Episode 77: THROWBACK- Taxes for Photographers

taxes
This week, as we prep for Season Two of PhotoSpark, we decided to share another favorite episode with you guys. We know one of the biggest mistakes business owners make regarding taxes is waiting until the last minute to get everything together. At least, I know that’s MY issue! So we are hoping that releasing this Throwback Episode again NOW in the middle of summer, you’ll find inspiration to organize everything you have for 2017 so far… thus making your life easier come April of next year!

 

Key Takeaways:

  • DO #1: Have a business checking account. One of our most important tax tips for photographers is to have separate accounts for your business and personal transactions. Melissa admits that she commingled the two for awhile (I’m not going to lie; I totally did too!) and it made things a bit of a mess when she got audited. She ended up having to claim income for deposits that weren’t actually business related, which cost her money in the end, because she couldn’t prove they were personal deposits (things like gifts for birthdays, payments from friends, etc). So definitely make sure you have two accounts and keep them separate!
  • DO #2: Have a reputable CPA you can trust! The guy who was doing Melissa’s taxes at the time she was audited, kind of left her high & dry when it came down to it! He also wasn’t giving her advice that was 100% accurate, which ended up meaning she owed money to the IRS that she didn’t even know she owed. It’s very important to know whoever is helping you with your taxes (and yes, you SHOULD definitely have someone helping you with your taxes, unless maybe you were an accountant in your former life) is trustworthy & knows their stuff!
  • DO #3: Keep a record of EVERYTHING. This is probably the number one tip in our tax tips episode, and it means keeping receipts, keeping contracts, keeping track of people who have worked for you under a 1099 form, gas logs, mileage logs, parking fees… EVERYTHING. And keep it organized as you go. Melissa learned the hard way that her auditor didn’t really care to see a shoebox full of random receipts!
  • DON’T #1: Don’t be afraid to talk to the IRS. Kate can attest to this as well as Melissa, because she had a situation a few years ago that caused her to set up an installment plan with the IRS. She was nervous to call & get scolded, but in the end, the tax guy on the other end of the line was super nice, super helpful, and set up an installment plan for her pretty easily!
  • DON’T #2: Don’t wait too long to find a tax person! Melissa’s tax person is pretty famous among San Diego photographers because she’s excellent at photography-related tax issues. She books up pretty instantly each year, so make sure you don’t procrastinate when looking for a CPA… chances are the good ones in your area will book up quickly too!

Relevent Links:

Download from iTunes Here

Download from iTunes Here

Episode 76: THROWBACK Episode- Improving SEO

improving SEO

We have some BIG news! We are launching SEASON TWO of PhotoSpark this summer! EEK! Season One was awesome… we have learned SO much about Podcasting & have enjoyed chatting with tons of special, amazing guests! We’ve applied so many of the lessons we’ve learned to our own businesses and are reaping the benefits. Now that we know exactly where we’re headed, we decided to take a few weeks to get our content together for Season Two! In the meantime, please enjoy this throwback episode from last year! In this episode, we chat with Melissa Mitchell about improving SEO and Google results!

improving SEO

Key Takeaways

  1. Image names MATTER. When you’re blogging or adding images to a gallery on your website, you want to make sure they have keywords that represent exactly what you’d want them to pop up for in Google. Naming them after the client might be an easy way to keep your images organized, so you can go ahead and keep doing that for yourself, but when uploading online, you want to rename them. For example, if you did a wedding at the Hotel Del in San Diego, you’d name a handful of files “hotel-del-wedding-photography.” This helps anyone who is googling that phrase to see your images pop up. The rest of the images in the set can be descriptive (like “bridal-portraits” or “beach-wedding-photography.”
  2. Don’t worry TOO much about consistency in old posts, but keep consistent with current ones. Melissa stresses consistency as key to improving SEO. You want to be blogging consistently, posting on social media consistently, and have a consistent style that pops up in Google. When it comes to style consistency, don’t worry about going back into your archives and retouching old images to match your current style, but you should make sure all new blog posts are representative of this style. That way when your images pop up under a Google search, they’re appealing to your current, target demographic.
  3. Link it up! The more often you link outward to other people, and the more often they link to you, the better! The bigger the website that is linking you the better (for example, a link on Style Me Pretty is going to get you tons of traffic and helps with improving SEO). Linking back to people additionally helps SEO but it’s a great way to build community & relationships within your field.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s Throwback episode! We can’t wait to bring you even more awesome guests like Melissa in Season Two of PhotoSpark!

