Business

Two Reasons to Add a Photobooth to Your Wedding Photography Business

This month I traveled four weeks out of the last 5.5. It wasn’t my intention. A lot of it ended up being last minute. Let me tell you what I learned from it. One, it’s expensive. Two, it’s exhausting.

During that time I did have the pleasure to attend both WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) and Mystic Seminars. I had very different experiences at both, which I won’t get into, but first I have to start my story with what I thought was going to happen. Last year on Black Friday I sold all my Canon gear and switched to Nikon. So I had spent big money. Then I had major computer issues in January, so I ended up spending thousands upgrading both a laptop and desktop. The very last thing I needed regarding expenses was to buy a freakin’ photobooth. I went to Mystic in January sure I wouldn’t’ spend a dime outside of yummy food in Portland and time with my friends. But they had a small trade show. And I walked by the Gifyyy booth.

I have this thing where I like to walk by tired looking expo people and ask them to tell me what they do. It’s fun to try and hear people explain what their businesses do in a few short sentences. Some people are excellent at it, and others are terrible. So I asked them to tell me about Gifyyy and damn those guys for selling me a freaking photo booth. If you decide to buy one, you can get $100 off by using my exclusive code: AWESOMESAUCE2017. It also sends me a little kickback too, which I appreciate. If something here helps you, these things help keep the lights on around here!

Here are the two reasons I bought one.

One, I like money. You can book your photobooth as an entirely separate entity outside of your wedding photography bookings. It’s an easy way to make some extra cash.

Lots of photo booths will sell you on that aspect, though. They can all make you extra money. But Gifyyy is extra awesome for the simplicity and easy of use, so I encourage you to watch the promo video below. When you buy the booth, you can upgrade, and they’ll send you some awesome promo videos, tools, photos, and contracts to make booking super easy right away.

The second reason you’re going to want this in your business though is the data collection. Data collection is everything. I wrote a blog post over on Rock Your Weird today about how data you own is more important than social media likes. That’s why Gifyyy is extra awesome. You can use it to collect phone numbers and emails and then you can use it to market to all those people, sell them a booth for their own event, book them for wedding photography, upsell them on prints…whatever you want. You have the data so you can follow up afterward and sell, sell, sell!

When Ben and David, the owners of it told me about the data collection features, I was sold. I wasn’t planning on spending thousands more on a photo booth. In fact, that was the last thing on my mind. It was something I never foresaw myself doing, but I did it, and I am not sorry at all. Clients are already booking it.

Here are a few of the other awesome things I think people will love about it.

– It’s way more affordable than similar photo booth selling companies.
– It works off an iPad. Easy and straightforward.
– It’s small and compact so that you can travel with it. If you’re a destination wedding photographer, you can bring it with you to any wedding across the US.
– It does gif files AND regular photos.
– You can customize the finished gifs or photos with a watermark. That could be something the event organizer provides for you, a client’s hashtag, or your logo.
– The owners are always making updates. The product is new, and these two dudes want to make it the best option out there. So I feel I invested well in the long term.
– You could bring it to a wedding or bridal expos…and use it as a way to collect all the data from people visiting your booth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in buying one the but the price tag is killing you, you can do their payment plan instead (easy peasy, right?) Just email and tell the guys you saw my blog post and that you want to buy one! Update: Since this post they opened up a store so you can just drop in and buy one. If you use the code: AWESOMESAUCE2017 you can get a $100 off.

I can’t wait to report back on how it will change my business by the end of 2017.

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3 Reasons You Need to Know Tax Basics as a Business Owner

I’m prepared to sense all of your virtual eye-rolling on the other side of my computer screen with this blog post. Photographers AND taxes. What the heck am I thinking? Nobody wants to read crap this boring. Here’s the truth, though. If you read only one blog post about taxes, make it be this one.

Look, I feel you. I KNOW taxes are scary. I KNOW you’re bad at math (you’re a creative, so it’s obvious). I also know you just want to avoid this topic altogether because it sucks. Taxes suck. Business stuff I don’t like to do sucks. But you know what sucks more? Convincing you that you need to know about this stuff. Trust me, that’s my job.

