Do you feel like you are running a boudoir nonprofit? Does it feel as if your business is bringing IN a lot of money, but you still never seem to cut yourself a paycheck? Or are you like most photographers we talk to, who don’t even know WHAT their margins are, or whether they’re profitable at all?!
WHY YOU AREN’T MAKING ANY MONEY:
There could be SO many reasons why you’re not running a profitable boudoir business – here are just a few things that may apply to you:
*You’re running a business model that is simply not a good fit for you!
*You have too many staff members on your team, or maybe you need MORE help (ie, hiring an assistant or outsourcing your post-production).
*You don’t know EXACTLY what your cost of goods are (COG).
*You need to charge more for hair & makeup, or you need to find a new HMUA who will give you a better deal for your clients (less COG for you per client).
*Your monthly expenses are too high – maybe you don’t need that beautiful huge studio that costs thousands of $$ each month.
*You need to restructure your packages and what you offer in them – or change your pricing structure completely.
*You need to increase the value of your sessions (with things that won’t increase your COG too much).
IF YOU ARE CRINGING AT THESE QUESTIONS, DO NOT STOP READING – YOU PROBABLY NEED THIS!
I know, I know, we are artists, creatives at heart, and we love taking beautiful images. We didn’t get into this business to get bogged down in BUSINESS. We want to create and capture beauty!
But, reality check here folks: You are NOT running a boudoir nonprofit. If you aren’t making a profit, it’s time to make some changes to your business.
Please know that as we are writing this, we aren’t yelling at you. Think of this post as if we are sitting down to coffee – like we are your big sisters, and we’re just giving you a little sisterly advice, because we care about you and we BELIEVE in you. Also… we have been there too! It took us YEARS of trial & error, trying to figure out what pricing structure worked best for us, and creating a streamlined, profitable business model. So don’t be discouraged. Look at this as an opportunity to make some changes and create a plan to make some money and stop shooting for free!
1) Determine exactly what your operating costs are, and list them out in a spreadsheet (fixed expenses each month related to your business).
2) How much money do you want to make from your photography business (monthly/yearly salary)?
3) List out what your current boudoir packages are, and then write down the EXACT cost of goods with each one. Now you should be able to know – what is the actual PROFIT with each package?
4) How many boudoir shoots do you need to do each month in order to cover your expenses, AND give yourself a salary?
5) Are you hitting that goal # (from #4) each month? If so – you are running a SUCCESSFUL (ie, profitable) boudoir photography business – CONGRATS! If not – it’s time to rework some things to figure out how to make your business successful.
*Please note: This is a very simplified version of how we run our numbers and determine what needs to be reworked. If you want to continue this conversation with us, and you know that it would be helpful for you to learn more and dive deeper into pricing, business models, sales, products, etc, then we’d love to have you join us in our Boudoir Business Course.
We are writing this post today to prove that when you dare to dream big… you CAN take those dreams and turn them into reality. We know, because we did it.
OUR BIG DREAM:
*To own a successful, big-time, high-volume studio; a studio that ONLY shoots boudoir – nothing else.
*We wanted to have 600+ boudoir shoots a year.
*To be booked solid 2 months in advance, with inquiries pouring in & our phones ringing off the hook.
*Shoots booked 7 days a week, with some late night, after-hour shoots.
*People flying to us from all over the US for a shoot.
*An awesome all-female team, all working together toward our goals.
*And on top of all this, we wanted to make a PROFIT, and wanted to have the freedom to pursue our other passions as well.
Who would’ve ever thought ALL of this could be possible with boudoir?
We are so stoked to have reached our BIG dream – and it feels so good to say that we are finally here. For those of you who are new to our blog, and don’t know or understand what the heck we’re talking about with our ‘big dream’ – we created a quick video to show you a visual mash up of who we are, and to give you a glimpse inside our world:
HOW IT STARTED:
We started shooting boudoir more than 10 years ago, in a tiny one car garage, 40 minutes outside of San Diego, in a very rural town… at a time when NOBODY knew what boudoir was.
And in just a few short years, we took our dreams and turned them into reality. We saw INCREDIBLE growth and success with our business, moving from the garage into beautiful huge studio space, with 20 different sets, a staff of 7, and our calendar booked solid with shoots.
