5: Investing in Outsourcing with Colie James

creative entrepreneurs investing in outsourcing a conversation between sabrina gebhardt and colie james
5: Investing in Outsourcing with Colie James 3

I am so excited to share this week’s episode of the Shoot It Straight Podcast with you. Today I am interviewing my business bestie, Colie James. Colie is a Dubsado expert, business guru, and photographer turned systems and automation expert. We are talking all about outsourcing in your business: why you need it, how it isn’t as expensive as you think it is, and what to outsource first. Let’s get into it!

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 my Sustainability Guide Freebie, where I’m walking you through 10 steps to a sustainable business. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for years, this guide will help you review the different facets of your business and clarify whether or not you’re set up for long-term sustainable success.

Review the Show Notes:

Welcome Colie James (1:54)

Colie: What is outsourcing and what is automating? (4:42)

The mindset shift around outsourcing (6:03)

What to prepare for (10:55)

Affording outsourcing (15:27)

Why you need to outsource (19:04)

How to figure out where to start (24:11)

Are you making a wise investment? (29:35)

Rapid Fire Questions (33:10)

Mentioned in this Episode:

CRM Blueprint Course – Use code SABRINAGEBHARDT to save $75 on Colie’s course

Simple Sales System Course from Annemie Tonken – Use code SABRINAGEBHARDT to save $25 on Annemie’s course

Connect with Colie:

Website https://coliejames.com

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/coliejames/

Podcast  Business-First Creatives Podcast

Legal Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

investing in outsourcing as a creative entrepreneur with colie james
5: Investing in Outsourcing with Colie James 4

Review the Transcript:

Sabrina Gebhardt
I am so excited to share this week’s episode of the shoot it straight podcast with you. Why? Well because I am interviewing my business bestie Colie James. So this is the first interview episode we’ve had on the podcast and I was a little nervous. But luckily, interviewing your friend is super easy and it makes it really, really fun. If you don’t know Colie James, she is a dubsado expert, a business guru. She is a photographer turned systems and automations expert she just has so much knowledge to give us in the entrepreneur space about running a business that serves you well. So we started off with the goal of talking about outsourcing because Colie and I love to talk about outsourcing. Okay, so and we did talk about it, we talked about why you need it, how it isn’t as expensive as you think it is, what to outsource first and kind of how to get started. But because I was chatting with my business bestie we got into all kinds of other things, including pricing, and vision, and mindset, and a bunch of other great stuff. This episode is a great Listen, so let’s get into it.

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. All right, today is a really fun day. The shoot it straight podcast has its very first guest and of course it is none other than one of my favorite people in the world of business. Bestie Her name is Colie, James, and she is a photographer in Denver, Colorado, but she also is a systems guru, a dubsado expert, she is my go to for all things tech, and automations. And she’s just such an awesome person, but I’m gonna let you introduce yourself.

Colie James
I mean, how can I possibly go after that, as Sabrina said, I’m Colie James, I’m just going to add in a little bit of the personal since she really covered the business. I live outside of Denver, Colorado. I’ve been married for 21 years to my college sweetheart, we have a 12 year old who is very sassy and just started middle school. So that’s a whole other adventure that we could get into at another time. But one of the business things that Sabrina didn’t mention is this is my 10th year of business. And it is my second full year as a dubsado expert. So for the first eight years of my business, I did all things documentary, family photo and filmmaking. Uh, now I’ve kind of transitioned, I’ve, you know, I’m getting older, it’s not as easy to chase around the two and three year olds. So I’ve kind of been transitioning my business to be more of a business coaching systems set up that kind of thing, but I am still heavily into photography. I mean, I have enough returning clients to keep me photographing that mental I’m at least 50. So

Sabrina Gebhardt
that’s so awesome. And Colie and I actually met when I was a student at one of her in person workshops. How long ago was that? 2018? Oh, my gosh, so four years ago, in some ways, it seems like much longer than that. A lot has happened since then. But I attended a workshop that colie hosted and our retreat, I guess, that you hosted? And I’m going to tell you something that I don’t know if you know, I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about this. I didn’t think you liked me.

Colie James
Well, clearly, I liked you. Because four years later, we’re besties No, I didn’t not like hilarious. You didn’t come across that way.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Isn’t that so funny? No, I don’t think so. I just I don’t know. Anyway, that was just a funny little side note for you. But I love you, Sabrina. So obviously, we’ve come a long way our businesses have come a long way and changed. A lot of life has happened from 2018 to now 2022. But what I really want to talk about today is something that you do so well in your own business, but also coaching other photographers and creatives to do the same thing. And that is spending your money to outsource things in your business. So let’s just start at the beginning. What is outsourcing and what does it look like for you?

