Grab this Quickstart Guide to start using Dubsado today.
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.
Have you recently taken the time to audit your business or offers? In today’s episode, Jill Smith joins us after she audited her own offer based on my recent audit series back in episode 26-28! Listen in as I walk through Jill’s audit with her, explore what she found through her audit, and determine next steps for her business!
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.
Jil Smith is a lifestyle family photographer serving the New York Catskills & Hudson Valley.
Here are the highlights…
[1:57] Get to Know Jill
[2:51] Auditing Her Business
[4:29] The Profitable Services in Her Business
[6:21] Reviewing & Justifying Low-Profit Services
[12:50] What Jill Outsources
[15:35] Jill’s Associate Shooter Workflow
[20:40] Investments in Business
[26:23] Changes for 2023
[37:22] Biggest Fuck Up
Want to avoid a blank screen while setting up your Dubsado templates? Steal mine 😍
The Template Shop is now open with templates created specifically for family photographers for use inside Dubsado. You can copy and customize for your own brand + offers in no time. Save yourself hours per client with these templates 🌈
Dubsado – Use COLIEJAMES for 30% off your first payment, month or year!
Simple Sales Blueprint [Use COLIE for $100 off]
Review the Transcript:
Colie: Hello and welcome back to the Business First Creatives podcast. Guys, I am over the moon for today's guest. and I do wanna give this episode a little bit of context. You guys know I'm not one of those people who does like a lengthy intro, but I feel like context will really help you. So if you have not listened to episode 26, which was released the week of Thanksgiving at the end of 2022, you might wanna pause this. , listen to that episode and come back. Or after you listen to today's guest, I do highly recommend that you listen to episode 26 and you do an offer audit on your own. So today's guest is Jill Smith, and we know each other from photography circles. On the interwebs and after I released episode 26, at the end of last year, Jill popped into one of the Facebook groups that we're in together, and she's like, I listened to Colie's episode and and it was amazing, and this is what I did to audit my offers, and now I don't know what to do. And guys, you know, my teacher heart was just like, oh my gosh, someone did the homework that I gave them number. Number two, y'all. She came with receipts, she came with spreadsheets, she came with graphs. I mean, like all of her data was so amazing, and I'm not even talking about how much money she made because guys, it was a lot, and that's amazing and we will talk about that. But just the fact that she had taken the time to do everything that I told her and get all of her data organized in order to make decisions for her business in 2023 was amazing. So, Jill, you are my hero and welcome to my podcast Jill: thank you, Thank you, Colie. Colie: So Jill, we are actually gonna talk about your specific offers a little later in the podcast, but I do want you to just give this, give the listening audience a general sense of where you're located and what you do. Jill: Yeah, I am in New York. I'm in the Catskills, so that's like an hour and a half north of the city, New York City. and I'm a family photographer and, I'm pretty adamant about that. I don't shoot weddings, I don't do other things like that. I will do other iterations of family photography, like newborn maternity, things like that. My primary, offer is family photography. Colie: And of course that's how we know each other. Jill is a simple sales user. You know, I to give Annemie a shout out out can. Simple sales for life. But that is how Jill and I know us, and she is in that group. And when she shared her data, I mean, , you know, she gave a shout out to me. She gave a shout out to Annemie, which is awesome, but I was just amazed at all of the data she was able to compile. So first of all, Jill, why don't you tell us about that process? So you listened to the episode, and then how did you end up gathering all of that data in order to do your offer audit? Jill: Oh it, well, like I mentioned to you before we started recording, I am lazy, so I like to keep all of my income in one payment processors. So I use PayPal and it's really easy for me to just go in and see what I'm making and what I'm bringing in. So, and, and it's November. It was November when I did that. So it was about time for me to start doing that anyway, to prepare for filing, my taxes. So I just went in and I saw, you know, what, how, where the money was coming in and. Kind of just tabulated it that way and using Excel. It was a kind of a clunky process. Maybe there's a better way. But it took me a few hours, which is not bad. Considering we were going from January to November and, yeah, I was just able to look, to look and see where that money was coming from. And I, yeah, it was, it was nice. It was eye-opening. Some, some was surprising, some it wasn't surprising. Colie: Yeah, and and we're gonna talk about that. So it took you a few hours listening Audience that is not that long. And I will say, guys, that if you end up doing this for your 2022 data tabulating your. Data is gonna get even faster because you will have gone through the process and you will know what you are doing. So first of all, you said that you were surprised by some things and not surprised by other. So let's talk about your offers. You offer family sessions, mini sessions, motherhood sessions, school photos, studio sessions, associate sessions, baby plans, memberships, and then you