Cate Thomas of www.avedonnz.com is animal photographer based in New Zealand with a life that revolves around animals and her farm. Each time we've spoken or exchanged messages there's something about being in from the farm chores, feeding the horses, out in my farm clothes and her pet photography business.
It was a series of messages with Cate that prompted me to ask her to record this interview.
At the end of March, Cate sent me this PM…
I’ve come to a conclusion this weekend. I love my work as a photographer but it’s bloody hard work to run a business.
I actually have no life.
As you are into cycling, I’m an equestrian rider and competitor and I adore my horse. But she and I have no time together. I am CONSTANTLY throwing my time and effort into my business.
And yes, I know this is what needs to be done – I’m a terribly hard worker and I don’t believe my imagery is the downfall. I just cannot sustain these hours any longer to make a bloody pittance of an income.
People in NZ are just not wanting to spend this kind of money. So I’m going to call it a day.
No need to waste your time with a phone call tomorrow. I truly do appreciate the time and effort you have put in with me.
We went back and forth a couple of times, I made a few simple suggestions and asked a few questions before offering a little advice.
A week later I received this message…
Good morning Andrew!
My message greets you with some excellent news!
Recently I did a big shoot with horse girls on a training camp. I do this quite a lot with this particular horse company.
Historically it went like this – I shoot, I edit, I put up a gallery. All digitals in the gallery for $60 of which 2 out of 6 people would purchase. Prints (at a stupid low price) offered but never purchased. No products/wall art offered. Most people shared on social media through the gallery and screenshot images and used for profile images. Not ideal. The gallery was available for 6 weeks.
This time around. I shot, I edited and put into the gallery.
I offered wall art/products (at new prices which still aren't ideal but way better) and I offered digital files.
Option for digital files was: purchase 1 or purchase the entire gallery. First 48 hours 20% discount.
I stipulated NO screenshots, I did not allow social media sharing through the gallery and an expiry date for the gallery at 2 weeks. Also stipulated that there is a $75 fee to reinstate a gallery if you miss the deadline. (in nicer words of course)
In the first hour of releasing the gallery, I sold 3 top package digitals, with 2 more to come today. And close to $750 in wall art. 6 orders from 6 riders.
How's that for proof in the pudding?
Since then, I've had updates every week with success story after success story from an excited Cate.
I thought it'd be great to hear from the photographer herself to learn more about this massive change!
Here’s some more of what we cover in the interview:
- A look back on Cate's struggles in running her photography business
- The difficulty of rushing in to create a business model and finding the target market
- The one experience that drove Cate back to continue with her animal photography business
- Stepping back and looking at things from a different perspective
- Dealing with the worst client and the positive takeaways
- Attracting new clients and where they were coming from
- Cate's creative way of running ads on her truck
- Post-shoot workflow and sales that are working today
- Utilising video replies and galleries
- Animal photography pricing in Cate's business today
- Discounting and promo codes
- How Cate's email and text messaging system works
- Cate's future plans for her horse photography business
- The ordering and delivery process following a photography session
- Why Cate is considering expanding into family and portrait photography
- Cate's ideal turn over figure target for 12 month's time
What’s on Offer for Premium Members
If you’re a premium member, you should have received an email with links to your version of this interview – the full length and more revealing version where you hear the absolute best tips and advice from every guest.
If you’re on the fence about becoming a premium member, join with the $1 trial today and get access to the FULL interviews each week, get access to an amazing back catalogue of interviews and ALL future interviews delivered automatically to your phone or tablet.
Ninety to ninety-five percent of your business is business, it's not actually in the camera. – Cate Thomas
Plus special member-only interviews.
You'll also receive access to the members-only Secret Facebook Group where you can connect with other Premium Members and interview guests to help, support and motivate you to take ideas you hear in each episode and put them into action. There are also FB live video tutorials, role-play interviews and special live interviews happening in the group.
You will not find more friendly, more motivated, caring and sharing photographers online.
Joining a Mastermind Group (encouraged by Andrew) has been incredibly valuable and fun, I look forward to connecting with my group members every week. Jina Zheng, Premium Member and Melbourne Children photographer.
And that's not all… you get a set of steak knives… I'm kidding!
Seriously though, that's not all. In addition to everything above, you'll get access to and instructions on forming or joining a MasterMind Group with other premium members. These groups are super motivating, make you accountable and build friendships with other pro photographers with similar motives to you – to build a more successful photography business.
What is your big takeaway?
