How to Grow a Brand Photography Business

Last Updated: 

November 10, 2022

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How to Grow a Brand Photography Business - Every week we'll be chatting with a business owner, helping them to bust through the challenges they are facing with their business in our new "Fix Your Business" series.

If you want to know more about Fearless Business (or to get in touch to be on the show) then please check out:

or hook up with my open community group on Facebook:

In this week's episode we discuss:

00:00 - How to Grow a Brand Photography Business
03:58 - How do you price a photography service?
06:08 - How do you price a brand photographer?
11:52 - Selling Branding Photography Packages
17:49 - Sales Funnel for a Brand Photography Business
25:29 - How can I sell my photography?
26:09 - How do I start charging for photography?

This week's guest is Coralie Hartigan, Founder of Pho. TEE's Clothing and a Brand Photography Business.The goal is to have a fully tailored platform offering branding solutions for businesses from concept through to completion including consultation, design work, wearable marketing, brand training, editable design resources and personal branding photography.

Pho.TEE's main clientele is currently people working in the creative industry, so a new site to umbrella both core elements is the main focus to offer services to other sectors too.

In this ever changing world don’t just ask yourself who are you as a business, but more importantly who you are as a brand?

Your online visibility and digital footprint means that personal branding is now one of today’s main focuses in small businesses and it is what can set you aside from the next so you stand out from the crowd.

My name is Coralie and I am an Award winning business owner based in the South West of England. My lifetime love of Photography and Graphic Design has led me to follow my creative passion owning two businesses within the creative sector.

I am lucky to have some of the biggest international and UK photographer influencers wearing the Pho.TEE’s brand and we have featured in Canon Magazine as well as winning the 2018 and 2019Best Accessory award from SWPP – Europe’s biggest photographic convention held by the Societies of Photographers in Hammersmith, London.2020 hopes to bring the core elements of my businesses -photography and design together, under one platform to offer the ultimate branding experience and service.Wear your Brand. Build your Brand. Be your Brand.

The Transcription:

[Robin] - Welcome everybody, this is the first episode of Fix Your Business with me, Robin Waite, founder of Fearless Business. This is, essentially, a coaching programme. I'm thinking that maybe it's even the first of it's kind, CJ. We're kinda breaking new ground here, which is quite exciting.

[CJ] - Definitely.

[Robin] - Hello, welcome. [laughs] Let's just kick things off, I've put a little bit about your biography in the video notes, I want to just drive straight in and focus on the business side of things, can you give everybody just a quick 60 second price here of what it is that you do?

[CJ] - Yep, I have two creative businesses, I have a photography studio in the southwest, and I have a clothing brand that works with creatives which focuses on putting your personal brand on your clothing in order to maximise impact when you're out working, that started mainly through the photography, I have a large amount of UK photographers and I also have a big follow of international photographers as well, some really big international photographers that I'm lucky enough to be able to call my friends as well.

They choose to wear the brand when they go live and on their social medias which is brilliant, and I'm just in the process now of trying to pull the two together, working more with brands and businesses in the photography side, launching a personal brand in photography, I was lucky enough to work with a photographer last year who was fantastic. She did some great product shots and photography shots for Photees which was brilliant and quite nerve wracking as a photographer, being on the other side of the camera, and I think for her photographing another photographer, but we had a fantastic day, and I think that really kind of pulled together and cemented to me the importance of umbrella-ing these two businesses now.

Bringing the photography together, the branding, some training ideas, and I really pull in on my background, which is I used to work in London in Bristol as a graphic designer, I've been in teaching, so bringing that all together under one umbrella and just building a complete brand service that people can come to me from consultation to final delivery.

[Robin] - Can we get a, let's say for example you saw all of my branding out, right? Ball park, make a number up. Be brave. How much is that going to cost me?

[CJ] - I don't know. [laughs]

[Robin] - Make it up, just throw a number at me.

[CJ] - If I was working on a personalised photography shoot, If I was looking at your social medias, if I was guiding you with how your branding could look, then I'm guessing we would probably, based on what my photography prices would be in a normal shoot, around 2,000 maybe 2,500.

