Q&A: Lindsay Coulter and Lachlan Shum

November 2, 2022

The following is transcribed from Lindsay & Lachlan's live session from her Facebook group, Photography Business with Lindsay Coulter, on October 27, 2022. To see the full recording, join her group here!

Lindsay Coulter  0:02  

Lachlan, thanks for being here today. This is so exciting.

Lachlan Shum  2:56  

Oh, so fun

Lindsay Coulter  2:58  

Do you want to say hi to everybody? And maybe just tell them a little bit about yourself and Focal?

Lachlan Shum  3:07  

Yeah, of course. Hey, John. Hey, Nathan. Thanks, everyone for joining us. Thanks for bearing with the the pain of technology. And you get to look at my face now from this angle and my pumpkin over there, which I'm very proud of.

Lindsay Coulter  3:21  

That's a good one.

Lachlan Shum  3:22  

I know. I know. I was a lot of effort. Anyway. Yeah. So for those of you that don't know me, my name is Lachlan, I'm the founder of Focal and what's sort of funny about me is that, you know, obviously, we built Lindsay's website and she uses our back-end system. But the funny thing about me is I'm actually not like a photographer. And I think a lot of people are surprised about that. In fact, I get I get like DMs and text messages from some of our Focal photographers, and they're just like, hey, Lachlan, like, can you give me feedback on this photo? I'm like, oh, no, looks great.

Lindsay Coulter  4:00  

Like as a client, it looks like good like essentially, that's what you how you started, right? Like you started out as a,

Lachlan Shum  4:08  

I started out as a client. Exactly. And I think that's what's really interesting, because you don't really see that much in this industry. So, you know, I come from a background in business and technology and and when I went to go try to book a photographer for me, and my partner, Erin, it was our anniversary. I was like, this is the most frustrating experience in my life, and it shouldn't be so hard to give somebody my money. So that's sort of what gave me the inspiration around Focal was I wanted to give photographers you know, a website, and a system that helps it, you know, give clients a better experience and make it much easier for them to just give you money, rather than sort of getting lost in your website trying to send you emails and figure out how they book

Lindsay Coulter  4:57  

100% Like, especially when you're I'm looking at photography, I think for a lot of people, unless they're a regular client of yours, in which case, they have no problem. They understand the workflow. But as a newer customer coming into either a new location like you were, you know, you're traveling and trying to find a photographer, or you're just new to it, you know, you're newly engaged, or you just had a baby, or you're about to have a baby, like hiring a photographer is kind of a new unchartered territory. And it's so interesting that a lot of photographers like really bury the lead, like you're, you're literally just trying to find who they are, where they are, how much things cost, and how do I book you like, it really shouldn't be so challenging. But photographers I find have like a real problem with selling to other photographers and not to clients. You know, we get so caught up in looking at what other photographers are doing that we kind of forget that that's not who we're selling to, we're actually selling to the new moms who have five minutes to try to find a photographer. And they don't want to have to go through a comparison of a million different websites, sending emails, looking for pricing guides, and then wading through the differences on all of those things, which is literally what you had. And then you didn't even end up getting a photographer right when you were trying to hire somebody like you just gave up on it.

We get so caught up in looking at what other photographers are doing that we kind of forget that that's not who we're selling to, we're actually selling to the new moms who have five minutes to try to find a photographer

Lachlan Shum  6:23  

That's right, I pretty much had like a dozen Chrome tabs open. I was like looking at all these different websites. I was trying to figure out, you know, if a photographer even offered some even offered sort of what I was looking for, which is sort of just like a couples shoots, and you know, and then I wasn't sure, so I'd email them Be like, Hey, like, do you do couples shoots? We're here this weekend, is there any way we can set something up? And then I honestly like didn't hear back from anyone until like days later, which is fascinating. And yeah, painful and from a business standpoint doesn't make any sense. And I think you made this point, actually on our What the Focal podcast, which, which I think hits home, which is that sometimes it's easy to get hung up like, what do I reply? Like? What do I say? Like, how do I say the perfect thing?

Lindsay Coulter  7:12  

Yeah and then, like, you wind yourself up so badly that you end up not replying at all, you don't even start the conversation. You wouldn't believe how many people I book solely because I'm the only person that replied, which is insane to me. Like not to put myself at like the bottom of people's list like we booked you because you're the only person that got back to us. But it's just proof that there are, I think too many emails going on in photographer's inboxes. Right? Like, there's a lot of back and forth. If they're in the process of discussing booking with another client, they maybe already have too much dialogue, they're out shooting, they're working on other things. So when an actual like I said in the podcast, like a live body's in front of you, and then you just dropped the ball, you're like, Well, I just don't have the time or the capacity. There's like some things that I think that people can, like photographers can do. To streamline that process. One of them, which is the thing that I really am still new to is having your pricing all online. So it minimizes the number of emails that you're getting in your inbox from clients that reasonably aren't going to work with you. Right? Like they're not going to be the right fit for you once they get the pricing and that's totally okay. And that's been a thing that I know that you guys really push it Focal. Can you talk about that? Like how that's been going for you? And I think one of the main things that you really have done since the beginning is having photographers include their packages and their pricing really transparently on their websites. What was the thinking behind that? Was it just because you've been a customer and you understand like that that's a really big pain point for our clients, or what was your thinking there?

Lachlan Shum  9:31  

Yeah, I guess it was almost just like this question around, like, what would a person need to know? Like, what information do I need to get as a client when I come on your site to actually just like book now and buy like take, you know, take my money essentially. I think the packages are a really good way of doing that because they I think what it is is this it's like a blank piece of paper effect. If if there's nothing to see, or there's nothing to sort of base. You know, if I'm looking at booking you, for example, Lindsey, if I look at all your photos, I'm like, Oh, they're all beautiful. They're so great. What's the next step? Like? What is actually booking Lindsay like? And if there's no information about that, I probably like have no idea as a client, what are questions I need to ask besides, like, hey, how much does it cost? Which is why I think a lot of photographers get inundated by like that same question. It's like, how much does it cost? Because that's actually from the client perspective, maybe the only thing that they know to ask.

Homepage of Lindsay Coulter's Focal Website
Lindsay's site, built by Focal

Lindsay Coulter  10:35  

Yeah, yeah, you're totally right. How much does it cost and, and they don't even know, like, really where to start. Like a lot of clients, I find even now with my pricing online. Now with my pricing, and all of my packages completely online, which by the way, if you're watching and you want to check out my website, it's lindsaycoulterphoto.com. It was built by Kimi and the team at Focal and it's like, I think, pretty beautiful. But when you are on my site, you can go to book now in the top right hand corner, and you can actually see all of my pricing all of my packages, which truthfully was a little bit scary. For me, I would say that I'm in like a luxury kind of market where that's like, it's, it's not an easy number for somebody to just like, see and be like, Okay, sweet. Sounds good. In my mind, that's what I thought. But actually, it is. And I think that I've had a lot of interesting conversations since putting this website together with you guys. And since putting my pricing online, there's a couple of things that I've noticed. One is that people are ready to book immediately, like, immediately, I used to have to have a lot of back and forth, in that back and forth, there's a potential for me to drop the ball, there's a potential for them to drop the ball, there's the potential for them to get stuck in that cycle of, well, maybe I'll just look at a few other photographers. And maybe I'm gonna compare a couple of other things here, right, because there's just too much time. So that's like a more interesting thing, I think that we just get much faster at, someone literally sees all the packages, so they have their own time to take it all in to do their own comparisons, if they have other photographers pricing or whatever.

