43: What To Do About The Recession with Colie James 

podcast episode about photographers and the recession
43: What To Do About The Recession with Colie James  3

If you notice that your calendar is a bit emptier and business is moving slower than usual, it’s not just you. In today’s episode, I’m sharing a candid interview with my business bestie Colie James, and we are discussing what photographers and the recession. We are sharing our best suggestions for what you can do today to proactively prepare yourself for slower business seasons. 

The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you by Sabrina Gebhardt, photographer and educator. Join us each week as we discuss what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, Shoot It Straight Podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight

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This episode is brought to you by The Round Table, a community built for female photographers who want to continue growing their business while forging industry friendships along the way! Every month, you get access to three new pieces of content covering a vast variety of topics from myself and guest speakers. Come join us and get access to the content and private Facebook community!

Review the Show Notes:

Get to know Colie James (1:57)

The state of inquiries (4:38)

What you should be doing while you wait out a recession (9:04)

How to reach out to your past clients (12:41)

Should you change your prices during a recession? (15:07)

What photographers should work on during a recession (19:24)

Cutting costs during a recession (31:50)

Words of wisdom if your business is slow (37:34)

Rapid-fire questions (39:00)

Connect With Colie James:

Website

Instagram

Episode Links:

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Pictime: Receive a month free using this code at checkout: 2KNETR

Dubsado: Save 20% off your first month OR year depending on what you signup with link

Colie’s Dubsado course: Save 10% off the course with link

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43: What To Do About The Recession with Colie James  4

Review the Transcript:

Sabrina Gebhardt
Today’s episode of the shoot straight podcast is a really fun, candid and on the fly interview with my business bestie Colie James, we literally decided to have this chat a couple of hours before we hit record. And it is such a great conversation and we’re talking all about the recession. everybody’s scared everybody’s inquiries are down and what can we do about it? So in this episode, you are going to hear from both of us about tangible steps and things that you can do now to not only bring in clients and income right now when you need it, but also setting your future self up for success. It is a really great episode. So let’s dive in. Welcome to the shoot it straight podcast. I’m your host, Sabrina Gebhardt. Here I will share an honest take on what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur. while balancing business motherhood and life myself along with my guests will get vulnerable, their honest conversations and relatable stories because we’re willing to go there. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in yet willing to talk about the hard stuff to to shoot it straight podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight. Welcome back to the students rate podcast. My friends, this is an unscripted episode. So we have my business bestie Koli, James back for the third time. And we’re talking about something that’s happening in real time right now that she and I both agreed, like needed to get discussed. So we are having a very unscripted conversation, I’m going to be transparent. And we decided to record this like two hours ago. So normally, I’ve got a little bit of structure and questions planned, but we’re just going to hash it out live. And I already know based on what we talked about, before we have done that this is just going to be such a great conversation. So my friend in case anybody has landed here and has never heard of you or us have a conversation together, which I can’t imagine. But you never know. The internet is interesting. Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Colie James
All right, everybody. Like Sabrina said, I am Colie James. I’m a Family filmmaker and photographer based right outside of Boulder, Colorado. And in addition to create an awesomely real family films, I also help other photographers get your systems in order using dubsado. And so I have a podcast of my own. It’s the business first creatives, Sabrina has been a guest on my podcast twice. So I mean, Sabrina and I love to chat any opportunity that we get. And so when she dropped into my box or day and she’s like, Okay, give me a topic for my podcast. She’s like, or do you want to come chat with me? I was like, Sure, you gotta give me a couple of hours because of course, I had back to back calls, but I was like when I’m done. I will hop on. And I am loving this topic, guys. This is a really good topic, particularly now.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah. So we are talking about the reality of the fact that it’s real slow right now. It is real slow. Colie again, like she said, has a podcast. She has a Facebook group. She’s got students she is in masterminds. She’s engaging with lots of humans. So am I. And we’re seeing it across the board across the country across price points across genres. It’s real slow. And first of all, let’s just get let’s just rip the band aid off and say it’s not just you. If you are listening, it is not just you. So maybe that’ll give you pause and the ability to just take like a sigh of relief and a breath. It is not just you, you are not doing anything wrong. This is happening with myself. This is happening with Colleen, this is happening with all of our students and everyone we’ve talked to, this is a thing and well, there’s a recession looming. And photography is a luxury you guys it is something that can easily get cut out. And I was telling Coley and boxer that it feels very reminiscent to me of when the pandemic started. There’s a lot of fear spiraling a lot of scarcity, a lot of nerves, a lot of panic. And that’s never a good place to be in though. So we’re hoping to reframe things a little bit and encourage you with things that you could be doing things that you should be doing how to move forward through this without just, you know, burning it all down and going to drive for Uber. Oh my gosh, so first of all, real talk. Let’s just be we’re gonna be really candid. How are your photo inquiries?

