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A podcast where you join me (Colie) as I chat about what it takes to grow a sustainable + profitable business.
CRM Guru, Family Filmmaker, and Host of the Business-First Creatives podcast. I help creative service providers grow and streamline their businesses using Dubsado.
You likely started your business to create the lifestyle you wanted, which includes specific ideations around money—but how is your money mindset blocking you in life and business? In today’s episode, Dan Moyer joins us to explore money mindset and the shift that most entrepreneurs need in order to become a business-first creative!
The Business-First Creatives Podcast is brought to you by CRM and Dubsado expert Colie James. Join Colie each week as she discuss how to build a business that brings you joy and a paycheck! From business advice with fellow entrepreneurs to sharing automation tips and tricks, Colie and her guests are sharing industry trends and resources, along with a little bit of sarcasm.
Daniel is a photographer, podcaster, photography educator, and blind optimist in the best sense of the word. He is on an journey to help photographers break the mold and discover how to build a business that is meaningful, joyfilled, and profitable.
Here are the highlights…
[:23] Get to Know Dan
[3:02] Dan’s Wedding Season Hustling Days
[8:02] The Mindset Shift with Money
[9:18] Mindlessly Spending Money
[10:50] Dan’s Journey of Paying Down Debt
[12:50] Dan’s Working Time
[15:21] Mentoring in Dan’s Business
[17:49] Finding Balance and Joy as a Photographer
[21:18] Outsourcing in Dan’s Business
[27:03] Pricing & Money Management
[32:50] Taking Decisions off the Table for Your Customers
[34:13] Best Investment in Business
[39:00] Biggest Fuck Up(s)
Simple Sales Blueprint [Use COLIE for $100 off]
Review the Transcript:
Colie: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Business First Creatives podcast.
Today I am super excited to have my friend Dan on. Now, I’m gonna let him introduce himself, but like I only met Dan through being a guest on his podcast, which was one of the most amazing guest episodes I’ve ever done. It will be linked in the show notes, but Dan, tell us who you are, where you are, what you do, and the name of your podcast.
Dan: my name’s Dan Moyer. I am a extreme empath. I am a husband to my wife of eight years. I have three kids. They are twins, boy, girl, twins who are three years old. Then I have an older daughter who’s six. She’s in first grade. They’re a handful, and I love every second of it. I am primarily a wedding photographer.
Been doing that for 13 years. Before that, I was actually a staff photographer at another, small company. And I also coach and mentor photographers. And my podcast is the Focused Photographer’s podcast.
Colie: Yeah, Dan, so I, I feel like even though this is not gonna air until like later, Next year, uh, we can talk about the weather. So I was actually in Dan’s neck of the woods last week. he’s in Philly. I actually went to high school in Lancaster, for those of you that don’t know, but I was doing a full day in the life and the weather there was gorgeous.
It was like 60 degrees in like November. It was amazing. And now it’s like 12 degrees outside of my house guys. And it’s cold in Pennsylvania now too.
Dan: It’s ridiculous.
Colie: Dan was just telling me how much he loves winter. Maybe not brown winter, but like white winter. I mean, maybe I should work on convincing you to move here to Colorado because this would definitely be up your alley.
Dan: I would love it. My wife wouldn’t. We’re we’re a beach family. So, yeah, so we, like my mother-in-law has a house down in South Carolina and we get to spend a lot of time down there, and that will probably be handed down to our family and all that stuff. Once you know, things happen in, in their side of the family that it gets moved on to the kids.
But yeah, we we’re very much a beach family. I’m the only one who snowboards, but I plan on changing that with my children when they get a little bit older. My wife’s not about the cult
Colie: I mean, the funny thing is I live in Colorado. I don’t do any winter sports. Those people that know me know I don’t like to go outside. I do
Dan: Yeah. Wait,
Colie: here though. I
Dan: what’s the term that you use that for? Uh,
Colie: I’m Indoorsy
Dan: indoorsy. , that’s
Colie: I did have a client one time, and I’ve only photographed them one time, but their session was super amazing.
Like one of their images has been the headline on my website forever. When I asked them what brought them to Colorado, because I shoot, like none of my clients are natives. I have like three families that are native Colorado families, but this one family, they were from Ohio. And I said, well, what brought you to Colorado?
And they’re like, snowboarding, . And I’m like, okay. Like but, but a job? No, no, just snowboarding. They just decided they wanted to move here for snowboarding and looked for jobs. And when they found a job, they
Dan: it’s a culture. I used to work with, at the other company I worked with before I was self-employed, he moved out there for the same reason. He’s a huge snowboarding fan and just moved to Colorado, found like a design job and it’s like, yep. Spends all his time snowboarding.
Done. That’s it.
Colie: You know, this is kind of a good segue, but not really, but I’m gonna make it anyways. So Dan, what we’re gonna be talking about today a lot is money mindset. So I know that in your business there’s been a huge shift recently, but, so tell me about your hustle days first, , like in a, in a wedding season, prior to your mindset shift, what did a wedding season look like?
Dan: So early on it was, it was just gorilla, everything, right? Like there was no Instagram when I started out. I’ve been doing this for about 13 years. I, there was some social media, right, but you just, that’s not where you went first. It was, it was me having business cards in my pocket all the time and being hyper aware and noticing when women had rings on their fingers, had an engagement ring on their finger.
And I remember the first client I ever got was somebody standing in front of my wife and I at the pizza shop that we go to, and we just started chatting them up and they were having a, like a bridal session that they wanted done on Saturday because they were getting married on Sunday cuz he was going into the Marines.
