Taking the Leap To Full Time Photographer with Israel Baldago

Plenty of questions, comments, ideas and requests for help or advice come in via email and messenger from listeners and they often require detailed replies. I usually hear the replies are helpful which got me thinking about how to share this information more freely and make it accessible to any photographer in a similar position to the question asker. One thing I have found is most issues photographers face are not solely unique.

So… to kick things off in the first of what I hope will be a useful and practical series of posts, I have a run of email exchanges with Adelaide wedding Photographer Israel Baldago…

Earlier this year, I met up with a few photographers from Adelaide, Israel Baldago was one of them. A month later, I got the following reply to an email I sent him on how things are going. He just quit his full time day job and was taking on photography full-time.

Hey Andrew,
Mate it's been a hectic couple of weeks. After our meet up and in deliberation with my wife, I resigned from my radio job. It was becoming too stressful and there were certain clashes that were making things difficult for me – so now I'm officially unemployed!!
[Andrew]: Wow, this is a total shock! We were only talking about this in Adelaide and now you’ve done it. Way to go dude! I know with the extra time to focus on your photography business, things will start to accelerate with your business. Very happy for you. 
In the last few weeks I've been shooting couples from the engagement promotion. Creating welcome packs for prospective clients and vendors – returning email enquiries with a video and overall trying to put everything I've heard into practice.
NOTE: the engagement promotion is in reference to the Bernie Griffiths FB Ad challenge episode.
NOTE 2: Answering email enquiries with video is in reference to the Matt Druin and Brian Bossany Premium only interview episodes.

[Andrew]: Music to my ears. How much easier is it to get stuff done when you can assign all (or most) of your energy, motivation and focus to your photography business!

The results are 10 wedding enquiries, 2 bookings (one of the couples from the FB promo) and 4 interested parties looking to book.

[Andrew]: FANTASTIC!

I've stripped back my website to show only what I want to shoot, and I'm now working on getting some content out to broaden my SEO and hopefully my audience too!

[Andrew]: From memory, you had already done the strip back when we talked. I remember you saying how much better you felt after stripping away all the filler images and only leaving what you love to shoot and what you feel reflects your photography style and the direction you want to take. Love your plan to keep adding the “right” content now.

Safe to say I've been hustling, but I need more leads (without spending any more $$)

[Andrew]: Have you let everyone in your personal network know that you are now a full time photographer? Have a listen to the Ett Venter interview if you can… He would constantly remind his family and friends on his personal FB account that he is a pro photographer… don’t let them forget to think of you if ANYONE says the words photography or photographer.

Have you started a network with other local photographers you admire – just 2 or 3 – who are hopefully further along than you? Find these photographers and take them out for coffee and ask how you can help them. Talk, let them get to know you. They will refer you. If and when they do, reward them right away even if you don’t get the booking… coffee vouchers, bottle of wine, flowers, move tickets, a case of beer… anything! Let them know you appreciate any referrals!

If you can and have the time… start interviewing wedding suppliers in your area who you’d like to work with and respect. This doesn’t need to be fancy and seriously, can be audio-only with your iPhone. Seriously!

Ask them everything you think a prospective bride would ask and take photos of them. With this info, create a blog post or posts featuring this vendor… let them know when it goes live.

This stuff works – it is the perfect relationship builder and they will link to your posts and refer you. Reward them when they do. Start with people higher in the food chain… Reception vendors, wedding planners, celebrants, priests, dress designers and boutiques.

Work your way down to hair stylists, make up artists, florists… everyone. Make one appointment a week and you’ll have a pretty amazing referral network in no time. And a great series of helpful blog posts, interviews and content to share and promote.

Start recording videos on your iPhone about locations you like to shoot in and why… This can be super basic and you don’t need any photography to go with this – just you talking to the camera. Keep them short and keep creating them anywhere you see a location you’d like to shoot a wedding or engagement session (mainly weddings).

Post these to YouTube and embed them on your blog – use the location name in your title, in your blog post and in the YouTube Video description, title and keywords area… you will rank for every one of these locations fast. People will see your personality and book you from these videos. Don't over think these, just do it. 🙂

Listen to the Gabriel Machuret interview if you haven’t and apply what he says to your engagement couples. How easy would it be to interview them after a shoot and ask what they're struggling with, excited about, how the shoot went etc… Another post, more links, more shares, more of you getting out there, more attention.

This’ll take some work but all you need is to do one thing every week and work on it a little each day.

So really mate, I have 23 weddings this year, but profitability is really my next focus!

[Andrew]: Don’t discount portraits for during the week to increase profitability. Run a Bernie style ad for portraits and start shooting more. More shoots = more sales = more profits… if you have your pricing sorted. When you start running out of time to fit in the marketing, get someone to help you with sales or outsource the editing.

Ideally I'd like to be shooting between 30-40 weddings a year charging $3500 – $4500 each.