Colie James
Oh, they’re almost nothing but I don’t think that we should talk to me about that. Because remember, in case you don’t, in case you forgotten, I am currently not taking new clients so that doesn’t mean that I’m not getting inquiries because guys, I mean, my websites got pretty good SEO. But in general, I think my income reads are down compared to what it was last year, the year before and certainly before the pandemic, and on my contact form, it no longer says, are you interested in a newborn session? A family session? Yeah, I took that off. It now says, Have we worked together before? If we haven’t worked together before? Were you referred to me by someone that I am currently working with? And then the last one is no, I’m a new person. So I am slowly ramping down the photography side of my business. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not still mentoring other photographers that, you know, are seeing way less inquiries. And for them, it’s not on purpose. Right? I mean, and also, just in full transparency, I mean, the second half of my business is system setup. And those are also down across the board, not just for me, not just for people who help photographers set up systems. But like all systems, people who set up all systems for all kinds of entrepreneurs. And so the one thing that I have seen over and over again, which is why I suggested a subpoena that we talked about this today, is everyone feels like it’s them. Everyone feels like no, that person said that they’re still, you know, booked solid, they’ve started getting inquiries for fall. And guys, there are going to be rare birds like that there are going to be people who have clients in their circles, who are not being affected by the current recession, who are ready to do things as they’ve always done. But I want to encourage everyone to know that as you’re looking at all of the other people on social media, and all of these things like this is happening to the vast majority of entrepreneurs right now. And in particular photographers, because we’re coming out of what for most of us, you know, those of you who do actual outdoor sessions, not me, but I mean, this is when you start to get inquiries for spring sessions, Summer Sessions, fall sessions. And so if your inquiries are down, don’t panic, like, but I feel like that’s what we all do, like, Oh, my God, my calendar is empty. Like, what should I do like, and I feel like what Sabrina and I are going to talk about today is how to prepare yourself, and just assume that your marketing cycles in 2023 are going to look different than they ever had before. Guys, it’s great. If you’ve sent out like one or two emails to your clients in the past, and you’ve totally booked out your fall sessions. Good for you. What I want to talk about today is that’s probably not going to happen this year. And so what can you proactively do in order to make sure that you’re still filling your calendar, even though you are likely going to have to work harder, and you are going to have to market more than you have in previous years?

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I agree. And I think there’s going to be a couple of parts to that story, not just the physical marketing work and ideas and the consistency involved. But also, this is a real mind game. Okay. Because when you are putting out so much effort and so much intentionality, and hearing freaking crickets, it is really hard to keep going, especially when we’re talking about something that could be a year, it could be more than that. I mean, there is a mental strength piece to that. That is a whole other discussion for a whole nother day. But being willing to get up and say no, I’m doing this anyways, I’m continuing to move forward is a real part of this struggle. But so yes, it is not just you. Okay, so for me, Kohli is kind of phasing out of her photography stuff. I am still very much an active photographer, I still take new clients, I still serve my existing clients, I still do newborns and first 48 and young families. And it’s crazy slow, it is crazy slow. I have been a photographer for anybody that doesn’t know, for 12 and a half years, I’m extremely established in my area, I have an extremely established clientele. And it’s crazy slow. So if it’s crazy slow for me, who everybody knows, I can only imagine for the newbies, or the people who’ve only been in business a couple years, right? So just know, it’s not just you, it’s everybody. But let’s get to the meat of this. What can photographers and should they be doing? Like? What can they be doing? And what should they really lean into while we wait out this recession? While we wait out the fact that we’re not in necessity?