Let me tell you a little story about a girl who worked entirely regular crappy paying jobs up until she owned her own business. That girl is me. I got my one W-2 form every year. I was motivated to fill out that super easy tax form and send it in so I could get my big refund and feel luxurious. Those were the days. Sometimes I feel pretty nostalgic about them because now taxes are a massive shit show. Or at least they used to be. Somewhere in between my beautiful nostalgic world full of tax refunds and today’s taxes.

When I started my business taxes were the last thing on my mind. They should have been first. I never really understood how they worked, what all the terminology was, or why any of it even mattered. I just filled out my forms and got my big check and ran out and bought fancy things. My first couple years in business were lucky because I was in the hole and didn’t owe anything. Once I started owning though I was just not prepared. I never understood how the expenses worked, or what would I do if I owed money and couldn’t pay it.

That’s when I decided to sit t down and tackle this stuff and learn it all. I can’t tell you how lifechanging that was, event though it took me immense amounts of motivation to get through it all. Learning tax basics completely changed me as a business owner. It taught me so many things that made me become a better business owner overall. I just had to be willing to set aside my fears of numbers and the IRS and just do it. I have absolutely no regrets. When I see other photographers and creatives struggling, asking questions and getting terrible answers in Facebook groups or on social media it just made me incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had to learn all this stuff. Here are a few things that a basic understanding gave me.

1. Learning the basics of business taxes gave me a much better understanding about how I was spending my business money. Understanding how expenses worked within the tax system let me make much better investments when it came to business expenses and deductions. Now I can make much better-informed decisions before purchase, knowing how it may or may not benefit me in taxes is a helpful tool.

2. Understanding taxes gave me a much better idea of how my self-employed income may affect future financial decisions like retirement, buying a house or purchasing a car. When people check your credit or need to refer to your income for something like health insurance knowing where to look for the numbers and what they mean helps immensely. Tax forms are full of lines and numbers and having a basic understanding of just how my self-employed income affects everything else for my family helps me budget too.

3. Opening the door to learning taxes also gave me the opportunity to learn a lot of other things about stuff like credit card fees, business entities, licensing and more. Today as a business owner I look very different from the meek girl that dared to start a photography business. That girl had no idea what she was getting into, and this girl can act as her fiancial planner and investor in the future.

Because learning about this stuff has helped me so much I also believe it can help other photographers too. I promise it’s not that scary. I’m a very cautious person by nature, so the fact I stepped out of my comfort zone to try and figure out something that was very intimidating speaks volumes to my family. So I took all the knowledge, classes and experience I’ve had over the last several years and put them into a course. Some of you may remember my smaller Get Legit courses. This one is similar, however, on my new classroom platform you can enroll and watch at any time. Plus it’s interactive. So if you have questions, you can ask right inside, and I can answer. Then I can add things like downloads and helpful links. As laws change, I can also go in and add new video content. The new course is called “Legal Crap You should Probably Know, but are Too Afraid to Learn.”  There are only a few coupon codes for the opening of the class to get $20 off. UJse the code TAXESSUCK. It’s not a huge investment, but this class is for the long haul and should help you and be available for you beyond the initial videos, keeping you updated and informed. It also includes contract template downloads, and an image use agreement template. Each of those templates also has a model release too. So there’s tons of content and good stuff for you!

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5 Tips for Protecting Your WordPress Website

The truth is, WordPress, while one of the most flexible and fantastic website platforms is also one of the most vulnerable at the same time. Every time that question pops up in our Facebook Group about what website platform is the best I usually answer with WordPress. Regarding affordability and customization, it has it all.

However, there are some issues with WordPress that keep people away or make business owners, like me, incredibly frustrated. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram at all, you probably saw all the chaos surrounding the website being down last week. First, let’s start with an apology. I know it sucks when something goes offline, but it was truly out of my hands. That said, it did inspire this useful content I’m about to share with you. In the past, Photography Awesomesauce had little things happen here or there regarding WordPress vulnerability, but last week’s was a big one. Without going into the nitty-gritty details and using all sorts of website terminology like FTPs, servers, and who knows what else, basically the site went down and recovery took several days.

