A good gardener knows preparing her soil is the foundation of a bountiful harvest. Help your vulnerable little sprout of a studio take root with solid planning for the realities of running a business. Awaken to the truths of ownership so you can thrive in the path of those inevitable storms with these tips.
1. Keep clients happy.
It is less expensive to correct a problem with a current client than to secure a new one. If a client is disappointed with the prints she ordered, or discovers she accidentally ordered the wrong images, do what needs to be done to make her happy within reason.
Happy clients are repeat clients. What it costs you to fix it is way less than you’d spend on marketing to get a new client.
2. Don’t say “no” for them.
Biggie for me. I tended to avoid the pain of rejection by not putting myself out there and asking for what I want. I didn’t even bother asking for fear the answer would be “no.” About a year ago, I decided to get over it.
I figured I’d hear a lot of nos but I might hear some yeses, too. No didn’t mean I was a failure, and it didn’t mean I shouldn’t ask, just that I needed to come up with better questions. I tried this out while vacationing in Australia – I asked a well known jazz singer if I could photograph her, and she said yes! It didn’t pan out for reasons beyond her and my control, but it sure put some starch in my shirt. (See No. 5!)
3. Learn to delegate/outsource.
In the beginning, I tried to do everything myself to save money. It kept me tied to my desk for hours on end rather than taking classes or otherwise furthering my skills and refining my artistry.
When that wasn’t working, I invested in education and lots of it, hired out my rebranding and packaging, invested in tools to help me optimize my marketing and social media use, bought a laptop so I could edit, order and blog on the go. My work started to improve, and it continues to grow and change as I continue putting in the time.
4. Separate yourself from your business.
You are an artist, your business is a business. If a prospect goes with another photographer, that’s business, not a chunk carved out of your soul. And you’re not a total failure if a client is unhappy with something or you make an honest mistake or fill-in-the-blanks.
I do believe it’s hella important to be a decent, honorable human being in all endeavors. I believe the majority of people in the world are basically good and not trying to dupe me or pull a fast one or steal from me. I also believe everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect, returned or not.
Treat yourself that way, too. Let your business take it on the chin, and keep your chin up.
5. Under-promise, over-deliver.
Every. Single. Time. If you know it will take two weeks to turn around the order, quote clients three and delight them in two. Wow, you’re a hero with wiggle room!
Words & photos by Alise Kowalski
This article first appeared in a print issue of Click Magazine. Order print or digital single issues from the Click & Company Store. Or better yet, get a 1-year subscription so you never miss an issue!