75: Quarterly Business Chat with Colie James

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75: Quarterly Business Chat with Colie James 3

Want the inside scoop on being a business owner? Today’s episode features the first-ever quarterly business chat with my friend, Colie James. Colie and I are sharing our highs and lows of 2023, how we are planning for success in 2024, and what currently is and is not working in our businesses.

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 Portfolio On Purpose, my step-by-step framework for planning and executing a successful model call. Model calls are so important for getting fresh eyes on your business, to create fresh images for new offers, and to create without the expectations of paying clients. With Portfolio On Purpose, you will feel inspired to take action and will have the steps and tools necessary to run a successful model call and get the images that your business truly needs. 

Review the Show Notes:

Get to know Colie James (0:59)

Highs and lows of 2023 (2:35)

Planning for 2024 (13:15)

What we’re working on in the first quarter (22:18)

What’s not working (29:04)

Connect with Colie:



Episode Links:

Portfolio on Purpose Freebie

Round Table

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75: Quarterly Business Chat with Colie James 4

Review the Transcript:

Sabrina Gebhardt
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 through 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 shoot straight podcast my friends, today we’re trying something a little bit new. So I feel like I’m gonna explain a little bit of what’s going on. But before I do that, I’m going to welcome my business bestie Colie James, back to the podcast. I don’t know how many times you’ve been on. So I can’t say I don’t either. I lost track. It’s it’s a lot, just in case somebody is new here and landing on the podcast for the very first time. Go ahead and give us a little quick introduction. And then I’m going to explain what’s going on.

Colie James
Hello, everyone. I am Colie James. I am a family filmmaker and systems and client experience strategist. I live in Colorado with my husband and my daughter, and I’m at Disneyland as much as humanly possible. That’s me in a nutshell. Yeah, that’s

Sabrina Gebhardt
a good, that’s a good description right there. I love it. So here’s what we’re doing today. Colie and I are going to have the first of what I’m calling a quarterly business bestie chat last year, on Voxer, which Callie and I are inbox are like every day, multiple times a day. We were chatting, and we were both talking about how we needed to schedule to get on each other’s podcast again. And I immediately went to well, what should we talk about? Because that’s what I do. And that quickly turned into the realization that we can talk about anything and it would be an interesting conversation, then I have this idea. What if we had completely unscripted business chats on the air. So we’re just going to talk through what’s going on in each other’s businesses, what’s working, what’s a struggle, and just kind of see where the conversation leads, it’s gonna give you the listener the chance to be kind of a fly on the wall, so to speak. Honestly, this could be a total fail. I’m willing to try it. And I’m excited because the truth is anytime that Callie and I chat, something good comes from the conversation. So we’re gonna give this a whirl and see what happens. It’s January. So we’re going to start at the very most obvious starting point here. I would love to know what some highs and lows from last year are for you.