Colie James
So I am going to add in one more word. I’m gonna say outsourcing and automating and the reason that I’m gonna say that is because there’s a couple things that I know are gonna come up on this on this episode today. That is not a true outsource because you’re not paying somebody else to do it. You’re just having a piece of software do it for you easier. So outsourcing is the art of paying someone else to do something for your business. That’s, that’s my definition and some of the things that I outsource in my business. So remember guys, I’ve got two sides of my business, I’ve got photography, and then I’ve got my dubsado setups. So let’s start with photography, since this is a photographer’s podcast. For photography, I have a photo editor, I have a filmmaking editor, I have at various points outsourced, like other like marketing type of things. I have a bookkeeper who works on both sides of my business. And I recently as of this morning, I hired a virtual assistant that is going to be doing a few other things for me on both the photography side and the dubsado side. But other things that I have outsourced on the other side of my business is copywriting. I have done some sort of website design. I mean, I’ve anything I’m at a point in my business now we’re anything that I can pay someone else to do that does not suck up my time is money well spent.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I feel that so much. I am kind of like you. I’m like, Who can I ask to help me make this easier, faster, better, smarter, whatever. But I know and I personally struggled with this. In the beginning, it was sounded like a good idea. But it almost felt like unattainable. Like the people I heard talking about outsourcing. Were people who had been in business for a really long time, or were already making six figures. And I remember thinking, Yeah, I can’t I can’t afford it. I shouldn’t I can’t like, there was just this whole mindset struggle with it. Did you ever have that? Or when did you cross that threshold?

Colie James
So I think you’re asking two very important questions. So I’m gonna kind of break that up. So the first kind of mindset issue that I had, when it came to outsourcing was giving up creative control. In the beginning of my business, it wasn’t that I wasn’t making enough money to pay someone to edit my images, it was that I had no interest. And then, I mean, you know this, but very briefly, for the audience, I lost my vision in 2016. And I could not see virtually anything for six weeks. And when I came back, I had to make some major changes so that I could still continue in my business. Because while I can see, you know, I have glasses, I have to have limited computer work now. Otherwise, it affects my vision long term. So when I came back, I was like, Okay, I have to get off the computer, what can I do to get off the computer. And so I already had to pay someone to edit the sessions that were in my queue when I lost my vision. And they did such a great job that I was like, it’s really not a big deal to give up your quote, unquote, creative control. So then I started paying people to do my images from then on, like I, I have not edited since the other part is the money part. And I do realize that, you know, depending on what your services are, and how much money you’re making the beginning, it’s really a struggle to get over the mindset of paying someone else to do something when you’re barely paying yourself, right. And so I understand that, but the thing that I want everybody in the listening audience to understand is that by paying people to do things, you open the opportunity to take on more clients, and then you can make even more money. So those are two different things, creative control, and then actually having the budget to pay people to do things. And I will say one more thing. And I think it’s more a reflection of where my business app is now versus before. But at some point in the last two years, I have flipped a switch. And when I add something new to my business, like I immediately think, who can I pay to set this? Or who can I pay to do this for me like that is my mindset now versus three or four years ago, I would have still, you know, figured out how to do it. And then oh, if it’s taking too much time, or I don’t like it, then I would have found somebody to pay. But like right now my mindset is, who can I pay first? Yeah. And then if I can’t find someone, then I figure out how to do it myself.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Right, right. So I’m gonna go back to both of those statements for a second. So going back to the creative control, or even take the word creative out and just giving control of things, that is a really hard thing, especially for the Type A’s there’s a certain personality type that right Hi, we’re raising our hands, that really likes to have their hands in everything. And there is a shift that has to happen, where you are willing and able to say, You know what, I’m going to release this because it’s for the better good. And maybe it’s not going to be done the same way I would do it, but being open to the thought of it might be done better. It might be done faster, you know, realizing that you actually don’t have to have your hands on everything all the time.