had a category for other. So, first of all, were you surprised at which one made you the most money Overall? Jill: No, because I, I should know this right off the top of my head. I think it was family sessions, uh, overall and. No, because that's, that's my main offer. That wasn't terribly surprising that that's where the majority of my money was coming from. That's my most expensive offer. And it's kind of what I am, I'm known for. That's what, Colie: Mm-hmm. Jill: my main niche. So that was, that was not surprising. I think that what was surprising was when I broke it down hourly. I went ahead and I did that too, to figure out like what was the hourly rate on these different things. That was a little bit more surprising. I was surprised by how profitable my associates were for me, because that was a very small amount of work for me And, paid really well. And, my school , my school photography Colie: because that's a conversation that you and I had. Jill: Sure. Yeah. That w that was like, oh man, really? That's like, that's all that I'm bringing in with that. And that's how much time, because that I have not nailed down a good workflow with that. And, if I can't figure one out, that may not be something that I offer in the, in the future. but it, so that is my, my least efficient for sure. And lowest paying, like by a long shot. Colie: but let's talk about that because one of the things that I loved and you were like, full transparency guys. Like I did this offer audit, I have all of these numbers, and now I have no earthly idea what to do with this information. And so you and I had a conversation in the Facebook group and then I was like, no, wait, stop. Let's have this conversation on my podcast. So let's actually dive. like looking at your data. and trying to figure out how you use that data in order to make decisions for, you know, your business going forward. So we already said your school photos ended up being your least profitable, and so when I saw that, I said, okay, was that surprising? You said no, but I didn't know that it was like really that unprofitable for me compared to my other offers. So then I brought forth, well, here are the things that we might want to consider for your school photos going forward. Number. , of course, because it is the least profitable. If you eliminated school photos altogether, that would give you more time to pursue some of your other offers that are more profitable. But guys, I wanna get away from us just looking at a number and being like, oh, that's not profitable. Let's just get rid of it and move on. Because in the case of school photos, I started to ask Jill a few more questions to understand how school photos fit into her overall offer suite. So as we've already said, she's got family sessions, she's got many sessions, she's got newborns, she has all of these other offers, and if school photos are very unprofitable for her, we actually need to look at the data to see. but are any of those people moving forward to book a higher offer later in their client journey? And Jill, I asked you this question and do you remember what your response was? Jill: Yeah. They're not, so I'm in a, I'm in a really small town, and if all these parents. I, I'm the photographer for one school. It's the school where I, where my kids go and where my husband works and there's about 450 kids in the whole school. these parents already know I exist and, we kind of have a very small middle class here. And, As a result, like anybody who, at least I, this might be a, a limiting, limiting belief, but anybody who was going to hire me from that pool has already hired me. The reason that I stepped up to do the school photos was cuz I was, not pleased with what I was getting sent home in my kids' backpack. I, and I know the other parents weren't either. I have like looked at Elena Espes Blair's school boutique photography model and that's what I wanted to offer the school. Kind of like counter offered with like, no do this traditional one, which is way more time consuming cuz they, you know, you gotta get the laser background and like swap it out and all that. It's like a lot of work, to make it look. I'm sure there's a better way, but, normally these volume school photographers have a team and they have a way to make it really efficient and pump out like a high volume and be profitable, otherwise they wouldn't be in business. So. Maybe. Maybe this could be a way for me to like funnel people into my family photography business. Maybe it's just a nice thing that I'm doing that I'll do until I don't. Colie: It is. I do wanna just stop you though. I mean, doing it for social good, doing it as a member of your community, doing it so that you get decent photos of your kids from school that you love. and giving other parents the opportunity to do the same. There's actually nothing wrong with that. So I do wanna just take a slight pause and say, guys, even though I'm talking about data-driven decisions, like it's okay for you to still do something that's not the most profitable thing in your business, especially if it makes your heart happy. Jill: Yeah. There's really no metric for that. And the other thing that I, I have thrown in with the school photos is, twice a year we go out on the front lawn and it's, we, I'm in the mountains. It's beautiful. And, we'll get pictures of the kids outside. And those are actually big sellers because a lot. Families will never have had the opportunity to have these like beautiful lifestyle photos of their children to hang on the wall. Aside from, you know what, I, I can't, I probably can't say the name of the company, but it's the company