Colie James
Okay, I think the biggest high is that I actually survived. I mean, I don’t I don’t remember what we talked about the last time that I was on the podcast, but for the listening audience that don’t know me and don’t follow my podcast, last year was a very big struggle personally with some things that were going on with my daughter and her education. And so while I have been able to grow my business, as she increased her time in school and things of that nature last year, I guess it’s still the current school year, but in you know, fall of 2023, my daughter is now attending two different schools. And so I went from basically having unlimited time during the day, to now having to take her to one school, go pick her up in the middle of the day, come home, and then go get her in the afternoon. And so my work life in 2023 looks very different than it ever had before, even when I was homeschooling her. I mean, I get to two hour chunks a day to do work. And so the fact that I did not lose my business, the fact that I did not lose my sanity, although I came very close. And I still managed to make six figures like I think it’s a miracle. And so that’s my high, my low is that it is still very disappointing, even though I know that survival was just like, what I really needed to do in the past year. The amount of momentum, if you will, that I feel like I lost is tremendous. But I don’t necessarily think that that’s the worst thing. I mean, you know, out of storms or I don’t know what it is that you want to call it. But some really good things can come when you are absolutely forced to slow down. And so I do consider that to be both a high and a low from the last year.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, yeah. You know that I’m a huge believer in that. And I’ve had that in my own story. The we don’t want to slow down, but it’s really kind of miraculous what comes out of that forced pause and so you may not be there yet where you can see He kind of the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, but it will come and it will be so obvious when it comes full circle, you know. So for me, my high, it’s funny that you say you survived, I feel the same way but for different reasons. For you, I think you knew that it was a hard year in real time, like you felt that it was hard. And there was a lot of shifts and a lot of challenges. I didn’t realize how hard 2023 2020 2023 was for me. I mean, 2020 was hard, too hard. I don’t really I didn’t realize how hard 2023 was for me, until I’ve gotten on the other side of it. And I highs I mean, I hit a very high revenue goal, which was really awesome. When a lot of people were struggling with the recession, I made almost 70% More than I did last the year before, which is amazing. And that was a goal that I hit from that I had for myself. So that was incredible. But I also really overextended myself, like really, and I think I was in fight or flight so much of last year that I didn’t realize that I was really in it. But I actually, in the time that we’re recording this episode, I sent an email to my email list last night, just kind of like being super vulnerable. And I was like your goals, I’m just gonna air this dirty laundry out. And it was kind of sharing in the moment what I was realizing about last year, and it’s nothing that I’m proud of. I mean, my business was amazing. And I coached some incredible women, and my photography, business held consistent. Even with all this education, growth, those are all amazing things. But a lot of the stuff that I coach, people in, I was not doing for myself, like I actually felt like a hypocrite it real it totally, totally. And that’s a terrible way to feel. And I know that it’s okay. And I know that I’m going to kind of write the wrong and get back to what I know is true and do better. But it really stinks to have to admit that like, Damn. Damn, you know,

Colie James
I mean, there’s that thing where they tell you, you know, at least for you and I at Bing, both still service providers, and then also coaching people, that none of us really take the time to practice what we preach in some cases. And so I feel like we need constant reminders. Like one of the things that I did before the holidays, was I sat down and I cleaned out my own dubsado account, girl, do you know, the last time that I cleaned out my own account, but I was I was doing a setup. And I got in there. And I was like, wow, there’s a lot of stuff in here. And so I was like, You know what, I’m gonna put a pause on this client’s setup for today, I’m gonna go into my account, and I am going to do some housekeeping. I mean, I archived like 30 forms and rewrote a few emails. And I mean, just did the thing. I mean, I didn’t do a full system setup, because my systems are fine. But I really did go in there and like clean up, which is the first thing that I do in my clients accounts. And I have to admit, it felt really, really awesome. So I mean, I think I’m proud of myself. And that that was one of the activities that I did, at the very end of the year to kind of get back to, you know, this is why people hire me, this is what I preach. It’s good that like, if I ever had to open my dubsado account and show a client, I’d be like, exactly,

Sabrina Gebhardt
exactly. And that’s so true. And we as photographers, we know that right? We’re always saying like, the cobbler has no shoes, like we take so little photos, we have to be really intentional with our own family, like, am I taking a camera on vacation? Or just my iPhone? Am I getting out of camera at Christmas, or just my iPhone, you know, and so the same is true, right? Like, I know that I can coach women through things. But it’s time to like, get get things in order, which means I’m going to be saying no to a lot this year. And really, kind of getting back to the basics of like some habits that I had fallen out of and some things I need to do for myself and not over committing to things. That was a really that was a really big that could have been my word for last year over commit. I might mean Oh, I