[Robin] - Okay. Second observation, okay? And this might be a little bit of a, I'm hoping this will be a bit of a moment of realisation for you. Let's say for example it was 2,500, in fact I'm just going to try and share my screen for a second, [laughing] hopefully this will work.

[CJ] - I mean-

[Robin] - Can you see this okay?

[CJ] - Yep.

[Robin] - Right. That's my notes, basically, as I've been, as we've been going through and you've been describing your products. We've got an idea over here about what turnover you're currently getting, what turnover you would like, and as we kind of, I mean these are rough notes by the way, it's not an exact science, but you get a picture of where I'm going with this. [coughs]

If you've got a product at 2,500, that means you only need to be working with two clients a month.

One business, one product, two clients a month. Okay?

Now one of the things you said to me is "Well at the moment I'm currently kind of pushing eight to ten clients" I know that includes different areas of your business, but eight to ten clients per month, one of the things which I talk a lot about is three ways to grow your business.

The first one is, could we do double on turnover but with the same number of clients? Could we do the same turnover but with half the number of clients? Or, best case scenario, could we double our turnover and half the number of clients we're working with?

Now in this instance, if you're talking about just two clients a month, which gives you your 5,000 per month turnover, the goal which you want to attempt your turnover, that's a fifth of the number of clients you're currently working with.

Make sense?

[CJ] - Yes, you're my eight, [cough] excuse me. But eight to ten now was working on photography?

[Robin] - Yeah.

[CJ] - I think this is how they differ, is I can have less photography clients with most of them averaging between a five fifty and a seven fifty spend?

[Robin] - Yep.

[CJ] - But then it will see the clothing side of it, it's more on volume but less money.

[Robin] - Yep. Which I totally get, and I'm thinking, with this branding product, I always recommend to people you can have between three and five core products. Right?

It could be that, first we could have an audit here which, or consultation as you called it, could be free, it's like a try before you buy, and I'm going to go through some slightly different numbers in a minute about how much business you need to be pushing through in order to kind of make, you know, get and achieve your goals basically.

It could be free, you could charge for it. It could be that you have an audit process that's maybe five hundred pounds. Okay?

That's just for me to review everything that you've got currently and to give you a one page summary of where we think that we can make some progress for your brand.

Now I want you to, if you've got a notepad handy, I want you to write something down.

You need to become a master of working out the return on investment that your clients are going to get through working with you.


Now imagine, if you go through and rebrand me or help me to, like you go through your audit process, we get some amazing brand photography done, our social medias totally consistent, online/offline visually on the course, and my programme costs 3,000 right?

If you, through doing that, somebody comes up and says, "Look, your branding is brilliant, I'd love to look like you, can I work with you?" I've just got an ROI on a 2,500 product. Okay? That's almost like a no-brainer for somebody to drop 2,500 on the full suite.

And it might be that for example, shut up Siri, stop talking to me. [laughs] it might be for example that if you then do, you've got the audit consultation process, next thing if they've already got branding in place and they just need a social media audit to make sure everything's consistent, what could that be, I don't know, I'm putting some random numbers here, pricing there's no real science to it, we don't look at the competition, let's say that package is eight hundred pounds.

If we then add brand photography on top of it how much if somebody asks to do a photo shoot do you say?

[CJ] - If all my clients are working with me currently without them buying any products for the digital it will be five fifty.

[Robin] - Yep. It might be for social media pack plus brand photography, could that be more like, I don't know, fifteen hundred quid? What we're building up is like gold, silver, bronze, or packages A, B, and C, or whatever you want to call it.

I mean the difference here Is only seven hundred pounds, that's probably not enough, I may be able to bump that to eighteen hundred. And then [coughs] and then one of the things you could do is then, okay social media is kind of your online stuff, that might be included there anyway. But then we start to move into the offline stuff, which is when you start to talk about tee shirts, bottles, physical stuff, if you've got clients who go to exhibitions, how do you make your exhibition reflect your brand well?