Truthfully, I think a lot of people that are especially busy people that are in the luxury market, they're just happy to be like, yes, we can afford that. We really like her work. We're just not going to compare. We're good here now, right? Because I gave them all of the information that they needed so quickly and so easily. That basically, the only question is, do you think this package makes sense for us? And sometimes I'll have a five minute phone call and say, Hey, like, give me kind of a rundown of your day, where you're getting ready, where your wedding is going to be held all of those kinds of things. And sometimes I literally just reply and say, Yeah, I know your venue. I know the time of day you're getting married, unless you're gonna throw something completely wild at me, that package makes sense, like, do you want it? And the number of people that literally just say yes, send it and I have not had any conversation with them outside of a few lines of an email that literally never happened before. Like never, ever, ever. So while I would say that, I get a lot less inquiries now. So like, My ego is less full and my inbox is less full. It's amazing because my inbox is less full. Like, that's a huge benefit of having your pricing online because I'm not just wasting my time. And also, I think that it's really not fun as a consumer to reach out. And you're kind of like, can I afford this and it feels embarrassing, right? It's not a good conversation. You're almost embarrassed before you even get the answer right like especially when it you may be live in a small town and people know you nobody wants to reach out to find out like you're absolutely outside of my price range or maybe you were within their price range and they were still just too afraid to even ask the question. So yeah, I think that's the pricing online is like such a huge factor.

But let's talk about Focal kind of as a whole let's maybe go let's let's go back to what did you do before Focal? I would love to talk about this because this is one of my favorite things. So give us like a little bit more of a background about so I know that you obviously you were trying to book a photographer, but how does that, how does that add up? What were you doing before that you were like I you know what I'm going to do start this massive company and solve a lot of problems for a lot of people like what were you doing beforehand?

Lachlan Shum  14:41  

Yeah, it was funny. So like I was still just a kid and working actually, in the summers are sort of in between school when I was studying business at UVic. And I was actually selling like motorhomes and RVs and I said so I think like a lot of the the inspiration around Focal comes from like, you talk about making somebody coming and making a decision to buy something from you, that's maybe $10,000. And to you, that's like an enormous sale. That's great. That's huge, but maybe to them, that's just part of one piece of their very, very expensive wedding. And, and I think like, the point you made about, like the information being out there, I think in a lot of ways, knowledge is power, in that, like, people don't want a bunch of friction to be able to acquire, like what they want to know. And so when they get to know your pricing, when they get to see your packages, they they feel like almost empowered by that knowledge. Because, yeah, to go to another photographer, they have to go and ask for it. And it's uncomfortable, weird and take a lot of time. And so I guess from my experience, like, yeah, doing sales and stuff, part of it is as well as I think, Nathan there makes a really good point like salesman, yes. I think that you as a photographer, need to find ways to sell yourself. And it's like, and the reason I say that is because what you put into your work, is it a lot, the experience, the learning the education, the time, I think if you're like you Lindsay, or you're 10 years into this, you probably even forget everything you've learned along the way. And you have to remind yourself that the client doesn't know any of that they Yeah, they this is the first time they're booking a photographer. And so even conveying, like, a small amount of that experience to them, will allow them to appreciate you and value you like so much more. And so I think it's like that value piece that's really important. And that's kind of like what I learned from my background is that, you know, people can't value things unless, unless they kind of like know about them unless you empower them with that knowledge.

Lindsay Coulter  16:56  

Yeah, you're you're so right, I think we make this like sort of narrative in our minds that just because we spend all day every day in our businesses, that other people must know, like who we are and what we do. And even being 10 years into it. People that follow me on social media will see that I'm still always selling, like I literally never stopped selling myself, I never stopped, I never stopped like sharing about sessions that I am doing or when I'm in the studio or when I'm doing this because attention is like the most insane commodity right now where we all as business owners are constantly looking for attention from consumers. And since there are so many photographers out there, and we all do have a lot of content to be sharing, it's really easy to get lost in the mix. So if you're not constantly reminding people in like, it doesn't have to be in a gross way. It doesn't have to be in like a really obnoxious salesy way, but just the Hey, I'm here, here's what I'm up to. And here's what I'm offering.

You know, it's really wild to me, the number of photographers that, like there's a few things that I think are crazy. Photographers that don't have their location anywhere on their social media. Like that blows my mind. I'm gonna start going up to people at the next Focal Not-A-Conference in Maui, and I'm gonna go out of my way, I tried to follow you, and they literally don't know where you live. If I was your customer, and you followed me or I came across your work, or whatever, I'm gonna get maybe three clicks in before I'm like, I don't know where this person is from. I have no idea if I could hire them, or do they live somewhere crazy far away? Right? Like, I don't want to have to be an investigative researcher. In order to find out where you are located. That's a huge thing, especially because although sure you might be available for international travel, most people just want to hire you to like shoot at your local park, you know, like, you should be able to show people where you are located in a glance, right? Yeah, it should be one of the primary things on your website too, so that if they do get past social media, and they get onto your website, it should be like, Waterloo's favorite photographer, like literally just it should be the thing. So people know where you are and what you do. And then it should just be really obvious what you specialize in. Right? Like, it should be so clear. You love to work with families, or you love to do weddings, or if you do all of those things. That's great, but make sure you're constantly reminding people of all of those things.

Lachlan Shum  19:36  

Oh, yeah, like, it's funny. I talked to another. I talked to a photographer and she was like, Well, you know, I'm not getting I like to do more headshots. I'm not getting any like headshot inquiries. Like I go on her website and I'm like, well, there's no headshots. It's like are you gonna walk into like a shoe store and just be like, sitting guys have any like hats? Gonna get a phone call like that?

Lindsay Coulter  20:05  

You're not going to you have to show that you have to show the kind of work you want to do, which is painful. You have to somehow create that portfolio if you don't have it. But there are ways.

Lachlan Shum  20:15  

The other side to like to add on to the location peace. Not only do I often see photographers that don't say where they are, but they also don't have any of them on their website, you go to their site. Yeah, it's a bunch of nice photos. And you're like, but who are you? Are you a real?

Lindsay Coulter
Get in front of the camera too!

Lindsay Coulter  20:35  

Yeah, are you a real person? That's why I think like social media is really great. Because you can show up on a quick story, here I am, you know, going to grab a morning coffee, here's my house, if you feel like showing parts of your home, that's fine. Like, people want to I think part of the reason why my bookings come so easily now is because I give them all the information they need about the packages and what I offer. But I also my website shows who I am, right? Like, there's photos of me, there's photos of me traveling, there's photos of me in your home, and then I share who I am and what I am. And what I'd like to do. I think especially as like photography clients, they want to make sure that they're going to jive with you, because it's a really vulnerable to be in front of the camera, right? It's really, really, it can be scary, it can be intimidating, to show up looking how you think looks great. And then what if you end up with like, not so nice photographer or somebody that's really like, I'm like somebody's personal hype person. And I think that that comes through in most of my stuff online. But if what I show them is not that if I'm if I'm really reserved, if I don't show those things, how would they know? Right? Like, how would they know? And it's so true, like, you look through somebody's website, and to me, when I don't see a person, I think, Oh, I must be hiring like a firm. I must be hiring like, like a group of people. And I just kind of get one, which is fine. And it's some people's models, but I would say for the most part, it's not most of the Focal photographers models. So if their faces aren't on there, they're giving people a really impersonal experience. So yeah, a location and like, headshots, and it doesn't even have to be like super formal, good photo, like it has to be fun. It has to be sharp, you know, can't be on a potato.