Colie James
Absolutely. And I mean, it is it could be done better and it could be done faster. But also I want you to do what you know guys, whatever you do in your business, chances are you can train somebody to do it just like you. Like my editing process is when I was working with the image salon they have an onboarding call. So You get to watch them edit. And I’d be like, No, I would do this. And they make notes. And so at the end of the day, they are actually editing my photos just like I would. It’s not that I’m like, accepting that, you know, this is their process. No, I mean, they have that one to one call, where you make sure that the decisions that you would make in a photo they actually implement when they’re editing. And if they don’t, guys, first three to four sessions, every time I get a new editor, y’all I send it back with notes. Yeah, exactly. And that’s my type A personality. Like, if I’m going to pay you, I want it to be done. Like I want it to be done. Or if you know a better way, hey, I’m all ears, right? Otherwise, I want to teach you my processes so that it’s just like I was doing

Sabrina Gebhardt
it. Yeah, sidenote, the image salon is also who I used to edit, and they have a fantastic onboarding process. It helps them stand out from everybody else. It is such an incredible process. I love it. Okay, so giving up control is really important. And I feel like personally, I remember. So the first thing I outsourced and it wasn’t really outsourcing as much as it was getting help, I guess. But the first thing I did that I paid for some help in my business was hiring an assistant. And I knew that I needed help with the contracts, the email management, the invoicing, just the day to day back and forth with my clients. Even though I was using a CRM, just the management, it was really I distinctly remember the day where I was like, I’m taking my hands off this like I have to I have to do this, it’s it may be a struggle. At first, it may be a little back and forth, like you said, of getting things figured out the way I want things done. But as soon as you release, and you take your hands off of it. I mean, it’s like it’s it is a pressure valve that has been released, you are immediately less stressed because you know that you’ve got somebody in your corner helping you with whatever thing you’ve paid for. Right? Absolutely.

Colie James
And I just want to say, because Sabrina might be talking a little fantasyland. Guys, when you give it to someone, it is not going to immediately be the pressure. After they figure out what they’re doing. That’s when the pressure releases. Like because if you if you end up hiring an assistant or a virtual assistant, or whatever it is that you want to call them, there is still going to be that initial anxiety. What if they don’t do it, right? But guys, when you work with someone, and you put in the effort to train them and communicate what you need, and things smooth out, that pressure really will be released 100% Yeah, you’ve got to be able to give it the time to do that. Because I don’t want you to think that outsourcing or automating is a perfect solution, like the moment that you decide to do it that all of your problems are going to be solved. That’s definitely not what Sabrina and I are saying, right. But what we are saying is that if you do it, and you have some initial hiccups, that’s completely normal, it will get better. And then everything will be amazing,

Sabrina Gebhardt
right? There is a process, there is a learning process with you having people that work for you and getting things done the right way and systems to organize these process. I mean, it is a process. And I think if you understand the expectation ahead of time that this is going to be a little bumpy at first, and then in a couple of months, it’s going to be awesome, you know, then you know what to expect. So the other thing about that training people, we talked about editing, and we’re not going into a training episode, but one of the great things about the digital world today is you can walk through anything for anybody at any time, just using your computer and the Internet, you know, between Google Docs with systems and to do list and tasks, and all of the different task management systems and loom screen recording. I mean, literally, it is so much easier now than it’s ever been to walk someone through your process and what you need help with in your business.

Colie James
Because when you start to outsource, I will say guys, you do have to work on your communication skills. I mean, that is not something that I really had to work on. I’m always good at telling people what to do. But if you are someone who struggles with that, I would suggest number one trying to write down like an SOP, a standard operating practice of how you want it done. And also, like Sabrina said, loom is your best friend, because you don’t really need to know how to communicate it in words, you can literally show them with the clicks of your mouse. And so you know, when you move into the world of of outsourcing, just make sure that you are communicating clearly what you need. And if things are not happening as you expected. You have to take the step to re communicate what you need and how it is not happening currently.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Exactly. And there’s so this goes into a whole other conversation of people have a hard time saying actually that wasn’t done right. You know, they get a little scared because they’re afraid they’re gonna make somebody mad or upset somebody. But you have to remember that you are in the position of being a boss and the person you have hired to work for you wants to do a good job and they want to do it the way that you want it and make you happy so that you can have a A long existing relationship. So you’re gonna have to speak up when things aren’t exactly to your expectations,