Colie James
feel like in September, one of the other I guess, lessons you asked about the highs and the lows. But one of the lessons that I think I learned in 2023 Was I think in the month of September, I had another one of those months where I only slept in my own bed for 13 days. I mean, I don’t think many people in the listening audience can be like, wait, I mean, you weren’t in your house for more than two weeks. Yeah, totally. I mean, like it total it was. I mean, I just felt like I was always somewhere and it wasn’t all work. Like I mean, one of those trips I was with you in DC. But I mean, you know, there was a Disneyland trip and they are like a really quick 48 hour one but I mean, I feel like last year I can’t I didn’t really maintain the same level of 2022 but at least I maintained my business. And so for 2024 I just want to be very intense. tional in the things that I am choosing to do, because I still have half a school year left where, you know, I still have two hour to two hour chunks today. And I’ve decided I really don’t want to work both of those. Like, it’s hard, it’s hard to get in the car and drive her and come home and jump back in. So I’m still going to be making some very intentional decisions for this year, probably, you know, still taking it even perhaps one step down before in the fall, I have hope that I will then again, regain my life and schedule in terms of the work portion, and be able to just jump right back in.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Another thing I’ve realized you’re talking about your schedule with your daughter in school and working hours and not wanting to work all the time that she that you do have that she’s at school, I am in the season, where I have a 16 year old, a 13 year old and an eight year old. So I have a high school or middle school and an elementary schooler. And I knew what it was like to be a busy mom and have a busy schedule with little kids running around. I was not prepared for how busy it is with big kids. And these big kids had all these different levels and three different schools needing me we have three different start times three different end times, three different sets of before school practice after school practice carpools, doctor’s appointments. I mean, it’s just it’s absolutely maddening. And there are days honestly, where I’m like, I can’t, I can’t have a business like I need to be this full time mom to you know, doing all the things. And so it is a constant lesson in like shuffling my schedule and figuring out like, what the best fit is. And I think that’s something that I really failed at last year was just kind of being okay with winging it constantly. And that’s fine some of the time, but not all the time. You know?

Colie James
Yeah, I mean, I did a lot of asking for help. So I mean, you know, this, but my mom is here for a good chunk of the time, she is currently about to take my niece home from the holidays, and then she will be back for several months in order to be here and help me I had to ask my husband, okay, what one day a week, can you commit to picking our daughter up after her second school, so that I can come home and not have to worry about, you know, shutting down work again. And so that’s the time that’s the one day that I always work in the afternoon, because I don’t have to anticipate the break. I think that’s the hardest part is knowing that there’s a hard stop and feeling completely unmotivated to jump into something knowing that if it’s not done, I still have to walk away and get in the car and drive to pick her up. So that was kind of an adjustment. And I mean, I people talk about time blocking all the time. But the time blocker, oh, like those rigid, you must do it between this and this. And so that was a constant struggle in the last year trying to figure out how to be productive in small amounts of time, when usually my motivation is what gets me to just do it all at once and be done. So

Sabrina Gebhardt
we’ve shared a little bit of the highs and lows, knowing that that’s how we you use the highs and lows of the past year to kind of inform where you want to go in the year future casting, what are some kind of big things that you have planned for this year, based on what you just shared.

Colie James
So I mean, the one thing, it’s a little different being on the system side right now, because as the photographer, we’re all really ramping down like this is our slow time. But then when photographers have their slow time, it’s when everybody wants their systems done. So like today, I had two different sales calls, which I don’t know that I’ve had two different sales calls in one single day in quite some time. So things are really ramping up. And I had to take a really hard look at my schedule to make sure that I wasn’t just like, oh, all money’s good money. And let me just schedule everybody where I can to make up for, you know, all of the missed income from last year. So putting boundaries in place for when I am available to do some some of those things is going to be a continuation of last year, if you will. I’ve been really trying to figure out what events are worth me getting on a plane to go to, because that’s also part of slowing down. I mean, I love to be with people, you know this we love to be with people together. Yeah. And so just making sure that I’m not just saying yes to things because I feel the need to escape. The driving Uber routine that is my life right now is also a continuation but in terms of like doing new stuff. I you and I have had this discussion, I think on at least one podcast episode, but I don’t know which one where I’m looking at doing perhaps a virtual summit this year. And like stepping into that more online education role, but not where I am teaching someone specific for me. I would really love to do more collaborations with other people like us. You know, trying to get back that community that I feel like a lot of us struggled to maintain during the pandemic. And even now that I mean, one of my family members currently has COVID. So it’s not even like it’s in the past. But as we continue to come out of the pandemic, I just feel like I would really like to get back to some of those community aspects that I fondly remember from like, 2019.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I love that, when you mentioned, like having to kind of have boundaries on your time and how much you commit to same same, I would love to say that I’m gonna go to a ton of conferences and do a ton of things with people because it’s so fun, and it fills our cup. Right. But that was one of the things that happened last year, that was so hard. And it’s I think it happened so early in the year and then I never recovered, right. I way over committed in the first quarter last year. And I kind of had an inkling like a suspicion that I had done it before it happened. And then when that was happening in real time, I was like, I am not going to survive this. I spoke at three conferences, which was three different talks, and hosted an in person retreat all within eight weeks of each other. And it was too much from me, you know, because none of those conferences did I just show up and attend and have Yeah, right. Like I was in the educator role. And which, you know, like, you go to conferences, and you have fun, and you’re mingling with people, but when you’re wearing the I’m one of the speakers hat, like you have to really overdo it, right? Like you really have to connect with people and make it a point to be at all the things and the energy is different.