For now, I want you to imagine what it would be like if your WordPress site went down and they couldn’t recover all the blog posts you’ve written and content you’ve created. Or what if they could, but the most recent backup was over a month ago, and you’ve lost a bunch of blog posts that were sending loads of traffic your way? It could get ugly. Even though WordPress has its vulnerabilities, there are lots of ways to close the gap too, and that’s what I want to go over today.

  1. Do Your Website Updates ASAP. You know when you log into WordPress, and up at the top, it has that little arrow circle with a number in it? Those are updates, my friend. I know from working on the back end of photographer’s WordPress websites in the past that we are extremely notorious for not doing the updates. Those updates are usually for plugins, themes, and the WordPress platform itself. DO THE UPDATES. When you aren’t updating, you’re leaving lots of holes for creepy crawly things to get in and take over your website.
  2. Select Your Plugins Carefully. What’s a plugin? Well, WordPress works a bit like a smartphone does. WordPress itself is the platform which converts the complex code into something viewable for people coming to your website. Then on top of WordPress, you can install a theme which makes your site look a specific way. Then you can install plugins. I like to consider plugins the “apps” of the WordPress world. Plugins are apps made to help you customize your WordPress website. Third parties make these apps. Plugins can be a vulnerability to your site because of who makes them, they are often not updated by the creators, or because they don’t mix and match well with other stuff you’ve got going on behind the scenes on your website. So, select them carefully. Look for plugins made by reputable companies that you recognize. For example, if you use Mailchimp for email marketing, they make their WordPress plugin to help your website and email all jam together. Mailchimp would be a reputable creator that probably updates their plugin often. However, it’s those plugins by lesser known people that may come with more risk. When considering a plugin, check it out, research it online, and check to make sure the creator keeps it updated with every new version of WordPress that comes out.
  3. Clean Out Unused Junk – Have you ever downloaded a plugin, activated it and then found yourself not using it a year or two later? Or maybe you have old themes on your website you’re no longer using, but they’re sitting there in the back of your WordPress still. If you’re no longer using a plugin, theme or something else you installed on your WordPress, get rid of it. Old themes and outdated stuff are an excellent way to find yourself hacked.
  4. Back Up Your Site! Did you know you can backup your WordPress website? So let’s say that creepy crawlies do get in, and they mess everything up. You go back to the basics and re-install a new version of WordPress. You’re thinking you’ve got to start over and what a nightmare this will be. Well, that’s why backups are awesome. There are a few different ways you can backup your website.
    – Through your hosting (like GoDaddy). Different hosting plans have different backup rules so call whoever your host is and ask them what yours is. Some hosting plans do backups up daily, some monthly, some only back up a few things, but don’t back up the database (which is the core of all the things). You need to know what is being backed up and when. Make sure that your host, at the very least, is backing up your website once a month. You could still loose info though if anything ever happened, which is why I recommend multiple backups.
    – Backup through a plugin! Yes, there are plugins like VaultPress which do a full backup of your website daily. I have to tell you that after this thing last week, I’m super grateful to have VaultPress, plus their customer service was top notch when it came to helping me figure things out. It’s $9 a month to start, but so worth it when you get into blogging and worry about losing all your information someday!
    – Backup the database. We don’t only want your website backed up on a basic level; we also want the database of your site to have backups too. A lot of hosting companies have this as an extra option for around $24 a year. It can save you some hassle if something went crazy wrong, but it’s not necessary either. I feel pretty confident that with VaultPress I could just install a fresh version of WordPress and then do a quick backup and voila, the site would be up and running in no time. That would work on most issues, but you never know.
  5. Block Brute Force Login Attempts. Some super cool plugins can help block brute force login attempts. That’s where someone makes multiple login attempts quickly and tries to take over your website. There are plugins like Jetpack which do automatically block some of these out. If you read my Facebook last week, you’ll know that Jetpack was part of the reason my website went down, but thanks to an update they just released and some fixing on my part on the back end it doesn’t appear to be a problem anymore. When these brute force login attempts happen, the system catches it and blocks the person trying to log in permanently. That’s the simplest explanation I can give for those of you who don’t want to get into the techy side of things. You can also set up your WordPress login to only allow a specific number of login attempts before someone is blocked from the website altogether. I recommend doing this, but make sure you are very clear on what your password is so you don’t lock yourself out.