we all know that does school photos. So aside . So that's what I've been able to offer that is a way more efficient, um, process for me. It's obviously not all the editing and. That, that's something that I wanna kind of push the school more towards and less of like the corny backdrop and all that stuff. So, we'll see. I'm, I just, I'm taking a mastermind with Elena right now, so, included that I have access to her school course, so I'm gonna see if I can like harness that to kind of pivot what I do at the school. Otherwise, I don't know if I can continue to do it this way. It's really a lot. Colie: So I would actually see if, I mean, because you said that the cl, the parents are the clients, the parents are loving the more lifestyle images. I would actually do a survey. Of everyone who you know, cuz I'm sure you're getting their emails when you're delivering and just be like, Hey, this is not marketing. This is me asking you a question so that I can present this to the school. Which, which set of images do you prefer? The in-studio ones or the outside ones. And if you can get enough of the parents, you know, to buy in and say that they love the lifestyle ones more, maybe you can actually eliminate. From your offer each year? Because I've only done preschool photos for one school. It was when my daughter was in preschool and I actually took them outside against a brick wall, like no inside photos for me. I don't do flash, I don't, I don't do any of that. So I was taking them outside and they were gorgeous. We can see them mountains, , but they are not close enough for me to do what you're doing. So it's wonderful that you have the cat skills right and you have a beautiful backdrop to do it. But yeah, I would definitely say try to get the parents buy-in and present that to the school as listen. . I mean, you know, the parents are preferring these images, so can we just try to do the school portraits outside one year, I, I would give it a go. Jill: Yeah, I think I'm gonna do that, I, I did, a half-assed version of that, when like, uh, two years ago where I tried to really incentivize. Filling out a short survey so that I could do exactly that. I need to try again because I, this past year, the school did not schedule me for the fall version of the outside ones. And I had so many parents in my inbox where we use those for Christmas cards, what happened? And so, hopefully we can, we can make that change. And I, I would hope that like most parents will be okay with that. Colie: Awesome. So we're gonna kind of step away from your offer audit, but but we are gonna come back to it. I do wanna ask you, because you did say that, you know, it was difficult with the laser backgrounds for the school purchase and that kind of thing. So Jill, I'd just love to ask everyone, what do you outsource in your business? Jill: I outsource my accounting. Of course. That was the very first thing that I ever started to outsource. I have tried outsourcing my editing multiple times, because of, I could probably get away with doing it for my family sessions, my outdoor family sessions. I haven't found an editor though that can nail down my studio work the way that I want it done. I heard you talk about it though, how you had to like, Keep set like you sent a video to your editor of yourself editing, my studio editing is really extensive though. There's a lot of masking and cloning and so I don't know. I haven't figured out a way to do that efficiently yet. I outsource to some AI stuff. I don't know if that counts, but Colie: Yeah, it does. What are you using AI for? Jill: I love After shoot. That has Colie: Me Jill: so many hours. Oh my goodness. I tried, I don't know if you pronounce it Imagen or Imagine I Colie: don't know. I, yeah, continue. I just, sometimes with the pronunciations I'm like, I have no idea. I apologize. Jill: So this is like, uh, this is so silly, but I haven't continued to use that because I don't edit in Lightroom. I edit in Adobe Camera Raw. So, they are only for Lightroom. It's, it's just not there for me yet. If. Some sort of piece of AI comes out for editing that works with Adobe Camera raw, I probably will outsource that too. And then I guess you could say that I outsourced shooting, I hired some associates last year. I brought their 10 Colie: is amazing. Jill: Yeah, it's the best. And because that's the one thing that I always felt like only I could do. But then I'm like, wait, I couldn't always do. , if I could teach them how to do it the way that I do it, they all, so all they do is, they have a Calendly link that they keep updated with their availability. I send that link to clients who wanna hire me, and either I'm not available or I don't want to hailjob for one reason or another. And they book, they pay my associates directly. My associate shows up with the information I give. and they drop off the raw files, either in person or via Dropbox, and I edit and deliver. And it is so, efficient and great to be at home and make money knowing that like, I have these really great talented people out there representing me that I can just trust. So that's been, that's been huge and kind of, um, pivotal for my business, honestly. Colie: Okay, Jill, just because I'm really fascinated. So how does it work with your associates? So you're saying that they're paying them directly. Are they just paying them the session fee? Like how is it that you are making money on associate sessions? Jill: Okay. And I will be totally transparent with the pricing. so, my associates have their Calendly link set up. It has the questionnaire that I've told them to put in there, and then through Calendly you