Colie James
Yeah. And so my advice, whenever anybody tells me that they don’t have anybody on their calendar, they’re slow. I hate to say it again, if you’ve heard me say this multiple times. But guys, you need to go back to the people who have already paid you. That should actually be your first stop on the let’s get my calendar booked for fall of 2023. If you are not currently keeping a list of your clients, and when they had their last session, I highly recommend that you schedule like 2030 minutes. You run through your CRM, you run through your square account wherever it is that you can find your list of clients who have hired you and like let’s say the last 24 months, make a list that gives you know their name, what kind of stuff Shouldn’t was and when is the last time that they hired you. And so those people who tend to hire you year after year, that should be like your first phase of marketing, reach out to them, let them know that you’re about to open up your fall availability calendar and they get first dibs, it’s going to make them feel special, those people are probably already planning on hiring you yet again, they just need that, hey, you’re ready to take clients for fall. Let’s do this. So again, step one list of clients. Last time they hired you what kind of session it was for, and you reach out to the people that hire you year after year. Now, after you go through those people, to me, your second phase are the people that maybe you didn’t see them last year, but you saw them the year before, because maybe those people are like every other year kind of family, portrait clients. I mean, you never know. But that should be like your second phase. So once you’ve exhausted your client list from the last 24 months of like family clients, that’s when you should also be reaching out to anybody who’s done a newborn session, but has never hired you again. Because guys, everybody wants photos. And when you have a baby, and you you know, you’re raising them through that first year, I don’t know if everyone on this podcast episode can, you know, understand this, but you lose your mind that first year, you don’t remember anything. So you do need some very nice reminders from your friendly baby photographer, that it’s time to take more pictures of your family. So that is where I always start with you start with who’s paid you money because you don’t have to convince them of your value. They already know it. They paid you money. Let’s just reach out to them and try and see as many of them as you can get booked as possible.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I agree. repeat clients are like the lowest hanging fruit. You know, I mean, it is so easy to bring those people back in. And I’m going to piggyback off what you just said about newborn clients. I say this all the time. But if you don’t already have this built into an automation, my friends, you are missing out on the opportunity to serve those people on repeat, you should be sending them automated emails multiple times within the first 18 months. Hey, your baby’s gonna be six months, it’s time for a milestone session. Hey, your baby is gonna be a year. I mean, I can’t tell you how many sessions I booked just off of that. And I set that process up like three years ago, and it still serves me. So well. Almost every single mom responds with Oh, my gosh, Thanks for the reminder. Yeah, let’s get something on the books for July, you know. And it’s easy. It’s easy. I didn’t have to do anything, but have an automated reminder set up for them. So if you don’t already do that, build that into your process. So I’m going to ask you one thing real quick about reaching out to your past clients, I love how you prioritize to them? Would you suggest this being like a mass email or like an individual one off email to every single person? Or does it matter?

Colie James
So I think it matters, but it only matters in the numbers that we’re talking about for your business. So when people ask me about what my systems are for reaching back out to past clients, even though I am the automations, queen, I actually don’t reach out to my people in an automated fashion like that. I’ve got a list of people that I’ve said this previously. But if they didn’t hire me, again, I would cry, I would cry buckets of tears, and I would just show up at their house anyway. So those people, I actually have them on my physical calendar inside of my phone, to reach out with a text message to be like, hey, Martha, you know, seminars coming around? Are you going to remain in the membership? And if you are, what month? Are you thinking about for your family session this year? I mean, I also say things like, can you send me updated pictures of the kids? How are they enjoying school, I mean, I make it a very personable one on one experience with those particular clients. Now, I’ve never been high volume, guys. So my experience and is very different than those of you who do like tons of mini sessions and do like a real fall schedule. If you are one of those people who’s high volume, maybe you do want to send out a mass email, I would also say if you are going to go the mass email route, I do not want them to have to contact you for the next step. So if you have something like an automated booking set, I would say dubsado. I mean, I can’t help myself. But like even use session, or if you use honey book or anything like that, if you have the opportunity to send this out to all your clients with a scheduler that already has your availability, and it’s basically pick a date and pay me I highly encourage you to do that. Because even the trouble of sending them the email, and then them finding the time to email you back and wait for you to put together the booking process to send it back to them may inhibit some people from just booking immediately. So mass emails are good if you’re high volume, but if you’re gonna go the math email route, I highly recommend that you automate the entire booking process so that you can just get happy when you see the bookings coming in. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that. I love that. So much. Now I’m going to ask a question that I know listeners are going to hear us talking about this. And they’re going to wonder. So if we are having a recession problem, and we are something that goes, let’s talk about pricing, do you want people to hold steady? Do you want people to offer any kind of discount? Do you want people to go ahead and raise their prices? If they were planning on doing that going into fall? Anyways? Like, what are your thoughts on the pricing in current times?