We are SO blessed, and thankful that we can we came to a place where we saw our dreams come true. All of the items listed above in our “Big Dream” – became a reality.
But were we able to jump from here – to here – by just wishing and hoping and dreaming?
Hell no. We got here because of our Roadmap to Success….our A to Z plan. We KNEW what we wanted, and we knew it wasn’t just going to fall in our lap. We knew what we needed to do…. MSH (Make Shit Happen).
WHY YOU NEED A ROADMAP:
* Goals help us from spinning our wheels. Besides a magic genie, goals are the fastest way to get us to where we want to be.
* A roadmap is very visual, you can hang it on your wall and refer to it daily. We love the idea of printing a huge print of your roadmap so you can have the satisfaction of checking off each item with a huge sharpie, as you accomplish those things.
* The road map allows us to incorporate strategy and calculated risks into achieving our dreams.
* Planning takes away anxiety, and gives you a thought-out step-by-step process.
* It’s also so empowering to have these goals in front of you, with action steps to get to those goals…
* Each action step that you take is literally getting you one step closer to what you want.
* There is so much satisfaction in crossing things off your list!
GET IT NOW:
We want you to be able to walk away from this blog post with something tangible, and a plan of action! We would be beyond GIDDY if we knew our Roadmap helped you say ‘here is my big dream, here are my 10 goals, and this is what I’m going to do to work toward them.’
We would love for you to print & fill out your OWN Roadmap to Success – so we’re giving this to you for FREE, as our gift to you. Go grab it now, and print it out: The Divas’ Roadmap to Success
YOUR BIG DREAM:
What do you want out of your life & your business? If you could design your dream life & business, what would it look like 1 year from now… 2 years from now? 5 years from now? Write all of this down, and then summarize it in a couple of succinct sentences. That is your big dream. Don’t hold back; this is your time to get crazy & write down your inner-most dreams that you’ve never said out loud to anyone.
This is your big dream broken down – so this is the part that will probably take the most planning and strategy. These are all of the things along the way that need to happen in order to celebrate & pop a bottle of champagne, & to know that you’ve done it.
Then next to your goals, you’ll see a place to fill out potential obstacles. In this section, we really want you to think ahead, and anticipate things that might stand in your way of meeting each of your goals. As an example – a potential obstacle could be something like cashflow. So if you anticipate that you might possibly run low on your cashflow as you’re building your business, write that down as a potential obstacle.
By writing these things down, it gives you an opportunity to start thinking about what you’ll do if they do come up. In the end, obstacles are really just stepping stones, so don’t let them get you down. They’re always going to happen, so we just try to look at obstacles as things we actually stomp on to take us to the next level.
On the back side of your sheet, there is space for you to create your plan of action. We want you to think of 3 steps that you can take to reach each of your goals. We also want you to have some accountability here, so be sure that you also include a realistic & attainable due date on each of these action steps so that you know when you’re staying on track. Schedule each of these steps, make time for them, and even block out time on your calendar to work on them. If you have to get up 5am to make time for them, then do it. In achieving your dreams nothing is ever convenient.
MAKE SHIT HAPPEN
”The most important thing you can do to achieve your goals is to make sure that as soon as you set them, you immediately begin to create momentum.” – Tony Robbins
Success doesn’t just happen by chance, you guys. So as soon as you have a goal, start MOVING. DO something. Get out there and M.S.H.!!!
If you aren’t willing to make yourself uncomfortable to achieve your goals then they just won’t happen. We are not going to tell you to simply ‘believe in yourself’ or ‘just be who you are’ to become super successful in this industry. That would be an easy sell, but the truth is, it has taken a lot of hard work, and a lot of reworking along the way, to get to where we are today. Planning + perseverance & hard work is the only tried and true way to guarantee you will get what you want. But if it’s work that you love, then it’s a truly rewarding way to spend your time. So dare to dream – and then get out there and make those dreams become your reality.