So I ended up doing this thing like four days later, bridal session on Saturday at a little park nearby. And that really launched it off. I made a a, a whole album out of this, like one tiny little session. And I, very quickly found out what, happens when you let the pendulum swing too far into the business world.
I would gladly go back to those first couple years and find, try to find a little more balance and not like I missed so many birthdays and dates with my now wife and, and friends, picnics and all that stuff. Cuz it was just every weekend doubles and just, it was. Constant, stream. And don’t get me wrong, the hustle in the beginning is really important and it’s awesome.
And I have this massive pool of referrals that I get to work from. But, knowing what I know now, I think there’s some things that I would, would do different because it was just, it was a lot.
Colie: It was a lot. I know. And this is, this is what sparked this conversation was our previous podcast episode where you and I were talking about, you know, we’re getting older now, we’re we wanna enjoy more things in life. The hustle culture is just not where we are now. So in the beginning when you were really hustling, how many weddings were you taking a year?
Dan: So I was doing, I think the most I ever did was like 30, which for me is a lot. Like I’ve got friends who do 40, 50, 60, and like that. They’re just made for it. They love it. But for me, I, I’ve been capping it closer to like 20, in the mid years, that’s where I was really kind of, laying around. And over this past year or so, I tried to just do 15, because the last couple years were very difficult, you know, for many of us with covid and pandemic and giving so much.
And my family didn’t get to. The, the greatest side of me over those two years, because I was giving, I was pouring so many other cups and I needed to fill my family cup this past year. So that’s why I only took this small amount, in 2022.
Colie: Yeah, 15 weddings. I mean, that just sounds amazing, and I’m sure that you were super picky about who you worked with and that you loved every single.
Dan: I did, and that’s one of the things that I’ve learned over the last years, is just really doubling down on my strengths and the things that I’m good at and putting that in my brand, and then whoever that speaks with, letting them come to me.
Colie: You had that Instagram, I don’t know if it was a gift or an actual video, but the one Yeah, yeah. You know which one I’m talking about? For those of you that can see him, he has a very big smile on his face. It was the one where the couples were doing the champagne and everybody was doing it, and you were just sitting there photographing it.
I mean, that was amazing. Just in case you didn’t know, I didn’t actually have a big wedding. I eloped with my husband in a. On spring break and then we did, our honeymoon in New Orleans. But, so we don’t have like any moments like that. I mean, every once in a while I think that I wanna do like, you know, an anniversary party, but we just hit 20 in the middle of Covid ,
Colie: that didn’t
Dan: 20 years I.
Colie: Yeah, Dan,
Dan: Oh yeah. You do not look
Colie: child bride.
Dan: be, yeah.
Colie: I mean, that’s the comment that I get. I got married at 21, but at 21 I had already graduated college. I was in my second year of my master’s degree. My husband was about to finish, well actually I guess I was in my first year of my master’s degree. My first master’s.
He had two more months until he finished undergrad,
Dan: Cause you’ve taught, now you were a professor
Colie: I did, I did for a very long time. That’s what I did before I decided to, you know, buckle down, do fertility, have a kid, cuz by 30 I was beginning to think I was never gonna be a mother. I mean, you, you talk about the whole, the hustle culture.
The funny thing is when people ask me about my photography experience, I always tell them, no, I didn’t really ever hustle for photography because I hustled as an adjunct professor for a decade before I was a professor. And so that was like way more hustle than cuz when I did my photography, people were like, well, you know, How many people are you shooting?
I’m like, no, like, like four to six a month. Like I have, I have no money needs to like shoot a lot of people and be gone all the time. Like I’ve done that. I, I was doing as little as possible while still building my business. But let’s come back to you since you’re my guest and I don’t wanna take up all the time talking about me, me, me.
Colie: the mind shift, did that actually happen prior to Covid or during the pandemic?
Dan: yeah. Way before Covid, the big mind shift that happened for me was how much time we got . Um, the big thing that happened for me was, was driving across the Ben Franklin Bridge outside Philadelphia, getting a call from my accountant, being like, you crushed it this year. You’d made great money. And I’m like, awesome.
Where is it? I was like, where did it go? And because we had, a kiddo at that time, like brand new kiddo, I think maybe one and a half years or something like, Alice, who’s our oldest, and I remember like driving and being like, where the hell is all this money? If I had such a great year, like I’m in business for myself, I make my own schedule.
Like I get to set all the, my boundaries. Where’s this amazing money that my accountant saying? And it was stupid stuff that I was blowing it on and I’ve got this mountain of debt over here because I had a really bad relationship with money, growing. And, and I was just not even, paying any attention to that mountain of debt that I had.
And I’ve got this kid coming up and I’m like, all right, I’ve got a house to pay for him. I don’t wanna pay for my kids college and all that stuff. And I was like, something has to give. And I remember, my Starbucks gold card was attached to like my, you know, a bank, some bank account. And I remember looking at the reloads from that year and just like scrolling through and it was like a hundred, 150, a hundred, a hundred fifty, twenty five, fifty.
And I’m like, I spent thousand at Starbucks n. Not including the cafes that I’d go to on a regular basis to just work from my cafe office or get out of the house, or I’d drop, you know, my daughter off at daycare and then I’d go have I, I’ll have like a harmless cup of coffee which turned into a coffee and a croissant and then, you know, a lunch and like all that stuff.