Lachlan Shum  22:25  

Yeah, totally. I mean, so Nathan, in the chat here just said that, you know, he struggles, you know, ironically, as somebody, you know, who's a photographer, like struggled being in front of the camera, and John pointed out, just like, you know, it's about building trust is what it is. And it's hard to trust somebody, if you if you can sort of see them. That's a very human thing. Do you have any advice for photographers that are afraid of or not afraid? But, you know,

Lindsay Coulter  22:51  

I think it's, I think it's like a really learned and practice thing. And actually, Lachlan, you're probably a really good example of that, because you literally have this business background, where now you're the CEO and founder of a company, and the only way that your own company is going to grow, is by people getting to know you, and having your face out there more. Like, I'm sure it doesn't just, you don't just wake up being like, you know, what I'm gonna do when become an influencer and a model, right? Like, it's just not, that's not what you signed up for. And it's not what I signed up for. However, the more that you keep showing up authentically, and even if it is like, be honest, Oh, I hate being in front of the camera. But here I am. And here's what I'm up to. Right. It can be honest, your clients will probably find that really endearing.

Lachlan Shum  23:37  

And they can relate to that too. And maybe you can even talk about, I actually, I think a photographer mentioned this to me that one of the ways they push themselves to get in front of the camera is so that they can almost experience what it's like for their customers to be in front of their camera.

Lindsay Coulter  23:53  

Absolutely.

Lachlan Shum  23:54  

I think, I mean, that's a really important learning, I think for you so that you can empathize with them and make sure that they're comfortable as well. And that can be a very, like, powerful sort of personal growth thing for you if you overcome that and help understand that.

Lindsay Coulter  24:09  

Absolutely. And honestly, like, for me, personally, I think that there are some really tangible things that help to want to be on camera. So as a woman, I feel like the experience is a little bit different because in order for me to feel camera ready, I feel like there's more steps than there are for you guys, you put on a hat and you're like, what's up everybody, I'm here, you know what? I, I find that I'm more likely to want to post stories and to take photos and be on camera when I've put on like a five minute makeup face and done something with my hair. And I'm not saying that as a woman you have to do that. But if as a woman or a man because I know that this is coming from a couple of guys in our comments, but like if there's something that you can do to remove that friction for you, whether it is styling your hair or putting some moisturizer on or putting on a shirt that you really like, especially if it's you know, you're hoping to get some behind the scenes of you doing a shoot or whatever, you're going to probably be less likely to want behind the scenes of you, if you haven't shown up in a way that you would want photographed, right. So show up feeling fresh and feeling polished in whatever way that is for you. I found like that, that little extra bit of effort makes it a bit easier for me to show up. And then honestly, just ship it just be like, it's not my favorite photo of me, but it's going up anyways. And eventually you'll get better at it. It'll just become, it'll become a little bit easier. I think. Sorry, there was a question. Was it from John? No, why am I it's, it's hard for me to like actually see these comments. Okay,

Lachlan Shum  25:51  

so John asked, he says he's never shot a wedding. And he would like to know how to get you know, get someone to trust his abilities and hire him when it's his first wedding?

Lindsay Coulter  26:03  

Solid question. So, I mean, I think that there's a bunch of pieces to it. One of them is you have to be able to show people something in order for them to want to hire you. Taylor and I had two very different approaches to this, when we were both starting out, he just shot people's weddings for free or as close to free as he could manage for the first few. Because he just really wanted to get clients. So I think maybe he even like posted on Craigslist when that was a thing.

Lachlan Shum  26:37  

Oh, wow, we're gonna have to ask him that.

Lindsay Coulter  26:39  

Pretty, I'm pretty sure he literally posted on Craigslist being like, "hi", you know, "I've shot bands and some other portraits and stuff. But I've never done weddings, but I'll shoot your wedding for like just dirt cheap or free." Thankfully, Taylor already had like a really established business when I was getting started. So I got to second shoot. So there's that kind of aspect is you can second shoot for a photographer. And obviously make sure that you have the rights to use the images, if that's if that's a goal is to get some portfolio pieces. One of the best ways to do that is to offer to shoot the wedding for free. Because they're probably not like, well, I'd love to pay you and help you build your portfolio, it might not be something that another photographer is going to be excited about. But if you say I'll shoot it for free, if you'll let me use even some of the photos, that would be a really great way for you to build your portfolio.

Once you have some images, and I mean, the benefit of having done Not-A-Conference out in Banff and then hopefully coming out to Maui is that you have this like really, really beautiful portfolio. It's just telling people you do it now just literally being like I am a wedding photographer and identify as that I am a wedding photographer, make sure your website looks like something that a wedding client would want to do. And then start talking about other things that surround weddings. So you can make blog posts for an honestly it's okay if you don't know these things, because you're not a wedding photographer yet. But start making blog posts about you know, top photography trends in weddings right now, like direct flash is really big and motion blur is really big. And those are really cool thing. Set up your own styled shoots to show that you can do these things. But just be constantly be the helper if you can be the helper in that space for clients to see they get weddings, even if they haven't done them yet, like the very first wedding that I ever. Yes, you can hire Focal photographers. So right, yeah, they're experts in the industry, so they can help you out with that for sure. But um, you know, putting out Constant Content content is really like, it's the solution for kind of everything. It's just content to this machine that never stops. And the people that get the most engagement, statistically, are the people that are putting out the most content. And it's not doesn't have to be the best quality all the time. It just has to be the most of it.

Group photo of Focal Not-A-Conference Banff attendees and mentors
Focal Not-a-Conference Banff 2022

Lachlan Shum  29:05  

I agree with that, too. And I think Nathan's comment there about second shooting is really key. I agree with that, too. I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I give as well to photographers that are shooting out from my sort of perspective in the industry is that nothing, there's no substitute for, for just getting out there and doing and doing it and getting in front of as many people as you can. Like, what wherever that makes sense. You know, if it's a, you know, friend's wedding and asking the photographer, if you can tag along and making sure that you're out of the way just to see what even happens at a wedding. It's really important. Even doing things that aren't wedding shoots, like I've seen a lot of photographers start with families. And then when we talk about trust, I mean, they trust them to work with them and their kids and then they'll refer you to other people even if you're not necessarily a wedding photographer, I think the trust actually comes first as well. And so I guess to cap that off, like, don't, don't hide behind the computer. I agree about the content in a lot of aspects. But, and but you have to like, sort of get out there, get out there.

And yeah, and like put yourself out there. And I think, again, there's no substitute for just like meeting people building trust face to face. And, and I think like, when someone hires you as a photographer, half of it is for your photos and your aesthetic and your and and who you are and your skills as a photographer and the photos you take. The other half is who for you, for you, and the experience and the trust that you create. And I'd say both of those are almost like equal. So it's like, you want to not sort of forget about putting yourself out there and then building that connection and talking about, yeah, like the experience and the trust that you create with them. Because that actually is what leads to the photos like the the photos don't magically just appear and are beautiful.