can do workflow. So then I get an email of all of those, um, answers and all of the information that I need. Um, My clients, the clients who are hiring my associates, rather pay automatically right through Calendarly $300 to my associates. And that's their flat rate. That's what they make on a regular family session. And then their total, cost is $700. So by the day of the session, I invoice them for that $400. Colie: okay. Jill: my, so my associates show up to the shoot with the information that I've given them. We do, I do all the planning so that all my associates need to do is shoot feel like part of, um, What I'm hired for, what people are seeking me out for is the customer experience. So I wanna, I don't wanna take that away and I I don't wanna put that on my associates because that's a lot more work than $300 warrants, right? So I do all that. They get the whole client journey that any of my other clients would get, except it's my, one of my associates who shows up to shoot. So after the session, my a. Usually use Dropbox to send me the raws. Then I use my after shoot and I walk away from the computer. I come back and I edit and deliver those, to my, to the clients. And it's been great. It's really, it's really been profitable. It's wonderful. Colie: Jill, that is amazing. I mean, and when we think about it, I mean like $300 is great to just show up and shoot for an hour Jill: They think so too. Colie: Exactly. And not have to deal with clients, I mean, Jill: Yeah. Colie: might be convinced to actually shoot outdoor sessions, Jill: No, it, Colie: everyone listening to the podcast knows I would never do, but I mean, yeah. Jill: Well, you know, the thing is, is that everybody wants to say that our industry is saturated. I don't believe that. I don't think, first of all, Where I am, I don't feel like it's overly saturated. I don't look around and feel like I'm stepping on other photographers. I know in some areas that might be the case. You show up to a location. Yeah. Yeah. So you show up to a location and there's photographers everywhere. Like that doesn't really happen here for one. But we still are, or we still have that narrative here. A lot of photographers here have that narrative. Anyway, I saw these burgeoning photographers coming onto the scene who were just like, I was 10 years ago, and. You know, they're charging $50. They're charging a hundred dollars. Why don't you come and work for me and make $300, learn something, and then we can have a partnership. And you know what? Let me help you build your own business too in the meantime, because if I can get you to where I am in my business, then that's gonna elevate our entire local industry. Colie: Entire industry. Yes, I agree. And it's funny cuz no, here that does happen. I mean, I, everybody listening knows I don't go outside. But on the rare occasion that I go outside one of my long-term clients, I've probably been photographing them for like 10 years. And Jill was like, we think we want outside this, this year. And I was like, oh, okay, well let's, let's think about where we can go. That's less stress. So we ended up going. An outdoor location that is very popular near her house and they live about an hour south of me. And as I pulled up into the parking lot, the parking lot was full . As I sat there, I feel like 15 photographers started going in while I was waiting for my clients. I mean, and granted, you know, it was very big space. None of us were in each other's way, but I mean, it definitely, here I could throw a rock from my neighborhood and probably hit like four photographers. I mean, but saturated. You know, even though there are lots of photographers here, there are actually not a lot of photographers here in Denver that do what I do. And so that still makes me special. I still get to, you know, offer the sessions that I wanna offer and there aren't a lot of other people where if they Google documentary family photography or family films that, you know, someone else pops up. So, Jill: it, it will, it is not a commodity. And, and that's up to you to make sure that you are, are not a commodity. That what you offer is special and. there, There's always gonna be enough business going around. You know, I, I tell my friends, like we have, we are in a small county, 80,000 people. there's a statistic that I read that, um, only 5% of people ever hire family photographers or only ever hire a professional photographer. Right. Uh, that still puts us around. Like, I can't remember the math. I'm not very, it's like around 4,000 people. Do you wanna, do you wanna shoot 4,000 people this year? Because I Colie: sure do not Jill: No, no. So there's plenty of work to go around and there is a lid for every jar. So I, I fully believe in abundance over scarcity. I felt like I had an opportunity to help these other photographers kind of like step their game up. They mentor under me for a little while to learn how I shoot and a better way to run their business too while they're at it. And, it's a win-win for everybody. Colie: Definitely, definitely. Let's talk about, I mean, let's continue to talk about money. I am just, I always like to ask what is the best investment that you have made in your business? Cuz you said you've been in business for 10 plus years, so I'm sure that you have made a myriad of investments in your business. What was the best and what did you gain from it? Jill: So I I think I have two answers. For ones that I, something I can really quantify. I think that Annemie's revenue and repeat. was an incredible, like, that had a great ROI for me. It's a relatively inexpensive course, but then what what it