[Andrew]: Doable! Although your target is $3500 – $4500, don’t discount the idea of upselling album pages after a wedding. If you’re not attracting enough bookings at the $4500 end, you can still get there with album page sales after the wedding.

Make sure though, your clients know how you work with up-selling from the very start. Tell them you will be shooting the best you can so they find it super tough to remove photos from their album design and most couples end up spending at least $1000 more after the wedding once they’ve seen their awesome photos.

Also, concentrate on making sales from your engagement sessions. These are not (or shouldn’t be) freebies. Sure, shoot for free but do what you can to maximise a sale after the session. You’re a pro photographer and deserve to be paid for your work. Plus, you need to feed and provide for your family.

Working on how we can get some other revenue streams coming in. I'm taking your tips on 3rd party marketing, as well as leveraging the connections I have with sports clubs etc.

[Andrew]: Again… don’t discount portrait sessions – especially for your 3rd Party Marketing approach. A lot of these can be shot during the week and have a much faster turn a round time for payment compared to weddings.

Sporting clubs are a great earner for us too… definitely go after these and let me know if you need help on how to make them work for you.

My head is spinning trying to keep track of everything!!

[Andrew]: This can be the toughest part – overwhelm.

Remember, it’s normal that 80% of your income will come from 20% of your efforts… in the beginning, it’s difficult to know which 20% so you really have to go for it and get shit done. Patterns will emerge as you go.

What I find works best is creating a list of things I want to get done and trying to organise them in some kind of priority. With the list, work from the top down and get it done.

The main thing is to finish tasks. Something unfinished will be useless to you. For example, you don't want to record and interview with a vendor and not publish it. If you record it, get it onto YouTube, your blog, FB, IG, promote it, let them know and explain how they can share it. Maximise the return on the work you do.

I'd love to hear something on time management  / prioritising things for your business – any books you can recommend??

[Andrew]: For time management, have a listen to this interview with Jill farmer: https://photobizx.com/premium-content/time-management-strategies-for-wedding-and-portrait-photographers/

And the very start of the interview with James Schramko (the first 5 minutes): https://photobizx.com/premium-content/james-schramko-forget-photography-rock-stars-clients-sell-services/

And here's a terrific post with a downloadable day planner different to most I've seen: DO LESS = DO MORE. THE ART OF BEING CREATIVE + PRODUCTIVE

Hope this helps and I’d love to hear how you go with everything… stay in touch. And if you get stuck, need help or just need to chat to someone who knows what this is all like, you have my number and email.

Andrew – THANK YOU!

This is fantastic, I’m in my second week now and starting to get nervous but the enquiries are coming in which is nice. My biggest challenge is getting them up to that next price point.

I’ll take all the advice below on board, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to everything in so much detail.

Another step I want to take is get my AIPP accreditation. After listening to episode 138, I’m convinced it’s another service quality I need to present to clients. I’ve got mixed reports from peers about membership, but for me it’s leveraging the fact that it allows me to be a recognised practitioner and will give me something to come back to people with regarding pricing.

I’ll be printing this email out and referring to it as I tick off each thing to do – thanks again mate!!

[Andrew]: No problem, happy to help.

One thing about joining the AIPP… you won’t get more bookings with this accreditation. Don’t join for that reason, it won’t influence your potential clients, not in my experience anyway. This may change in the future but it’s been something the AIPP has been working towards for a long time with little impact so far… IMO.

I’m not saying don’t join, just not for that reason if it’s your sole reason.

I think the AIPP is fantastic for networking, getting involved in the industry, going to events, workshops, meet ups etc. Entering the awards will help you take your photography to another level too, as will attending the judging. All great reasons to join.

Yeah I hear you. I’m totally not keen to pay the $380 or whatever it is just for a logo, but if anything, I think it’s just a mental shift for me to be more accountable with how I explain my pricing etc.

I came 3rd in the ABIA awards locally last year and didn’t buy the logo, LOL but I think just being accountable to my peers and leveraging the info from episode 138.

I love how you grilled the CEO there, and I have no illusions – it is what it is, I think it’s just one of those things now where the market is so fragmented, offering service qualities like you do are what count!

[Andrew]: Cool, thanks Iz… sounds like you’ve given the right amount of thought and reasoning to spending the $$$. Once you sign up and get accepted, get involved. You’ll love it and you will be pushed to new levels with your photography.

Just got a phone call – couple no#2 of 6 has booked (from the FB promo)

[Andrew]: YES! Ewwwww! Fantastic dude! Happy for you.

Andrew here again… if you'd like access to the premium episodes or just want to check what the membership is all about, you can for $1. There's a 30 day, all access, fully functional trial membership available here: http://photobizx.com/try

By |2017-02-27T10:01:54+00:00February 24th, 2017|Blog|2 Comments