Colie James
Okay, so this is a hard one. Yeah, I know. And it’s, you know, guys, I’m always like, raise your prices, raise your hand, if you get a lot of nose where you raise your prices, if you get a lot of yeses, raise your prices. I do think that in a recession, if you are planning to raise your prices, I do think I would be hesitant about raising them, as long as you are profitable. Now, I do have to add that in, if you were planning on giving yourself you know, like a 10% or 15% Bump, because you do it every year. I mean, maybe you don’t do that this year until you have enough bookings to where you feel comfortable about your income level. And then you raise your prices, that would be the first thing that I would say, should you give a discount? Guys, I don’t like discounts. I am one of those people, I feel like it cheapens your brand. I feel like when you give a discount, you enable your clients and you make them think that oh, if I just wait long enough, she’ll offer me a discount. But what I am all about is you making some kind of new custom offer. So I do to our in home sessions, they are at a particular price point. If I was going to think about offering something at a lower price, it would not be my two hour session for a cheaper price, I might figure out a way to do a one hour session, or to actually offer outdoor sessions, which I made. That’s blasphemy. But actually, let’s just pretend I didn’t say that. But if you feel like there is something that you can offer, at a lower price point that actually included less, like less of a print credit, less shooting time, less images included. I don’t think that I would tell you no. But I definitely don’t want everybody to lower their prices from last year. Because I mean, there’s honestly not a situation where I would ever give someone the advice of actually keeping the exact same offer, but lowering it to create like a sale. That’s just not the kind of business that I run.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I love that I love creating a new offer. Because if you really are getting a lot of pushback on if it’s not in our budget right now, that kind of talk. I mean, I get it like if we pay so much for groceries like that alone. That alone has eaten up so much of my budget. So I mean, I fully understand and empathize. But maybe instead of the one hour family session you are doing you know, 40 minute in home sessions and you take away the print credit right like so that there’s less value, but you’re still able to serve them in a similar fashion for a lower price point. So I love I love that advice. Today’s episode is brought to you by the Roundtable, a community built for female photographers who want to continue growing their business while forging industry friendships along the way. learn practical ways to move your business forward while finding community and accountability with like minded photographers. Every month, you get access to three new pieces of content over a broad variety of topics. In the past, we have covered topics like pricing, editing, goal setting, website reviews, social media and videos from me behind the scenes at real sessions. Members have also had the opportunity to learn from incredible guest speakers and industry leaders on a huge variety of topics. I pride myself in giving you just enough education every month to keep you growing and moving forward while not overwhelming you with content. Oh, and the private Facebook community is absolutely incredible. Consider it your space to ask all the things, get all the support and make real life business besties. If you’re ready to join us, you can head over to Sabrina gebhardt.com backslash membership and enroll today. And now back to the episode. Now I want to ask about we’ve talked about how to get people to pay you we’ve talked about what they’re going to pay you. Now what are some other things that you would recommend photographers work on? While we are twiddling our thumbs waiting for somebody to book us? What can we be doing?

Colie James
I mean, the one thing that everybody usually goes to is product sales. And here’s the thing guys, products sell. I know that there’s a mindset issue. I know that everyone thinks Okay, but why would they pay me $400 for an album when they can buy their own album on Shutterfly Well, guys, there will be people who will continue to buy their album on Shutterfly. There is nothing wrong with that. But there are people who will value the quality of the app album that you give them from a professional printing lab. There are also people who value not having to do the damn thing. Guys, I don’t even know how to, like it’s a convenience charge, you have no idea how many people are willing to pay you not to have to do something. That’s why it’s great. If you do something like Style and select, and you’re putting together outfits, and you’re telling them exactly where to go by them, you are helping your clients do something without as much effort on their part. And there are a lot of people who my clients, they are really great about hiring and printing their own products and ordering them on their selves and you know, good for them. But there are also people who have images that have been sitting on hard drives for two to three years, and they don’t have any printed products. If you create an email series, if you create a segment on your social media, where you show people what it is that you offer, you will have people buying, I mean, is it going to be like the immediate returns? No. But I mean, I used to live in a house, which, if you’re watching this, you can see it, I have a gallery wall behind me. But in my old house, I had a really large gallery wall in my living room. And I made sure that every time I hired a professional photographer, I ordered new prints. And I taped myself as I was taking the images down and putting up a new gallery wall, you have no idea how many of my clients would contact me after they’d see it on Instagram and be like, Oh, Coleus time to print photos. Can you make me an album? Can you order this as a 16? By 20? I mean, that was without me having a contact me in order to print your it was just me showing what I do as a human. And it was a reminder to my clients, oh, yeah, you’re going to be coming in a month, and I haven’t printed any of the photos from the last session. Let’s get that done.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that. And when you use a platform like pick time, which we both use, and it is also super easy to set up one of their built in automations to kick off some sort of a promotion for all of your past galleries. So how easy would it be to kick off a Summer Sale quote unquote, or something that you’re not only sending to your past clients, but that they can forward to their parents, grandparents, you know, and all these other people to finally get stuff ordered. That is the easiest passive income there is passive income.

