You Learn From Everywhere

I know what my answer would of been years ago in my late teens…yeah right! If it wasn’t something that appeared to be directly related to what it was I was involved in at that exact moment, then it was a waste of time.

Fast forward a few years (not going to tell you how many, but enough!) and WHAM-O! I learn from all over the place, most of the time in the least expected place.  And I love it!

Continue reading “You Learn From Everywhere”


3 Tips for Client Meetings

Welcome April! Be gone snow and cold. Here in Northwestern PA we’re finally starting to get nice weather, which means it’s time to meet with clients, book spring and summer sessions, talk to newly engaged brides, and get outside! Are you prepared for the new season?

Continue reading “3 Tips for Client Meetings”

5 Must-Haves for Your Photography Website

By Jess & Stephen Robertson []

We want you to think about building your website like building your dream home. You purchase the perfect piece of property when you secure your domain name. Next, it’s time to build.

When you build a home, you have to start with a foundation & a framework. It would be kinda odd if you were trying to install your stainless steel appliances and decorate the rooms before those things existed, right? Just like there are different types of frameworks you can use when building your home…wood, steel, etc., there are different types of frameworks you can build your site on (WordPress, etc).

Then, once you have chosen your framework, and it’s complete, you get to incorporate your style and make it all pretty. Part of this next step includes coming up with content. And this is where some people get stuck.

The question we most commonly get when talking about websites is “What should I include on my website?”

Today, we wanted to share 5 Must-Haves for Your Photography Website. We want to start by pointing out that these are components you should all have, whether you’re just starting or you’ve been in business for years. And regardless of whether you’re shooting weddings, portraits, landscapes, or cats in tutus.

The 5 must-haves for your website are:

1. About page – This will probably be one of the more time consuming components of your site. The most important thing you want to do on your about page is CONNECT with your reader/visitor. If you try to do anything without first connecting with your audience, your message will not get across. The best way to connect is to tell them a story about who you are that shows exactly what makes you unique and why you do the things you do. Connection often requires a bit of vulnerability. But there is so much power in being vulnerable, in being authentic. You also want to be sure to include a headshot (at minimum), but preferably more images to help aid you in telling your story. An image of you, or you with your family, or you doing something you love, helps to put a face to your brand. It increases trust. Show as much personality as you can on this page. We think that Tiffany Farley [] is an amazing example of how to use your about page to connect with your visitors.

2. Portfolio – This one may be the most obvious, but we still have to mention it. You may be just getting started, or you may have a solid portfolio under your belt by now. Either way, as you select the images for your portfolio, keep in mind that less is more. Think about your ideal client, who you want to attract, as you are selecting your images. If you only want to shoot weddings, we don’t recommend including images from family sessions all over your site. You can still DO photo shoots for families, but just don’t advertise them if you don’t want others contacting you for family sessions. Never use low-resolution images that look blurry or pixelated. And make sure your images are easy to navigate. We recommend using an HTML5 gallery, as Flash galleries will not be viewable by anyone on an iPad or iPhone.

3. Contact Page – Even though we are talking about a contact PAGE, we believe it’s important to include your contact info on every page. You want to make it as easy & convenient as possible for clients to reach you. People don’t have very much patience these days and may not contact you if they have to search for your contact info. It’s also important to note that even if your website includes a contact form for people to email you through, this is not the same. You need to actually provide your contact info as well. So, what should be included on this contact page? The most important things are: Your name, your email address, a phone number, and your location.

4. Testimonials – We don’t know about you, but we are the type of people that read reviews on an item before making a purchase. By including a testimonial page with quotes from previous clients, you are once again establishing trust. This is another aspect of your site that will help set you apart. If possible, try and incorporate photos of the client with their quote. This will help connect people to you and your work more effectively. Get in the habit of asking for feedback from your clients immediately following a shoot. You can easily include this in your workflow, and it can be a simple email or it can be a link where they fill out a form. Wufoo is a great form builder that allows you to create a free account with a set number of forms. We also suggest offering a small incentive to clients who write a testimonial. Something as simple as a complimentary 5×7 print is a great way of saying “thank you” for their time.