All of that side of it. And then, I mean that can be for the full package, more like 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, doesn't matter. Yeah? What we're doing is we're starting to build up tiers of products that, this is recorded you don't need to take screenshots, [laughs] I'm joking.

[CJ] - My notes now look like this already. [laughs]

[Robin] - Amazing. We're making some progress here, I hope. It's the sort of thing that hopefully you were expecting. Is this useful?

[CJ] - Yeah, definitely.

[Robin] - Great.

[CJ] - It's just, I know what I want in my head, but you know, this is a little bit of a crazy place.

[Robin] - Yeah.

[CJ] - Being able to just break it down, and I suppose in a way trying to justify, like I know that my shoot pricing and the structure for that is where it is.

I know that whilst having put it up, my clientele went down, but that is okay because my focus is to push products because I want my clients to have work on the walls. You know, I see these things with the tee shirts and the branding, it's just having like I said to you like these eight plates spinning, and I know that it can pull together, but I also know that I'm over complicating it and awful lot and I just, yeah.

I need you and that structure to be able to say this is what you need to do.

[Robin] - Yeah.

[CJ] - This is great.

[Robin] - Cool, excellent. You can see here, what we're starting to do is build up a suite of products.

Now I always recommend three to five core products, it might be that you don't want to go through and like create a massive long list of features for each one of these, it's just got to be the head line stuff like I've just done there basically.

You have your basic package like your starter kit, you have your one where you then start to work on their photos, and then your all of the printed stuff offline. That links nicely dovetails into Photees in terms of that side of your business. The next step in terms of one of the things you asked about the start was recurring, how could you create some more sustainable revenue?

Well it could be that once you've taken people through having one of these products, you almost loop back on that audit products and you have a, what we call a done for you like monthly audit.

[CJ] - Mhm.

[Robin] - What we'll do is since you're putting out content online, doing videos of you blogging, if we see you at an event, if we see you in a magazine or things like that, we'll just produce some, a report for you once a month which will go through and look at your brand and give you half a dozen to a dozen pointers on areas maybe where you think it could be better or you've got the branding wrong, or it's not consistent.

And could that be, I don't know, let's say for example it's two hundred and fifty pound a month per client. Okay?

Now all of a sudden, one of the beautiful things about when you've packaged stuff up, you don't need to put any of these prices on your website or in brochures or anything like that, when somebody comes through your initial... I don't want to talk too much about the marketing side of things necessarily, but when they come through, maybe they see and want to book an initial conversation with you, you know the conversation up here, and by the time you've done your fact finds, you then, this is another thing which I want to write down, I want you to write down which is quite important.

The best way to sell anything is using the statement which I'm about to give you.

Based on what you put into our assessment, and what we've just discussed during our consultation, the package that I would recommend for you is package B. Give you a chance to write that down.

[CJ] - Can you say that again? [laughs]

[Robin] - Based on what you put in your assessment form, and what we've just discussed during your consultation, the package I would recommend for you would be package B. And these are the reasons why...

Now if C is the package you recommend that one, they might be going, "Oh I just want the cheap and dirty one."

No no, you've told me that you want to attract clients into your business, you've told me you want your turnover to increase next year by fifty thousand pounds because of x y and z. You can't get that through just making social media look nice, everything needs to look nice.

If one piece of your branding breaks, it breaks the sale cycle for your client. You'll lose the client. That's why I'm recommending package B.

The beautiful thing about this is that you can be doing a consultation now, and pitch it at eighteen hundred pounds. If you're feeling confident and buoyant, you could do another one tomorrow and pitch it at 2,500. You can validate at different price points. Make sense?

[CJ] - Yes.

[Robin] - A lot of people when they get, when it comes down to pricing, just get super stuck on, "I can only get my prices up once year." No no, we keep on testing and validating our prices until we hit a point which A makes our business stand up economically, and B there is a market, there is demand out there for it.