 

Download from iTunes Here

Download from iTunes Here

Episode 75: Hiring an Assistant for your Photography Business

Download from iTunes Here
hiring an assistant

This is a perfect time for photographers to start considering ways to improve their workflow. Wedding busy season is in full swing, so wedding photographers are realizing just how much work they’re doing on a daily basis, and holiday season is right around the corner so family portrait photographers are trying to put strategies in place to make that as easy as possible. One of the best ways to streamline your photography business is by hiring an assistant! Hiring an assistant can be scary, so we’re here to help! We invited Jennifer Dery on the show this week & she’s worked with many assistants, second shooters, retouchers, etc… so she’s the perfect person to chat with about this topic! Enjoy!

hiring an assistant

Key Takeaways:

  1. Watch for good composition right off the bat. This tip applies to second shooters. Jennifer mentions that you can totally teach technical things like exposure, posing, etc… but you typically can’t teach good composition. People tend to either have an eye for photography or not. You want to make sure you find someone who you don’t have to sink a TON of time into training. There will of course be a learning curve for them, and plan on spending some time teaching & helping them help you, especially in the beginning, but the less time you have to spend on that the better!
  2. Find an assistant who shares your communication style with clients. One of the biggest concerns when hiring an assistant for client communication is that they will have a completely different “voice” than you do when speaking to clients. If you find someone who writes emails in a similar style AND chats with clients over the phone in a similar style, you’re golden! You want to make sure you’re not missing out on your ideal clients because your assistant isn’t properly representing YOU. You also want to empower employees to make decisions, while also making sure they defer to you for client questions. They shouldn’t take over the client relationship, they should add to it. This will help clients still feel connected to YOU and not just your assistant.
  3. Be honest and upfront with your job description. Not only do you want to make sure you find someone who is open to constructive criticism, you also have to make sure you find someone who is willing to do all the jobs you want to ask of them! Take some time before hiring an assistant to figure out exactly what you want them to do for you. Are they coming to your home? Working remotely? Are they expected to pick up your kids from time to time or are they ONLY doing photography related tasks? Will they be shooting during photoshoots or just holding equipment? All of these things are things to consider and should be included on paper in your assistant’s job description. It’s better to think of everything you need help with ahead of time, so you know they’re up for the task!

hiring an assistant

We hope you enjoyed this episode about hiring an assistant! Ashley’s new assistant starts soon, so she’s definitely going to be sharing about the process in future episodes and keeping us posted on how everything’s going! Have you hired an assistant? Do you have any tips to add? Drop us a line on our Facebook page!

hiring an assistant

Relavent Links

 

Episode 74: How to Succeed in Photography

succeed in photography

Photo Cred: Amy & Jordan Photography

As photographers, we have a lot of competition. Thanks to digital photography & improving technology, more photographers are coming out of the woodwork than ever before. The truth is, up to 85% of these new photography businesses will fail. Why is that? Well, this week we are trying to figure it out! Our guest Cole is a fantastic resource… he started a photography business almost 10 years ago & is now the creator of Cole’s Classroom, an online resource for photographers. Cole joins us in the studio this week to talk about how to succeed in photography!