There's no substitute for, for just getting out there and doing and doing it and getting in front of as many people as you can

Lindsay Coulter  31:06  

Well, and that's the thing, like in order to get content out there, how do you get how do you get content out there, unless you're making it right? Like you can't just like blog posts are really wonderful. But you have to be out shooting really great content, another awesome way to get a client to trust you is offer to shoot their engagement session for free, like almost like a free trial, right? Like, well, you know, I'll be able to prove to you that I am who I say I am, and that I do the work that I say that I do in this like less commitment kind of way, right? So maybe an hour, you work with somebody, you provide them with some exceptional value, you know, you show them a really beautiful location, you help them pick out an outfit, you show up early, you show up ready, you give them a really, really great experience. And then you deliver amazing photos, unlikely that they're going to be like, I'm gonna go find another wedding photographer. Now. They're probably like, sweet, we found that person. Now, this is wonderful.

Lachlan Shum  32:03  

This is something you said to me when we almost first met and I was asking you about who you are as a photographer, and I think a Lindsay just gets shit done. And if she needs to get shit done now for clients like she does that. And the other thing too is she's there as an advisor. And, you know, you talked about when someone's planning out their day you figure out what their priorities are, if, you know, it's really important to them, that they get certain shots, you make sure that you help them sort of plan the day and the timeline around that to make to make that available. So I think about those things is so important, because now they know that they might not know that, that you do that.

Lindsay Coulter  32:41  

Yeah, like people don't know that those are a thing that I offer. And to be honest, I still sometimes don't do a great job at telling people that those are things that I offer them, they'll find out, you know, once we're working together, that I'm happy to give them advice and help them through the day. But by then they've already booked right so if I'm if I'm trying to get the booking, I need to get better at sharing what the experience of what working with me is like, there's a couple of comments here. I've got some really good ones in here. Should I have a site or a section on my site that's dedicated to weddings? What do you think Lachlan, how do you feel about that?

Lachlan Shum  33:18  

I think so. And I agree with you, Lindsay about like, starting to create some content around weddings, I think there's a lot of way to do a lot of ways to do that. Even if you haven't shot your first wedding yet. You can talk about, I always go to locations. I don't know why. But like, I find places really interesting. And then like, you know where you live, you're going to know your local area well. And you can almost say, hey, here are the best places for forgetting. Like if you're already getting engaged and get engagement photos here, my favorite locations and talk about each one. And like you could put a Google map pin and and put that in the blog posts that people know how to get there. And that's a really valuable piece of content. And I'll touch really quickly on I know Keith Riley asked this before, but he was like,

Lindsay Coulter  34:03  

oh, yeah, that blogs and SEO. Yeah

Lachlan Shum  34:06  

he was like, is blogging just for the algorithms? And the answer is like totally the opposite. So if anything, Google is now going in this direction, where they're trying to like, figure out what is just like, bullshit. Keyword stuffing.

Lindsay Coulter  34:21  

Yeah, you're just writing for oh my gosh, that was such a trend, right? Like, where people are just writing the longest blog posts with absolutely like "shinfo" just like you're getting anything out there and it's totally useless. Yeah,

Lachlan Shum  34:37  

yeah, it's the opposite now, like you should actually be writing something that is going to be useful to your clients or prospective clients or your friends who are getting married and they're reading your blog, it should be really useful to them and and that should be the litmus test. If it's useful to them, Google's gonna find it useful and rank it higher. And you shouldn't worry so much about like, obviously there are technical SEO thing have to be done or your it's just gonna suck and like, those are things obviously Focal, like take care of for you. But yeah, John like exactly like my favorite place to shoot engagements I mean, you can even go around that doesn't even maybe need to be related to weddings could be like my favorite places to eat around my area like That's again like that's a valuable piece of content and you can do you can talk about that. So I have one more thought around this but I read that post Oh, I was gonna say I was gonna say that. I'm, I often find photographers that have a lot of content around, but it's not being used for SEO. So you guys

Lindsay Coulter  35:44  

Like allover the place, right? Creating like Instagram posts, yes,

Lachlan Shum  35:50  

yeah, you're creating like these. I've seen like some crazy stuff like a 2000 word like multi page PDF Canva document of like, here's my like wedding preparation guide. And I'm like, why is that? Not on your website? Oh, my God.

Lindsay Coulter  36:05  

Like, you did all of this. And this isn't any. It's crazy. Yeah. And did they think oh, like, this is just for my clients? Like they like the entire world doesn't need to see it, I guess. But I mean, pretty much. Yeah. They're like, put down a pared down version until you want to give away all of the goods to the public or whatever, or to your clients. But

Lachlan Shum  36:28  

yeah, yeah. And you made a good point about like, you made a good point about people being like, surprised almost they're like, they like book you. And then they have this amazing experience. And like, Oh, that was great. Like, I got lucky.

Lindsay Coulter  36:41  

Yeah. But that's really our own bad, right? Because I think it's just an honestly, I still, I still deal with this all the time, that I spent so much time in my own head and in my own business, and talking about it with like, my assistant, Natalie, or talking about my business with Taylor, that I feel like I've talked about these things so much. So how do they not know. But again, it comes down to attention. And it's such a huge commodity right now that even if people do follow you, and even if people are actively engaged in the content that you're putting out there, they just might not see it. So you got to tell them over and over and over again and remind them like, we're still here. I think there's multiple ways that we need to be engaging with our clients and potential customers to it shouldn't just be social media, it should be websites and blog posts, it should be, you know, maybe you have a mailing list. I think mailing list is like a really, really undervalued thing for photographers. It's truthfully, the reason why my family session sell out every single time that I release them, because I have a mailing list because those people are people that I know will buy from me. I have like 30,000 followers on Instagram, probably, if I were to guess 28,000 of them will never buy anything from me. Right? Like, truthfully, probably the majority of them are not customers.

So I have like a couple thousand people on a mailing list that are local, that actually have bought from me in the past or are thinking about buying from me. So when I do a sale, like I call them seasonal sessions, but mini sessions is what most people call them. When I run something like that I'm never struggling to fill those spots, because I've got, like people that are waiting for them to drop. And that's all I really use my mailing list for at the moment, honestly, is to let people know when I have a special or I'm offering a new service. Like during the pandemic, I started offering branding sessions, which was a totally new thing. So I'm now telling all of these people that were previously wedding or family clients that I also do branding, and they're like, Oh, perfect, I've needed new headshots or I need, you know, something new for my own social media or my business that's now online and growing online. So we can't just rely on one single stream. Having multiple avenues to contact our customers is so important. But then having one hub like a website, to then bring all that information back to write like a landing page, but then tabs that show people Okay, so here is all of that information about the seasonal sessions. And here is all of my contact information for you to reach me so people just don't have to like, go digging, right. They don't have to be investigators.

Lachlan Shum  39:27  

Yeah, definitely. I agree with that. And being an investigator never inspires that like trust or, you know, you, you don't feel somebody's professional if you go and like try to find their website, you can't find it or you go to their Instagram, LinkedIn bio, and there's nothing there. The other thing, too, is like I see a lot of people sort of, like take the Instagram bio example. Like there's so many photographers I see out there and there's no like call to action on Instagram. And so it's just like, Oh, I'm just posting like nice photos all the time. You We'll see that they're like, Oh, that's a nice photo, Lindsey. But unless there's like a call to action, then never like, think of like, oh, I guess like, I could book that. But if you post, say, you're talking about seasonal sessions, post a nice photo sample of that and say, Hey, like, these are booking at this, you know, next week, or next month or whatever, then there's a call to action people are like, Hmm, I can actually like pay money for that. You have to, there's a reason there's like an Add to Cart button, or there's a reason people like going into a store, they take something off the shelf, and they like, go to the checkout, right? They kind of have to know the,

Lindsay Coulter  40:35  

you know what the next step is?