I hope this gives any WordPress users some real insight on how to protect your website from crazy vulnerabilities in the future or just techy things that can cause your site to crash. It’s a good idea to invest some time on the backend of your WordPress site and make sure you have a system set in place.

How about more awesomesauce?

Subscribe to get awesome free stuff and emails full of useful business information that you’ll probably ignore. Watch me fail miserably at Twitter. Repin stuff I pin on Pinterest because I said so. Love me on Facebook even though numbers don’t matter, and Facebook is dying. Join the Facebook group to see my shenanigans up close and personal.

These 4 Tools Help You If You Hate Blogging, but Need to Do It for Business

This post that I am writing right now, which you are reading at some point in the future, was blog post number 5 I wrote in one day. At this early point in writing the blog post I had written 3,433 words exactly. None of these blog posts were checked yet for spelling and grammar. I just wrote.

You’re probably thinking, okay yeah it’d take me all friggin’ day to write five blog posts too, but here’s the kicker. I started writing at 6:38 pm on this day. As I write these very words, it’s 8:07 pm. In one and a half hours, I had written four blog posts and a portion of this one.

Some people who read Photography Awesomesauce think I’m a writer. People tell me all the time they could never do what I do and blog as much as I do. I own four businesses, and I’m supposed to be writing eight blog posts a week. Three blogs for my wedding photography business (one of them video), two blogs for Rock Your Weird, one blog for Made in the Lab, and two a week for Photography Awesomesauce. That’s a lot of writing.

The truth is, the last few months it has completely overwhelmed me and I’ve failed at it most of the time, but I know the importance of blogging, and I need to do it. So I’ve vowed to keep up with it in 2017. I knew I needed to re-evaluate what I was doing and find some new solutions to be prolific. That’s what I wanted to share with you guys today.

I know a lot of wedding photographers who know they’re supposed to blog, but they don’t because they hate writing. You wouldn’t be a photographer if you loved to write. Some people post blogs with just photos and no words because the writing part is THAT overwhelming. I’m with you. I’m not an original writer, and I’m pretty sure the past grammar mistakes and spelling errors all across this website can be a testament to that. What can I say? I’m not perfect, and I’m okay with that.

I believe anyone can write, though. You don’t need to be the next JK Rowling or JRR Tolkien (boy was he a master of words) to write for your business. What matters in blogging is the opportunity to be found by a search engine and a post with just photos and no words is a lot less likely to be found, just ask my friend Fuse over at Get Found with Fuse. She’s the best for search engine optimization (SEO) that I know. You can also join her Facebook group too! Anyway, your blog posts need to have words. It’s hard to write about our clients though and weddings without it all sounding the same. So here are a few tips for you. Also, I’d highly recommend downloading the 101 Blog Post Ideas for Wedding Photographers. These are in the format of titles, so you have something to work with right away, that’s easy to outline, and it’s written content that can blow your blog right out of the water and help you get found by wedding clients!

Here are a few tips that have completely changed how successful I am at getting my blogging done regularly, that I wanted to share with you.

1. Turn off your computer notifications. One of the best parts about living in this technological age is how connected all of our devices are to us, but also to each other. My iphone sends texts to my Mac, and they interrupt me all day long. Then there’s the email notifications, the ones from Slack from my business partners and all the other things the computer thinks I want to interrupt me. If you have notifications coming in on your computer, TURN THEM OFF RIGHT NOW. I mean it! You can get so much more work done without them. I don’t mean only blogging either. Think about how much faster you can edit without all those distractions too.

2. Download the $10 app Writeroom. I know for sure it’s available for Mac, but I can’t speak to other systems. This app is just a plain text area to type. Writeroom is where I type all my blog posts. It doesn’t spell check as I go, underline anything and it fills the entire computer screen. So all I see is my blog post. No distractions!