Hey everyone – Kimberlee here, doing a little reminiscing and thinking back on my very first boudoir shoot. Even though it was 11 years ago, the feelings are still palpable; it was equal parts excitement and scared-shitless-nervousness. If you’re new to boudoir, you can probably understand what I’m talking about here. When I think back on some of those early shoots, I cringe when I remember how I went into them a little (ok, maybe a lot) unprepared.
There’s SO much to think about during a boudoir shoot, from styling and set design, lighting and camera settings, and posing and expression. Not to mention the whole interaction side of things, as you need to connect with your client and make her feel comfortable through the process so that you can capture stunning images of her.
This is a LOT to think about during a shoot!
THE POSING PANIC
In my early days as a boudoir photographer, I would often focus so much on lighting and chatting with my client, that I would be in the middle of a session and completely forget which pose to do next. We call it the ‘posing panic.’
I would draw a blank, and then scramble to try and make up a new pose that would be flattering for her, all while talking to her and pretending like I knew exactly what I was doing so that she wouldn’t notice my moment of panic. Yikes.
It only took about one or two sessions like this to know that something needed to change.
A POSING PLAN
So here was our one small, simple change, that had a huge result: we created a posing plan for every single session, with every single client.
Super simple, right? But this small change had such an incredible impact on our boudoir shoots from that day forward, so we knew this was pretty important. It wasn’t anything too elaborate; often it was just a piece of scratch paper or a note we created on our phones, with a list that laid-out the plan for our shoot, with exactly which poses we wanted to do on each set.
Three things happen when you have a posing plan:
1) NO MORE GUESSWORK.
You’ve already got your plan, so there’s no need to wonder or worry or scramble. No need to second-guess yourself or wonder if you’ve already done this pose in the last set you shot. It’s all right there in front of you, so you can just glance at your posing plan and then keep doin your thing: making your client look and feel drop-dead GORGEOUS.
2) POSING CONFIDENCE.
When you’ve got your gameplan in your back pocket, and there’s no need to stress about your poses, then you will have so much more confidence going into your shoot. You can be completely in the moment with your client, focusing on making her feel comfortable instead of internally freaking out about what you’re going to do next.
3) VARIETY AND HIGHER SALES.
When you create a boudoir posing plan, you can be more strategic about getting a wider variety of poses. When you are able to show your clients a TON of beautiful images with a lot of variety, the likelihood of them purchasing MORE from you is a lot higher.
And, let’s be honest here – we are all business owners at the end of the day. Yes, we want our clients to feel beautiful and have an empowering experience – but if we can ALSO give them more images that they just have to have, then it will mean a bigger sale for us as well. It’s a win-win here, friends.
*CREATE A PLAN. Before your next shoot, list out the different poses you want to do with each set or outfit change. Super simple, now do it!
*LEARN TOP-SELLING POSES
If you are new to boudoir and still trying to figure out which poses work best with your clients, we would love to help you here! Through the years we’ve been in business, we have figured out the best poses that work well for all body types. These are our top-selling poses, meaning that our clients love their images – and BUY!
Our Posebook is the place where we’ve listed out all of our go-to poses for you – and it’s a digital download, so you can grab it and start using it now.
*SEE HOW WE POSE:
Lastly… if you are a visual learner and would enjoy watching us Divas in action, we highly recommend getting our Posing Course! In this 2-hour course, we spend time at the beginning sharing all of our tips and tricks for posing, and then at the end, you’ll see us working with two REAL CLIENTS as we coach them into our top poses (from the Posebook).
We’d love to have you join us in that course, so go check it out now! Have a wonderful day, and as you go into your next boudoir shoot, we hope you rock it with a newfound sense of CONFIDENCE with your posing.
We ALL start somewhere. Even those of us who have been shooting boudoir for years – yes, even we, were newbies at one time. We’re all just at different points in our journeys. And since we are just a little farther along on our boudoir journey than you may be, we would love to share some thoughts on how to get started as a boudoir photographer.
Alright, so jumping into the basics. These are the TOP 5 THINGS that we think are the most important in the early stages of your boudoir business. As you read these, please don’t feel overwhelmed! This may seem like a lot if you’re just getting started, but don’t worry, you’ll get there. Just stay focused and invest some time into each of these steps.