Colie James
It is I mean, and I went to two of the four that you’re talking about. Yeah. Or was it three? No, two of the four. But I also went to four. Now you spoke at three, but I went to I went to four spoke at two attended to Yeah. And thank goodness for me. It was actually like, attend, speak, attend. Yeah. So at least I you know, I did get a break from that educator role, if you will. But it is tough getting prepared to do all those things. And I think yours was within eight weeks, and mine might have been 10. But yeah, you and I q1 like, and I honestly have almost I haven’t quite done the same thing this year. But like, I was literally talking to my husband. And I was like, I don’t know that I want to go on all these trips that I’ve already scheduled. Yeah, they’re not all mandatory. Yeah, I think I might be rethinking just one or two of them. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
I’m definitely doing the same thing. I’m definitely trying to really pay attention to my calendar a little bit more and not just sign up for all the fun things and commit to all the fun things. You know, for me a couple of things that I’m really excited about for 2024 As far as taking what happened last year and using it to inform my year. One thing is, so I mentioned that my revenue increased 70% That’s awesome. Go me yay. However,

Colie James
however, and you and I both have the same however, however with

Sabrina Gebhardt
the Asterix, everyone here should know listeners should know that one of my my current highest ticket offer is my route to rise mastermind, which I love and I’m obsessed with. And it is my heart and soul gets all of this, this mastermind attention and I love it. But it’s also the most expensive thing that I do because of my retreat. Because guys, if you’ve never been to my retreat or never heard about my retreat, it is a Bougie awesome events, okay, I spoil these women and I would have it no other way we stay in beautiful properties, we have Chef, we have a private yoga instructor, I take care of all of the food, I get specific brand name flavors of snacks that everybody likes. I mean, I take care of these women, okay? And it costs a lot of money. So it costs a lot of money, but I love it. So while my revenue increased, my profit did not okay, which is not a great thing. So 2024, I’m really leaning into increasing my profit, which means creating offers that don’t require as much of my time and my face in real time, which is what people call passive income. Side note, nothing is ever passive. Okay? So don’t think that this is something that I’m going to create once and it’s just going to print money, that doesn’t actually happen. Okay? Passive income is not passive. But that is what I’m really focusing on this year is offers that I can create once and then I can just market them, and I can increase my profits. So I’m excited about that. I have a bunch of ideas for small things and mid tier things. And we’re just going to see where it goes. And then on the opposite end of that spectrum, I actually have a kind of secretive, high high ticket offer. I like it high high ticket offer that actually is going to be for this year is going to be an invitation only thing. So I don’t even know I’m sure I’ll talk about it publicly, but I’m not going to launch it publicly and for multiple reasons. For one, this is my my gut tells me this is how to start this, it’s going to be a very small group, a very small offer, I already know who’s going to be invited. And I’m really excited to see how it goes, it’s going to be a longer term package, I think it’s going to be between six and nine months of commitment. However, there is going to be an awesome retreat involved because that’s what I do. That’s what I do. And that’s what I love. I’ve kind of got two new things at both ends of the spectrum going this year that I’m really excited about. Friend, I want to take a quick second to tell you about a new freebie I have that I’m super excited about whether you are hoping to launch a new offer this year. Or maybe you’re just burned out and looking for some creative inspiration. You will love this new freebie portfolio on purpose. This is my exact step by step framework for planning and executing a successful model call that I’ve been teaching my paying students for years. In case you don’t know why this is so important. Model calls are a great way to do a lot of really positive things in your business. They get fresh eyes on your business, they give you a way to create images that support a new offer that you might want to launch model calls give you a place to play and create without the expectations of paying clients. And they’re a great way to fine tune your skills and expand your portfolio. The portfolio on purpose freebie includes a video worksheets, checklists, examples and everything you need to make this process super easy and super successful for you. When you go through portfolio on purpose, you will walk away with the knowledge of what the benefits of model calls are, how they can support your business, creativity and growth, how to create one that pulls in the right people how to keep it organized, including a step by step workflow. At the end of this freebie you will feel inspired to take action and have the steps and tools necessary to successfully put the model call out find the right models. And most importantly, get the images you are looking for. If you’re hoping to run a model call or maybe a few this year, head over to Sabrina gebhardt.com backslash model dash freebie to get yours today. Okay, back to the show. I would love to know, let’s bring things into real time into the current month it is January it is the first quarter of 2024. What are you working on in your business right now,