3. When it’s time to blog I recommend doing it in a couple of differnet phases. The first step is just writing; the second phase is copying and pasting into your blog platform, and the third phase is fixing the grammar. The best thing I’ve ever done for my blogging and writing is just to sit down, open WriteRoom and just write. Don’t think about spelling, don’t think about grammar. Don’t hit that delete or backspace button at all. Just sit down and write as if you were having a conversation with your bestie and see what comes out. Once you’ve said all you need to say, then you can worry about formatting it as a blog post and fixing all the errors. Writing without distractions gives me so much clarity while writing and helps me be insanely more prolific. It takes the stress and anxiety out of worrying about saying just the right thing at the right time. This technique is a little bit like the infamous “morning pages” technique, except I do it digitally. There’s an idea with morning pages if you sit down and just write in a notebook with no technology you’ll write more. The only reason I do it digitally in Writeroom is that I can write a lot faster and writing everything by hand makes my hand hurt, and I don’t want to spend the transcribing it to my computer later.

4. Grammarly. Yes. That’s all…just kidding. Grammarly is one of the best ways I’ve spent my money lately in blogging and just general business stuff. It’s an app that corrects both your spelling and your grammar like a boss. It’s so good. I am pretty sure it’s vastly improved my writing skills without me even knowing it. You can use it for free, or, if you want to pay for a year, it’s not that expensive. The extra features in the paid version are useful for grammar. I use them all the time!

With that said now I’ve written 4,478 words officially and need to stop writing, pat myself on the back for writing five blog posts and get them copied over to WordPress, formatted and then checked with Grammarly. For the record, it’s 8:22 pm and I hope you’ve found some useful information in here!

5 Favorite Wedding Photography Events

Even though you can learn almost anything online, even I (at a website for online learning) think that in-person learning is incredibly important. Learning in-person is of particular importance for photographers. We spend the majority of our time working at home alone. Sure, maybe your kids are running around or watching Dora while you get things done. However, that’s no replacement for adult and peer interaction at work.

Everyone, even self-employed business owners, need the support of their peers to get through business. I don’t think I’d be here today without the backing of mine. We can rant to each other when things go wrong, talk about the latest industry news, and learn from each other’s experiences. Unfortunately, you can’t get that when you work at home, and you only see clients once or twice a week while you’re photographing them at a wedding.

That’s why learning in-person is so important. When you’re at a workshop, conference or event not only do you get that in-person learning experience where you can ask questions and hear the tone of the people teaching, but you also get to make friends. FRIENDS. They are integral to business. Every time I talk to a few of my “real life” friends who don’t own businesses we just can’t relate to work life. My work life is so different from someone who works for a corporation 9-5 or the government. Our perspectives are entirely different, and it is difficult for those friends to relate to what I’m doing in business. It’s not their fault; it just is the truth.

The best thing I’ve ever come away from a photography event with was friends. These are the people I can text and ask questions, share stories with (good and bad) and just learn together. We know we’re going through the same struggles and hopefully the same successes too. That’s why I wanted to share some of my favorite events with you.

1. The best event I’ve ever been to was The Blink Conference. It’s a small boutique experience. I’ve been to smaller conferences before, but nothing was as genuine as Blink. The people going to Blink are what makes it amazing. Not the speakers or the things you learn (which are also absolutely fantastic and worth it), but the people the best part. I’ve been part of communities before where I thought I was in the right place with the right people, but it all ended up being superficial. Blink is the kind of community where the connections you make are purposeful and creates a significant impact. I was just there in November for the first time, and I know I’ve already made friends for a lifetime. People who cry with you, celebrate with you and most importantly – believe in you. Just the other day one of them, Stacy Pierce (or as we like to call her, Stacy FIERCE) called me, and we ended up on the phone for a good 3 hours. It was the best 3 hours too. I met LaJune King there, who has a business called, Know YOUR Beautiful. No, that was not a grammar error. Her message is about helping women know what their beautiful is and owning it. What’s funny is that LaJune and I barely spoke, one day in a stairwell and yet she’s had a big impact on me since I left. I also met Feuza Reis at Blink. Who knew we’d be two peas in a pod? She’s encouraged me, taught me and already made a big difference in my life since Blink. I also met Denise Espinoza there. We spent the last evening laying on hammocks talking about our lives, our struggles (some pretty deep stuff) and we ended the night ordering pizza and dipping our toes in the hot tub. That’s a connection I won’t forget. I also hung out with the ladies from CG Pro Prints, drove around in a convertible in Palm Springs (where Blink took place in 2016) and ironically the Mission Impossible song was on the radio. Now that’s a coincidence!