And it’s just that stuff, 20 bucks a day, 10 bucks a day just adds up. And it’s like that money could be used to pay off this massive burden that’s sitting on my shoulders and then I’d be actually free. Do you know what I mean?
Colie: Yes, absolutely. And we’re gonna get to that in a minute. I just wanna get back to the Starbucks. Hey Dan, did I tell you that I bought myself a really fancy espresso machine last December, and I’ve only been to Starbucks three times in a year.
Dan: Yep. That’s the dream.
Colie: I don’t wanna go look at my reloads because I have the feeling they’re just as bad as yours were.
But like someone asked me the other day and they were like, wow, you spent $800 on espresso machine? I was like, yeah, but I spent way more than that at Starbucks, at the local coffee shops, cuz I felt it was my duty during the pandemic to go to all of the local restaurants and coffee shops that I loved and just spend tons of money so that on the other side of the pandemic, that those businesses were still here.
So I did buckle down just like you did.
Dan: I have an arrow press, that’s my jam arrow press with a little scale and my, you know, good ground coffee and that. I can get by with that. And I’ve gotten really creative. I have my own chai latte recipe for the concentrate. Like there’s fun ways to save money. Anyway, sorry,
Colie: Well, let’s talk about saving money though. So I know that you paid off at all of your debt or most of it.
Dan: Not all of it. When we started tracking it, it was like 2018, middle of 2018, I think, April or so, and it was like a little over 105,000. And that was not including the house. Uh, a little less than half of that was credit card. So I went to a fine art school and a lot of my, like when you go to fine art school, it’s not like you just buy your books and your notebooks and you’re good for the, you know, the, the semester.
It’s like, no, no, no, I’m spending. Hundreds of dollars a week on photography, film, and paper, and then paints. And then three weeks later you gotta buy oil paints. And it’s like, there’s just like, right. That’s what you do. And it all went on a credit card and, student loans and all that stuff. And it, yeah, so we have almost, I think right now we’re at 38,000 and most of that is student loans.
I think we have my wife’s car left. And, some of the NICU bills from the baby still.
Colie: I mean, but that is just so impressive. My child never made it to the nicu and thank goodness for insurance. Let me just say that cuz Chloe was a $300,000 baby that I only paid a thousand dollars for.
Dan: wow. Oh, right. Cuz Fertility and all like all the treatments and all that
stuff. Yeah. That’s
Colie: at that time James was working for University of Colorado and they’ve by far had, and the insurance even got better the next year.
So like I joked around, well, I really wasn’t joking, as all you guys know, I just have the one kid, but I was telling my husband, no, if we’re gonna have another kid, like we need to have it this year because the full deductible for everything was only $750 for the family the next year. Like that was it. I.
And I was trying to tell him, you know, if I end up in the hospital, if we have another baby who is almost prematurely born, like none of those bills we will have to pay. Clearly I didn’t win guys since I’ve just got the one kid, but I mean, we could talk about healthcare at another time,
Dan: Yeah. another time,
Colie: You’ve cut your debt by more than half.
And you’ve cut what, how much you’re working. So if you’re not working on a bunch of weddings now what are you doing for your business? Like, how do you spend your working time
Dan: So the weddings are still the bread and butter, right? And this is, this is a very thick question because, for me it was a lot of lifestyle at first, where it was, I’m spending too much. Let me just look at the places that I’m, I’m spending stupid money. And then move on from there. Right? And then it became, well, all of a sudden, 15 weddings actually does a lot for our family.
15 weddings, is the same as 25 weddings before, because I don’t, I’m not just paying for all this ridiculous stuff that I, I don’t need. And so for me that was, I need to spend, there’s a lot easier for me to spend less than the save more so the weddings are still the big part of it. I also. A lot of real estate photography because my, daughter goes to, first grade and the twins are home.
And it’s just an easy way for me to go out and make, you know, a couple thousand dollars, in a month just doing real estate stuff that’s 15 minutes from my home. And it’s not something that has a lot of competition and it’s just very easy for me to do. And then, IPS and all that kind of stuff is, is big, which, slowly moving over.
Shout out to Anneme Tonkin for the, simple sales blueprint. Hope she’s listening to this because it’s awesome and it’s really
Colie: She will. She listens to every episode,
Dan: She’s the best. She’s super good. And yeah, so I’ve just gotten creative with things like that. And then obviously the other part of it is, that I coach photographers on the side, and that’s sort of my side hustle that, I’d like to continue putting a lot of time in there.
That’s a relatively new side of things for me. And then a super secret project that is going to be, coming up in the next like, long term project that I’m very excited about.
Colie: Okay. When we stop hitting record, I’m gonna ask you about that. Um, no, I just love to hear how people transition because I think that as photographers, at least when you’re starting and you’re early, cuz I’m 10, I’m more than 10 years in, you’re 13 years in. There comes a point where even if you are super happy with what like.
The clients that you’re shooting and what you’re doing, this is not a business that you can do forever. I never imagined that I would still be 60 years old running into people’s houses and photographing toddlers. And so I’ve mentioned this a few times, like I’m starting to work on my exit strategy because my knees are telling Hey, Colie
Colie: You, you can’t chase toddlers around forever. And then like for my day in the life sessions, like, you know, I’m going to people’s houses. I’m spending the night, I’m waking up with them in the morning. I mean, I’m 43 years old. There comes a point where it’s like, Besides the people that I’ve already done this for, I don’t think I’m gonna meet new people and be like, can I come spend the night
Colie: mean, it just, it just seems a little weird. So I am extremely happy to hear about, you know, the ways that you are transitioning in your business. And so the mentoring, let’s just hit on that very briefly. Are you mentoring just wedding photographers, or who were you targeting for your mentor?