Colie James
I am fully booked. And I have not been able to say that in a while. I mean, after today’s I’m waiting for paid invoices. But I do feel for the first time and very, very long time that the momentum is going again. And this is again, this is not uncommon for someone who does systems. Because q1 is always it’s always my best quarter. But I’m always always also trying to balance it against traveling and going to conferences and doing these kinds of things. So in q1, I’m working like more client work that I had last year, because I also feel like I should just say all the things that you said about the mid tier and the passive, you know, that’s what I did last year, like I launched the template shop, I tried to templatized my VIP day setups, which actually that’s what one of the things that booked today is one of the ones where it does not require me to be on a strategy call for four hours, they’re going to fill out some things, I’m going to do it, they get a 30 minute call laughter and it’s done. So I am still working on, you know, systematizing, my systems offer just a little bit more. But aside from doing like way more client work, I am doing things like working on a new email newsletter campaign like a really long term. I mean, right now I’ve got 30 emails planned, which means no matter when someone joins my email list, you will get those same 30 emails because I feel like the content in them is something that everyone should have. And so that’s one of my goals is just working on that just a little bit more. And I mean, I don’t know that I have any other besides also, again, like working on virtual summit kind of stuff. Because you know, you can’t just throw it together and a month even me Even I cannot throw it together in a month. So that’s going to take just a little bit of planning. And also, as you know, I mean, March is my anniversary, Kid always has spring break. And so like I usually don’t work like a big chunk of March. So we’re really talking about I have the rest of January and February is really like my q1 to get these kinds of things done. But making sure that I’m taking time for myself, making sure that I am trying to stick to the boundaries that I have put in place, at least for this significant client work aspects. Because when I say I’m fully booked, that offer that systematized, I could take more of those I’m talking about like full, I do your entire setup. It takes me like a good week and then another week and then you get the support. So that’s where I I am at and then just, you know, the normal things working on being a better mother and a better wife and a better person. I mean, if I have to pick a word for 2024, and I don’t think I ever really do this one time, my word was unapologetic. And I might have taken that just fat too far. But my word for this year is definitely like self care, like self care. And then just, you know, family care.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Ooh, Kohli. I love that. You know, that’s right. Maybe I brought you over to my side.