Lachlan Shum  40:36  

What the next step is yeah,

Lindsay Coulter  40:38  

Looking around the store with this thing. And if there's no cashier, they're like, how do I pay for this?

Lachlan Shum  40:45  

A lot of photographers websites are like, you just like walk into a store. And there's like, nothing on the shelves. They're just like, kind of like, asleep, or they go into a store and there's lots of stuff, but then there's no checkout. So you just like pick the thing up and or you don't even on it, or you point at things and you're like, Oh, I like that can't even like buy it. You're just like, so what do you know, and I think you have to make it easy for for customers again, to give you money. I mean, come on, they, you have to remind yourself, they want what you're offering them, they see your photos, they're like, I really want that for me. I do I get

Lindsay Coulter  41:20  

this is, this is something I was thinking about a couple of weeks ago, I this is gonna sound so insane. A couple of weeks ago, I was downtown Toronto, I had a shoot. And I had bought a pair of Gucci sandals last year that broke. Okay, hear me out. This is an insane story that Gucci covers all of their products for two years, as most luxury retailers do, it's like part of their service. So if you buy something from them, and it's defective, they'll fix it or replace it at no cost, which is like kind of amazing. But part of part of the deal, right? I've always liked Gucci because when I walk into the store, there's somebody there to greet you ask you what you're looking for, if you're looking for anything, and then they give you time to do a little browse. And when you pick an item up off the shelf, it has a price on it. Obviously, like I think a lot of the old way of doing luxury was that you'd have to ask, right? Like the old way of doing your luxury sales that you'd have to ask. And if you have to ask when you can't afford it was kind of the idea. Well, I don't necessarily buy that because I probably could afford it. But I would be like afraid to ask the question maybe right, or it comes down to a value thing anyways. I had to get these shoes replaced. So I dropped them off and went through that whole process. And then I'm in Yorkville, which is like, the Bougie bougie store Central, right. It's like Balenciaga Valentino. And I'm, like, just gonna do a quick little window shop. I wasn't really interested in, like purchasing anything, necessarily.

Lachlan Shum  42:56  

I know where this is going.

Lindsay Coulter  42:59  

Yeah, so well. So I walk around, I walk around Gucci and I'm like, just in case they decide that they're gonna give me a credit for these shoes instead of fix them, which I'm assuming is what's going to happen. I did a tour tried to figure out what I would like to buy. I've got my eyes on a couple of pieces I leave because I have to wait to find out what goes on. So I go to the next store, which is Balenciaga and I have had my eye on this like very oversized Balenciaga knit sweater. Okay, it's beautiful. It's insane. I know. I think it's like a couple $1,000 I'm not spending two grand on a sweater. But when I'm in there, I see these sneakers. And I'm like, Ooh, I love these sneakers. Like, I'm like, going gaga. Like I'm obsessed with these sneakers. They're salespeople everywhere. Not a person saying hi to me at all. Like, I don't think I looked. I didn't look like anything I just looked like I do today. Like, no, there's no descriptor of like, they look like a customer. They don't look like a customer. So I'm trying to figure out what their assumption is why they're not coming over to me and asking me, do I need anything? I love these shoes. I flip them over. There's no price tag. I was like, what? How is there no price tag on these? They're following the old school mentality of there. Now there is something on the shelf, but you have to ask. And I like absolutely refuse, especially when there's not even anybody coming over to offer me assistance. Right.

So my first thought is, I could go on their website and look for these shoes. So I go on their website, I'm looking, I'm looking, they've got a billion sneakers all at the same. I'm like, This is so awkward that I'm literally standing in the middle of the store. There's five people in here working. I'm the only customer in here. The only thing they've said to me is hi and nobody's helping me as I'm sitting here scrolling on my phone, the anxiety mounted and that was like Get me out of here and I left and they did not mind shoes, and it could have been a great sale for them because I found out that they were actually less expensive than I would have expected once I did finally find them. But once I found them, then I realized that they're on Poshmark. And I can buy them on resale. So now Balenciaga has lost the sale. Now, if I do buy them, I'll buy them from Poshmark, or whatever.

It just, it was such a funny moment, as I was driving, I was going back to my car, I was like, first of all, I just saved myself a bunch of money. So basically, I feel rich. Because I just, it's not really savings, I tell Taylor all the time. But just save so much money because they didn't buy this thing. He's like, That's not saving. But it did make me laugh, because I've been thinking about websites so much. And I've been thinking about photography business so much. And now when I go to buy something, I'm going to just go back to the Gucci store and buy the thing that I know how much it costs. And there's customer service, people that actually want to help me and would be happy to grab me a size and aren't looking at me, like, what are you doing here? And I think that we have to think of ourselves as which one of those experiences do we want to offer people, they're both offering luxury goods, they're both offering a very similar thing, something nobody needs really. And truthfully, photography, although I think people need that slightly more than they need, you know, $1,000 pair of sneakers. It is a luxury. So what are we doing to convince someone that it's a luxury that they need, and a luxury that only I can provide them? Right? So we have to stop putting things on the shelves without price tags on them, or not putting things on the shelves at all, like there has to be a call to action, there has to be a way for people to easily be like, "I'm just gonna buy that because it's there. And it's in front of me." Right? Like give them a little bit of a thrill.

We have to stop putting things on the shelves without price tags on them, or not putting things on the shelves at all

Lachlan Shum  46:47  

I agree. I agree. Yeah, no, absolutely. And purchasing is so emotional, right? And like you said, you were there, you're ready to take your wallet out and buy those shoes. Like probably if there just been a price tag or someone was like, hey, Lindsay, like, can of help you? Yeah, they were like, right there. And that's what I see a lot with photographers. They're like, right there. But they like sabotage themselves. Yes, yeah, we're

Lindsay Coulter  47:14  

just really sabotage themselves by not replying to their emails, by not responding to an inquiry fast enough, like, you guys are really good. And your education at Focal telling people like we recommend that you actually send a text follow up also, you know, like, let people know you are there, like you're the, you're the customer service in the Gucci store. You're the ones that are here at any time. If you have any questions, you know what I mean? Here's the information that you need, here's the pricing, here's the package I offer. And then you send a quick text, hey, I'm really excited about this. Just want to make sure you got my email, and like, here's my phone number, if you want to give me a call, for the most part, when I do that, I get a call within five minutes, and the wedding is booked within another five.

That's an insane thing. Because the previous version of me the one that could have never afforded truthfully, that could have never afforded the weddings that I offer. Now. I believe that those clients didn't exist, I think that's another trap that photographers get themselves into that they think that they themselves are, what their circumstances and their set of circumstances are or what every customer set of circumstances are. Which is just not true, right? Like, when I was starting out, I was 22 years old. And I thought it was insane that people would spend $2,000 on wedding photography, because I didn't have $2,000 to spend on wedding photography, but I also was 22 years old and not in a position to be getting married. So I think that we have to shift our mentality of your ideal customer might not be you, you know, and so stop selling to yourself and start selling to a more aspirational version of yourself. And then eventually you might come into that category of somebody that can afford a few $1,000 for photography. But until you're they are like stop cutting yourself off at the knees by believing that just because you couldn't offer that service, or you couldn't afford that service doesn't mean that somebody else put it and isn't like excited to already work with you.