gave me was, a really nice, reliable, steady income, which in photography is not always the case. It's, it can be feast or famine. Right? So, and, and that's how I took December off because of revenue on. Because I, I could see that I was going to be able to, it wasn't like, you know, cross my fingers and hope that the money comes in. if, If if it's we're talking about something that we can't really quantify, I would say like my Audible subscription, I do, I read a lot of books or listen to a lot of books that have helped me, I think improve as a business to the point where, uh, like I was saying, you, you're no longer a commodity. So things that have helped me improve my customer experience. these books, I, I, they're like invaluable because of that. So the, some of like, they're almost, they're borderline tropes because of how often they come up. But like, how to Win friends and Influence people is a really great one that has, do my job better. StoryBrand, you know, that's, that's another really big one. Atomic Habits, which is like life changing. Recently I read, the Science of Getting Rich, which sounds. Kind of yucky. Okay, so this is a book from 1910. So I'm like, what? What's the science of getting rich? And I'm listening to it and it's all about like manifesting and abundance and mindset. And I'm like, oh, this is not what I was expecting. So that one has been, uh, a really big one for me too. Colie: Yeah, no, those, those all sound amazing. So we've got Emmy's course and we've got Audible so that you can listen to all of these amazing books basically, you know, in your passive time or while you're working because I've never been someone who was able to listen to podcasts as I work because I get. Like you, I mean, you said you listened to my podcast and then you did your offer audit, which is amazing. But I do that, like when I listen to a podcast, I'm like, oh, that's a really good idea. Let me go write this down. So I actually cannot listen to podcasts unless I am doing something passive like driving. It's the only time that I get to listen to my podcast is in the car. Otherwise, I feel like it imposes itself on the other things that I'm trying to currently do for the day, but I don't wanna gloss. What you said about Annemie's course because in December you made over 13 K and you took the whole month off, which I mean Bravo girl. And just to give some context, guys, for what Revenue on Repeat is, um, OMI created a course. Not that this is a sales pitch, but I love it. Jill loves it. Everybody loves it. So that you can get your returning clients on a monthly payment plan to pay for their annual session, and then you have steady income every single month of the year. And so I know when I opened my membership, I mean after I hit the amount. that I could just pay my mortgage every month. I was like, this is great. . Like, you, you have that much money coming in and you're technically not, you know, having to work for it in that same month. So I'm, I'm really happy for you, Jill, that you got to take all of December off. It is funny when people tell me that it's a really slow month for them. Traditionally, December has been an incredibly busy month for me. I always tend to have like a lot of newborns. . I tend to have people who want Christmas sessions, so like putting up the Christmas tree, decorating cookies, all of those kinds of things. This year, December was very slow, which I really enjoyed the time off. My husband and I went to New York City for five days. It was great. But just the flexibility for us to be able to do that in our business based on the decisions that we've made is. Jill: Yeah. Yeah. It, it, that's exactly it. and, And it's wonderful and I kind of have like parlayed that into my baby plans too. So I took that model and I applied it to my baby plans. So that would be like the people who are investing in more than two or three sessions for the whole year. Because they're pregnant, they're having a baby, their baby's starting one. Stuff like that. So, and it's, it's been great. It was like, so at while I, I bought, two of her courses at the same time and I tried both of them. That was the one that was, was really a home run for me. Colie: and I feel like because the pricing for the membership is based off of your simple sales, I feel like even if people are not implementing simple sales into their business, it usually makes people raise their all-inclusive rates. because it's okay. I mean, Jill: Oh yeah, Colie: sales after the session is not for you, I am here for you and that is okay. I only care that you are charging a sustainable and a profitable rate, and I actually don't care how you get it from your clients as long as you're sustainable and profitable, Jill: Yeah. Yeah. And for sure, yeah, I, I am an adult with A D H D , so I have that, a lot of that executive dysfunction going on. And as soon as I need to start doing like, multiple steps and I remember like, oh, what's next? What's next? We need to do this next and this next, then I drop a ball and I get sloppy. So for me, like simple is better. Colie: Yeah. Jill: Like super simple, Colie: Well, I mean, Jill, whatever you are doing is really, it's, it's working for you. I mean, I love the fact that you sat down and you did the offer audit, and so let me just ask you, what have you decided, if anything, to change in your business for 2023 based on the results of your offer audit? Jill: Well, I I really, I wanna be more intentional this year. And so like being able to look at this and say like, oh, March is when. The most people booked my motherhood sessions. I'm not even gonna talk about them until