Colie James
because they’re not mind reader’s. Right? Exactly. You are thinking way too high level, if you think that you’re just going to be able to give it to someone, and they are going to like read your mind and know exactly what you want. Or if they give it to you, and it’s not right. And you just smile at them and say, Thanks, they don’t know that you’re disappointed. So you have to communicate these things.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, exactly. So circling back around to the second thing you mentioned earlier about affording outsourcing, okay? What I have found is that when you really look at the hours, it’s taking you to do something, versus the cost involved. And then you break it out over how many clients you take in a year, or how many sessions you have in a month, or whatever method of breakdown, you want to do whatever number you want to look at, it’s really not that expensive. It’s you know, I mean, there’s there are very few things that when you divide it out over, you know, the life of, of this relationship, that it’s not actually affordable. And specifically for photographers, when you’re looking at how many sessions you have in a month, and the monthly rate you’re paying for X help, it usually is very little dollars per session, right? Or dollars per client. And that has always been the most eye opening to me. Okay, so if I raise my rate by $50, this session, I have covered the cost of x, and I’ve gained this many hours, right. So I

Colie James
mean, let’s talk about photography, you know, I don’t do all these things anymore. But let’s say for example, I have a two hour session, there’s the there’s the two hours that I spend at the session, there’s the 30 minutes to an hour to drive there and back depending on how far they are from my house. And then there’s the backend work. There’s the making sure that they booked making sure that I got paid gathering their client information, editing their images, uploading it to the online gallery software, but I will tell you what guys, out of all the five things that I just listed, editing images, takes the longest. Now, I, if I’m doing a two hour session, depending on if I’m just getting it edited, wherever I’m getting it edited and called I spend between 70 to $100 a session. Guys, that’s nothing when you think about the four to five hours that it would probably take me to call and edit like that’s a lot of time. And granted, I am much faster now. But I haven’t actually timed editing in a few years. But when you think about that, and you compare it to what you make per hour, so everyone listening, if you don’t know what your hourly rate is, you should figure it out your hourly rate is how much money you’re making in a week or a month, divided by the total number of hours that you are working in a week or a month. Now that can be broken down into different categories, like face to face client time, back end work, those kinds of things. But when I try to figure out how much my time is worth, I currently charge $350 for a one hour strategy call and dubsado. So that is my benchmark, if it is going to cost me less per hour to get someone else to do something, I should pay them to do that. Because then I could do another strategy hour and pay them and probably pay myself a little bit more. But so for photographers figure out number of hours that you’re spending communicating per client, number of hours that you are spending total on your social media and divide it by the number of clients that you have in a month, how much travel time you have, how much session time you have, how much editing and then how much delivery, figure out the total number of hours that you can attribute to one client, and then divide that into how much you are charging them. If that number is low, it’s time for you to raise your rates, right? If that number is low, I bet you if you outsource your editing, the number would get higher, even though you’re paying someone else to do part of it. So you know, I know it’s a scary thing to take the money that’s in your account and start sending it to other people. But that actually gives you the freedom and the space to earn more money in your business. So just remember that next time you’re like, but I don’t have the money to outsource.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Right? That’s what everyone says in the beginning. Everyone like that’s the thing is, either I can’t afford it or my you know, I don’t need that. Okay, so maybe you don’t think you’re you need it. Maybe you’re managing everything just fine and things are working. What would you say to that person? Like, how would you encourage them to outsource? If they just are like, I’m fine. I’m not overwhelmed. I’m managing all the things. I’m staying on top of everything. Why should I outsource?

Colie James
Are you satisfied with just being fine? Are you satisfied with just not being overwhelmed? Because I gotta tell you guys, in the beginning, it’s fun. Like, you know, your business is new, you’re meeting new people. But after you come to a certain point, it really does start to feel like a job even though you still you still love it. You still do things I mean it is your job. And so eventually you have to make sure that not only are you paying yourself the salary that you want Not only are you avoiding burnout, but are you actually making room for the other things in your life that you want to do, like going on family vacations, having dinner every night, turning your computer off at 3pm. When you pick your kids up from school, like, I want you to have more goals, other than paying yourself a proper salary, and not being burnout, there has got to be something else that comes with owning your own business and making your own decisions. And being an entrepreneur.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I 100% agree, nobody started a business just to say everything’s fine. You know, we want to be in love with what we’re doing. We want to be able to have time exactly like you said, for family, friends vacations, maybe creative personal projects, maybe you’re fine where you are, but you really want to grow your business or add another arm to it. I mean, you can’t do any of that. With fine.