Following this interview, I’d love to know if you're taking anything away from what Cate shared. Is there something you heard that excited or motivated you to the point where you thought, yeah, I'm going to do that! If so, let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below, let me know what your takeaways were, what you plan to implement in your business as a result of what you heard in today's episode.
At the moment, it is about running with the busienss model we have and seeing where it takes us. – Cate Thomas
If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you’d like to ask Cate or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them in the comments area below.
iTunes Reviews and Shout-outs
Each week I check for any new iTunes reviews and it's always a buzz to receive these… for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it's confirmation that I'm on the right track with the interviews and that they really are helping you improve your photography business. That's awesome!
Secondly, iTunes is the biggest search engine when it comes to podcasts and it's your reviews and ratings that help other photographers find PhotoBizX. More listeners mean more interviews and ultimately a better show.
If you have left a review in the past, thank you!
If you haven't and you'd like to, head to https://photobizx.com/itunes and you can leave some honest feedback and a rating which will help both me and the show and I'll be sure to thank you on the show and add a link to your website or blog if you let me know the URL of your website and your name.
Alternatively, if you've left a review for PhotoBizX and are looking for more backlinks to help your SEO, leave a review for the new Photography Xperiment Podcast and email me your keywords or keyword phrase and where you'd like me to link to.
Another great way to get a backlink to your site is to send a video testimonial. It doesn't need to be fancy and your phone will be perfect. Click record and tell me how PhotoBizX has made a difference to you and your photography business.
Although not technically a review, you'll hear me mention Darren in today's episode after he received so much help from other members inside the PhotoBizX Members Facebook Group. Darren shoots wedding photography in Lanarkshire UK and sent me the following message:
Photobizx Members Group For The Win
I just wanted to bring a discussion to your attention from the members group on Facebook.
This morning I got an email from a client telling me my images were poor quality.
I've only shot 4 weddings to date and this was the 3rd of that group.
Her comments shook me. I was in a complete panic.
I stopped myself responding immediately and took to the group hoping some kind soul would have an answer for me.
I did not expect the outpouring of comments, advice, support and love I got back.
I was blown away again. In a good way.
So, I wanted to make sure you knew about how the PhotoBizX members rallied around and supported a very worried newbie photographer from halfway around the world.
It's testament to why you created the group and the family mindset of its members.
Have a great day! (I know mines is much better than it started).
Evergreen Facebook Ad Funnels Course (Version 2) – it's not too late!
If you've only been using Facebook ads to give away free shoots or offer big discounts to attract photography clients – you're missing out on the real power of social media advertising!
In this course, which will be presented live, I'll show you how to set up an evergreen lead generation funnel utilizing Facebook Ads and email. Use this strategy to build authority and likability while establishing you and your brand as the go-to photographer in your area. There's no need to give away free shoots or discounted sessions with this strategy – unless you want to.
The second round of live training on how to create an evergreen Facebook Ad funnel for your photography business kicked off last week and each of the four sessions will be recorded and made available to all course members, shortly after the live class.
Dates: June 6th, June 12th and June 19th at 8am (Australian Eastern Time).
I'll cover FB ads as a strategy, not just a tactic and bringing it all together with your email marketing, branding and retargeting.
Also – I'll share a couple of more advanced strategies on audience building. One is a little ‘Gray' in its approach and not something I'll share on an open forum.
Cost is USD$137 for the 4 weeks – including access to the member's FB Group for course participants.
Recordings will be available but the classes will be delivered live.
Q&A for participants every step of the way with examples and full tutorials on setting up audiences and making all this work in your business.
Registrations are now open here: https://photobizx.com/funnel
I really can’t recommend this course enough. I am in marketing and thought I might get one or two things out of this course, but I was blown away. One lesson in particular is worth the cost of the entire course! If you want to advertise on social media, I think the process you set up in this course is an ABSOLUTE fundamental! – Aleisha Hey
If you've attended the 1st course, yes, you will have access to this course too. PLUS, course members will have FREE access to any future iterations of the Fb Ad Funnels Course.
Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:
Thanks again for listening and big thanks to Cate for sharing her thoughts and vulnerability when sharing what she went through – from almost giving up on photography as a profitable business to having a whole new outlook after implementing some simple changes to her business model and her approach to clients and the work she is producing.
If you have any suggestions, comments or questions about this episode, please be sure to leave them below in the comment section of this post, and if you liked the episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post!
That’s it for me this week, hope everything is going well for you in life and business!
Thanks and speak soon