Colie James
And what I want to say is that what I hear often is, oh, well, I sent out an email and I didn’t get any sales. Guys, I want to let you know, neither Sabrina and I are telling you, you’re gonna send out one email and you’re gonna make 1000s. Like, that is not a thing. And if that is a thing for you, please hit me up on Instagram, because I want to talk to you on my podcast, that is not a thing, you are going to need to send several emails, because how many of us look at emails at a stoplight and are like, Oh, that sounds really, really, really great. I should respond. And then you don’t? Exactly so you have to create a marketing campaign. And as Sabrina said, you can have pic time send a whole bunch of automated emails in order to do this for you. But if you aren’t using QuickTime, and you are sending these emails manually, guys, one email is not going to get it done.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Right. And just like you said earlier with the filming of your own gallery walls and your own doing, like actually using products and you know, walking the walk, the same thing goes, you need to be constantly educating your clients on why product matters, what your favorite products are, how you’re using them in your home, photographing them, putting them on Instagram, filming them, writing blog posts about them, it is a constant thing. But that’s something that we can be doing right now, if that has always been on your list of like, oh, one day, I’ll get to that great, now’s the time to put that project in a priority and start really leaning in this project is not going to take you long, it’s just about putting in the effort getting used to sharing and talking about products, continually educating your customers, so then they get used to it, then they get used to the fact that they can go into the store and order these fabulous products and that you’re going to have sales from time to time and to open those emails when the emails come. It’s just a matter of training them, you know, education and

Colie James
training. Absolutely Sabrina. And the other thing that I want to say is Sabrina already told you this, this is a very low lift. But as I have been helping my clients set up dubsado Like for my VIP days, it is now part of my process that I asked them on their pre work. What product do you love selling most? If you sell products? That’s number one, identify the product. Number two, do you have a sample? If you do not, now is the time to order one. And number three, Do you have photos, either of yourself holding the product, or of one of your clients receiving the product and basically flipping through it, guys, you can make an awesome gift of one of your clients flipping through an album to stick in an email in like 40 seconds, right? And then you trim it down and then you make it a gift and you put it in one of your emails. And what Sabrina said like you have the time right now, you should actually be implementing that as part of your workflow. was so after the session. But before you deliver the gallery, if you do not have a, this is my favorite product email, I encourage everyone to write one, it needs to have either a GIF, or a video of you with your products, or just pictures with your actual client images in it. This is what helps to educate and train your clients to want and purchase products.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, so let’s take that and segue straight into something else that people can be working on right now, that is not going to be an immediate moneymaker. But we’ll set them up to make more money later, is fine tuning client experience. We all have those things where something has happened. And we think, oh, I need to put that my contractor, oh, I need to put that my session prep guide, or, oh, I need to create a session prep guide, or oh, I need all those things. Let’s take this time when we have more time on our hands to actually fine tune that process. So that when the recession starts to pass, and we start booking clients on the regular again, we are rocking and rolling and serving them better than we were before.

