“There’s a big difference between loving the idea of business and actually loving being in business. A difference that could cost you thousands of dollars, years of your life, and all those handfuls of hair that get pulled out when you’re stressed to the max.” -Alicia Caine’s Happy Place
When you meet Alicia Caine in person, you are immediately attracted to her bundle of energy. She’s passionate… about life, her kids, living for God, and about running a business and helping others succeed at running theirs. As she rambled on and on getting excited about all this business stuff, I just said back to her, “Bleh, I wish I could be that excited about the business side of things. Most days, I just want to be a photographer, not a business owner.” And she immediately snapped back, “Oh, I love photography but the business part is what I love too!”
I first met Alicia a few years ago. As we spent a weekend together on a retreat with some awesome other women photographers, I got to know Alicia the person, but also Alicia the incredible business minded genius she was. I got my hands on a copy of her Easy As Pie e-book and was blown at the smart business practices and pricing tips she advises on that I wasn’t doing in my own business. I admit, I’m a creature of habit and it’s hard for me to make changes, but I eventually did implement some of her practices and now we are seeing much more profit in our business.
Whether you are a new photographer needing direction on how to set up your pricing strategies and run your business, or a pro needing to refresh the way you do things to bring the best out of your pricing and business, we highly recommend Alicia’s Easy As Pie pricing guide to steer you in the right direction. She also has a follow up ebook called Happy Place. I like to consider Happy Place as a nitty-gritty-will-tell-you-the-things-you-don’t-want-to-hear-but-need-to-hear-with-gentle-love guide to figuring out your business plan. And I see your eyes rolling now… ugh.. a business plan. Yes, I said business plan. I always advise others, having a photography business is 80% running a photography business, 20% being a photographer, and with Alicia’s products, she’ll help you navigate that un-fun 80%.
But now the fun part for YOU! Alicia is here with us on FOTOG FRIDAY to give away 5 copies each of Easy As Pie AND Happy Place. That’s 10 winners! Read her interview below about how Easy As Pie and Happy Place can change your business for the better, then follow the rules below for YOUR chance to win win win!
1. Tell us a little about you & how you got started?
It’s a long fascinating story which may be worthy of a published work someday (harhar)- but in short, I started like most mom’s with a camera. I photographed my kids, thought I could totally do this for a living (how hard could it be, right?) and then took it full time in 2006. I went from a struggling small time photographer to owning a high end natural light studio in less than 2 years. A LOT happened during that time and Easy as Pie pricing was what came out of the experience of growing a high end portrait business.
I closed my studio in May of 2009 to focus full time on my business strategy consults which I have been doing the last 3.5 years with Served Up Fresh as well as teaching e-courses and writing e-books. My heart is for photographers in business- I just didn’t feel the need to keep my photography business to feel connected to the photographer (in case you were wondering why I closed my studio).
2. In a nutshell, what is Easy as Pie & Happy Place and why are they important for every photographer to use in their business? Okay, nutshell. (you have no idea how tough this is for a long winded person like myself.)
Easy as Pie is a step by step guide for creating your own unique pricing based on your business needs. The model is ideal for high end/ low volume…however, if you’re wanting low end high volume- you could do that too although I strongly urge against it if you can help it. There is so many opinions floating on the net about pricing but no one really seems to know why or even how to put together their pricing and how it will affect their business. There is a lot more strategy than most realize and copying and pasting other’s pricing is the worst way to determine the money that your business needs to make. Easy as Pie breaks down the reasons why in simple terms so you can be able to fully understand why your pricing is the way that it is.
Happy Place is a business plan that works backwards. Every business plan I had ever come across never factors in life- it just leaves it out. Life revolves around business- usually to the sacrifice of something important. Instead of working your life around your business- Happy Place helps you work your business around your life. It’s totally not scary or intimidating- it’s got an elf for goodness sake! No joke. Numbers and figures are still a large part of it- not all airy-fairy woowoo in case the male crowd is wondering. But the real goal is finding out what you really need from your business and it might not be just money. I created a business plan that helps you put into writing the things you value and really work towards the success that you define for yourself and making a plan to get yourself where you want to be.
3. Any incredible success stories from photographers that have applied the Easy as Pie formula to their business? I get tons of emails from photographers that have made huge changes in their life and business with the help of Easy as Pie. As exciting as it is to see numbers and figures, I tend to steer clear from sharing these types of testimonials. Because someone was over the moon at finally making $300 per session because they never thought anyone would ever pay them anything looks like a different type of success to the dad who quit his 8-5 job to be able to do photography full time. The definition of success is so broad and I’m constantly humbled to hear the stories from a wide range of people who have achieved things in their business that they never thought was possible and to them, that is success. It’s not always about dollar figures.
4. What is the importance of having the right pricing setup in a business, as well as having a business plan in place?
I place a high importance on pricing as I truly believe that your pricing has far more sway in people hiring you as it does in people not hiring (there are people out there who don’t care how great your site is, they will never hire you for your $150 CD because I simply don’t think you’re taking your business serious enough to treat me the way I want to be treated.) I truly believe that it is pricing above anything else that can make or break a business. You can have the most amazing customer service and be dirt cheap and you will get burnout and your CPA will have to break the bad news to you that you will be paying in more than you made. OR you can have inconsistent and confusing pricing and your clients will order the least possible just to be over and done with the experience because it’s too hard for them to figure out what they want. Pricing is very important for a healthy business that has a goal for longevity.