Colie James
You do have to always be thinking forward. Because I think that I mean, because when I built my business, when you just said nobody built a business to be fine. Oh, no, I really did build my business to be fine. So we had a lot of fertility issues. And so when I finally had my daughter, I was like, I don’t want to go back to teaching. I just want to sit at home with her for a few hours. And I didn’t work I didn’t I didn’t have my business yet. But when we started to talk about putting her in preschool, I was like, Okay, what am I gonna do now. And I wanted no part of going back to the 6070 hours that I worked before I became a mother, like, I wanted no part of that. So I started thinking about what I could do. And that’s how I actually opened my business. But I was purposefully part time for so many years. But at that point, my goal was okay, I just want to be fine. I just want to start to work on this business. I want to learn what I’m doing. I want to get better at my craft, those were my goals, and paying myself this really basic minimal salary. I mean, it was so basic, it’s ridiculous. And then, as Chloe went to school more days, right, and then eventually, when she was full time, that was when I was putting the pieces together to actually eventually make this my full time job where I was paying myself a full time salary. Now my goals weren’t as lofty as replacing what I made before I was a mother, because I’ve made a lot of money before. Right? So that was also never really my goal. But like, initially, when people asked me, Well, how did you set your income goals, I took what my husband made, and figured out what his our hourly salary was. And I said, I need to make at least that when I leave the house. That was my goal. I mean, so only if I was only doing like one session a week, it’s not a lot of money. But at least if we compared what I was doing to what he was doing, it was sufficient in terms of me making the same amount of money per hour. Okay, I

Sabrina Gebhardt
love that. I did not know that. But I will also say as, as I’ve known you and as our relationship has grown, your desires for your business have changed and shifted. I mean, you are so far beyond I just want to be fine. You know, we have grown and expanded and pivoted and changed and still dreaming of things that you want to do. And outsourcing has helped you Yes, helped that bloom grow, because now you have a support system. And you know, because you’re not afraid to outsource that, as things grow and change that I’m going to just bring people along to help support me.

Colie James
Absolutely. I mean, and it is a little scary, guys. I mean, I make way more money. Now, I also spend way more money. Yeah, but my profitability percentage is still increasing. So does that make sense? Guys, I don’t want you guys to get focused on the amount of money that you’re paying out. If you start to consider it as a percentage of your profit. You just want to make sure that as you grow your business, that your profitability percentage is not going down, it should be going up even as you’re paying more and more people. Now there might be some growing pains. So when you initially start outsourcing, your profitability percentage might actually go down, right, but as soon as you start raising your prices taking on more clients, because you have more time, because you’re outsourcing, your profitability percentage should at least be maintained if not increasing, right?

Sabrina Gebhardt
So for someone who is in a position where they’re like, Yep, I You’re preaching to the choir, I now really, really know that I need to bring someone on get some help in a certain area. What is the good place to start with outsourcing? Or how do you figure out where to start?

Colie James
There’s the matrix. Have you guys heard of the matrix? So it’s four quadrants, what you love doing and what you’re good at what you love doing and you’re not good at? What you hate doing that you’re not good at? And the third one, I just messed up, but you guys know what I mean? It’s like quadrants. Yeah, you need to sit down and like write down every single task that you do in your business client facing and not for like an entire week. Just write down and I’m talking every single little thing guys. If you only have 10 Things You Didn’t think hard enough, I didn’t break it down enough. So write all of these things down. And then you can start to think of well wait, like, everyone starts with the I hate and I’m not good at which is honestly a good place to start. But when you start there, you should not only consider that quadrant, you should think about your other three quadrants and compare what outsourcing would cost versus how much time it’s taking you and how much money you could be making, if you weren’t doing those tasks. So that’s where you start. And then once you make the matrix, that is how you personally make that decision. Now my advice for all photographers is that you consider outsourcing your editing. It’s the low hanging fruit, and so many people are doing it. And so many people get so many hours back in their week in their month in their life, by not sitting on a computer and editing. So I will say that that’s the low hanging fruit, that’s where you should start. But also, it is just about where you get dragged down in your business. I currently have a phobia of my email. Like I’m worried about missing staff, there’s so many emails, and I mean, I’ve done a lot of work internally in the last month, it is nowhere near as bad as it was. But for me, I probably should have hired someone to manage email better for me, like years ago, like that is the one thing that I’ve struggled to give control over to. But that is probably something that could have gotten me a better lifestyle, better time. I mean, I spend so much time the other part guys, is your social media creation. Yeah, how many of you go to Instagram to post for your business? Because they say that we should. And then you look up and it’s been an hour, and you have watched reels. And you haven’t even posted what you went to post in the first place. Right. So anything in your business that is sucking time is something that you should eat at least weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I agree. I always I mean, editing is a great first step. Because when you break down the cost per hour saved, it is nothing, absolutely nothing. And it is a really easy way to build in that cost into your session fee without even without your clients even feeling a difference. You know, it’s a great place to start. But if somebody really loves editing, like if they think that I mean, they just really enjoy that creative process, and they don’t really want to give that up. And that’s cool. You don’t have to start there. So to those people, I say just what you say,