Lachlan Shum  49:15  

Yeah, I agree. Like, there's a couple of questions. Yeah, I was gonna touch on that. But I agree with you totally on like the glass ceiling thing. And the idea of finding a bit of more of like an aspirational part of yourself, I think, if you want to go to Chistin's comment above here, actually she mentioned Yeah, or about the importance of having like, if you're shooting for free, having a contract and something I talk a lot a lot about is if you're starting out, don't just give away like free shoots in, in the aspect of just like, oh, yeah, it's free. Like I'll be there this time, like no problem. You need to you need to conduct your business as you would if that was a $2,000 shoot. So even though it's free, send them a contract, say, you know, this wedding package would normally be $2,000. But I'm putting a line through it. And this is a friend discount, and still send them maybe like an invoice with it with the amount crossed out. And then the psychology for them is different. They're like, wow, I'm getting $1,000, I'm getting a $2,000 valuable thing, not my friend is coming to shoot me in the park for free. Yeah, and so that's a really good,

Lindsay Coulter  50:22  

and the contract will also really clarify what your expectations are right? I think for me, it's really important that if I am doing something at a discounted rate, that my clients know that there's probably a model release, that's a requirement of it, right? Like, for my clients that are paying me for a regular price wedding, a model release is not a requirement like me showing up and shooting their wedding. And then paying me those are, that's the agreement, right? But I'm not going to require that somebody signs off on a model release anymore. In the earlier days, I did require it because I really needed a portfolio. And I felt that my pricing was a reflection of needing to a need to, you know, have that model release as a part of it. If you're doing it at a discounted rate, you have to be super upfront about your reasoning for it. You tell people I'm building a portfolio. And so you're gonna have to be okay with me plastering these everywhere. And no, unfortunately, you don't get to say, like, I hear this all the time, from newer photographers, people doing these things. And then they get their client, even if it was a free client saying, Oh, I don't really like these photos of myself being all online. And so it's part of it right?

You have to make sure that you're setting the expectation up really well. And, and that it's not just in the contract that it's in all of your communications because I I think that a lot of photographers, especially newer photographers think that people read their contracts, and they just do not. They don't at all. So if you're talking contract details with your clients, you've already really done something wrong. Like you've already goofed, you've already lost them. You should the times that I talk about, like the details of contracts with clients is before they book, I go through the whole thing with them in like, fluffier detail. The only time I've ever had to bring it up after the fact is when somebody's like, threatening to sue me because they didn't realize that they goofed, right, like that really only happened during the pandemic, and people are looking for their money back and whatnot. And I was obviously really grateful that I had a solid contract at that time. But I've lost them as a client at that point, if we're talking about that. So like, when these are times they're like, Well, what's your contract? Say? It's like, Well, what did you say to your client? What did you tell them you are going to offer? Not what did your contracts?

Lachlan Shum  52:41  

Yeah, it's all about setting expectations. And I think if there are like important points to you that you want to get across. One example I've seen is people just put like a little FAQ section in their package description. Or, like we had a photographer that he was shooting a corporate event in his package and said, like, my extension policies, if the event runs over, it's like, my hourly rate is $300. Now he went and shopped this events, it ran over, he couldn't find like the director person, so he just kept shooting. And, and they came up to him at the end. And they were like, Hey, I know I owe you 600 bucks, because he ran two hours over and he was like, Oh, nice. That's really great.

It's all about setting expectations

Lindsay Coulter  53:21  

That's amazing. And it doesn't it's not a fight, right? Because you set the expectation up front.

Lachlan Shum  53:28  

I want to move on one more. One more thing. Yeah. Christin pointed out a really good one that I want. Actually, I think you can answer much better than me. So she struggles with you know, with knowing you know, she can't afford her own prices. And this is funny because I'm going to call Christin out hard on this one. Christin is one of the very early earliest Focal photographers and she's been so instrumental in helping vocal grow and being a sounding board for me so I have like, for the other day, I booked Christin for our actually Erin booked Christin for a grad shoot. You know, send us a booking for that grad shoot. And then we get this invoice with like a huge discount for friends. Like no Christin. We love you but please take our money!

Lindsay Coulter  54:22  

and I feel that though I I am better at it now but I cut myself off at the knees way too often when it comes to pricing. Do you Christin, because I think like what would I expect and like what are they hoping when I send them this invoice and honestly still to this day if I work with like an influencer or somebody that I think I've I've created I was gonna do it for free. Yes. Um, don't do it for free. This man has a couple of dollars he could give you I believe that. I I still have I still have my until I struggle with sending invoices to friends or influencers that I work with is a big one. Because I always think like, are they expecting to get an invoice? And yes, they literally are expecting get an invoice because they reached out to try to hire you. And generally people know what the expectation is when they try to hire somebody. And I think that one of the things that I recommend is a having packages online that are really transparent is a really good thing to do. But be the thing that's really helped me is templated email responses that I send to everybody, regardless of who they are. That directs them to my booking page that directs them to my pricing. And does not include any semblance of a discount in it at all right? It's literally like, thank you so much for reaching out, I would love first of all, I think it helps me get back to people much faster when I have that debilitating like, I don't know what to say to this person, I'm panicking a little bit, just a templated email response. If you're using Gmail, you can just add in a template and literally ship it within seconds. It's so simple. Just type in what their name is, say I love to shoot at this venue. And here's your date. So it feels somewhat personalized. But you don't offer a discount unless one is asked and you have a reason to write like this every once in a while I will get people to ask me. Is there anything we can do here? And I'm like, Absolutely, you can have less time you can have less photographers, you know, there's something less that I can do for sure to fit within your package or your your budget. Hopefully, you know, when somebody say like, I'm interested in your second package for the cost that's lower than your lowest package, then no, we can't really have a conversation like that. But I think that there's always a way to find a way to work with somebody, but you don't offer a discount right off the top. You never undervalue your services stand in the confidence of knowing that you set your prices like that for a reason. Right?

Lachlan Shum  57:10  

How do you go about like increasing? Because I think a lot of photographers, like they know they need to increase their prices. But it's like, so uncomfortable. making that leap.

Lindsay Coulter  57:21  

Especially I think one of the things that people really struggle with is when they have returning clients. And their prices have changed over the years. And I do really struggle with that, because this isn't same. But when I started out as a family photographer, I used to charge $125 for family sessions. And honestly, even at the time that was low, it's not like, it's not like that was indicative of the market that I was in or anything that was indicative of my anxiety around asking for a real amount of money for families, to be honest. And I local photographer who primarily shoots families, so she had a reason for reaching out. But she reached out to me and said, You're charging $3,000 to start for weddings, you're charging $125 for families, like where's the math. And I was like, shoot, the math is so bad on that. Like, it doesn't even come close. So she was a really big motivator, I immediately like more than doubled the cost of my family sessions. Now they're close to $700. Which I still feel like maybe they could go up a little bit. But I'm, I'm happy kind of where they are now.

The thing that I will say about that is I still have clients that booked me for $125 that are still coming to me today for $675. And they recognize the value and how much I've grown over time. They recognize that I offer them way more as a photographer than I did 10 years ago, when I was charging $125. It had to be gradual. I wasn't overnight, just like $125 to $675, people would have had a heart attack. But I think that clients actually don't pay as close attention to how much they pay as we think that they do. Last year, for some insane reason. I goofed. And I only charge $225 or something like that for my mini sessions, for my seasonal sessions. At the holidays, I think my thinking was like, I'm going to do a ton of these. So like I was just trying to think about how much money I wanted to make in those three days. And the math worked for me in that sense. But it just the math was so crazy, like a seasonal session to me should always be more than a slightly more than 50% of what you would charge in one hour because you're offering them something. Even though the timing might not be exactly 50% of an hour, it might not be 30 minutes like mine or 20.