Colie James
Yeah, so tweaking your client experience. I mean, we can talk about CRMs. But also just like creating a session prep guide, I recently did a dubsado VIP day for one of my clients, and she did not have a prep guide, but she wanted a prep guide. Now I don’t have a prep guide that’s appropriate for me to share with anyone because most of my clients do outdoor sessions. And you all know all of my language is geared towards indoor sessions. So what I did was I ran to Creative Market and did a search of session prep guides, found one that I liked duplicated it inside of her dubsado account and said, Okay, I have given this to you as a starting point, please go in there and edit the words to sound like you if you don’t like what I wrote. And also tell me any of the images that you want me to change. So I mean, she didn’t have a prep guide. And now she has one template inside of dubsado as a questionnaire that she can duplicate for all of her other offers and switch the language and switch the images. And I mean, it was what it costs me, I think $27 To buy that for her. It took me maybe 30 to 45 minutes to create it inside of dubsado instead of Canva. And then I don’t know how long it took, excuse me, I don’t know how long it took her to update. But I could probably ask her, it was probably less than an hour. Yeah, two hours and $27 Guys, and now you’ve got this thing that you can send to all of your future clients that helps make their experience better.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah. And I feel like when photographers are in those first few years when they’re generally over committing to things and photographing too many people and kind of putting all of this stuff on the back end, because they’re like, Well, I’m busy, and I’m working with clients, and I’m making money, I’ll get to that later. This is a perfect time to get to that. Because the better the client experience, the more fine tuned it is, the more you can serve them, the more you can charge, and the less you have to shoot, right. I mean, it all just goes together beautifully. Some other things that I know you would agree with that we can be doing right now that will help our future selves, right set us up for success when things start to lift, getting used to sending regular emails. Mm hmm. And blogging on our websites.

Colie James
Yes, and so this episode is coming out on Sabrina’s podcast in June. But in July, I am actually going to have an entire month of SEO content, like I asked for different experts about SEO specifically for photographers, guys. And so if you are not blogging, then you are listening to this episode, this is your opportunity to get started. It doesn’t take that much effort. I know, guys, I hate writing to I mean, I hate it more than life. But when you got to do it, you got to do it. And while blogging in July, is not going to help you get booked for fall of 2023, it is going to help you get booked for maybe spring of 2024 and beyond. Because once you write those blog posts, as long as you keep in mind all of the good SEO that you can put in there. These are the gifts that just keep on giving. They are going to help you in future years. So I know we’re all really worried about like right now how can I get things on my calendar. But when you have time and space right now, this is also when you should be thinking about well, how can I use my time wisely? So that next year, I don’t run into the same problems?

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, exactly. We all know that SEO and blogging is a very long game. But the upside to that, while it’s not going to bring you clients now, it does give you content to use in your email and on social media now, yes, ma’am. And if that’s killing two birds with one stone, something that you get immediate response to and then something that’s going to keep giving later. That’s called a win win win situation. You know, and so of course nobody likes to sit down and blog but we all have a million ideas. Have things to blog about because we’re creative, great, sit down and do the work. This is part of the cost of doing business. Right? This is part of setting yourself up for long term sustainability. If you want to be around in the industry, for the long run, you have got to do certain things and blogging and emailing your clients on a regular basis. Those are both on that list.

Colie James
I agree. I know there are some people. I mean, having an email list is great, guys, it really is. And I know again, you may hate writing, you may be like, well, I opened this business to take pictures. Well, I mean, I know that I guess this is hard for me to tell you to outsource your writing at this point. But if you do it now, and you get to a point to where it’s helping your SEO, you’re increasing your leads for next year at you’re getting more booked clients, you may get to a point to where then you can outsource the thing that you hate most, which for you might be writing of the blogs and writing of the emails. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
exactly. And the thing about email that I just want to touch on really quickly is that email is supposed to, in my opinion, be fun. And it does not have to be sell, sell, sell purchase for me purchase. For me, it is relationship marketing, it is relationship building. And if you are one of those people that’s like I don’t ever send emails, unless I’m opening many sessions or whatever, I don’t know what to talk about. Guess what you can talk about literally, whatever you want Callie and I do this on a weekly basis. We talk about our kids and our vacation and crazy stuff. We ordered what we’re watching on TV, total relationship building stuff, and you know what? People open those emails and they may not be thinking, oh, I need to book Sabrina for a session. But when they think to themselves, I’m ready to book a photo session. Guess who comes up the one who’s been in their inbox every week? Or somebody who hasn’t emailed them in 18 months? Okay. Yeah. Yeah, it’s important. So, okay, I want to touch on one more thing, before we wrap up. When we are talking about ways to drum up some sessions income pricing, we’ve also talked about some back end things that we can be working on. What about this? What about what are your thoughts on cutting costs? Do you recommend anyone make any kind of cuts while we wait this out? Or do you think it’s better to lean in and continue to invest to set yourself up for like the long sort of long term success? What are your thoughts?