The Guinness world record, believe it or not, the Guinness world record, the most amount somebodies ever paid for a haircut, eight thousand pounds. [laughs] What an idiot, but there is somebody out there who has paid eight thousand pounds.

Somebody was, I was in a hair salon and somebody was talking about the fact that the hairdressers prices were cheap, like twenty five quid for a haircut and colour, way too cheap.

I don't know much about women's hair, but too cheap.

Somebody in the room even said, "Well I pay a hundred pounds for that, why is it just twenty five pounds?" "Oh, well that's what I would pay." A lot of people price stuff based on what they would pay, not what the market would demand.

When I said to her, I quickly googled, you know, most expensive hair cut, it came up Guinness world record, she didn't believe me!

I said, it's in a book! It's in writing, that somebody paid eight, it's like there's a bandwidth here between twenty five pounds and eight thousand pounds.

She just could not get it.

She's the sort of person who will struggle with business, will never quite, you know, she'll never go out there and even test it, she won't open up a hair salon next week and charge thirty five instead of twenty five.

I remember another client who sold sheds, and I mystery shopped their business on behalf of that client, I pretended to be a sales person for a morning on their four court because they were really struggling in their business and couldn't work out how to make more money. Somebody walked up onto their forecourt and said, "Well we came here because we want a new home office but these are sheds, we're not really sure whether they're right or not."

I said, if there was a cedar clad studio with bi-fold doors, is that the sort of thing you're after?

They're like, "Yeah, of course that's what we want." I took a deposit from there there and then, went running into speak to the owner, Dan and said, "Dan, Dan, Dan, you need to knock down three sheds and build the cedar clad like studio so people can see this thing because you're losing business.

[CJ] - Yeah.

[Robin] - You know, and they very quickly shifted, they took a couple of deposits on top of mine as well. They took a couple of deposits on top of mine within the first two months of starting to build this garden studio.

People have got to see the value FIRST.

[CJ] - Yeah.

[Robin] - Great. Now we'll go back to your goals again, we were talking about hitting about 4,500 pounds a month revenue, let's round it up to 5,000. If you, lets say for example if you had, I don't know, ten clients who are on your monthly audit package.

[CJ] - Mhm.

[Robin] - And you got to get those first, obviously, that's probably something for another day, but then you sell one of your platinum products for 3,000 a month, you're at 5,500 a month.

That's in respect of your family photography, in respect of how much merchandise you sell. Okay?

It's one business, one market, three simple products, well four if you include the follow on products, because that's what this is, follow on products. And you've got your revenue there. How does that feel?

[CJ] - Sounds easy.

[Robin] - Yep. [laughs]

[Robin] - Do you want to know where people make the biggest mistake?

[CJ] - Yeah, they don't do it. [laughs]

[Robin] - No, it's not that they don't do it, they do a whole load of stuff that they think is heading in the right direction, but the biggest mistake that they focus on is sales.

Now, I know you're thinking, "That's just dumb Rob, every business needs to have sales in order for it to survive."

Yes, absolutely you need to make money. But the issue with just focusing on sales is that we end up focusing on the wrong target. Okay? Now if say, for example, your goal for your business is to get two clients a month, right? And we get to the end of the month and you only sold one client. There's nothing you can do at that point to influence that number up or down, it's called a lag indicator.

Because time is lagged, all the activity before it is lagged, you're stuck with one client, unless you monumentally make a complete effort, you know we can't lose that client. We're stuck with one client, we can't make any more.

Imagine if we get, I don't know, half way through the month, and we've been measuring our lead indicators. And I start this off with something called conversations. Bit like you join a Facebook group, for example, and just jumping into messenger and saying, "I'm doing this crazy thing, do you want to jump on and whatever." That's the start of the conversation, not necessarily is it direct client potential for my business. But it's the start of a conversation.

From those seventy conversations, you then want to funnel them down into consultations.

This is the sales part of what you're doing. And, sales is that line there.

Yep, it's one small part but imagine if we get half way through the month, and I've only started twenty messenger conversations with people, I've only booked three people onto consultations, I know that my lead indicator is starting to tell me that I'm falling short of hitting my lag indicator, my goal, my target.