1) PRACTICE LIGHTING
Lighting is HUGE with boudoir, so that’s why we made it #1. Lighting can’t be an afterthought; it needs to be one of the primary things you master. The way you use lighting is super important with making your clients look their very best. You can keep your lighting setups simple, or go more complex – either way, the bottom line is: does my client look GORGEOUS?!
First question to ask yourself: Will you shoot primarily with natural light or studio lights (or a combination of both)?
We do shoot natural light – it is so beautiful and we love it… but we also like having a variety in the styles that we offer our clients, so we shoot a lot with continuous lights and occasionally with strobes as well. We love the control that we can have with our studio lights, and we’ve figured out some great techniques that really flatter a gal’s figure.
In our early days, we experimented SO much to come up with what we now call our ‘boudoir lighting recipes’ – and these are the recipes that we still consistently use in our studio now, 10 years later! Having these recipes is super helpful, because once you figure out what works best (with lighting), you don’t have to spend a lot of time trouble-shooting and experimenting while you’re working with a client.
If you are new with using continuous lights for boudoir, we highly recommend taking plenty of time to test it out first (see #3 below).
Or if you’d like to learn more about lighting techniques and see OUR lighting recipes, check out our Shooting Course right now! We would love to have you join us and learn some of the techniques and boudoir lighting secrets that we have created through the years.
2) KNOW YOUR GO-TO POSES
Just as we have our go-to lighting setups memorized, we also have our go-to poses memorized as well. Let’s be honest – our boudoir clients are everyday women, NOT professional models… so they need us to be their coach and tell them exactly what to do with each and every pose.
We need to make sure we don’t go into panic mode – but rather, that we can walk into a shoot with confidence in our posing, and consistently provide our clients with amazing images.
At our studio, we know which poses are our favorites (in fact, we named all of our faves), and they also our top-selling poses – which means if we do these ones, our clients are going to purchase those images more often than not. All of the photographers in our studio refer to our Posebook or 1500 Poses as a reference guide, and we run through these poses with pretty much every single shoot. When you know what poses you’re going to do, it takes away the stress and allows you to focus on your client, have fun with her, and making her feel more comfortable.
3) TEST SHOOT
Ok, so once you’ve got a gameplan and some recipes for lighting & posing, the next step is VERY important: you need to test it all out! When you are just getting started with boudoir, you really need to PRACTICE lighting & posing… and you probably don’t want to start practicing with a real client.
If you don’t have any experience in shooting boudoir, we suggest that you start by just asking friends to model for you. That was how we started out, and it was really very helpful to have someone we were comfortable with as our ‘trial subjects’ as we were figuring everything out. It’s much easier to feel the freedom to experiment and when you’re with someone you know well, and who will laugh with you if needed.
And then once you’ve had one or two ‘test’ shoots under your belt (with a friend), next we’d recommend that you find a couple of models you can work with, to build your boudoir portfolio! *SIDENOTE: We’ll add another post in the future, about how to search for models and some tips for working with models for test shoots or editorial sessions. Stay tuned if you’re interested in that!
So get out there and start shooting! I know it may seem scary at first, but I guarantee that once you’ve had a few test shoots, you will be MUCH more confident to launch your business and charge clients for their boudoir experience with you. If you’ve been wanting to start shooting boudoir for a while now, what are you waiting for?! Put some shooting dates on the calendar – grab some friends – then post a model call – and plan out your first test shoots!
4) BUSINESS MODEL/PRICING
Number four is a HUGE one, and sadly this is one that many new boudoir photographers simply skip over altogether! Please don’t skip this step. We highly recommend that you invest some time and energy into figuring out exactly what you’d like your business model to be.
Here are just a couple questions you may ask yourself at this step:
Will you be a high-end boutique studio, or will you only shoot boudoir marathons or parties? Will this be a 1-person-operation, or will you bring in a team to help you? Will you outsource anything? Will you offer hair & makeup in your packages, or as an add-on? Will you What are your monthly expenses, and what are your cost of goods for each boudoir session that you shoot? How much of a salary do you want to bring home each month from boudoir, and how many sessions will you need to book in order to know you’re reaching your goals? How much of a discount can you possibly offer when running sales and specials? When will it be time to raise your prices?