Colie James
So it depends, I think one of the things about cutting your costs, at least immediately is, I think we wait too long. Like when you are like, Oh, I really need to cut my costs, that is probably way past when you should have done it in the first place. So I mean, we just ended tax season. So if you didn’t do it for tax season, let me let me encourage you to do it. Now, if you have not looked at a list of the monthly things that you are purchasing, not just in your business, but in your personal life. If you like for example, I realized that I was paying for Amazon music and Apple Music at the same time for at least the last 18 months, y’all. I have a lot of stories like that, that I could share with you guys. And that was just a personal one. But like, if you look at your tech stack for your business, if there are things that you can eliminate and cancel, because you’re no longer using them, or now you have this same feature and two different pieces of software that you’re paying for. I mean, I would encourage you to run through your expenses that is great, not just for a recession, not just at tax time, but like anytime you think, Hey, I’m wondering if I’m spending my money wisely. Go through your expenses and see if there’s something that you can cut out. Now, should you make wholesale decisions, like you stop paying your editor? Or I mean, you cancel your CRM. I mean, those are those are like complete red flags for me, but I mean, I don’t want everybody to just cut their what they’re spending in their budget in their business, you know, unwisely, but I do think everyone should look at their expenses and be like, do I really need this? But that’s not just because sessions are down. That’s because that’s a good habit to be in.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, you’re right. So that’s what I was gonna say it’s a good habit to keep an eye on those things, which most people don’t. So I would recommend the same thing go through and cut what you’re not using. Because why are you paying for it anyway, if you ignore your expenses and you just subscribe to all these things? Like take a look at it, what are you not using or not utilizing? That is literally just wasted money that you can cut immediately. The other thing I would say is for all the people that like to hoard gear, like Miss Kohli, James, if you have gear that you have not used in 18 months or more, sell it, what are you doing if it is getting dusty, and you’re not using it now, if it’s something that you want to be using that you’re you know, if you’re trying to get into family films, and you just haven’t had the opportunity, don’t sell that but if it truly is something that at one time you loved but you don’t love it anymore, you never reach for it again. If that is cash sitting on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere that you could definitely offload. And then the other thing I would say is, if you are a serial purchaser, as far as like, Oh, the $27, download the $97 course, I would just I would just add a pause, I would add a pause and think have, I actually utilized all of the things that I did before, because if not, maybe I don’t purchase this, and I utilize what’s already on my computer that’s never been opened. So just kind of adding in that pause. But I will say that I think this is a great time, if you are in the position financially, to not necessarily double down but continue to lean into investing that matters. Because again, I want to talk about like setting yourself up for future success. If you have always intentionally been like, I’m gonna hire this person or do this thing or join this big investment. But you’ve never felt like you’ve had the time or the bandwidth, you’ve got the time and the bandwidth now. And if it’s going to really catapult you in the future, then let’s do it.

Colie James
I mean, and this is totally not a plug for me, guys, I don’t really care what CRM you use, I think everyone should get a CRM. But when people ask me, Well, you know, I don’t have very many clients call me like, do I really need a CRM? My answer is always yes. And my answer is always yes, for times like this. Because if your CRM is doing the work of managing your current clients, you have more time to look for more clients, you have more time to do more marketing. So I mean, I just I agree, Sabrina wholeheartedly, while we are saying, you know, watch your money, don’t spend a needlessly, if you have the bandwidth, this is a good time to knock out some of those projects that have been on your list. So that if it helps you with the managing of your clients, or even like some of those back end things, like if you’ve thought about hiring a bookkeeper, and right now, bookkeeping is taking up too much of your time, find yourself a bookkeeper. Because all the time that you’ve been doing on your bookkeeping, you can then use to market and get more clients. I mean, it’s cyclical. And also, where you save time means you can put more time into getting more clients. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
exactly. I love that. So this has been kind of a full circle conversation. We’ve covered a lot of things. But there’s a lot of there’s a lot of things involved in this right people’s brains are all over the place with what can they do and what should they be doing? And how long is this going to last? And how am I going to survive? I think we’ve given them a lot of really practical things to work on. I will say in closing, how would you encourage a photographer who is really feeling this downturn, they are getting very little inquiries, the inquiries they are getting or ghosting them, they really are feeling the weight of this. How would you encourage them? What would you say?