March. That's when I'm gonna zero in on that. These months, I know that I really just wanna drum up the, the studio stuff and, and work on, getting baby plan people in and, and, adding people to my membership. And I just hired another associate, so we're gonna work on expanding that. A new offer that I'm gonna be adding this year is, mentorship and I don't know if it's gonna be paid yet. Right now I have a mentee who's work who's under me, and I'm kind, she's my little Guinea pig. But, so far so good. And if it's something that I can kind of like pivot into, Really just make more time for being at home with my kids now that they're getting older and weekends are becoming sacred and they're full of soccer games and birthday parties and things like, I don't wanna miss anymore. So, and, and I've always had this feeling like, where are all of those 50 and 60 year old family photographers? Because I'm Colie: They don't Jill: They don't exist. Right. So So, so that's like, I don't like to do things at a. but I, I, I am realistic about that. I don't think that is like the trajectory of a career as a family photographer and, and you need to find another way to kind of, diversify or, or open up other streams of income and remain relevant. So I don't, cause I, I'm a former teacher too, I don't super wanna go back to that. I make a lot more money. . my husband's a teacher, so it's awesome. He has that, all that really Colie: You're like, lemme just put this in , Jill: I do like, I do respect it. Listen, his, his health insurance and his pension, like I can't put a price tag on that stuff, you know? So, and his schedule and summer's off like that is, that's good stuff. So between the two of us, we have a really good thing going. I would rather stay as my own boss and continue to do this. You know, this is, it's a little hamster wheel where like, I gotta keep going. I can't just like sit back on my laurels and just like expect this to keep happening on its own. I need to be proactive. Like with looking down the road like five, 10 years. Colie: So when we're recording this, this is actually the weekend after Chinese New Year and I just flew to Los Angeles for one of my clients. They oddly don't live in Los Angeles, but we did their day in the life in Los Angeles. but I mean, I can't do that forever. I cannot continue to fly across the country and spend, you know, two days with families photographing them for a full day. I mean, cuz Sunday ended up being a 15 and a half hour. , it was an incredibly long day. I don't know that I've done another day in the life that was that long. And granted, it's Los Angeles guys. We spent a lot of time in the car , so I wasn't photographing for 15 and a half hours, but I mean, it was still 15 and a half hours that I was on the clock. And so even though. . I have loved doing day in the life sessions. I love, you know, showing up at my client's house and chasing their toddlers. I mean, like Jill said, you don't see 50 and 60 year old family photographers I would even put out there. You don't see 50 and 60 year old wedding photographers. Jill: Oh God. Colie: I mean, Jill: that's like a, that's like a, a 40 year old football player. Like that's . That is a really hard job. Yeah. Yeah. Colie: so I mean, if you are a younger photographer or if you are a newer photographer and you are really trying to figure out where you're going with your business, I do really encourage you to look down the line and either, you know, start saving for retirement or figuring out how else you are going to use these amazing photography skills or business skills in order to do something else when being behind the camera isn't exactly. where you're gonna continue to go. And Jill, I would encourage you. Okay. Mentoring aside, once you have a point where you feel like you can really get together and talk about your associate program, I really feel like how you onboard them and, you know, the systems in me is gonna say how you do your questionnaires and do the scheduling, like all of that would be really helpful to photographers who think that an associate program would work for them. They just don't know how to. Jill: yeah, the associate onboarding, all of that information is not, it's not plentiful. , I, I had to dig really, really deep to find out how other photographers were doing it. What I found was some great information from the legal page on like the legalities behind it Colie: Yes. No. one skimped on that. Jill: Nope, nope, nope. No, because you don't want, to make it, you don't want it to look like they're your employees. So there's a lot of, fine print there with, with how you can do things. To make sure that they are 10 99 unless you are able employees. And, that's a, that's a different stage of business. And maybe one day that's where I'll be, right now I am in the 10 99 , area where I can have, and I actually don't need to 10 99 them because my, the clients are paying them directly. So as long as the money's not passing through me to them, then it's just, it's so simple. It is so, so simple. Colie: No, that's awesome. But I mean, even like, you know, running through your systems and how you communicate, because I know people would have the question of, yeah, but how do you tell the clients that you're not the one showing up? Because I think that some, you know, a lot of us are like, no, but I am the photographer. Like, , this is my brand. I am the one that's producing the photographs. And so I do think that lots of people would be like, but Jill, how do you communicate to the clients that you won't actually be the one that shows up? And the funny thing is wedding photographers