Dan: Um, I’m, I’m working with a lot of wedding photographers now cuz that’s what I know best. I can, I can speak a little bit to some of the IPS stuff and things like that, but it’s, it depends on what, the photographer’s looking to do. Right. So, I worked with a portrait photographer from, the, Kate May area of New Jersey, and she’s like, I want to implement this more meaningful process and I want to do more print sales.
It’s like, okay, I can talk about that. We can, we can create a six month program. And, and we met twice a month, every month. So biweekly. And, we implemented ips in her business. Another guy that I’m working with, just a wedding photographer. And it’s really dependent on those things, but mostly wedding photographers.
That’s a long answer to that question.
Colie: It’s okay because recently, and I don’t know if any of these people that I recently said no to are listening to the podcast. So now you know it wasn’t just you, it is me, . I used to mentor a lot of photographers who wanted to essentially be me, which sounds. I dunno, that sounds really shitty, but you guys know what I mean.
They wanted to photograph families in their homes and stop doing like the portrait type sessions. And so for years I mentored photographers. I had two online courses and then I started doing in person. I ended up doing three different retreats. But now I’m at the point of my business where as I am transitioning myself out of marketing to new clients. I am not mentoring photographers in that way anymore. I have a lot more joy out of mentoring photographers on the business side than I do in helping them improve, like their technical skills and, and things like that. So I’ve started shifting into, I mean, cuz I love, as you guys all know, systems, putting them in your business.
But beyond that, like I think a big part of creating systems in your business is taking a good look at your offer and giving that a solid audit because episode one of this podcast. I talked about how I think that you should audit your offer, but I mean, it sounds like Dan, like that’s what you did. Like you took a look at what you were doing, how you could improve it, probably raise those prices a little bit in terms of simple sales.
You kind of shifted from in-person sales to now doing online galleries with collections and print credit, and now you’re mentoring like, I just think that that’s what everyone should do at least once a year is figure out. What you are doing and do you still love it? And how can you make more money doing what you love and spend less time doing what you don’t?
Dan: Yeah, and I think giving yourself an hourly race is something that’s underrated, right? Because right now I’m still at a point where, I’m very new with simple sales and it’s not making the same amount of money as, as actually sitting down at my couple’s houses, and going through and creating wall art collections with them,
Dan: I don’t have to leave my home at night.
And that’s something that, you know, these sessions, I, I get really close with my couples and I be there for four or five hours sometimes doing these sessions because they’re like, I go to their home and they’re like, oh, we have to get dinner, we’re gonna have a drink, we’re gonna do this. And I love that, but I also really love my kids and.
You make a good point of, like, you, you have to start looking at this stuff. And I think of it as like two faucets, right? Like, you can’t just turn off the one faucet, right? I can’t just turn off my wedding faucet, but I have to, I can slowly turn that off and slowly turn on the real estate one because it, it’s easy and it’s simple and, it makes me money and fills in the gaps and it’s close to my home.
But I still get. Really double down on the time I get to spend with my couples and, and that fills me up. But then I also get the same amount of joy watching photographers who are like, really struggling to find what they want to do and how they want to implement it and, and helping them sort of reach their level of success.
I get the same joy in both things and
Colie: so joy. Yes, . And the one thing that you haven’t mentioned, because the twins are still home, like Dan, I don’t think you understand the joy that you are going to get when the twins go to school and you get to do the real estate during the day and then you don’t have to do shit at night. And then if you’re only shooting 15 weddings, I mean, my God, what is that like?
It’s only a couple months worth of weddings maybe shooting one a weekend and you can still spend all of that great time with your kids. So I am really happy for you when that. Because I think you are gonna see a huge shift, um, because you’re gonna be able to be so much more productive during what I call school hours.
Now everyone listening knows I currently still homeschool my kid. I did not intend to do that, guys. I don’t think I’m a homeschool mom. All of you guys know this. And she is going back next year. Whoever is listening to this podcast, if she does not go back next year, like literally track me down and play this for me, she is going back next.
But when people ask me how I grew my business in the beginning I was like, well, you know, I did it slowly because my kid was home with me. And then when she went to preschool, two days a week was when I increased. And then she went to school three full days, and then she went to school five full days. And so, you know, when she was in kindergarten, first and second grade, and I guess most of.
Third, I mean, I was killing it y’all. I was turning the computer off every day at three o’clock. Like when I picked her up from school, there was no more work until the next day. I had really great boundaries and unfortunately those boundaries have eroded and shifted and you know, I feel like every few months they’re constantly changing because even now she was doing virtual school where I didn’t have to.
Too much attention to her, but now that I am actually homeschooling her, okay, no, it’s on me. So I even did another shift since September to figure out what time periods during my week I could carve out for the homeschooling, what I could carve out for, you know, editing my clients or you know, delivering stuff.
Cuz we all know I don’t edit. Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that cuz I don’t edit anywhere. Maybe, I mean like exporting the gallery and uploading them for clients. That’s what I currently. But this is a really good transition, Dan, and to me asking you, what do you outsource in your business?
Dan: Um, that’s a good question. It, uh, was nothing for a long time, and then it was some, and then it was editing for a little bit, and then I was like, oh, I hate this. Why am I spending this money? Because I’m still spending extra time afterwards. And then I realized that, um, I was just being nitpicky. And so now I outsource my, culling.