So this is the point where most photographers just tune out and ignore us. Don’t let this be you!
This stuff is definitely the ‘boring’ stuff (especially for us who are creatives and artists), but remember, it’s essential. If this stuff scares you shitless and overwhelms you, check out our Boudoir Business Course – we LOVE this side of things, and spend an hour & a half talking and sharing about strategy for business models & pricing. Come join us!
Alright. So once you’ve tackled steps 1-4, at this point you have a really solid foundation to LAUNCH your boudoir photography business! This is the exciting step… because it means that all of your hard work is paying off. This is where stuff really starts happening.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started! Put yourself out there, make your announcement that you are now offering boudoir, and let the inquiries roll in. We are so excited for you; obviously we are incredibly passionate about boudoir photography, and we know that you won’t regret breaking into this niche.
6) BONUS STEP: KEEP LEARNING!
Oops, I know we said five steps – but this is one we just couldn’t leave out. Educate yourself and never, ever stop learning and growing in your skills and knowledge. When we started out over 10 years ago, there was literally NOTHING out there about boudoir photography. We couldn’t find boudoir workshops to attend, there were no educational books or seminars, and people looked at us like we were crazy when we said we wanted to shoot boudoir.
Well, fast-forward to today, and we are so thankful that this isn’t the case anymore! Boudoir is SO popular now, and there are a lot of great resources out there for you to learn! Of course, we would love it if you choose to learn a little more from us!
If anything we’ve said here has grabbed your attention, we would love to have you join hundreds of other photographers that we’ve had the privilege of teaching through our Complete Online Boudoir Workshop!
Want to see exactly what our Workshop covers? Watch this vid for a little overview of each lesson:
FINALLY, the day has arrived! The Online Boudoir Workshop is officially launched, and the first 2 lessons are now live and available for you to watch – from the comfort of your own home! If you were pre-registered then you can now login and watch these lessons. And if you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for? There are just a couple more days for you to sign up and get the $150 DISCOUNT!
The first 2 lessons that are now available are:
#1 – Introduction & The Supermodel Experience (1 hour)
#2 – Posing (2 hours)
Want to get a little taste of what Lesson #1 is like? Check out this teaser video!
It’s launched!!! 125 pages of exactly what we did to get our business to where it is today! Some things worked great, and some did not, but we tell ALL in this digital download. 24 hours left for our launch sale. Get yours now!!!!
If you know us, you know that we pour ourselves into our books, and hey, to be honest, we are gosh darn proud of this bad boy.
Mainly because it really illustrates the sweat and creativity that we have put into this studio and getting to the point it is now. We would be ridiculously honored if you purchased it people. And we truly know it will be helpful to you.
xoxoxoxox- Marissa & Kimberlee
Ahhhh we are SOOOO flippin’ excited about this. K here, I’m finally back after taking a few weeks off (see post below from M). My sweet baby boy is currently sleeping in a Moby wrap strapped to me, giving me a little time to check emails and do some blogging. (I’ll write another post SOON about the transition to mommyhood, I promise!)
PURCHASE ON ITUNES – iBook Version PURCHASE ON AMAZON – Kindle Version
You will just need to download the Kindle App for iPhone or iPad to be able to view it.
Within about an hour of launching the eBook on Amazon, we got tons of downloads, and our first review: “Amazing set of photos, finally something that is useful! Certainly already has spurred ideas I’ve not yet thought of. Buy it!” (Thank you, Shannon, for sharing your review!) If you purchase the eBook, we would REALLY value your opinion if you can take the time to write a review on Amazon for us. Thank you so much.
We said this in our book, but also wanted to mention here as we officially announce the launch – that this book wouldn’t be possible without the help of so many amazing people. Our Boudoir Divas Team (and fab photographers, Sarah, Erin, & Deena, who played a role in this book by taking some of the images inside!) Our fab HMU artist Peggy, for beautifying our clients. Lindsey, the Divas’ “Production Princess” – for working your post-production magic. (Also gotta mention that Lindsey, Sarah, and Peggy all make cameo appearances in the book as models!) And to ALL of the clients, friends, and models who were brave enough to let us share your images in this book… thank you, thank you, thank you. From the bottom of our hearts. (There are many more people to thank – please see the acknowledgments section in the book!)