have been doing it forever. So like they don't, you know what I mean? Like it's, it's not that this is out of the realm of possibility, we just have to kind of reframe it and just figure out how to have that really good communication to let them know what it is that they are buying from. Jill: yeah. And, and, and nobody ever books me thing and, and has somebody else show up. So like, when, when a client reaches out to me and I give them, I give them their options. E especially if they mention that budget is a concern, my associates are price, maybe like 29% cheaper than I am. So, so it creates like a lower barrier for some clients who, were looking for something a little bit cheaper than what I offer, and I let them know, like, here's, here's Allie's portfolio. Here's ya hire's portfolio. You can see their work here. This is what they're really good at. This is what people are saying about them. Um, here's how it. And people book my associates knowing that's who's showing up and that I'm gonna be doing the editing. And it's still a very similar experience. and That that took a lot of. Training it, it's a mindset thing too. If you're a photographer and you think that what you're, you're doing is some something that can't be taught to others, then you change that mindset that's, that's scarcity, you know, so you, you need to recognize that you figured out how to do what you're doing too. are they my clones? No, not really. But they get really close and sometimes, one of my associates, her work will pop up in my feed. I'm like, Hey, did I do that? Oh, no, that's Allie Colie: No, that's not my photo. Okay. Jill: yeah. So it it you, if you can figure out how to teach what you do, the way you do it so that you're, the people who are hiring or reaching out to your business are still gonna get something really comparable to what they're seeing on your website, then you're in good. Colie: Yeah. I will say I told a story on the podcast before, I don't remember which. Oh, I know. It was, it was the episode with Rachel Grimmen. I told a story about how I am now outsourcing my videos. I did not, I mean, that was like the last. the last straw. I was like, I will never outsource films. And I ended up outsourcing films because I just can't sit on a computer long enough with my eyes in order to make them. But my film editor was a little behind and I was feeling a little pressure to get one of my films out. So I sat down and I made a film, and then before I delivered it, the next day my film editor delivered her cut. I watched her cut, I watched my cut. We had chosen about 80% of the exact same. but the 20% that she chose to put into the film and how she placed them, I was like, no, her film is better. And so I delivered that film to my clients. And so, I mean, I also think that it's, it's about letting go that you are the only one that can do exactly what you do, because almost anything can be taught, but it's also accepting the, you know, the possibility that someone else can actually do it better. And that's not just for photography, that's you. If you're hiring a virtual assistant and they're sending out your emails, or you know, someone's creating your social media graphics, like Live for the Possibility, or I should say, accept the possibility that when you outsource, you could actually be getting a better product than you are capable of producing Jill: Yeah, it's a no-brainer. Um, like a few years ago, we hired a house. , and of course she's gonna be better at cleaning than I am, but she also does it in probably like an eighth of the time that it takes me to do it. So it's so like, it's, it's so much more efficient. And then when you're working for, for yourself and when you're working for home, time is money, time is your currency. you can make way more money. You can there, there's no limit on that, but I do have a limit on the hours of my day, and if I can outsource things like that so that I can just sit on my butt and edit or market or communicate with clients or do things that I enjoy doing that I'm good at doing, then that's, that's such, such a worthwhile investment. Yeah, we all know that when people are specialized in something, then they're gonna do a better job at it and they're, and they're gonna be more efficient. And that goes for anything that we're gonna, we're gonna outsource in our business. Colie: All right, Jill, I've got one last question for you. It's usually my favorite question. Um, so tell me, in the 10 years, 10 plus years that you've been in business, what is the biggest fuck up that you've had in your business and what did you learn from it? Jill: This is so painful. This is because it Colie: don't want, Jill: No, no, no. Colie: experience. Jill: it, it's, it's so pain because I think the one that comes to mind was only last year, and it has, it happened because I, I, I did something that broke my systems. Right? Which is usually how this happens, or it's something that's a catalyst for a new system, so, , I offer these motherhood sessions and 99% of the time they start off in my studio with hair and makeup, with a makeup artist that does not have her own place. So she comes to my studio, I'm there, we're doing, she does hair and makeup, wardrobe, everything right there. So it, and she has her own calendarly links. So that gets populated into my calendar, right? So, Every so often she's not available. And there's actually a salon across the street from my studio that offers hair and makeup for the same, right. So that's where one mom was sent. And so she signed up, um, for her motherhood session. It got rescheduled when we rescheduled it. I put her in with