Having a business plan should come first and foremost- before you even consider accepting money for what you do. Not only is it important to have all your legal ducks in a row but to have a grasp on what kind of business you are wanting to and what will accommodate your life and it’s unique needs. Not everyone who starts their business needs to provide 100% of the income from the get-go (like mine did) – but it’s just as important to have a business plan even if you are doing 1 or 2 sessions a month because you can be able to clearly map out for yourself how you are doing to do them, how much money you will need to make from them, how much time you even have to accommodate those clients. Seeing the whole picture is what helps you best determine the business decisions that you need to make for your needs and not decisions based on what worked for someone else. There isn’t one lifestyle to fit all- you can’t expect there to be a business plan to fit all. Happy Place helps guide you in creating your own unique business plan based on the things you value the most in life and then helps you build the business of your dreams because it’s your dream- not someone else’s expectations of what you should do.
5. One thing that stood out to us that you mentioned is comparing selling print sizes to t-shirt sizes. What’s your theory about it?
I compare print sizes to clothing. When you go to a store and buy a shirt- there is one price for one size. Smalls cost the same as an XL, right? The same amount of work went into designing the small as it did the XL as did sewing it, packaging, etc. The only difference is the slight amount of cost of goods. But the designer factors the price of the extra material in the XL and charges the same for the small. The same should apply to prints in the photography world. A 5X7 should cost the same as an 8X10- the same amount of work went into it and the only difference between the two is a few inches and a few pennies in cost of goods- but can make a significant difference in how much you earn when clients are only buying your cheapest prints. My pricing philosophy for Easy as Pie is to price the most popular print sizes all the same price because of what it’s worth, not based on cost of goods. This way, clients buy the sizes that they want and not just what is the cheapest. You are really able to find what size your clients really value opposed to being a photographer that can’t seem to get their clients beyond the 5X7. Increases profitability and customer are able to have less regrets in the sizes they buy. (Most common client regret- not, “I wish I didn’t buy so much” but “I wish I would have bought bigger.” Problem solved)
6. Are your books only for portrait photographers or can wedding photographers benefit from it too? Easy as Pie is specifically for portrait photographers and Happy Place is for any photographer (and really, it’s totally tweakable for any industry!) Wedding pricing is a beast I have yet to tackle and I’ll need to be hounded by at least 147 more people before I’ll get serious about putting together a book on how to. How’s that for non-committal? Right now I’m working on an e-course for new business folks as well as a marketing book in the wings. Trying to make Served Up Fresh more rounded for any type of photographer who is wanting a business that makes them happy- not just successful.
7. You have another book in the works coming out this fall, Lux Undercover, tell us a little about that and what you learned about customer service by staying at the Ritz Carlton!
I created LuxUndercover with the help of another writer, Kristen from BrandCamp Blog (www.brandcampblog.com) after the question of how to offer luxury customer service kept coming up with photographers in most of my strategy business consulting. The need to offer high end service but not really sure what it looked like as most of these people were not in a place to experience the high end world for themselves. Instead of encouraging everyone to go out and spend their hard earned money to better understand the luxury world- I did the research for them from going undercover at the Ritz Carlton and several other luxury brands. The most important thing that I wanted people to understand was that you don’t have to live a high end lifestyle to have a high end business. There is a common fear that most deal with that their clients will find out that they are a fraud if they have a high end business and not also living a high end lifestyle and I really wanted to encourage that you don’t have to fake it to make it.
Right now, LuxUndercover is on a hiatus. I know, it’s mean talking about it while it isn’t for sale- but it will be back this fall as soon as I finish up another project that I am working on for the just starting out crowd. A fantastic chapter from the book can still be downloaded from the web-site for free (www.luxundercover.com) which is a nice taste of what it’s all about.
CONTEST RULES & DISCOUNT CODE:
For Friday and Saturday only, Alicia is giving Scarlett & Stephen readers a special discount code of 15% off YOUR purchase of Easy As Pie or Happy Place with the discount code: “SSblog”. But don’t worry, if you buy it today or tomorrow, you can still enter the contest below, and if you win, Alicia will simply refund your money! So grab your copy today to get a jumpstart on moving your business into it’s happy place!
1. Go like our Facebook page at www.fb.com/scarlettandstephen
2. Come back to this blog entry and leave individual comments below filling in the blank for each product you want to win filling in the blank below:
“My favorite kind of pie is…..” or “My happy place is…..”
If I wanted to win both, I would leave 2 separate comments. One that says “My favorite kind of pie is apple pie. But I’m really weird because I only like the crust and the gooey cinnamon part. I always take the apples out.” And then I would leave another separate comment that says “My happy place is curled up on the couch in my husband’s arms while also holding my poodle in my lap.”
3. Twitter or FB “Find out what my favorite pie is at http://scarlettlovesstephen.com” or “Find out where my happy place is at http://scarlettlovesstephen.com”
4. From there, on Monday night at 10pm, we’ll do a random selection of the blog entries to choose the 5 winners for Easy As Pie and 5 winners for Happy Place! Winners will be announced Tuesday on the blog!
Edit: Winners have been announced! But you can download a FREE chapter by clicking here!