Key Takeaways

  1. Ask for advice… but take it or leave it. Cole & Kate started their businesses in the same year, and it was right around the time digital photography was beginning to take over. There was a huge battle going on between up & coming digital photographers & portrait photographers who were struggling to keep their film businesses afloat. This led to a lot of harsh criticism of new photographers. One could argue, that harsh criticism is still there today. It’s always a good idea to ask established photographers for critiques, because they most likely can help improve your photography. However,  know that everything is subjective. Take their advice into consideration, and then decide whether or not you want to take it. Photography is art, and at the end of the day, art is personal. The more time you spend perfecting YOUR art and YOUR style, the better you will succeed in photography!
  2. Be honest with yourself about what it takes. Being a successful photographer is HARD. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and unfortunately it isn’t just taking photos. Many people who fail as photographers do so because they don’t have the work ethic to run a successful business. They could have amazing photography skills, but at the end of the day if they aren’t prepared to put tons of time and effort into their business, it will fail. Ask yourself if you have what it takes to get to where you want to go. Remember, success is different for every person. What does success mean to you?
  3. Check your pricing. We can ramble on about style and consistency and marketing and work ethic for hours, but at the end of the day, if your pricing isn’t correct, you will not succeed in photography. If your prices are too low, you are undervaluing yourself, messing up the market for other photographers (which makes networking awkward), and you’re likely to burn out because eventually the awe of doing photography for a living will wear off, and you’ll be left feeling like you aren’t getting paid what you’re worth. On the flip side, if you’re overcharging, you won’t get booked. Many people talk about finding your ideal client (hello lady who drives a BMW and lives in a mansion overlooking the beach, right?!) but they fail to mention that only works if your work is good enough for that type of client. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your pricing as needed depending on how many shoots you’re booking.

Relevant Links:

Download from iTunes Here

Download from iTunes Here

Episode 73: Prioritizing Play over Posing with Erin Brant

candid photography

Isn’t it just the coolest thing ever when you see a peer of yours do amazing things with their business?? We are totally excited to have Erin Brant on the show this week because she is totally doing that and more!! She recently finished her Clickin Moms Breakout (The Happy Now) which was a huge success AND she just announced she’ll be presenting at Click Away 2018!! She joined us this week to chat about FUN! She is a big believer in candid photography… as in, prioritizing play over posing and she’s here to tell us exactly what that means and how she tends to run her shoots!

candid photography

Key Takeaways

  1. Establish expectations with your clients. Clients who are in the market for candid photography can be difficult because sometimes they don’t quite know exactly what they want. They might THINK they want all candid shots but then once the shoot starts it’s clear they’d like some posed shots too. Erin makes sure to outline her expectations of the shoot beforehand. She knows a few shots she wants to get, and once those are done she can let the family play around and hang out. It’s always a great idea to grab some posed shots along with your candid photography, because that gives the client some variety and options.candid photography
  2. Develop a rapport with the kids. Candid photography sessions are the perfect opportunity to chat & laugh with the kids in the family! You can point out cool stuff for them to do (look for shells, build a sand castle, play tag, etc) that helps you grab those candid shots you need. The more you connect with the kids, the more relaxed everyone will be and the better chance you have of getting great candid photos. Don’t be afraid to get some more calm, emotional moments as well. Consider asking kids questions about their family like “what do you love about your mom?” to help this along & help the kids connect with their parents. These shoots are especially great for shy kids, who can totally just cuddle up with their mom or dad and not have to worry about standing still and smiling at the camera for an hour. Ideally, you’ll reach the point where the camera isn’t the focus at all.candid photography
  3. “Don’t miss the great while looking for the perfect.” Ooh isn’t that such a good quote from Erin?? I LOVE IT! We can get so caught up with making sure everything is absolutely perfect that we miss the moments. I know I’ve had times where I’m messing with settings or something & miss a great TRUE candid moment between family members. If you connect with your clients in a real way, you’ll see moments you might otherwise miss. Don’t be afraid to let yourself get really personal with the family. Focus on the experience… if the family had a really great time at the shoot, they’ll reflect that feeling when viewing the images. They won’t care as much about a hair out of place or a crooked shirt… they’ll be thinking of the fun they had as a family that day & the moments that were captured.

candid photography

If it isn’t clear yet, Erin is an absolute rockstar when it comes to beautiful, candid photography & capturing deep, meaningful images of her clients! Be sure to download & listen to the full episode… it’s a great one! And check out Erin online below!

candid photography

Relavent Links

Download from iTunes Here

 

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