Goodmorning photog friends, and happy Monday! K here today, starting off the morning with my cup of (half decaf) coffee, a Christmas playlist, and my beautiful Christmas tree sparkling in the corner. I love this season! But that’s beside the point. Today I wanted to share an FAQ. We recently got the following email from a fellow photographer; I liked her question and thought it would be helpful to post our answer here on the blog!
“Hello, my name is Katie my fiance and I are wedding photographers and I’m currently breaking into boudoir. I watched your top ten on youtube it was very helpful – thank you. I have two questions if you dont’ mind. What print lab do you guys use and what web hosting? Thanks a bunch!”
Thanks for your email, Katie. So first of all, we have used Bay Photo for MANY years, and think they are absolutely, hands-down, the BEST photo lab in the universe! We use Bay for almost ALL of our boudoir products that we offer our clients. Here are just a few of them…
We order all of our clients’ prints through Bay, as well as the 8×8 & 5×7 prints that we include in our basic books that you see here. We also order our calendars, fine art canvas prints, thin wrap prints, metal prints, and framed images through them. On top of ALL of these products that we offer our clients, we ALSO order a ton of awesome products through Bay Photo for marketing – such as their beautiful hard cover press printed books, and press printed postcards, business cards, & trifold cards. So as you can see, we are speaking from experience here. We truly do love Bay Photo and think they are the BEST LAB IN THE UNIVERSE. 🙂
Also, if you’re looking to run a special for your boudoir clients right now before the holidays, we recommend that you take advantage of the Bay Photo sale happening right now – 10% off all framed prints (through Dec 12, 2013).
We like to tell our clients that ‘Boudoir is for the Bedroom’ – and then we sell our beautiful framed boudoir art prints for them to display in their bedroom, master bathroom, or walk-in closets.
So for hosting – we use HOST GATOR. It’s easy to set-up, and super affordable!
Don’t have much more to say on that topic; it’s pretty straight-forward. 🙂 But if you want to know more about creating or revamping your website, we do have a lot to say about that in our article: Top Website Tips for Boudoir Photographers. So go check it out!
Oh, and lastly, if you haven’t seen our Top Ten Marketing Tips for Boudoir that Katie mentioned in her email to us, here’s that FREE WEBINAR for you right here!
The Holidays have the potential to be one of our best seasons for our business, but it seems that every year they sneak up on us a bit. So this year we made it a point to plan all of our marketing early (see previous blog post)! And not only that, since we were going to launch one of our biggest sales ever, we wanted some hype to go with it. So we set up two commercials in hopes to get our potential clients excited, thinking and planning about Christmas earlier in the Fall. It’s not too late fellow Bou Photogs! What are you going to do to maximize your holiday? A sale, a marathon, mini sessions, a new set, a new product that has quicker turnaround so you can continue to shoot closer to Christmas?
Our goal with this one was to inspire ladies to make this holiday a little sexier than the norm. And those of us that have been married a long while know that romance can take some planning!
And this one…. well A) we wanted to goof off and B) we wanted to announce our sale in an excited and different way!
Okay so it’s not, but for us in the gift giving business, it is!!! It’s time to plan our your early bird specials and plant the seed for the perfect Christmas gift! We plan to launch two fun “commercials” we shot on our You Tube channel, Facebook, on all our blogs and newsletters too. We want to make sure that we take advantage of this season more than ever, pushing our “Bombshell Books®”, our Gift Cards, our early bird photo session and eventually our last minute photo sessions. Next week we are going to kick off a big early bird sale!
So since we are hard little elves at work, we thought we would give our fellow boudoir photographers a little reminder. Tis the season to get motivated! Make the most of the Christmas season and start early!! A video isn’t totally necessary, as long as you make up some cute jpegs to get people feeling that holiday fuzzy good feeling you are set. Then blast them every where 😉
Oh and PS, don’t forget to remind people about your turnaround times to light a fire under their booties to book asap, here is an example of what we put on our blog that’s geared toward potential boudoir clients….
Merry Christmas, I mean Happy Halloween from Marissa & Kimberlee 😉