Colie James
I mean, one thing that we didn’t mention at all, which I’m a little surprised at, but it’s the networking angle. And maybe I’m thinking about that, because I actually have quite a few local friends who are photographers, but they shoot weddings, we do not compete at all. And so it might just be you reaching out to people who are not in the same genre as you to ask them if they have any clients who could use your services. I mean, we’ve talked about you reaching out to past clients, we’ve talked about you doing things like email marketing, social media, marketing, all of blogging, all of that good jazz, to bring more people in to potentially get more leads. But networking is the thing that I think on the other side of the pandemic, can you miss hanging out with people find us some people that are going through the same things, but perhaps in a different genre, so that you guys could see how you could help each other out. I mean, people are willing to help you. But they can’t help you if you that they don’t know that you need to help. I mean, so reach out, make new friends. I love that work with your local community.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that. I love that. That’s great advice. So even though you’ve been on the podcast twice before, I’m still going to ask you some rapid fire questions because you know, maybe maybe they’ve changed. Or maybe this is the first time somebody has heard us chat. So today, what is your current favorite coffee shop order? What are you loving?

Colie James
It is a vanilla caramel latte and I don’t go to the coffee shop. I make it downstairs on my very, very fancy espresso machine.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I’m still jealous. I’m still jealous of that. But you know, the reason I told you we haven’t done that is because I’m like afraid of what would happen to my caffeine intake. But you know what I started doing? I’ve started getting half Caf latte, and then I’m like, I could totally make half caffeine or decaf so like I think maybe they think maybe that’s gonna be what I asked for for Christmas. Um, okay, don’t blame me. Okay, so you and James are going on vacation. Chloe’s not going where’s your dream vacation? You cannot say Disney.

Colie James
You know what, I would never take my husband at Disney and you know, we just went To we just went to New York City like alone. For the first time guys, since I’ve had my child, which was she’s about to be 13. So I won’t say New York City since we just did that. But I would love to go back to Hawaii with my husband or to take him to Puerto Rico. I mean, I prefer Puerto Rico to Hawaii. I’m not sure about him. But I would love to go to like an island like maybe a couples only resort all inclusive. Yes. Nice.

Sabrina Gebhardt
That does sound really nice. Hawaii is on my shortlist for. I’m gonna put it out there for 2024. Like, yeah, I really am hoping, honestly, I want to take the whole family. I know the kids would love it. But first priority is to go with Steve because he’s never been and we need it so bad. Okay, thinking back over the course of your business, what was the one decision or investment that was the biggest game changer for you

Colie James
getting a CRM I’m sorry, guys. I’m a one trick pony. Other than that, I will say when I finally let go and outsourced my images, and I realized that outsourcing was a thing that I could actually do. That was the second one. But yeah, getting a CRM was definitely first.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay, so if you are not in family films slash CRM, dubsado coaching system setups, what would you be doing coldly? Hmm,

Colie James
I’m pretty sure I answered this question last time. And I don’t remember what I said. I don’t either. I mean, you know what, I don’t think that I would really enjoy real estate. But I love real estate. I mean, I thought about getting my real estate license before I opened my photography business. I love thinking about the value of houses, helping people get deals, like I mean, it really would be up my alley. And it’s something that I don’t have to chase toddlers for. So maybe that’s going to be like, what would it be my third, my fourth career as a real estate agent? I’m

Sabrina Gebhardt
really good at it too, because there’s a lot of analysis involved and you are so good with the analysis. So yeah, I could totally see that. I could totally see that. This has been a fabulous chat on the fly a real time discussion. I cannot wait for this to air. So let people know how they can find you out on the internet.

Colie James
Okay, everything is simple. It’s coli james.com Or at coli Jas on every single piece of social media that you can find.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I’m jealous minds, not cohesive, cohesive anywhere. Lessons for Sabrina. You know, go back and do over again. Make everything cohesive.

Colie James
Now, before someone else does,

Sabrina Gebhardt
absolutely, exactly. Thanks for joining me today, my friend. This has been fabulous. We’ll see you next time. Thanks so much for listening to the shoot it straight podcast. You can find all the full show notes and details from today’s episode at Sabrina gebhardt.com backslash podcast. Come find me and connect over on the gram at Sabrina Gebhart photography. If you’re loving the podcast, I’d be honored if you hit that subscribe button and leave me a review. Until next time, my friends shoot it straight.

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