Well, I have a, there’s a, you know, an AI program that I use for that. I outsource the editing
Colie: Oh no. We name everything on this podcast. Dan, which AI are you
Dan: All right. So, I like after shoot for Culling, it’s not quite there yet. So I’m still, I’m still iffy about it. But I like that plus photo mechanic. And then I currently use, Come on.
Oh, imagine ai. Uh, for my editing, I have a really great profile that I really love with them. That’s, that actually looks awesome, and I get it back and I have to spend like an hour or two on just the tweaks and it’s done. And then I also have a, podcast producer. Her name’s Haylee Gaffin and she’s amazing.
Colie: We have the same one guys, just in case you needed
Dan: Shout out to Haylee, who’s listening to this right now. Probably
Colie: while she’s editing us.
Dan: So, yeah, and I outsource that. And then the next thing I’m looking at is a va. Like you just had an awesome episode about VAs and that’s sort of the next thing to handle some of this other stuff that I’m really slacking on, like some social media stuff, maybe some blogging, handing off some of those things or maybe emails.
I don’t know. Not sure yet, but.
Colie: So I will say if you are looking, please schedule a call with Sarah. Shout out to Sarah. My va. Joyfully organized. So, for those of you that haven’t listened to that episode, by the time this airs, it will have been months ago, but I found Sarah because she started following me on Instagram, and I am fucking curious guys.
So when you follow me on Instagram, I do click on your Instagram profile. I do go to your website, like I’m really nosy. And when I clicked to Sarah’s website and one of the first reviews that I saw was my friend Carolyn Fong. Oh. I was in the dms immediately. And I will just say Dan, like the things that I thought Sarah was going to do for me.
Cuz I will admit, honestly, Sarah doesn’t do anything for my photography clients right now. And that’s purposeful because as everybody knows, I’m trying to stop marketing to new clients in 2023. So, I mean, all of that is pretty dialed.
Colie: She probably should follow up on some since, you know, I, I kind of need reminders to get galleries out even after they’ve been edited.
That’s between you, me, and all these listeners. But like the things that she’s doing now in terms of like creating the social media graphics for the podcast and like doing all of those kinds of things, I never thought I would hire a VA for those things. But she in particular is just so knowledgeable about.
Like all these different things. Like she’s great at Dubsado, she’s great at creating social media. She is now writing the newsletter for the, podcast episodes. So there were just a bunch of like really tiny things and I only have her for 10 hours a month. Dan, can you imagine that? Exactly. Do you see your face?
So the thing is I thought immediately I was gonna need 20 hours, and then it turns out that, you know, we’ve been working together, I’ve paid three invoices, so three invoices of 10 hours a month, and I think that when January rolls around, I’m probably gonna kick it up to 15 or 20, but like recently, like what she’s been doing for me for the 10, I’m like, wow, that just frees up so much time that
Dan: Girls got it
Colie: are doing.
You are wasting time thinking about it. You are wasting time. Like, you know, when it, when you’re trying to schedule your social media, oh, let me just scroll for 30 minutes and see what’s on there. So I feel like the delegation has just really helped me because I’m not wasting time not just doing those tasks, but like wasting time around getting ready to do those tasks.
So it’s been, it’s been amazing, but like she. You should interview like two or three, you know, VAs, have a phone conversation with them. Make sure that you jive together and I know you’ll probably do what I did, which is give her a little bit and see how she does
Colie: And then, you know, once you feel comfortable you just share more.
Dan: Yeah, you know what, uh, I was unsure about actually hiring somebody for a little bit and I was listening to another podcast and I can’t remember what it is off the top of my head. But the guy who, who was saying, he was talking about like building a team and all that stuff, and he is like, if you wait until you definitely have the money to build a team, you’ll be waiting, you’ll be doing everything all by yourself forever.
He’s that. Every time that I’ve leveled up, there’s always been a decrease in, in my salary. Every time before that because you have to just, you have to just give it out there. It’s like, did I really have the money to put into this podcast? That’s not, I’m not, monetizing it yet. So it’s like, well, do I really have the money to put into there and pay someone to do it?
It’s like, yeah, you do. You, because you need to. Cuz if this is something you actually wanna do, you gotta put it out there and you have to keep putting social out there and you have to keep getting it out there every single week. And that’s what having Haylee does.
Colie: And that is one of the things guys, I will say everybody, you know, when you are doing a podcast, of course I’m only six months in, Dan is much further in than me. But like, it’s not a money making thing, at least not initially. I mean, I don’t have ads running in these episodes. And I’m actually paying someone to manage it.
And so I am actually like investing money without there actually being a return. But number one, I love doing this podcast. Number two, it has virtually replaced all of the other like social media content creation that I have to do because I can already tell you, Dan and I have had like 10 moments in this podcast where they’re gonna get highlighted, they’re gonna get made into little videos, they’re gonna be posted everywhere.
Yeah. So I. Definitely. And the funny thing, Dan, is, I don’t know if you know this, I hired the podcast manager and the VA in the same month. So I mean, I doubled down. I was like, let’s just, let’s just pay all this money out. Yeah. And I mean, but it’s been good. It’s been good for the last three months and so I am looking forward to, you know, what we’re gonna do in 2023 with that.
Dan: Yes, crush it. I love it.
Colie: S let’s talk about prices, just because I think lots of people are interested in hearing people’s prices and you’re so open with numbers. So tell me about the first wedding that you did, what you charged, and then just tell me about like the progression of how you increased your prices. Because I think a lot of people think that they should only raise their prices annually or that, you know, I just, there’s a lot of like noise around
Dan: It’s a lot of
Yeah. So tell me what.