Colie James
I think you did. I think you did.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I’ve influenced you too long. Okay, what I’m working on in my business right now is. So I just share that long term planning is really focusing on more profit, smaller offers, and then this larger ticket offer. So I’m working on both of those things. Right now, I have a brand new freebie that by the time this episode airs, it will be live. So currently, in real time, I am buttoning up the details of that it should be ready to go and live in the next few days. Really excited about it. It is called portfolio on purpose. And it is my framework for how I do model calls. So it’s everything for how to brainstorm what you need, how to find the right ones, how to market it, how to organize it, it’s awesome. It’s something I teach all my students and it’s been very valuable. So I’m excited about that. And then the profit side, I have a tripwire that will be connected to that, for the first time ever, I have a digital product that will be sold off the back end of this freebie, and it will only be available there for the time being. So I’m excited to see how that goes. And then I am trying to button up all of the details for this secret offer high ticket retreat thing that where I will be hosting the summer, I just picked out the house and rented it. I’m really excited about it. So now I’ve got to get all those details in order. And I will be extending invitations to join the program to women in the next few weeks. I’m hosting my first ever alumni. Oh my gosh, we’re going to be in Charleston, in when this airs. Actually, I think we will have just gotten back from Charleston. But I’m really excited about that. So I’m buttoning up the details for that, you know, like confirming all of the plans and our schedule and whatnot. And I’m currently also trying to decide if I will be doing another fall run of Route rise in 2024 or not. I’m leaning towards Yes. Okay. I need you to lean towards Yes. I’m leaning towards Yes. Because I there were two things that were the two determining factor, right. This was the first time I’ve ever hosted the mastermind in the fall. I know it’s successful in the spring, I didn’t know how it was going to land for both my students and myself. Right. As an active practicing family photographer, I didn’t know if I would be able to manage coaching alongside busy season. And I didn’t know if the students would continue to show up and thrive all the way through the end of the program. Both of those are green lights. We got we got a check mark on both women thrived. Almost 100% of the women who did the fall signed up to join in the spring. So I mean, I’d say they enjoyed the program. You did something right. Yeah. And I got through it just fine. I stayed on top of my client work. I wasn’t overwhelmed with sessions. So I feel like it’s a yes. Um, I guess my only hesitation is I haven’t. For me, we know that I love to do the calendar work. Like I it’s so valuable to me to look at. When can I do it? How is this going to work? How is the timing going to work with my kids commitments, all my kids play fall sports that adds a layer of complication to things. So I haven’t really looked at what the fall is going to look like yet. I think once I do that, I’ll have a little bit more clarity. I also am not sure where I want to have the retreat. So you know, I’ve I’ve know I’ve had a gut instinct for all the other ones so far, and I’m not really sure about this. So we’ll see. Stay tuned, I guess I gotta make that decision pretty soon. Okay, um, last question. I would love to know, what is something that is either not working for you right now, or that is frustrating you right now. I’m

