Are You Hitting a Profit Ceiling? Here’s How to Tell

A few weeks ago, we talked about the three signs your photography business might be in need of a makeover. Those signs were, for the most part, a bit more reflective – things like, you doubt if you want to be a photographer at all or, you have big dreams but can’t seem to get them started. 

Today, we’re getting technical and talking about the four signs your business has hit a ceiling – specifically, a profit ceiling! As photographers, there’s always that little voice telling us that passion is more important than profit. And while it’s true that you can’t do this job without having a genuine love for it, you CAN’T forget that your business should sustain you financially, too. 

So, if you’re ready to start making more money doing what you love, check out these four sign signs it’s time to make a change:

1. You’re Stuck in Mini-Session Mode

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good mini session! It’s something I do annually for the holidays, and some of my longest-running clients are people I only see for these sessions. But after the mini session weekend, when I do upwards of 20 sessions in a day, the burnout is REAL. I can’t image it that was my entire business model!

Not only is being stuck in a mini-session cycle totally exhausting for photographers, it limits income in a big way. Mini sessions are special for a reason: because the clients are usually getting a really great deal, one-time only. Minis are less expensive and typically include digitals; they’re a great way to get clients in the door and meet new faces, but it’s not sustainable to be giving away 10 free digitals with a $100 session (there’s still lots of back-end work to be done, even for mini sessions!)

When you set yourself up as a mini-only photographer, it can be nearly impossible to break the cycle and get your clients on-board with a higher cost for shoots and products. If you become known for offering cheap sessions with all the products included, don’t be surprised when changes to that model send clients running. If you’re afraid to make changes and lose clients, think of it this way: do you really WANT to build a business around clients who just want the cheapest option? Or do you want clients who respect your artistry and process and are willing to pay for it?

2. You’re in the Shoot-and-Burn Zone but STILL Can’t Make Enough

It’s a hard truth that there’s only so many hours in a week, but we all have to learn that lesson! As a young photographer, I was ready to give up everything to make clients happy: nights, weekends, holidays, you name it! They wanted a certain date and time and I was game, no matter when it was. But, just like with mini sessions, it can be easy to forgot about aaaall the back-end, post-production work that photographers do; in fact, I’d say that the actually shooting is the quickest, easiest part! 

So, if you’ve been thinking…. why don’t I just shoot more? and STILL aren’t where you want and need to be financially, that’s the sign you need. If your prices and packages aren’t right, shooting more won’t make a difference; in fact, you’ll just be working more, spending more on equipment or rent, etc. and your numbers will stay the same in the end. Remember this: YOU are your photography business’ most important asset. Wear yourself out and work until you physically can’t shoot anymore, and there won’t just be low income – there will be ZERO income!

3. You Aren’t Offering Products

This one should be obvious: if there’s no products for your clients to buy, then your only chance at making money is on the session fee! I’ll keep this section short and sweet, because if you’ve been following me, then you’ll know I believe the number one way to boost your income as a photographer is by selling artwork. 

Clients WANT family photos on their walls. They want albums to give to grandparents, prints for their offices, and artwork for their homes. And if they don’t get it from you, they’ll likely take their digitals and have them printed cheaply – think, drug store printing services – where the quality will be low. The quality of home printing might even be so low that they don’t want to get photos taken again! By not offering professional products, you’re not just losing out on a huge profit; you’re not giving clients the full experience, and not giving them much reason to come back in the future.

4. You Don’t Have Packages for Different Price Points

I’ve talked so. much. about how important it is to sell artwork like prints and frames, but I don’t know how often I’ve touched on the importance of offering products for everyone. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to be targeting every demographic; any business owner will tell you it’s important to approach everything with a target audience in mind. But, it is important to give your clients a chance to decide for themselves how much they want to invest in your work. 

Even though I’ve worked hard to provide the very best artwork options, I  still have clients that only want digitals – and that’s okay! They know what they want and what they want to spend, and I still give them a choice with three different digitals-only packages. And when it comes to physical products, there’s something for everyone in my price menu: print packages that are perfect for gift-giving, large artwork installations to kickstart a new gallery wall, $800 packages with a little of everything at $3000 packages for clients who want to go all-out. My clients know that artwork is a huge part of my business, but there’s no pressure to spend. They can invest a little or a lot and still leave with beautiful products, which means EVERY session I have gives me product sales and profits.

So, where does your business fall? Hitting one point? Two? ALL? Never fear – just because you’re hitting a profit ceiling now DOESN’T mean it will always be that way. In fact, I decided to start educating other photographers for this very reason: to help their profits grow. It’s never too late to change up your business model, and it’s always possible to break out of that rut and do something new. And I’m working on a brand new launch to help you do just that!

In the meantime, to get tips, tricks, and advice for photographers each and every week, make sure you’re signed up for my newsletter HERE. It will be my go-to way to pass along some knowledge and fill you in on my upcoming offerings!


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