 

They say you are a reflection of the five people you talk to the most and I know I’ve picked a few negative people to be in my circle in the past. So I hope these ladies and these connections at Blink will help me be a better version of myself. Blink is number one on my list of places to be and learn from because of these connections. I know you might be balking at the price, but know it’s worth every penny. The education was also priceless and inspired me to do some pretty big things lately, like putting on the Revive Summit! If you can’t afford Blink consider making the monthly payments, because you won’t regret a single penny you spend going there.

2. WPPI makes my list. Not because it’s in Vegas or because I think the conference itself is excellent, but because it’s a place most of your photographer friends will go, so it’s a great way to hang out and be with the people you’ve made connections with online, but in person. I can’t say I’ve been terribly impressed with the education I experienced in past years at WPPI, but there were several years I didn’t go to the platform classes or master classes. I know there has been turnover as well in who is teaching. What I’m saying is, don’t rely on my opinion for the education.

Aside from spending time with your industry friends at WPPI, the best part is the trade show. If you want to get ideas for the latest industry trends, be introduced to better companies and strategies for running your business behind the scenes, or check out products before you buy them, go to the trade show. The trade show is huge, and there is a lot to see, so I encourage you to spend more than one short day there. I can be very overwhelmed in loud, busy and visually stimulating situations, and I struggle walking through the trade show sometimes.

All of that aside, I recommend going. It’ll be a great place to hang out with friends and friends are where I learn the most about what to do and what not to do. Simple conversations talking about business with other people are where I learn most and WPPI is an excellent place to have those conversations and make connections with new friends.

3. Make friends in your local community with a local Facebook group. This option is hard, but with any luck and a little effort, you can become less competitive friends with other local photographers. In Denver, we’re lucky to have a group called the Denver Betties, full of lady photographers. We have a local get together, local events and the group is always busy with people asking questions and people answering them. I’ve made some awesome friends in this group, and it’s so convenient to have those industry friends close to home!

4. I can’t post this blog post without shouting out The $99 Workshop, hosted by yours truly. Yep, it’s $99. I worked pretty hard this past year to bring the price down because I believe in affordability and awesomesauce at the same time. Thanks to friends at Bliss Bridal Boutique in Denver, and a few sponsors you can come to Denver and pay a smaller price for an intimate workshop instead of a larger price on top of all the travel fees you pay as well. Every year I learn new things about blogging, social media, branding and business stuff and this workshop is all about conveying that information to you and helping you with your marketing. So I hope to see some of you there! The workshop is VERY limited for space, so once spots are full that’s it!

5. If going to something in-person is absolutely out of your budget I understand. I’ve been in that place too with business. Sometimes you need to prioritize your extra funds for other stuff. In that case, that’s why I started to build the Revive Summit, which is a free online 4-day event January 25-28th this month. You can learn from a huge variety of speakers and get exposed to some new stuff from our sponsors as well. Plus you have chances to win some things too! Even if you can go to some in-person events this year, Revive is something you won’t want to miss! Plus as soon as you register you get a free video from me with ten ways to boost your social media engagement in 2017!

If anyone plans on being at Revive, WPPI, Blink next year, or The $99 Workshop let me know and I’d love to see you!

How about more awesomesauce?

Subscribe to get awesome free stuff and emails full of useful business information that you’ll probably ignore. Watch me fail miserably at Twitter. Repin stuff I pin on Pinterest because I said so. Love me on Facebook even though numbers don’t matter, and Facebook is dying. Join the Facebook group to see my shenanigans up close and personal.