Colie James
trying to think if there’s anything besides just my, my lack of time to do anything. I don’t know that there’s anything that’s frustrating, just besides the lack of time. I feel like there are some days when I wake up really motivated. And I’m like, but I just, I just can’t because I know that I have a hard stop in two and a half hours. I guess, if there’s anything that’s frustrating in relation to how much money I lost last year, which I mean, talking about losing money is not really accurate. I just didn’t make as much as I did the year before. But I didn’t really I didn’t really understand that things. Were not going to get better as soon as I should have so like you, you know if I had just paid a little bit of a little bit more attention to my prop fit margin, when I knew like immediately when I knew that I wasn’t going to have enough time, and I was proactively working on these more quote, passive, you know, opportunities. And I knew that when I switched over to the template shop, that I wasn’t just going to, you know, say, hey, these templates are here, and that I was just going to make $10,000 a month. I mean, that just does not happen. But I just feel like if I had slowed down on my spending, then I actually probably could have ended 2023, at almost the same amount of profit that I had in 2022. And I didn’t, I didn’t, I’m nowhere near as profitable in 2023, as I wasn’t 2022. But it could have been if I had just thought, and planned a little bit better, like I planned for the transition on the profit side, or on the revenue side, if you will. But I didn’t really consider what that should have meant for my expenses, did I really need to go to, you know, extra conferences, when I knew that I was making this transition was that actually going to help me make the moves that I was planning to make. And so that is just a little frustrating. And it is my top goal, like you in 2024, is to make sure that I am running as lean as I can. So that in the event that all I do is maintain the same revenue level in 2024 that I had in 2023, I will still be able to pay myself almost the same amount of money that I paid myself in 2022. So I think that’s my frustration. And also, I guess, kind of a goal of where I want to go. And I feel like you know, I’m sorry, I’ve talked so much about money, guys. But I feel like none of us really get on these podcasts and are like really vulnerable about like, Oh, my God. I mean, at one point I was 60% down for the year. That is a lot of money. I mean, an incredible amount of money. And I mean, I had a really good December. And so it didn’t end up being the gap, that like in November, I was like, wow, that is I mean, I didn’t look at my QuickBooks for several months in 2023. Guys, because I just didn’t want it to tell me what I already knew somewhere in the back of my mind. But so if any of you are kind of like in that place where you know, and January is a great time to think about this. If you get to the end of the year, and you’re like, Okay, I thought I did really well. But you’re actually looking at your profit, which is usually the most important number. If you’re not happy with it. I mean, Sabrina and I would just really both encourage you to sit down and make a better plan for 2024, which you can do a lot of things if you just think about how to reduce your expenses. Because when Sabrina and I did that podcast episode on the shoot straight podcast about recession, yes, we were talking about these things in the moment in the current state of the economy. But all of the things that we talked about, were really things that you should be doing every single year, if there’s a recession or not. And so I just, I mean, I feel like I should get on my pulpit and just talk about it just a little bit more Everyone, please look at your QuickBooks, look at your profit. And, you know, do it when you’re in the mindset of making changes, because I think a lot of us do this in April, when we’re trying to do our taxes. And you’re so stressed out about the process of getting your taxes done, that you still don’t have time to just sit down and think about what those numbers mean, in order to plan out the rest of the year. And I would say that for most of us that are photographers and family photographers, like by May, you should already be doing your fall stuff. So you really need to make those decisions in q1 and not q2 Going into q3.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly how I plan my calendar. I mean, I am looking at six months at a time so that I can back into things and not only does that help you financially plan but helps with your marketing plan and helps with your scheduling and not over committing. I mean, it helps with so many things, it’s really important to take that big picture. Look at okay, what’s going on in the next six months, where can I fit things? Where do I need to pull back on other things? What what does this particular launch mean for income and profit and expenses? And I mean, the whole thing, if you are not currently looking at your business by six month windows, if not a year at a time, it’s time to start? Absolutely. It’s time to start. So things that are frustrating me right now similar to you. It’s time related, but my frustration is how long everything takes. And I would say this actually means two different things for me. Number one, when you’re creating a new offer, even if it’s a freebie and a tripwire, there’s so many steps and it takes so much longer than you think you come up with this idea and you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m gonna be able to whip that out real fast. No, absolutely you cannot right between the PDFs, and the writing and the emails and the tracking links and the creating of the product and that landing page and the thank you page and Oh, my lanta, it, there’s so many steps, there’s so many steps. And just when I think I’m almost done, I realized there’s five more. And so everything takes longer than I want it to. And just like you said, having pockets of time I can I have not been able to just sit down and like, start to finish do anything. And so it’s like, well, today I’ll do this, this one or two things, and then I’ll do this. And it’s just taking absolutely forever. The other part of thinking things take too long is when you launch something new, it takes a while to get traction and frustrating, right? Because we’re like, oh, this is gonna be the thing. Everybody’s gonna love this. And then it’s like, come on, come on, get going, you know. And so that feels frustrating, too. I know that I love the start of a new year. And I love sitting kind of with my visionary hat on and like all these things that I want to do and how I think it’s gonna play out. And then in real time, it’s just never goes as fast as I want it to,