Colie James
what do you hate? What do you hate and what is sucking up the time?

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, and like if it’s something that is always on your to do list and always gets pushed to the next week, because you’re just always finding an excuse not to do it. That is the thing that you need to find help with. And social media is a great place to start. Blogging is a great place to start. A lot of people hate the blogging. The other thing I say is another low hanging fruit that people often overlook is hiring and accountant.

Colie James
Yes. Oh, sorry. I thought I thought that was it? No, that’s a no brainer.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, you would think it’s a no brainer. You think it’s a no brainer. But a lot of people don’t do that. Because they think it’s, well, that must be really expensive. They don’t even have any idea of what it costs.

Colie James
That’s true. I will say I pay hundreds of dollars to my bookkeepers a month I will admit that. And at first I was like I’m paying you how much to do what and then when I realized how much more they did other than categorizing my expenses. I was like, oh your take all my money, right. And the thing guys is I’m a numbers person. I am a mathematician and statistician, Bennis, my dentist, my expertise was in before I became a business owner. So I love numbers, it is not that I am capable. It is that that is a task that I did not enjoy doing. And so it got pushed down the road pushed down the road, and that come tax time, I would lock myself in my office for five straight days. categorize all of my expenses and make sure that all of my income is there before I file my taxes. So I do say the money that I pay my bookkeepers is worth its weight in gold just because it lifts the anxiety that I have of the IRS coming to knock on my door.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, exactly. And come the end of the year, all of that stuff is just packaged and handed over and they’re like you’re done. And you didn’t have to do anything at all. It’s so wonderful. And as you’re

Colie James
trying to grow your business, or you’re trying to see you know how your turns are in looking, hiring a bookkeeper make sure that your bookkeeping is always accurate. So that if I want to see oh, well, how much money did I make in q1? And how much money did I make in q2, I can quickly go to QuickBooks and see that information and make some decisions. Like we’re talking about outsourcing, I could come to my profit and loss statements. And look at all of the expense categories that are related to something that I outsource to make sure that those percentages are not overwhelming the rest of them.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I love that. So you kind of were leading into my next question for you. How do you know when you’re making a wise investment? Let’s say you’ve outsourced something for a few months, and maybe you haven’t seen the turn in your profits yet? Like you’re putting money into something and you haven’t started to get that additional income? That’s an obvious win back. How do you know you’ve made a good investment? So I always

Colie James
say that it’s a good investment if you’re paying someone less than Do it, then it costs you to do it. But outside of that, what you said about your profits going up? Well, that’s a two way street, though, your profits aren’t going to go up unless you take on additional clients, or you raise your rates or you do some profit, you do some other profit making activity. So that’s one of the things I just want to go back just a second to talk about the outsourcing tasks, because one of the things that people tell you is you should outsource the tasks in your business that don’t directly make you revenue. But for photographers, I mean, you know, we meet with our clients, that’s what makes us revenue, the rest of it is yeah, so but I just wanted to put that out there in case you had other creatives that were listening. But I just personally tried to figure out how many hours I got back, I am not necessarily at a point in my business where I’m watching the dollars, as much as I’m watching the time. Yeah, so if I give somebody a task, and like, all of a sudden, I have three hours per day back in my life, I don’t actually care what I’m paying them like that is just worth so much. But for those of us, you know, that are still watching the the profit, paying attention to the dollars, as long as you are still getting back time that if you were booking additional clients, you would be more profitable, I would still say that it’s worth it, then you need to work on the profit making activities like maybe you need to do more marketing, maybe you need to do more outreach, and things like that, so that you can bring in additional clients so that you can start to see your profits increase. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
definitely. And I know we’ve mentioned this a couple times today, but having the correct expectation, when you start paying for something, is this something that is going to get me time immediately is this a slow burn, where I am going to get more clients, but it’s going to take a little while, you know, just kind of knowing like, I’m going to have to invest in this for three months, six months a year, and it’s going to be worth it. But I may not see a direct one to one return on my investment right away.