Dan: So the first wedding I ever booked, was a somebody who went to my parents’ church. And it was a woman whose husband passed away years earlier, second marriage at like 50 years old. I asked for a deposit of $250 and then, the balance was $250. That was, due right before the wedding.
So I got that 500 bucks and I was like, I. Rolling in it. I am crushing it. And then I think the first wedding, like, you know, first year I went out there, like my top package, like everything included, parent albums album, full day coverage engagement session was like $3,000. And I got a check in the mail and it was paid in full a year out.
And I remember literally dancing around my a. Just like so thrilled, right? You’re in the money. Like, I’ve never gotten a check for three grand before. And, but my mom, was a banker and she, I shouldn’t say a banker. She was like, tell her at a bank. She wasn’t like on Wall Street,
Dan: uh, and right, like totally different.
Like not a, she’s not a banker. She, she always would say, you know, like, have ways to separate your money and, and move it around. So that way. It comes time for the album, you have to set that money aside so you’re not dipping into it later. And so I’m a very visual person. I set up my bank accounts, like an envelope system, and I’m like, okay, well I’ve gotta take 500 bucks for these albums and put over here.
And all of a sudden you’re looking at, it’s like, oh, I actually only have a thousand dollars to spend out of this $3,000. And from there, that was me really saying, okay, how can I do this? And throughout the years, I’ve had many different versions. I’ve had the four package system, a three package system, but for the.
Four or five years have been a la carte, and it’s very simple. I have two packages. Uh, one is without an album, one is without an album. It’s basically, eight hours myself and digital files on one side, and then, 10 hours an album myself on the other side. And I say cuz my whole thing is simplicity. So, uh, the way I sell it is you have a million decisions to make while planning a wedding with me.
You have to make two choose coverage with or without an album, and then any additional services that you want. And I walk through that process with them. And so the additional services they can add on are extra hours. , they can do a forever session, which is, the way an engagement session should be done correctly.
And then there’s also. Then there’s also additional photographer photo booth, things like that. So that’s what I’ve been doing various ways over the last couple years. But I’ve discovered that I’m not so focused on how much the contract signing amount is for the package. I don’t care about that anymore.
Cuz I’ve realized that the way that I work with my couple. Trust and comfort are what takes the longest. I don’t care about the wedding cuz we’re a year out. Like I can figure all that stuff out two months beforehand. Uh, but what I’ve discovered is that if I give my couples opportunities to spend more along the way leading up to the wedding, after the wedding, the, the amount that was on the contract is doubled or tripled.
Colie: So Dan, I’ve never thought about it in that way, but you and I agree with this and since you have just recently bought my course, you will discover
Dan: Yeah. Oh
Colie: I tell people. I don’t want you to overwhelm people with decisions when they’re trying to pay you money. It should be a very straightforward yes or no.
You can ask them to buy whatever in the fuck you want later,
Colie: But when it comes to getting the committed, yes, getting your deposit retainer, session fee, whatever you wanna call it. That should be your goal. Like do not throw all of these things out at them. Like I have a lot of clients that debate between hiring me for photos or hiring me for photos plus video.
And I recently had someone where when I sent her the proposal, she’s like, oh, that looks great. We’re just trying to see if we can afford the video. And I was telling her, yeah, no, just. Book the photo you have until the day before the session to upgrade to a video. I mean, I have to make sure that I pack mics, , I have to make sure that, you know, I bring an extra camera.
But in, in general, like I just need to know before I walk out the door to go to your house whether or not I am only doing photos or I’m doing photo split video. So like, please don’t let that be, uh, you know, something that keeps you from committing to the session. And then after that I was. Well, I still wanna ask ’em if they want a video up front, because those people that really want it will just say yes.
But when I started doing my consultation calls at the end, I started saying, and just so that you know, you really don’t have to make the decision on a video right now. Like if you are ready to go, just book for photo only and we can figure out if you wanna film later. Like you can sit with that decision for a little while.
Colie: I don’t want to put urgency, I don’t want to put pressure on my clients, but the way that I book out, you know, in advance, no. Like if you need a particular weekend, like you should book it now. Because if you come back and I’ve already scheduled myself to go to Pennsylvania or Disneyland, I mean, you know, I’m not canceling my Disneyland, you know, session for anybody. You just need to make the decisions that you need to make now and anything else you can do later. Like I highly encourage, upgrade opportunities for your clients, whether it is before the session or it’s when you’re presenting the gallery. I mean, but all of those things can in a lot of ways be automated or be facilitated by you in a second phone call.
Like, don’t waste all your energy. Front trying to get them to commit to a big contract, as Dan says. Cause you just don’t need it.
Dan: Yeah, you just don’t need it. And I, I, one of the things I love, and I, I don’t know if there’s psychology behind this. I’m sure there is. I help take decisions off the table just like you do. Let me take off, you know, don’t even worry about hours at this point. You don’t need to know how many hours you want.
You don’t need to know if you need to upgrade a full day. Just focus on the photography at this point, because until you see your timeline at one month or two months out, you’re not gonna know how many hours. and you know, that allows me to add an extra 500, a thousand dollars right before the wedding if somebody needs extra hours.
It’s just so simple. But yeah, helping them take some of those things off of the package or helping them sort of clarify what they need is, I think builds trust right from the beginning. And rather than saying, oh, I’ve got this very personal approach that I help, it’s like, no, no, no. Let me show you that I’m actually, my intention is like your wedding’s gonna be freaking awesome.