We've got two choices at this point.

One is to admit defeat and go oh well, not going to make it, I'll just be happy with one client this month if I'm lucky.


We double down on our activity, focus on target market, our audience that we've leashed on, and getting people booked into those consultations. We need seven more before the end of the month. Can we do that in two weeks? Probably. We'll just work bloody hard, like billionaires do it.

If we're distracted by loads of other stuff going on because we're not terribly organised in our business, we're going to struggle to do that.

I think it's really important, this is why I'm telling you, like giving you a few clues here about what you need to focus on. Most people focus on the sales, because obviously we need money, but it gives us false information, and it's very binary, we either hit a goal or we don't, we either get the sales or we don't. And when we don't get them, we tend to beat ourselves up.

Emotionally, it's a bit of a drain.

Whereas, if I'm chipping away at the conversations, if I get to the end of the month and I know that I've done my seventy and my ten properties, but maybe I still only ended up with one sale, doesn't mean I'm a bad sales person, it just means that like clients are like buses. Sometimes two will come along at once, sometimes none will come along. You know, when you want it to, when you're expecting it.

But I'm content if I know that I've done consultations and conversations at the top end of it. Didn't work this month. Cool. Let's reset, start again next month, and off we go again.

Makes sense?

[CJ] - Yep.

[Robin] - I'm probably gonna bring it to a close then, cause we've gone way over time, we have up to forty minutes on the live already, and probably both of us want to go and enjoy some sunshine. [laughs] How do you feel about things now?

[CJ] - Yeah, it's just, to be fair it's just nice to talk to another creative, just to have an outside view of what's going on, because I think it's quite easy, you get up in it and people around you might just be going, "You're doing too much", or "You're spreading too wide", and you're like, "No! No I'm not, this is what I'm doing". But then you know, once you're not with those people, you're like, how am I going to do it?

[Robin] - Yeah.

[CJ] - How am I going to break it down, like I've got all these pieces of paper everywhere, [coughs] what's going to happen first, like, and there's no real plan, you think there's a plan, but the plan doesn't seem to progress to the next stage because you're very aware that you're not really there yet, I think just being able to break it down into sections, instead of trying to look at it, again looking at it as a whole, you just break it down into different elements, and you know like you say, it is hard to balance the two, it's just trying to like, I love my family and children side of the photography, but I know that I have another business that I can grow and expand.

My newborn in photography, I have all my clients that are existent, I have new ones coming in, there are hard months when you know you're not bringing in and you are doing the marketing and all the things that you should be doing, like you said, you're doing all that stuff, you're content that you've done it but you don't have the shoots at the end.

[Robin] - Yeah.

[CJ] - It's enjoyable and I love it but I see the branding and the personal branding side of this, all pulling all of my skills together, keeping it very varied for me, you know you're not tiring one aspect of what you enjoy doing.

[Robin] - Yeah. There has to be a repetitive process that you've got to go through because that consistency is ultimately what gets clients, otherwise.

There's a couple of little tips which I'm going to give you which I think will be helpful, this is kind of like your homework.

If that branding side of things is an area where you want to focus on, in lets say for example the next three to six months and hopefully we'll come through the crisis and things will start to, the market expands again [coughs] one of the things I recommend you do is put those ten consultations I talked about that's going to get you those two clients, map it, so that's like two to three a week, map in two empty consultation slots into your weekly diary.

Then if you use google calendar, google apps, or office outlook 365, but put in empty consultation slots. It just tells the mind, "Oh I've got empty consultation slots I need to fill." It game-ifys it, and then you'll be more incentivised to do it.

The biggest mistake people make in the sales cycle, is they do all of the other stuff first, content creation, client work, delivery and everything else, then they slot in consultation slots around the rest of it, and it feels like we're busy, fools rushing here there and everywhere.

