How to price your photography, Part II

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on July 29, 2014

in This is Business

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If there’s one thing we part time photographers never get bored talking about, it’s pricing our work.

But I’m going to digress from talking about pricing, because your pricing isn’t the problem:

You’re trying to scratch your butt by brushing your teeth.

It’s been five years since I wrote my (some say controversial) post on What to charge for your part time photography, and you awesome readers have asked me if my advice still stands today.

In the historic words of fellow Bandera Texan and Classic Western actor Rudy Robbins:

It do.

My philosophy on pricing your work is to be humble: recognize the unique value you create, understand that value will grow over time and practice, and look at pricing as more a tool for managing your calendar than your profit margin.

I could introduce a lot of nuance into this conversation, but here are my practices, some simple if-then-else’s, boiled down to the bones:

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Is your success muscle atrophied?

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on July 21, 2014

in This is Life

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My success muscles have been atrophied for most of my adult life.

And I don’t think I’m alone in that boat.

When was the last time you had a win?

I mean a big, fist-pumping, heel-kicking, shout-it-from-the-rooftop victory.

I’m not discounting the peace of being grateful for your daily life – your day job, your family, your recreation. Learning to celebrate the small and simple things of life has made mine immeasurably better.

But you’re reading PTP right here, right now, because you’re not where you want to be. Either with your art, or with your business, or more than likely, both.

You want to put some big marks in your Win column.

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Accountability is the plateau killer

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on June 30, 2014

in This is Business,This is Life

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Like skydiving and asking a girl to dance, sometimes you have to experience a dreaded act before you realize how awesome it can be.

Accountability has always been that way for me.

I grew up an only child, homeschooled, with one real friend (and a handful of seasonal cousins).

I was a loner by environment, which grew to be my nature. I became extremely self-sufficient, from my education to my life and entertainment.

Unfortunately, I missed those early lessons of teamwork and the power of accountability.

Only in the past six months have I experienced how accountability can move mountains in my life.

My vision of accountability as a tool for reaching goals was of an overzealous (and way too perky) fitness trainer calling me at the butt crack of dawn to yell at me to go run.

Or my mom asking me if my underwear is clean. Every day.

Or some overly helpful friend, in whom I would confide my desire to lose a few pounds, then criticizing my every meal choice and telling me to eat more fiber.

Until I finally experienced it, I never imagined accountability to be such a powerful, completely enjoyable way to turn my dreams into reality.

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Why courtship matters in marketing

June 2, 2014
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As usual, let’s start with the end in mind.

(As opposed to starting with the how, then trying to make it fit the why!)

On any marketing campaign, you want to have an ultimate goal – whatever tactics you employ, you need a goal action you’re moving potential clients to take.

“I want them to give me their money, of course!”

Courtship first, Romeo.

Many startup business owners want their marketing to explode with a Direct Response – someone sees your ad / post / card / postcard / portfolio / fan page / contest, and immediately calls or e-mails to book a shoot and throw bennys at you.

This is also why most newly-minted professionals can’t get a critical mass of clients on board and stay booked solid.

And the simplest, most common Direct Response campaign is… A BIG SALE! Immediately devaluing the product or service, and catering to the least profitable, least loyal, most demanding and problematic clientele.

No wonder so many good artists burn out so fast when they try to go pro.

If we want to avoid chasing the quick sale, we have to court the relationship.

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Shifting gears from starving artist to entrepreneur

April 10, 2014
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As Michael Gerber well-clarified in The E-Myth Revisited, there are countless talented craftsmen who endlessly struggle to run successful businesses.

“My friends and family love my art – their praise is why I wanted to go pro in the first place. I have years of experience, I practice and get better daily, my art looks as good or better than many of the professional photographers I know in my area. Why aren’t people calling?”

The skill sets of successful entrepreneurs are often little aligned with those of successful artists – hence the commonality of the phrase ‘starving artist.’

In fact, many of the skills and personality traits that make you an artist create an even bigger challenge for you as you grow into entrepreneurship.

Where the artist wants to create, the entrepreneur wants to sell.

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How to balance humility and confidence as a part time photographer

January 14, 2014
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Most of the photographers I meet are very humble, and this is as much a source of their endearment as their failure to launch.

Humility with a lack of confidence is what’s holding most of you back from taking the small daily steps needed to get your business off the ground and start earning an income with your art.

This beast was unmasked by psychologists in the 1970′s as “Imposter Syndrome.”

There’s a balance to be had between the humility of knowing you always have room to improve, and the confidence to take daily steps to make those improvements.

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The first step to creating the Ultimate Client Experience

October 10, 2013
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It doesn’t cost a thing.

It’s easy if you’re paying attention.

Want to see how easy yet profound “it” is?


Stop what you’re doing, stop reading this post, be still, close your eyes, and listen.



Try to hear and listen to every sound entering your ears.

You may hear your air conditioner, or your computer fan, or a dog barking in the distance, or a car driving by, or any of an unlimited number of possible sounds. You may hear your breath. You may heart your heartbeat.

Now, tell the truth – when you started reading these words, did you hear everything you just experienced when you focused on listening?

Of course not – your brain may have registered the barking dog or car driving by, but while you were focused on reading, your brain did its job and tuned out the rest of the world.

This is the difference between hearing the words your clients say – before, during, and after the shoot – and listening to what they’re saying.

As a journalist, listening and paying attention to the little things are the foundational skills that brought me from a teenaged transcriber to an award-winning professional.

How do you give award-winning, professional service?

How do you create the ultimate client experience?

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