to think and plan in terms of where you want to be. Even if you’re just starting out, you need to account for the cost of outsourcing right from the start if you plan to be busy enough to need it. And if you aren’t planning to be busy enough to need help, is your business plan strong enough?

Pre-designing albums for clients not only creates a better product (you KNOW your clients don't choose images that tell the story!) but it also allows you to sell more albums.

What to outsource?

Outsource what you suck at, and what you don’t want to do! Or the tasks that you can do, but takes you longer than it should take.

For some people, that’s album design. It could be editing. If an editor can process a wedding and have it ready for you in a week or two, think of how impressed your client will be, especially if their friends have had to wait 4-6 weeks for their wedding photographs? Or it could be designing marketing pieces or accounting (I outsource this stuff). There’s an option to outsource just about every business task out there.

Decide what you’re really good at and love, and keep doing that. Let someone else do all the other stuff.

Why I know outsourcing works

When I started my album design business, I bought a website theme and customized it for my branding, and was putting together all my own marketing pieces. I could do it, but it took me weeks and months. Not because it was necessarily hard, but because I would be repeatedly changing my mind, tweaking this or that, coming up with a better idea. Little bits of everything were changing throughout a whole year. It was a huge time suck. So, I decided to outsource a brand new website and marketing suite (I used Braizen if you’re curious, they’re awesome!).

It was a far, far better business decision. By having them design the website and marketing pieces, I could stop spending hours redoing this or that all the time, and instead work on marketing and getting albums out faster. I gave them money, they gave me time, which for me is worth much more than it cost me in dollars.

Plumeria Album Design creates custom wedding and portrait albums, starting at $200 for a wedding album and $100 for a portrait album. With quick turn-around times averaging a week or less, think of how impressed your clients will be if you had a gorgeous album pre-design ready for them to view before they were back from their honeymoon?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Facebook comments:

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

natalie hathaway July 20, 2012 at 10:49 am

I’d love to outsource design!!!

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Chris Frailey July 19, 2012 at 7:08 am

Do you have any preferred album vendors that you’ve worked with in the past?

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Lara White July 19, 2012 at 7:16 am

Hey Chris,

personally, I work with Leather Craftsmen for my magazine albums and parent albums, Queensberry for the high end albums and Asuka Book for vendor sample albums. I’ve heard lots of great things about Graphi as well.

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Christy Peterson July 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I would like to outsource editing raw images and basic “pop” and lighting actions.

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Christy Peterson July 18, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Thanks for all the giveaways!

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Melinda T July 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I’d love to outsource the photo editing.

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Lauren Robertson July 18, 2012 at 8:29 am

Would love to outsource editing! 🙂

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shahkasahias July 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm

A gud article about outsourcing.. 🙂 but i need to rise up my price first.. 🙂
i also do a album design .. do email me for a best price..hehe

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Kate Anderson July 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Thanks for reading and entering!

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Michelle July 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Really appreciate this article – I’m starting up & it’s a struggle keeping on top of the edits. Anyone in Australia or nearby you know of as edit contact? (I’m based in Australia)

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Kate Anderson July 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Michelle, I don’t know any editors that are Australia based, but I would image many of the US based editors would be able work with you just fine. Beauty of the internet, the world is your neighbor! And I’m of course happy to work with international clients on album design also 🙂

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christy July 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm

i’m starting the outsourcing process…. so hard when I want to control everything!!!

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I completely understand, I hear that a lot! But it’s just like finding a great friend, you want to find someone or a company that you really click with, that can almost read your mind. Then it’s not so hard to let go of control because you can trust that person!

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Tina July 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

How do you outsource the editing without sacrificing your signature look or style?

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm

You should be able to send some test files in to the different editing companies to get a feel for how they would edit your images. Or I believe you can send them an idea of what you typically do for your process and then they can take it from there. I’ll wait for someone else to chime in, as editing is not a service that I offer at the moment. There are some excellent ones out there, though!

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Lara White July 19, 2012 at 7:26 am

you work with an editor who will get the edit to match your style. Most of the bigger outsourcing companies will work with you to create your signature look and style, and then follow those guidelines whenever working with you.

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McFadden Studios July 17, 2012 at 7:46 am

I think outsourcing would give me way more time to focus on my clients versus editing and album design. 🙂

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

It would, and that’s what you should be focusing on, because that’s what ultimately grows your business. And customer service is one thing that cannot be outsourced easily 🙂

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Lara White July 19, 2012 at 7:26 am

absolutely, as well as time to focus on creating a new product line, marketing your services, networking.

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Cassie Lopez July 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm

You’re welcome, thanks for reading and joining!

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Lauren Lehmuth July 17, 2012 at 6:46 am

Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

You’re welcome, thanks for entering!

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Lara White July 19, 2012 at 7:27 am

I love giveaways too!

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Audrey July 17, 2012 at 5:37 am

I would save myself so much time if I outsourced my album design.

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I’d love to help you out, lovely work! Thanks for entering 🙂

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Mel Lawrence July 17, 2012 at 5:33 am

🙂

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm

🙂 Back at ya. Such a touching story about your husband too, and lovely work to go with it. Thanks for entering!

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Mark Jolly July 17, 2012 at 5:17 am

Albums should be outsourced!

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I agree! Thanks for getting in on the giveaway!

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Pey-Jing Li Mehrinfar July 16, 2012 at 10:19 am

I would love to outsource my wedding albums. It just seems like less of a hassle and I can spend more time doing other things photo related.

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

That’s definitely the idea 🙂 Focus on the essentials and what drives your business.

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Mysti Wilcox July 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Thank you for this giveaway!

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Kate Anderson July 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

You’re welcome! Excited to see who wins it!

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