Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to ask for help
- July 02, 2012
- by Christine DeLessio
- in Qlife
- 3 Comments
During the past few years, ever since I got laid off, my life has been filled with trial and errors. Some have been victories, others not so much. But I am most proud of two things: Liam is officially potty-trained and my sales have tripled.
I thought those two things would never happen. I knew eventually my son would stop having accidents, but when you’re in the thick of it, it seemed impossible.
I had been running my photography business, or should I say, my business had been running me, for a little over a year when I ran off to Las Vegas for the Wedding & Portrait Photography International convention, better known as WPPI. To say I was baptized by fire into my new field as a lifestyle photographer is an understatement.
To sum it up, WPPI is nonstop workshops with training sessions, trade shows and parties. … Basically an orgy for photographers held annually. The who’s who of the industry are there and the latest and greatest photo gadgets are available for a price.
I went there thinking I would be inspired and find all the answers I needed to run a successful photo business. What I got was super confused. Completely overwhelmed. That was until I stumbled into a room to listen to a guy named Dane Sanders. I had no idea who he was. I assumed after reading his bio that he was another one of those OC rock star photogs. I decided to take a chance on him because he looked like a young Kevin Costner.
There I was in a room of a few hundred people and in less than 20 minutes I knew I could be a part of this industry without feeling like it’s all an infomercial. Dane spoke about real life situations, about being ALL IN, being present. Taking chances. And, that day, when I thought I was taking a chance on Dane, I was really taking a chance on myself.
Fast forward to spring 2011 when I jumped on a plane and headed to Ohio for Dane’s Fast Track Road Show. It’s an intense two days of business building and reality checking. I was smitten, hooked. I didn’t realize how much losing my job as a news photographer had affected my identity, which was then hindering any real growth with my business.
Reality is your best friend was one of the first things Dane said to us. And my reality was a mess. I had no idea how to run a business and I was dealing with vanity issues. The baby fat wouldn’t go away. I was struggling with being a stay at home mom. I honestly didn’t know if I was cut out for it. But there in that moment something clicked. I left wanting more. Like my son and his obsession with watching Spiderman videos a gazillion times a day, I couldn’t get enough. More, more, more.
It was time to invest in my business and myself. I presented the idea to my husband and to a few friends and they didn’t get it. Why would I need to pay someone to tell me how to run my business? It wasn’t going to be cheap, actually I had no clue how we were going to afford it. But I knew you sometimes have to spend money to make money. We decided to give it a shot. So I called Dane and hired him for three months to start. I had the f-stops and creativity down, but I had no clue how to market or brand my business or what my time was worth.
That stuff usually makes my brain hurt. It wasn’t the easiest thing I ever did but damned if it wasn’t one of the best. I rolled up my sleeves, dove in and with painfully honest conversations, I worked long and hard on my business model.
I stopped photographing my clients and handing over the disc. I realized that the shoot to burn philosophy was putting me out of business. I was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That, Dane said quoting Albert Einstein, is what’s called insanity.
But obviously I wasn’t making any money. First, I created a product menu I believed in. I used a business formula he shared with me including the cost of goods and my time, and multiplied it by 4 percent to get to those prices. If I wanted to continue being my own boss, I couldn’t sell products for anything less. I had to believe in the prices because if I didn’t make this money, I wasn’t making any money.
I knew with these changes I would possibly lose clients, and I did. But I also knew that others would be willing to spend money.
I took a risk. I had too, and it paid off. Before hiring Dane, my average client spent $250. Now, my average client spends double or triple that. Last fall, I had several clients spending over $1,000 on a portrait session. I owe it all to Dane, my business coach.
Without a total transformation, I’m sure I could have read some books or attended another workshop, but the groundbreaking work that I did one-on-one was monumental for my success.
Oh, and Dane turns out to be pretty good at potty-training, too.