hair and makeup in that. Salon and trust, and I must have done it while I was driving or something because I didn't put it in my calendar. Okay. So here I am. It was September and all day, I'm just talking. I'm like, I'm so happy I don't have to work tonight. I can't believe it. I don't have to work tonight. Picking up my kids from school at, you know, Sit in the yard with a hard cider with my husband af when he's home. I, I love it. I can't have, I don't have to work tonight. This is the best thing ever. Um, you know, kind of half in the bag, like, a little bit like I, I, you know, it was a summer evening. It was just a nice relaxing time. My son and my daughter like to take my phone and make videos, so they had my Colie: Oh, Jill: So I walk into my house. probably to get another side And I hear my, I hear my iMac ringing my, my computer's ringing, you know, like a phone call and I look and it was, um, it was my studio partner and she never, ever, ever calls me like, she doesn't like to talk on the phone. So I'm like, oh my God, there's an emergency. I answer. She's like, Jill, where are you, Kara? This is the owner of the salon. Kara's has, has your client there? She's been waiting for an hour. She's done with hair and makeup and. Oh my God. So at this point it's like 6 45. Um, the sun is, it, it's getting darker. I cannot drive. And this mom, so like also to avoid 10 90 nines, the hair and makeup is paid directly to the. By the client to the artist. So this mom had gone and she paid a nice amount of money for her session. She paid a nice amount of money for her hair and makeup, and here she was like looking beautiful and ready to go with a toddler waiting for me and I'm not there. And I got on the phone with her and I apologized profusely, and I'm like, come to my house. And we it, this, it hurts, right? at, come to my house. We'll do your session here. So she came to my house. By that point, the sun had gone down. It was dark. I'm outside shooting and I'm just like, I'm mortified. And I'm like, obviously you're getting a free session from me. Um, and she was like, listen, we are moms. Like this happens. I get it. And I don't know why she's so gracious because she has gone ahead. She totally forgave me. She wasn't upset at all. She loved the pictures that I produced. I delivered her a gallery in black and white because of how high my I s o had to be. So it it, she has since booked like five sessions for the coming year. Regardless of this, I. Colie: kinds of things. Jill: Yeah, so like, it, it's still really hard for me to think about because that was awful. That was my, that was absolutely my biggest fuck up. Um, and it's always been, it's, anytime something in that arena happens, it's because I didn't follow my normal protocol, Colie: Yes. Jill: you know? Colie: That's how I get into trouble too, Jill: yeah. I trust my brain. No, I'll remember it. I'll remember Colie: and my brain is not trustworthy anymore. That's the other thing, guys. You don't wanna be a 50 and 60 year old family photographer, but your brain also works less efficiently the older that you get. So like, whereas three years ago, I could totally be like, oh no, I'll remember to put that on the calendar. No, I'm constantly having to stop myself now and being like, no, Colie, sit. put it down. Emails is the worst. I find myself looking at emails and being like, oh yeah, I'll answer that when I get back in the office. I don't even remember that. That person emailed me two Jill: I won't even open an Colie: Yeah, so now I don't do that. Exactly. Jill: Nope. Oh, it was, it was so painful. And I am, I really am truly grateful, I guess, that it was her, because not many people would have reacted that way. But, I, I still feel like I owe her big time and, Yeah, that I, now, I am just like I in fact, that hair, that hair and makeup artist was testing out a service using her booking software and use me. Accidentally, or I don't know. And two days ago we had another snow day and I got this notification, don't forget you have this appointment at the hair hive. And I was like, I got on the phone with her immediate, I'm like, Kara, what's going on? Who's, who's in your, who's in your salon right now? Who's appointment am I missing? She was like, I don't have any, I'm not there. I'm like, what the fuck is going on? So I was able to, we, we were able to figure out it was because she had just run a test and used my name, but that, yeah, a little PTs d from. Colie: I mean, I don't blame you. I mean, okay. Jill, this entire conversation has been incredible. I just have to say it one more time. Thank you for listening to my podcast. Thank you for taking the action. It was amazing. Tell the listening audience where they can find you to find out more information on your services, but also when you launch this associate photography product that I'm pushing you to do, Jill: You have a special kind of brain, you really, I never, I've been looking to step into the education space a little bit more and I never thought Colie: Oh, 100%. Yes. I'm telling you that people will buy this Jill: That is I love you for that. you'll find me. Jill C Smith photography.com. Instagram slash Jill C Smith photography, Facebook slash Jill C Smith Photography. Colie: All right guys. That's it for this audience. Once again, I highly encourage you if you did not listen to episodes 26. 27 and 28 that we're all geared towards doing minor audits in your business to make you more sustainable, more profitable, and just living a better life in 2023. Please go back and listen to those three episodes and take action just like Jill did. That's it. See you next time.