5. Blog – Having a portfolio-only website is just not enough nowadays. We believe the best solution is to create a blog. A blog brings life to your website. Again, people love to connect with YOU, and this gives you a space to not only share your client’s images, but to share about yourself and things you value in life. The possibilities are endless! You can share photo tips, reviews on your favorite vendors, even personal posts. Use this amazing free tool to tell your stories and help people connect with you. It’s also worth mentioning that a blog is great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)!

You may have noticed that we didn’t mention a pricing or investment page. That’s because this is a topic that deserves an entire blog post dedicated to itself! Sequel maybe??

About the TogTools team:
TogToolsWe are a husband & wife photography team based out of Southern CA. We believe that business skills & tools are vital to the success of a professional photographer, so we created TogTools to help new photographers become business rock stars! We connect new photographers to why their art matters, while helping them build a solid business foundation so that they can share their art for years to come.

We both enjoy embracing our inner nerd. In our down time, you might find us at a local coffee shop or bookstore, shooting just for fun, playing with new toys at the Apple store, or having impromptu dance parties with our son.

Why I Don’t Book Clients From Email

By Sarah Petty

Sarah PettyIn my photography business, I follow the boutique business model.

I’m not right for everyone. In fact, I’m not right for MOST people who are shopping for photography. I hear no a lot and by now I’m used to it.

I’m not the photographer you go to if you just want digital images for Facebook. I focus on creating custom art for my clients’ homes. I have a passion for decorating kids’ rooms that reflect how special and different each child is. And I’m definitely not the cheapest photographer in town.

So… when I’m booking a new client, my system is completely different.

I do not book clients by email.

Have I tried it before? Yes. But I found after 13 years in this business, is that it didn’t work for the type of clients I want to attract. My business model is about developing high-touch relationships with my clients. It’s about building a relationship with a client. It’s about creativity and one-of-a-kind experiences. And all of that is lost over email. We can’t bond. Everything seems SO formal. And they can’t see what makes me different from every other photographer.

So what do I do when I get an email asking for my prices or if I’m available on a certain day? I pick up the phone and give the prospective client a call. And I have a 15-minute phone conversation. I use my 7 step photography booking system. I ask specific questions. I follow a specific order of what I ask and when. And if the client is right for me, I book them from the 15-minute phone conversation. It works every time to ensure I never pick up my camera unless I’m going to meet my sales average with the session.

And when I don’t book a client, I know exactly why so I don’t beat myself up or go searching for reasons my business model may be broken or my pricing is wrong. If you’re trying to book clients via email and you’re following the boutique business model, I challenge you to pick up the phone and call your potential client.

Stop hiding behind your computer and talk to your prospective customers. And if you’re not sure what to say, this can help.

About Sarah Petty

Sarah Petty was named one of the most profitable photography studio owners in the United States by Professional Photographers of America. She is a New York Times best-selling marketing author of Worth Every Penny: Build a Business that Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You’re Worth, MBA and boutique marketing expert who has inspired thousands of boutique business owners to use beautiful marketing to take their business to the next level. Sarah teaches marketing at her company Joy of Marketing,

Overcoming the Overwhelm in Your Photography Business

By Sarah Petty

Sarah Petty Gives Tips on Marketing for Photographers

It happens to every single small business owner, no matter what business you’re in.

That icky feeling that before you know it has tackled you from behind.

The feeling of complete and total overwhelm that makes you want to run away screaming when you glance at your to do list.

For photographers like me, it starts with taxes to file, images to back up and retouch, orders to process, calls to return. Oh and that little task that never goes away – marketing to get my next client.

Everything on the list is important. So how do you know where to start? And more importantly, how do you avoid getting yourself in this position to begin with?