I have get shit done periods in my diary, where I will block book four or five consultations back to back. Bang, bang, bang, done. Of that, it's predictable then, I know that some of that I'm going to win some business, and at the end of every one of my get shit done sessions, I can come out of it going, "Yep, I've got a new client or two." It's predictable.

[CJ] - Yeah.

[Robin] - But at the very beginning you just want to put in two or three empty ones that you've then got to go out and fill. Next challenge is, how do you then go and find the clients to then book in to those?

If you've already got a network, which it sounds like you have, which is relatively deep, you can start telling people stories about these fantastic new branding products which you've got, and the sorts of return on investment that people can expect to get from them.

As a coach, coaches who typically go through my platinum branding products, will on average get an extra client a month. The average coach that is worth about 3,000 pounds extra revenue a month. If that is something which you would be interested in, reach out I've got some consultations available.

We tell a very different story, it's about getting your messaging right, telling it up with your audience. Tell them what they want to hear. And from there, you'll then to start book those consultations, then we go into all the nuances around sales, like what happens on that consultation, how do you close a 3,000 product.

That 3,000 product could easily be a 10,000 product in twelve months time.

Seriously. We test and we validate at the price point you feel comfortable.

If 3,000 feels comfortable start there, in twelve months time, trust me, we work together, this is a potential opportunity, this isn't a sales pitch, or any other coach, there are other coaches out there, not Fearless Business, but we're good at what we do, but in twelve months time that could be a 10,000 product.

Now you need one client, half the clients, and you're making double that 5,000. And your follow on product is five hundred a month, not two fifty a month. There's tonnes of opportunity. It's just being open to that idea now.

[CJ] - Mhm. Amazing.

[Robin] - Cool. I'm going to throw it back over to you, what are your last thoughts about the experience you've just had? All be it, it's much longer than I've planned. [laughs]

[CJ] - Yeah sorry.

[Robin] - It's my fault. It's my fault.

[CJ] - It's really good, I, it's nice to have someone from the outside look in. I will say may, or may have missed bits and bobs because this is the first live that I've done as well, that's another challenge, Go kind of ticked off for me. But it shows that its feasible, it shows that you haven't got your head in the clouds when you're trying to think, but sometimes you just need more clarity, and you need a better process with better time management which I think just looking at how you can plan out, knowing that you don't know the businesses, is quite reassuring that, it's comforting for me to know that I do have something that I can work with.

[Robin] - Yep.

[CJ] - And I think that it's a really good time in the year, not for the world, but for where my business is at the moment. I haven't started this yet, it's something that I've done ten percent in maybe everything, and my goal is to bring it all together, I think talking to you now is a massive help for how I try and look at it moving forward, instead of maybe just using the next few weeks or god knows how long we're in a pandemic for, mumbling along and not knowing if it's the right direction.

[Robin] - Yeah.

[CJ] - I think that this is a massive help and perfect time for us to have had this chat.

[Robin] - Great.

[CJ] - It's been really good, thank you.

[Robin] - It's a really awesome piece of self-awareness, what you just talked about there, I think its a big moment of realisation for you, and I think in terms of my summary, if you can focus on one thing and do it really well, and be patient with the other areas of your business. They're still there, they're still going to happen, you're still going to attract family photography in there, you're still going to be selling merchandise, the tee shirt side of things will still happen, but you need to focus just on one area.

The other stuff will just, it'll happen. And you just need to be patient, in terms of building this up and then when it gets you to a point where by you have that lifestyle element of the business running and working really well for you, maybe you can pull in other experts to deliver on that, you can turn your attention back to the real passion projects, the stuff you're deeply passionate about, the family portrait and photography work which you do and things like that.

You know that's not going away, we're not saying we'll just focus on this and don't do anything else, it's just about applying your energy in one area primarily, and let the other stuff happen more naturally. And you'll be absolutely fine.

[CJ] - I think it generally has been the last few months where my mindsets been, clearer more this way. I think, yeah. I need to keep steering the way that my hearts going to as well.

[Robin] - Brilliant. CJ, it sounds like that has been helpful.

[CJ] - Definitely, thank you very much, it's been brilliant.

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