The math should basically be a little bit more than 50% because you're still doing all of the backend work of the booking and the communication And then all of that stuff. But also, most people that do minis, they have some kind of a set. So there's an added bonus anyways. So at the end of that I kind of did like a look at what I did. And I was like, Oh, this was a total mistake. And this year, I increased them by more than $100. They sold out in an hour and not one person mentioned the cost. Not one person was like, "they're $100 more?", which is a significant jump. Because I don't think that they noticed. I mean, I think that that's the thing that you need to remember. It's like, they literally probably had no, maybe last year, they were like, "Why are these so cheap?"

Lachlan Shum  1:00:37  

Yeah, I agree with that. I think people know they're getting a good people are like, they know they're getting a good one. You're like, yeah, yeah. And you double your prices. And they're like, No, it was about time.

Lindsay Coulter  1:00:46  

Checked out that makes that makes sense to me. We were getting this like one of the more popular photographers in our city for a couple of $100. Like, oh, maybe she made a mistake, but let's not tell her just yet. So yeah, I think getting out of our heads with our pricing is really important. And then honestly, now currently, I just pick a number that I think is so insane. And I roll with it until somebody tells me that it's insane. Like I try to I try to go to the highest number that I think is reasonable. And because to the customer, it's actually probably lower than they were expecting, because we'll always hold ourselves back a little bit,

Lachlan Shum  1:01:28  

should almost be a little bit uncomfortable with whatever you're setting your prices at

Lindsay Coulter  1:01:33  

a little bit scared, like nobody will ever booked me at this, again, like the prices that I currently have for my weddings, which are on my website. So lindsaycoulterphoto.com, if you're interested in what the packages and the pricing is, those, me rebuilding my website, I increased them again by almost $1,000. And I thought, I'm never gonna get another booking again, we'll find out but I'll never get another booking again, I do offer a discount to the venues that I work as a preferred vendor. So when when customers reached out and they're getting married at one of the venues that I'm a preferred vendor at I offer them a bit of a discount, I don't say what it is on my website. But I built that into what I'm hoping to make in the end.

So I offer anywhere from $250 to $500, depending on the how peak of a date it is and where which venue it is that they're getting married at, that's built into my package. It does kind of feel like a win for your clients to get a discount for just working at one of the venues that they've already picked anyways. So that's kind of something if you are really used to giving a discount, and you feel the need to, there has to be a reason why. And for me, the reason is because those venues make my life really easy. And they literally have a planner that walks around with me that flips the dress that will go grab me a water if I want to like they make my life really, really good. And they also refer me to all their clients. So it's kind of my way of making it like a win-win-win. When you offer a discount, all in all that to say like, if you're gonna do it, make sure that there's a reason not just because because people really will not value your services quite as much if you do that.

Lachlan Shum  1:03:14  

Yeah, I think too, with with the discounts are like I know, I always recommend to photographers, if they're doing those free shoots, again, like conducting themselves like a professional doing the contract going through, like the proper booking process, but then add a note in there that says, in exchange for a Google review, or something like that, and then people feel like I have to put some effort and there's also a benefit to you as the photographer getting a really, really nice review probably so

Lindsay Coulter  1:03:43  

yeah, one of the discounts that I do actually offer and this is a Sam Hurd special he teaches this in his workshop that I really really love because he doesn't offer discounts at all unless it's for this specific reason. It's an unplugged ceremony discount. Hopefully he doesn't mind me like sharing that little tidbit of education, but basically, it's a set amount $100, $200 whatever you feel comfortable with, to ask people to have an unplugged ceremony because we know as photographers that makes our lives easier, and also makes our clients get better photos and more photos during their ceremony for not having to like play ninja during the ceremony bobbing and weaving around people's phones and iPads. And so that's something that I offer so when people do ask for a discount, and I don't have a discount available to them because they're not getting married at one of the venues. I don't double it up with any other discounts but I offer that as like so if you're looking for something I can do that for you have an unplugged ceremony. It's a win-win for me. I get an easier ceremony out of it and you get to feel like you've got a little bit of something off and honestly, most people do it.

The other thing that I did though, is that I added in preview photos which are the exact same cost as the unplugged ceremony discount So people ended up still spending the same amount as they did before, because they add in the preview photos. But what I get out of that, and this was like so specific, is that the photos that people post right away after their wedding are not iPhone photos from somebody's crappy phone. They're my images with my nametag on them. So I've given them a $200 discount, they're going to ask me for sneak peeks anyways, so I might as well sell them to them, which I think everybody should be charging for that, because it's a total workflow mess to send somebody sneak peeks, personally, I think. And also, it's an added value. The adding in that, like, cost for sneak peeks, previews, whatever you call them, is a huge value, and people actually see the value in them, then they actually like put dollar amount associated with it. And in doing that, the first photos that are tagged with the bride and groom, which then expands my reach or something with my social handles attached to them. So that's kind of a recommendation that I have for you guys.

Lachlan Shum  1:06:05  

I have a question for you. Yeah. How do you become a preferred vendor? Say I'm a photographer, and I hear Taylor and Lindsay talking about being preferred vendors? How does one do that? Yeah,

Taylor Jackson and Lindsay Coulter

Lindsay Coulter  1:06:18  

it's such a good question. And honestly, it's different everywhere you go on, it's different at every single venue. But the best thing that you can do is shoot at the venue. Whenever you shoot at the venue, go and make friends with the people that work there, make their lives really easy. Be kind to them, ask them how you can help them, provide them with images after the fact. Say, Hey, I took some great photos of your venue, like literally intentionally go into it, trying to make them marketing materials, trying to remove some of the pain points from their business, which is they always need content, and you're the provider of it. Don't charge them for it. Don't ask for licensing literally just ask to be tagged in something, you know, and, and do that as often as you can. You know, there's so many ways I know Taylor recommends like, you can even go out to the property on a Tuesday, shoot some exteriors of their building and deliver them to them and say, "Hey, like I'm a newer photographer in town, and I shot these and if you'd like to have a coffee, I'd love to chat with you more about working together", you know, they're all really busy. But if you can provide a value and a service for them that they're looking for, they have photographers on site all the time, and they probably never get the photos from them, they probably never see them. So I just tried to deliver photos quickly when I can when they email saying, "hey, we need photos of this room. Do you happen to have any?" And I do I try to reply as quickly as possible. And then honestly, you just have to like go to them humbly and be like, will you make me a preferred vendor. And at the one venue that I'm a preferred vendor at, they have six or seven different venues. So that was like the biggest kind of get for me there that by far the most prominent group of venues in our area. It took me years took me literally years to get on that list.

