Letter to My Early Real Estate Photographer Selfposted on 11 May 2015
Hey, it’s me. I mean, it’s you. I mean this is ‘future you’ writing back in time to ‘past you’. Ok, I think you know what I’m saying.
Here’s the deal – it’s now 15 years into the future, you are still alive, your wife still loves you, and your favourite football team still hasn’t won another grand final. But that’s not why I’m writing. I want to write to you to tell you what you really, really need to know about being a real estate photographer. It took me years to figure this stuff out – and I kind of wish I knew this back then, where you are now. So hopefully you’re paying attention, young Padawan.
Let’s get started.
1. Get your photography right.
Yeah, I know you’ve tried to learn everything for free, but seriously, get some proper training. Sign up for that photography course today, not in two years time. Yes, you can learn a little from books and the internet (just wait until a thing called YouTube comes along – you’ll think you can learn everything just by watching a video!), but you’re going to have to pay for your education somehow. Either you’ll pay for it with your money now by learning from people who know what they’re doing, or try and do it for free but you’ll pay for it with lost jobs, less income, and more problems over a longer period of time.
It’s only when you get your photography right that you can really grow as a real estate photographer. Until then, you’re just a guy with some expensive camera gear.
2. Get your prices right.
I know you think you’re doing ok, but seriously, dig deep into your expenses vs your revenue, and you’ll see that you’re barely making a cent on every shoot.
Here’s what you’ve got to do. Add up your fixed expenses for the year. How much will you spend on fuel, internet, phone, insurance, computer upgrades, camera gear? Add up all of your expenses. Now you need to work out how much you want to take home as your salary, and add that to your expenses.
So let’s say you have expenses of $7,000, and you want a salary of $40,000. So your target is $47,000 for the year. Now work out how many days you’ll work. If you’re working for 48 weeks in a year, and doing Monday to Friday, then that’s 48×5 = 240 working days per year.
So to work out what you need to bring in each day, do 47000/240 = $196 per day. You can’t do that with your current prices. So increase them. Now.
3. Start doing some marketing.
I know that’s not something you find easy to do, but seriously, marketing is king. So start targeting clients that you want to work with. Get referrals and testimonials from current clients. Build an email list and stay in regular contact with your current clients, and those not-yet-clients. Educate them on how you can help them build their business. Send thank you cards after a shoot. Make sure your website looks super professional, and upload new images weekly. Just do something rather than nothing, look for what works by tracking everything you do, and keep building on the good stuff.
4. You are selling more than just your skills as a real estate photographer.
At the moment you think your clients are hiring you because you have a camera. That’s only part of the story. They’re not just buying your expertise (limited as it may be). Your clients aren’t experts in color balance and zone metering. But they are experts at knowing if they feel valued.
So treat all of your clients well. Even the ones that are petty and demanding. Treat them all well.
You, the professional real estate photographer … from 15 years in the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Darryl Stringer is a 16 year veteran of the real estate photography industry. He built a successful photography business, sold it, and is now providing business coaching and photography training for real estate photographers around the world.
To find out more check out Darryl’s website: http://www.realestatephotographysystem.com
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