Colie James
you know, it made me think and when I was listening to you, and you were talking about these things, because I like you, I mean, I had never had a tripwire, I didn’t have any bump offers, like, I wasn’t doing any of those funnel kinds of things that you know, all the Guru’s tell you that you should. And so I started implementing those at the end of summer or early September when I launched the template shop. And I will say like, it took months, months, I mean, and then like, I think once I set up my very first tripwire, it might have taken six weeks before I actually know of course, I don’t get as many people opting in to some of my freebies as you do. But like, it took a good six weeks, and then I was like, Oh, I sold the tripwire This is amazing. And like the bump offers were like the same. And then it was like, you know, putting the popups on my website, the first time that someone bought something off of the pop up, because I know that they couldn’t have gotten that offer anywhere else that was super exciting. But all of this talk that Sabrina and I are doing about planning. I’m thinking of this expression that someone told me one time and I was like, why don’t they just like put it on a t shirt. And that’s you mark it today, for your business in six months. And I don’t think that a lot of people take that into consideration. We all want that, like instant gratification. So it’s like, Okay, I think I’m marketing right now to get clients next week, or next month. But really, when you are marketing, now, you are laying the foundation to get those people to buy from you in six months, not I mean, launches are different, but just your general marketing, you’re bringing people into your world, you’re nurturing them. And then six months is when you can hope to see a return on investment. But I think that a lot of us are in that instant gratification mode, where we’re like, Okay, I’m going to do a launch. And it’s going to go great. And I’m going to make all of this money. And then I’m just going to do it again. And it’s like, but if you’re not bringing in more people into your business in between your launches, it will eventually be stale. Like you have to do the work. Yeah. And so putting it in your frame of mind, like planning for six months, but also knowing that if things are good now, like I told you, I mean, I’ve got a lot of client work right now, that doesn’t mean that I should stop talking about what I do. Because I know what happens when I do that. When I when I didn’t think that I was going to have any time for client work, I stopped talking about it. And it was like a solid three months before I booked another setup. It’s because I wasn’t talking about it like, so market today, for the clients that you want in six months. And even if things are going well now. I mean, it’s like therapy, you’re doing well. So you don’t think you need your therapy anymore. And then you stop doing your therapy, and then it catches up to you. And then by the time you realize you need your therapy, you got to start over or whatever. I mean, you got to still do the work, even if things look great now, because again, you’re not marketing for today. You’re marketing from six months from now.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, exactly. And for the photographer’s listening, this is the same thing that I teach them, practically speaking, if they service different kinds of clients. The most common place that I see this problem happen is in the fall, their Instagram blows up with family images, maybe it’s outdoor family images, or whatever studio family images. And then come January, they’re like, Where are all my newborn clients? Where are all my branding clients? Where’s all the stuff? I’m like, for the last quarter all you didn’t. So you haven’t gotten any inquiries, you always need to be sharing what you need in the future. And the same goes with blogging. And so it’s hard because you think, well, this is what I’m doing in real time. So this is what I need to share and you can share about what you’re doing in real time. But you also need to be talking about what you want to be doing in the future, which is if you’ve never thought about marketing your business that way. It’s hard. It’s a little tricky to think about that. So but

Colie James
I’m going to throw one thing out there cuz it in August of 2023, on my podcast business verse creatives, I did a marketing series. And I talked to one half of the consistency club, Dana shop. And it was the rule of seven. And one thing that we talked about in there that I mean, so many people DM me and was like, I’ve never thought about this, you should have a calendar, where you mark down every time you ask for the sale. And so that if I could tell anyone to do anything, and marketing green, I made jokes about hey, green will bring you money, you know, but in general, you want to be able to look at your marketing and you want to be able to see consistent asking for the sale. And the same thing goes for if you are marketing, different kinds of sessions. I mean, if that is your problem, and you get into a rut, where you talk about families for four months straight and nothing else, maybe your calendar needs to show the variety of posts about sessions that you are doing, so that at a glance, you should be able to see that you’ve got some newborn sprinkled in there, so that when winter comes if you live somewhere that is like a Tundra. I don’t know who we know that does that. But you want to be able to get the in home sessions, the newborn sessions, the branding sessions, so that it doesn’t completely dry up. Unless that’s what you want. Now, if you like your downtime, if you legitimately want a couple of months off every winter, to work on your business to spend more time with family, I’m not talking to you. But I am talking to those of you that are like I wish my business was more consistent. You cannot force people to book outdoor sessions when it is snowing. So you have to figure out what else you can do to bring in the money and start talking about that in fall. Even though all you think people are thinking about is outdoor fall Christmas card sessions.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I’m going to wrap this up. I feel like this was successful, I feel like okay, so this is officially going to be a quarterly thing you will hear from us. We’re going to do this just chat back and forth. And I can’t wait to hear the feedback to hear what the listeners think about just getting to listen in on a conversation that quite frankly, we would have had anywhere. I mean, this is stuff that we talk about on the regular so I’m really excited about this. Thank you for being here today. With that, my friends the first quarterly business bestie chat is a wrap. Thanks for being here and 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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