Taylor was on it really, really early. But I didn't get put on it until four or five years ago. And I saw other people getting added to it. And I'm like, What am I doing wrong? And it was really hard. It honestly really beat me up because I was like, "I think I'm okay. Like I think I'm doing good work for them." And finally, they came to me and they said, "We would like to use this wedding photo that you've shopped for us in a magazine ad that we're running." And I was like No problem. In exchange, you have to make me a preferred vendor. And I was like dangling a carrot like "you want it? Come and get it." Because I think that they thought were already referring you like we tell people about you. But they hadn't formally put me on their site. They hadn't put me in their guide that they're getting clients like as soon as I had something that they needed, because I had shown them that photo and they wanted it. And then they wanted to make it an ad I was like, no problem. Let's have a chat. Because you can't be using my work and marketing materials and not not making me a preferred vendor. That's crazy. And then they were like, oh, yeah, we will do that. Ask over and over and over again until you're so annoying that they literally can't say no.

That's the honestly being being like a fun person to work with on a wedding day is really really important. I hear so many crazy stories about photographers being a pain in the butt to bad news and like those are one of your biggest marketing tools. The venue's so if they don't like you, and they think that you you know you're challenging to work with, they're just never gonna refer you and that's a huge problem, I would say. And also to answer I forget who was questioning question. This is a venti triple Pumpkin Spice Latte of with half sweet no whip I'm feeling a little spicy this morning. Yeah. It's probably the triple is probably why I'm so fired up right now and why I was sweating so much earlier when I couldn't get there live to work. Lachlan, really quick, I know we've taken up so much of your time and so much of people's time. But can we talk about the offer that Focal has on right now?

Lachlan Shum  1:10:22  

Yeah, of course happy to do that. So for those of you that have been following Focal for a long time, you've seen like, our prices actually increase many, many times in life as you need to, as you as we need to in line with what we've been talking about today. And I think like, yeah, triples what Nathan said, and he's right.

Lindsay Coulter  1:10:42  

I'm bringing you with me while I get my charger.

Lachlan Shum  1:10:46  

Oh, no problem, that's a big part of a big part of that is sort of the reason is that, you know, we really, really want to provide amazing service to you. And like Reid and Nathan, Christin, there are people in the chat right now that all that Focal sites and they know, the level that we go to, to make you happy. And I think it's like, very parallel to the way that you as photographers go above and beyond to try to make your customers happy. And if we want to run successful businesses, you have to keep doing that. So in short, what's happening is at the end of this year, Focal are going to probably double the price again, of our sites, because we've had so much demand and even right now, our team is trying to like, work on so many sites right now. So the price is going up. So if you if you've been thinking about it, I definitely recommend you come chat with our team, Lindsay has an amazing deal, that you can go to her landing page at bookfocal.com/lindsay, and all the informations there. And, and you can kind of secure that deal before the years out and then the price will probably it's going to be going up by $1,000 US. So definitely jump on that or at least you know, come have a chat. There's no pressure. We always love meeting photographers. And we're very honest, if we feel like this is a good fit for you, it's going to help you and your business. And maybe if it's not a good fit, I've said that to many people as well. And yeah, and at the end of the day, I just want you to sort of succeed.

The other part of this deal is, if you're needing a logo, we're actually ending our logo offer as well. So at the end of the month, at the end of October, I guess on Halloween, we're ending our logo offer because again, there's been so much demand for that, and our design team, it's been taking a lot of time, just like making logos. And that was a really cool thing that we've been doing. Because obviously if you're building a new site, and you're getting a new look, it helps to have like a beautiful logo that also is consistent with the look of your site too. So those both ending

Lindsay Coulter  1:12:48  

So those both are ending, so yeah, honestly, I, I know that I kind of rave about Focal all the time to anybody that will listen. But for those of you who maybe are newer to the discussion about Focal basically what I have noticed is there's a few things that I think are a huge benefit. And I know there's a lot of website options out there for you as a photographer. This is the only one that's really truly geared towards you, as a photographer, who's looking to make sales. You know, there's lots of really beautiful landing pages. There's lots of great sites that just look really nice. But what Lachlan and the team have done at Focal is made you a website that gets you sales, right, that gets you bookings, that streamlines that entire process in a really, really effective and also attractive way like it's aesthetically really beautiful.

Well, that was the thing that we really worked on on the template that you guys made for me is I want my website. I don't want it to feel like a bro photography website. I want it to feel like me and representative of my work. Nicole Ashley has another really gorgeous website. I think they're all really, really beautiful. They're all really representative of the photographer and who they are and the kind of work that they do. But not just that, the booking back end, the CRM being built into your site is so incredible. There's also galleries. It's basically everything a photographer needs in order to run a photography business truthfully. So if it's something you're interested in, feel free to DM me, we can chat even in the Facebook group, if you have questions that you think maybe other people would benefit from, post them in the group. Lachlan and I are both here. We're happy to answer your questions. But if you go to that link that I just put in the comments there the bookfocal.com/lindsay You can set up a time to chat with Ben or one of the guys or girls at Focal and just like have a conversation. It doesn't have to be anything super high pressure. It's really just like let's let's see if this could be a good fit. And and see if you can improve on what you're doing right now. So,

Homepage of Nicole Ashley's Focal website
Nicole Ashley's Focal Website

Lachlan Shum  1:14:55  

thanks. At the end of the day again and like, we always want you to be successful for me if I can impart some knowledge inspire you, if we can provide you a system, a website, a back end, that helps you and your business. That's what makes me happy. And the goal and mission of our team and our company. I think, a big thing that Lindsay sort of talks about, again, this was like on our podcast, but just like, you gotta just take the steps. You know, if this step, if the next step in your business that you feel like is like, I need to have a website and a workflow system, there's no better way than working with us. Because we build you the site, we turn it over to you. And

Lindsay Coulter  1:15:37  

it's so many less steps, right? That's the biggest thing is like when we're talking about like, just take, the next step will literally the step you have to take is just reaching out to Focal, and then you guys will say, send us some photos you like send us a blurb about yourself, or we'll write one based on what we know of you, right? Like you guys really jump in and help at every single step. And even as an established photographer, I had a lot of those things. But it's really it was a bit time consuming for me at the time to like put them all together. And even still Kimi was like, I found these things. I think these photos will work really well. I found this bio of you online, I used it, you know what I mean? Like, it was like taking all of those first initial hesitations off of my plate, which I really, really loved. And I think that that's so important that photographers know that they don't have to build their own website. They don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to SEO. They don't have to build a booking system for their themselves or, you know, setup with one of the many CRMs out there and try to integrate that with their website and then with another gallery system. At the end of the day, that's a lot of subscriptions also. So yeah, it's a very, it's a it's a most simple next step that you can take, I think so, thank you, Lachlan so much for being here. And oh my gosh, thank you and to everybody for struggling through that starting process with us. Hopefully some of you guys missed the 15 minutes of fame where I was attempting to get Lachlan on this live, but thankfully Lachlan got it sorted out on his end. But thank you so much for being here, Lachlan.

Lachlan Shum  1:17:18  

Oh, Lindsey always so much fun to chat with you. We always have a blast. So

Lindsay Coulter  1:17:23  

I always so much fun. We'll have to do this again sometime soon.

Lachlan Shum  1:17:29  

Yeah, if people if people enjoyed this, please give us some feedback on it. And if you want to see us do it again, maybe a different topic, please give us some suggestions and we'd love to do that.

Lindsay Coulter  1:17:40  

Amazing. We would love that. Thank you all so much for joining us. Enjoy the rest of your day. And make sure you engage in the group ask us questions. We're all here to learn together.

Lachlan Shum  1:17:51  

Love that. All right. Take care.

Lindsay Coulter  1:17:52  

Toodles, See ya. Thank you so much.

Click here for Lindsay's exclusive Focal deal!

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