How Christin Carruthers rebuilt her photography business after moving across the country

November 23, 2020

A newborn, family, and wedding photographer from Victoria, BC, Christin Carruthers (Ooh Ooh Darling, Photography) specializes in capturing the memories that will last a lifetime. Her attention to detail and care shines through in all of her work — whether she's perfectly posing infants in her home studio, parents nearby; or capturing newlyweds sharing a kiss under a waterfall.

But it didn’t come easily. Along the way, Carruthers had to start from scratch and change her whole approach.

A mother of three, it was the birth of her second child that turned Christin down the path of professional photography.

"I've always enjoyed taking photos, but when my daughter was born, I had a little more freedom and time," she says. "I just kept further pushing my learning and creating more and more, and it kind of just grew into the business I have today."

Born on Vancouver Island but originally based in Hamilton, Ontario, Carruthers found an audience eager for newborn photography through her network of Facebook friends. Business boomed. By 2015, she was able to rent a commercial studio — “high ceilings, exposed beams, brick walls… it was gorgeous,” she says.

“Huge, huge change”

Things changed when Carruthers relocated to British Columbia with her three kids.

Gone were the bookings — the ones she’d previously had to turn down. The client base she’d built up was all 3,300 kilometres away. In Victoria, Carruthers faced a “huge, huge change”: she was starting from scratch.

A family holds hands by the oceanfront. Photo by Christin Carruthers (Ooh Ooh Darling)
Credit: Christin Carruthers (Ooh Ooh Darling Photography)

"It really was more of a struggle than I anticipated,” she says. “It feels like a little bit of a saturated market sometimes, and it felt hard to break into.”

Where before, Carruthers was used to booking eight newborn shoots a month, after the move, she was scraping together inquiries that weren’t turning into bookings. When we met her, she was struggling to get traction and sell her shoots.

We sat down together to diagnose her problem.

“It really made me think about how I’m portraying myself”

In Victoria, business was slow in the beginning.

“It was a lot of back and forth,” says Carruthers. “People message you on Facebook, Instagram, email, all different avenues, and it’s a lot of questions and not really nailing down anything.”

A smiling brother holds his newborn sister. Photo by Christin Carruthers (Ooh Ooh Darling Photography)
Credit: Christin Carruthers (Ooh Ooh Darling Photography)

She was ready to rebrand her business; she went as far as scrapping her old website and trying a new design. But we saw something else that was missing from her website: everything that makes her unique as a photographer.

We asked Christin to reflect on everything that goes into her photoshoot sessions. We’d seen it firsthand: the way she keeps her studio at twenty-eight degrees Celsius to help the babies relax; how she ensures the utmost safety when working with newborns.

“It really made me think about how I’m portraying myself,” says Carruthers. “I’m not just offering two hours of photography that includes 30 photos. I’m offering an experience, and that is something that I was definitely missing [from my website] before.”

Credit: Christin Carruthers (Ooh Ooh Darling Photography)

We also analyzed her most common inquiries to see what questions her website wasn’t answering.

Top of the list? 

Price. Her new website had no investments page. It meant that the bulk of her inquiries came from people who weren’t even necessarily within her price range. By not listing her prices, she was wasting time responding to clients who weren’t the right fit.

“Changed how I think about how I run my business”

We pushed Christin to convey her value up-front, so that clients could get a sense of the experience and the value she provides. We knew that if customers knew all of the things she does to make a photoshoot special, they would jump over themselves to book her. 

We also recognized that having a polished, eye-catching investments page would draw more customers in. People want to know the price of something before they buy it — that’s why we designed Focal’s Storefronts to give customers exactly what they want.

Prior to integrating Focal into her website, Christin was generating about one booking inquiry per 100 web visitors. With Focal, that number has grown 4-6 times over. Engagement on her website is up, too; where before, visitors averaged about 40 seconds on her website, they now average two minutes or more. Customers are getting the story of her photoshoots — not just a price tag and the number of photos included.

Two years since moving to Victoria, Carruthers is having her best year yet.

"Focal has definitely changed how I think about how I run my business," she says. "They really, truly care about what you can achieve, and what you have to offer — and you as a person, not just a business."

Her motivation has returned, too:

“I feel like I finally have come to a point where I feel like the business can be successful again.”

Find out why Christin Carruthers and other photographers trust Focal for their storefront and booking system.

See How Focal Works

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