Colie James
I mean, Sabrina, I think this is the perfect time for you and I who have been in the game for a really long time to remind everyone, things do not happen overnight. Like we’re talking about outsourcing and you know, getting a return on your investment. But the other part of the conversation that I hear in this way all the time is raising your prices, like people raise their prices, and then they’re surprised when they have like one to two to three months of no booking the tide has to turn guys. I mean, you have to have a little patience in entrepreneurship, it is not immediate gains for almost anything. So I always tell everybody three to six months is a good waiting period to figure out if you’re getting a good return on your investment. Because let’s talk about podcast guys. This is not a revenue make, right? It’s not. Right, right. And so you know, you do have like, at least six months of growing your audience. And everything that you put into that isn’t making you any money, that if you see the long term gains, you figure out that it is a wise investment, and then maybe a year down the line. If you still haven’t, you know increased your audience, increase your conversions, those kinds of things, then you can talk about you know what it is that you need to change, but like not everything is going to give you immediate gains.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yep, exactly. Exactly. Well, I have a few rapid fire questions for you at the end because this has been so we we stepped into this conversation to talk about outsourcing and then we talked about a lot of stuff. We talked about growth and we talked about all kinds of stuff. So this has been a very solid chat. I cannot wait for for everyone to hear it. But here’s my rapid fire questions. What is your current favorite Starbucks order?

Colie James
I am a white mocha blonde girl. It has to be blonde to get very upset if I get there and you don’t have any blanc spresso

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, amen. And there was totally like a blonde outage a few months ago and it was out everywhere. And I’m very, very sad. Okay, number two dream vacation. And don’t you dare say Disney.

Colie James
Let me say Disney guy. So I gotta think of something else. I love Puerto Rico. I have not been since before I was pregnant. And I’m trying to fix that I slowly but surely planning a trip from my husband and I soon but like San Juan is beautiful. I always say that. It’s like a better version of Hawaii because it has better food. We go Yeah. Okay.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that. Thinking back over the course of your business, what was a decision or an investment you made? That was the biggest game changer for you.

Colie James
So for photography, I would say even though not all of my clients get symbol sales. So book sales is a program that that’s a pricing program for photographers. And even though I didn’t implement it across all of my business for all of my clients, the ones that I have put through the process, I have gotten hundreds of extra dollars per session. So it just enabled me to be able to really start educating clients on printing their images, and then I wasn’t I wasn’t feeling guilty about giving people all of the images that they don’t need or want because I will say that was a hang up for myself for a very long time. But as a photographer who hires other photographers to photograph my family, I’m often given images that I don’t like in my gallery. I’m a big girl, guys, sometimes the angle just isn’t flattering. I don’t like my expression that doesn’t take away from my joy of being photographed or seeing my entire gallery. And so once I started to think about it from that perspective, I started to realize my clients don’t need their entire gallery. They don’t, I am perfectly satisfied now with them, just taking the images that they love that they want to keep.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yes. The simple sales program that our friend on me teaches is wonderful. I will link that in the show notes for sure. Okay, last Rapid Fire question. If you weren’t in photography, slash coaching, what would you be doing?

Colie James
Well, my easy answer would be I would go back to being a professor, but I wasn’t happy doing that when I went into you know, what I’m obsessed with, which is funny because I don’t like selling. I love real estate, like absolutely lovely. So before I opened my photography business, you know, after I was a mother stayed at home with clay for a few years, the things that I was considering was opening a daycare, getting a real estate license or becoming an accountant. So those are the things I was my gosh, before I you know, opened my photography business, but I mean, I really do love the prospect of being a real estate agent looking at the details, helping clients sell and buy the house of their dreams. So, you know, maybe that’s maybe that’s the next career path for me.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I can’t really say that I really could so I could totally see you doing that. This has been such a fun chat. I am so thankful that you agreed to be my first guest on the podcast. You’ve made this easy for me, friend to tell everybody where they can find you.

Colie James
You can find me at coliejamess.com or on Instagram. I’m at colie james or my podcast is the business first creatives podcast, which Sabrina has been on.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I have and it’s a great one. All right, you guys. That’s it for today. Thank you for listening. Buh bye. 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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