Let’s not worry so much about like the details, like are we a good fit or not? And then let’s be awesome and get to know each other, and then we can worry about the details later.
Colie: It’s so funny that you mention it in terms of, no, you just need to make two decisions with me because on the bottom of, I think it’s the course sales page, I say if you just want someone to tell you what to do, This is it. Click the button below. , like, I love making decisions for people. I thrive at making decisions.
But getting people to just, I mean, you either love me or you don’t. You either wanna work with me or you don’t. We can figure out the details later.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah.
Colie: Let’s talk about investment. Dan, what’s the best investment that you ever made in your business?
Dan: crap. Um,
Colie: Hey, I gave you this question
Dan: I know, and you know what I like, you know, you said him the other day and I was like going back and forth on it, and I’m gonna say best investment that I made. Is so lame. It’s the book Profit First. Reading and implementing that book was the biggest game changer because it gave structure to the financial side of my business.
The, the personal side was like sort of working. You’ve got people like Dave Ramsey, like who’s the gateway drug of financial independence. And then you’ve got, you know, Mr. Money Mustache, Peter Adney, who’s, do you know who that guy has ever heard of him?
Colie: You mentioned him in the last podcast.
Dan: Yeah. And then there’s there’s another guy who, is like, way even crazier.
Um, his name’s Jacob l Fisker and he runs a blog called Early Retirement Extreme. So you’ve got like, you know, all that stuff and those, that’s like really good for the personal side. But the business side is really tricky because you’ve got costs of goods sold and you have taxes and you have, I don’t know, all these different, you’ve got your own pay and then you want to profit and set aside things and that.
Clarified because I’d already had separate bank accounts for thing, for when money came in where I was putting money for this or that, but I got in big trouble because I would get, you know, you get like a $200 payment or somebody buys some prints. It’s like a hundred dollars here, $200 there, $300 there.
I would just sort of like, eh, like that’ll come out in the wash later, right? Like, whatever. And, but, Because when you get big wedding payments, it’s easy to say, okay, I’ve got this $3,000
payment. I’m gonna Yep, easy. But over the course of a year, those little two, 300, $500 payments add up. And then when you haven’t allotted for putting money aside for taxes or the cost of goods sold or whatever, all of a sudden at the end of the year, you’ve got this big tax bill That’s out of line with what I had in my.
Because I wasn’t putting money aside, I was just saying like, eh, that’s a couple hundred bucks. Like it’s not gonna make a big difference, but Yep. Totally messed that up.
Colie: I mean, but like that book is cheap. I mean, like, it’s amazing to hear that that had, you know, the most impact on your business because everyone always thinks, oh, well, you know, I have to invest $3,000 in this mentor, or a thousand dollars in this. Course, and in some cases it’s just about finding something that will really bring you value, that will help you implement something in your business that will then give you space to do other things.
Because now that you’ve got your money, shit straight, if you wanna buy a thousand dollars course, it’s sitting in that one account that you’re allowed to spend on
Dan: Ta da
Dan: Yeah, that was 2019 where I got that. And so I started my business January 1st, 2010. So let’s talk about the fact that it was, you know, over Yeah. Nine years that. It took me until I actually said, oh, I, I really need to figure this out. Right? Like, until that was the problem that I realized like, oh, it wasn’t this, it wasn’t that.
It was, I just need to organize myself and, um, regret, not even interested in regretting the fact, but like it has put me on such a great path and, and I credit not really feeling, the financial constraint of Covid when a lot of couples were postponing and all that stuff. We were able to skate through because I had a significant amount of money set aside, from not spending money and also just, organizing it in a way that I was able to either give money back if I needed to or just hunker down and say, okay, I’ve got this much money that I’ve set aside for how long from that book is
Dan: the best one?
Colie: Honestly, the pandemic was when I started paying myself significantly more money, which I know sounds really strange, but when the pandemic. For myself, I couldn’t go in people’s houses like, you want me to come in your house? Yeah, no, I’m not coming in your house. Even with a mask, which, I mean, I ended up getting COVID from one of my clients when I was in their house with an N 95 mask.
Like, I mean, the irony of it, but after getting the unemployment that we, you know, cuz that was like a big amount of money depending on what scale you were on. After I got that for the, I don’t know, it was like three months I guess after I got that for three months, I. I’m not paying myself enough money,
Colie: And then I like increased what I was paying myself by a thousand and then 2000 like I was just, and then now I’m happy with what I’m paying myself every month. But because what you said earlier in this conversation, and we actually skated over it, but we should have talked about it, was you said, figure out your hourly rate.
And I do feel like people skim over that, like you were saying, you were saving, you know, you were making less money, but you were spending less time with your couples, which means you were probably making more money per hour than you were previously. Yeah. So I just wanna put that back out there cuz that was an important part.
Dan: Yeah, I love that one. It’s an important one.
Colie: Yeah. Well, Dan, I mean like, I don’t know that we have anything else to cover. I mean, this was an amazing conversation. Oh, you know what? I had asked you my one question I asked everybody. Let’s end on that. Tell me what your biggest fuck up was in business, what you learned from it, and how your business changed.
Dan: Okay, so there’s, there’s two answers to this. One is like sort of a financial thing where I got, very much distracted by the allure of destination weddings. And I did a couple in the beginning where it’s like, right, I wanna do more destination weddings before I had kids.