Today I’m going to share with you 3 tips to help you overcome the overwhelm in your photography business and avoid those run ins with it in the future.

1.    Make a plan and stick to it.

I find that what gets me in trouble is when I jump around from task to task with no real plan for where I’m going. For example, checking email then jumping over to writing a note to a client, then jumping back into email before paying bills. Before I know it, I have 15 projects started but nothing has been finished!

To help me avoid the too many irons in the fire problem, I first identify 3 top priorities I want to accomplish TODAY on my to do list. Then I physically block the time on my calendar to focus ONLY on those 3 things.

For example:  On today’s list I need to write a blog post, get my WPPI presentation 60% complete, and do a pre-session consultation at my studio. I assign the amount of time each should take me and don’t open email, answer the phone, check Facebook or allow myself other distractions in those chunks of time I have set aside for these three tasks.

Does it take discipline? Sure! But by committing the time to my calendar and getting realistic about what can really happen in the time I have available, I find that I’m more focused and productive and I actually COMPLETE things on my to do list instead of just starting them.

A quick note on how I choose the three things that need to be worked on each day.  I always make sure at least one of my tasks is something that is most likely to help me meet my revenue goals – from writing notes to making calls, setting up appointments, creating new products and more. Those things take priority on my to do list most days. I’ll be talking more about how I prioritize those marketing tasks on my free webinar next week. You can grab a set here if you’re interested:

2.Keep a clean database.

You have one whether you realize it or not, it just probably isn’t as organized as it should be. It’s your little black book of contacts. It includes everyone from your friends, family, people you do business with and paying clients.  But more than just that how to reach them, it includes valuable information about each contact that helps you create opportunities for business like:

·       ages & names of their kids

·       pet’s names

·       family hobbies (boating, swimming, skiing, basketball)

·       schools they attend or attended

·       purchase history (baby #1 got a painted canvas at 6 months so be sure to follow up at 6 months with baby #2 for the same thing)

·       home decorating style

The database I use is web-based, and I put time on my calendar every week (just 30 minutes) to update it with new information on my clients and prospects as well as scour it for opportunities. What this does is it ensures that when business slows down at my photography studio instead of panicking about how I can get the phone to ring, I have a pile of opportunities waiting for me to jump on in my database. For more on how I use my database, you can check out this free training here:

3. Be proactive, not reactive.

I’m always working on this and you should be, too. As creatives we get wrapped up in the excitement of the newest thing that lands in our lap. I’m guilty, too. But if you find yourself reacting to opportunities as they arise more often than planning for them, you need a better plan. Here’s why. 

When you react to opportunities that fall in your lap, you’re behind the ball….scrambling to squeeze them in among the other things you’ve already indicated were a higher priority to building your business. Something has to give and you don’t want it to be time with your family.

The other downside to reacting is you’re not fully in control of the results of your efforts, unlike those activities you have planned for. You often don’t have time to truly assess the potential of the opportunity so you throw something together quickly and hope it fits. When you proactively plan your activities, you KNOW what your goals are and you are more likely to achieve them.

I’ve found the marketing opportunities that perform best for me are those that don’t just fall in my lap. They are things that I go out and orchestrate on my own. Activities like co-marketing, gifting my best clients at specific times of the year, speaking to small groups of my target audience and sampling my lobster a few times a year. I’ll be talking more about how I prioritize these opportunities next week on a free webinar. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check it out here:

What are your favorite tips for overcoming overwhelm?


About Sarah Petty

Sarah Petty was named one of the most profitable photography studio owners in the United States by Professional Photographers of America. She is a New York Times best-selling marketing author of Worth Every Penny:  Build a Business that Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You’re Worth, MBA and boutique marketing expert who has inspired thousands of boutique business owners to use beautiful marketing to take their business to the next level. Sarah teaches marketing at her company Joy of Marketing.