So I, I would like, I’m just gonna come, I’ll photograph the wedding. You just pay for my travel. Right. That was a. Poignant, uh, choice, poignant, that’s not the word I’m looking for. That was a, a choice that I made to say, okay, this is something I want to do and I need to show more of it in my portfolio. A couple years ago, 2017 already had a kiddo and I told this one couple that I would photograph their wedding in Spain.
If they paid for me, they paid for the trip, they paid for all that stuff, and I would do their Philly wedding for free. And I was like, whatever, I’ll take a trip outta Spain. But then the way, yeah, it was, I don’t, I just
Colie: kind of switched for those that can’t see the video.
Dan: it was dumb. It was so dumb. And, and then the Philly wedding ended up actually being in Chicago cuz his family’s from Chicago.
And it was just this whole big mess. And it ended up being, you know, twice the meetings, twice the calls because I was doing two weddings and again, I was just like, oh, a wedding in Spain. I need to do anything I can to shoot this wedding in Spain. And it was just a stupid, but the real mess up that I think I had was just being Luke warm.
In my business for a long time, lukewarm on the numbers, lukewarm on the brand, lukewarm on, you know, any of that kind of stuff. And the big change, which we’ve sort of spoken about already was. Really doubling down on what I actually want. Getting crystal clear on like what I want for my family, what I want, what kind of life that I want, and then what kind of clients I want.
I am an extreme empath. I love to know my couples on a deep level. I make friends with quite a few of them, and not everybody wants that, and that’s okay. But literally on my website there is, the scroll. Sequence of pictures of me from the last 13 years with photographs from my couples, from at the end of their weddings.
And, uh, that was the big mess up was just me being so, like, oh, what are other photographers doing? And I’ll do that, you know, and, and all that. So, being Luke warm, then just ta it to a new level.
Colie: That’s amazing. Dan, I’m gonna kick in with my example. So what you said about destination weddings, you know, I do day in the life. I mean, I was just in your neck of the woods doing one, but whenever anyone asks me about like, you know, profitability and why I still do them and like they are becoming less profitable.
Like, I don’t know that I’ve ever really like, you know, wanted to make a huge amount of profit off of them, but every time I travel, especially to your neck of the woods, because the flight there is like three and a half hours. And when I do East coast, I usually go the day before, the day before because I’m super paranoid about missing a flight and then missing a full day.
So, I mean, I’m, I’m now charging between three and I think it’s 47 50 if you’re getting photo or if you’re getting photo plus video. But, Even that when I break it down to the fact that I’m shooting you for a whole day, I’m losing another day on the other end of travel day before like all of those things.
It’s still not making me as much money as if I just sat in my house and drove, you know, like 30 minutes to photograph someone. But I continue to do them for the clients that I’ve been doing them for because they did bring me a lot of joy for a, I mean, in the beginning I think I was doing them because like I needed time away from my husband and my kid.
Like I legitimately wanted to just go spend a day with someone else’s family, sit in a household where the husband makes breakfast on the weekends, like things that didn’t happen in my household, but. You know, I love my husband, I love my child, and so I don’t do as many of them now because, I mean, I enjoy being at home now.
You know, priorities change, things change. And so that was definitely it for me. And the second thing is when you said you really wanna get to know your clients , some of the reviews that I have on my website are like, coolly is like a member of a family. She’s like the aunt, and every time the kids know she’s coming, they run to the door.
I’m like, I wanna make sure that everyone knows that like when you hire me, you don’t get rid of me like I do. Become a member of your family. And so I am very picky about who I will work with now, because like if you wouldn’t sit down at a restaurant and have a drink with me, I’m probably not the photographer eke, because I come into your house and I’m there for a long time, which is the same as you going to a wedding and spending, you know, 10 hours with them on their wedding day and then all of that.
Pre-wedding and post wedding, like you’re investing a lot of your energy and your time into your clients, so you really do have to pick people that you like. I mean, it is a long term relationship even though your people are only getting married that one time.
Dan: Yep. I tell them all the time, like one of the, the kind of taglines, I don’t know what you’d call it, but I say I’m along for your journey, not just a wedding day, right? Like, you know, outside of the context of the photo shoot beforehand and the engagement session stuff like, I love to get drinks or, uh, or get coffee or have a bite to eat because the, like I said, the wedding details and all that stuff is easy a month or two before the wedding.
But the trust and the comfort, that’s the part that takes a long. That’s what we do.
Colie: Y’all. That’s it. We’re done. Dan, thank you for coming on my podcast. Can you please tell everyone where they can find out more information about your mentoring or if someone listening happens to be getting married? What are your two websites?
Dan: Uh, thank you very much for having me. I love this. I’m feeling like really amped up for the rest of the day now, so I’m really excited. You can find me Daniel. Moyer Photography is my photography business at Daniel Moyer photo on Instagram. And then my coaching and mentoring side of my business. You can go to focused photographers.com and I’m at get focused photographers, uh, on Instagram, and my podcast is Focused Photographers podcast,
Colie: Yeah guys, so I’m gonna link all of his stuff in the show notes, but I’m also gonna link our very first conversation because when I have other podcasters on, I’m always like, you should probably listen to the episode where I was on their podcast first, because it leads in really nicely to what we end up talking about on my podcast.
So Dan, thank you for joining me. Thank you for having me on your podcast. We are just gonna be such good friends now.
Colie: like I look forward to talking to Dan any opportunity that I get guys,
Dan: The vibes are high when we get together.
Colie: they are. So that’s it for this episode, guys. Thanks for listening. See you next time.