Anyone running a business will tell you it ain’t easy. And running a sales business is even harder. Well, let me put this way. All businesses are in it to make money so at the end of the day every entrepreneur wants sales. But what do you do on those days where you don’t make a sale? Maybe weeks without a sale? And what if it’s been longer than that? How do you stay motivated? Have I ever felt like quitting? Have I ever thought I’m wasting my time? Answer: Absolutely! I’d be lying if I say I haven’t. However, I keep going…why?
I believe in what we’re doing.
If I don’t believe in our product line which is hubby’s fine art prints, then I might as well hang up my hat. I know he has talent beyond what I can imagine. God gave him this gift. He has an eye for creativity that blows me away every time I’m fortunate enough to go out with him shooting. We can point our cameras at the same flower bush and I come up with an “okay” photo that I’m pretty proud of until I see the masterpiece he comes up with. Sometimes he angles his camera a certain way that I never would have thought of. But, he understands the way light works. He understands composition and he knows what his camera sees. He’s a professional.
We came from the southeast so he could pursue God’s calling on his life. It is to be a nature photographer but even more than that, it is to be a nature photographer to bring God’s beauty to a broken world. When you look around and see all the misery and uncertainty, it’ll leave you wondering what you believe in and is there anything beautiful anymore. Then, you take a look at a beautiful fine art print and suddenly you find hope. That’s what hubby does. He works long hours at his craft usually starting at 3 or 4 AM everyday. He’s committed.
I’m committed too.
As his wife and helper, I back him 100%. My talents are NOT in the actual taking the photos but in showcasing them on our website. I also know how to create flyers and ads for advertising him. And, I know how to run his online shop because I built it. I’m not saying that to be arrogant, just to say that it’s important to do what you know how to do and do it well. Be committed to your business. Again if you’re not, then you can’t expect repeat customers.
People have to see your name A LOT before they will remember you. Branding takes years. For example, it was 3-1/2 years of hubby sharing his prints on Facebook several times a day everyday before he built a real following. It took that long to be in art shows where we knew we would sell. And now it’s almost 6 years of living here and still we are just touching the surface of breaking through. It gets tiresome, but advertising is 90% of any business. I’m sure if we were big enough to have a sales department, then we wouldn’t have to do that part of it. One day we hope we won’t have to and hubby can spend his time producing new work.
We have had to look at our product line many times tweaking here and there. We want to offer big, beautiful canvas gallery wrapped prints ready to hang in homes and businesses. But, not everyone has room for 30″ x 40″ size prints or even 12″ x 18″ prints so we added smaller sizes that are very easy to frame. We sell photo greeting cards, postcards, and yearly calendars at our local arts center. This allows us to have different price points to offer more of a variety for our customers. And, we don’t deal in just fine art photography.
Hubby is also a professional stock photographer. We reach out to publications, book authors, and other markets that are looking for high quality photos for magazines, calendars, books, websites or advertising materials like brochures.
While we downsized significantly appearing in local shows, there are still a couple we do. We looked into our costs vs. profit to decide which events to participate in. Mainly these are exhibits where we don’t have to work a booth but we can sell our work. However, we still like doing our annual indoor yard sale because it’s a little less expensive to rent a table and bring some small prints to sell. We only work 6 hours and set-up and breakdown isn’t difficult.
Hubby and I spend a lot of time in training. We don’t know all there is about our field and the technology keeps changing. He’s looking into extending his camera equipment so he can have a longer reach. This would really help him with the wildlife photography he wants to do more of. For me, it’s about desktop and mobile technology. It’s about keeping his website up to date. New photos go up frequently. I have to stay alert to updates to the software we use everyday. We operate our training on a zero budget so it’s important that we are creative in how we learn. I subscribe to Website Magazine which I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s free and packed with great information. We also use YouTube to learn new skills. Finally, we read blog articles from other entrepreneurs to learn tips and tricks that we can adapt to our marketing.
For any business to make it, you have to keep content new and fresh to customers. Hubby works the social very well and answers posts, questions, and personal messages. Since he sells at our arts center, he tries to pop in to be around in case customers visit and want to ask him about his work.
Finally, I tell myself not to quit. We’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as we believe in what we’re doing and God provides, we’re all in. You have to be in order to be a success. You also have to love what you do. If you don’t, it might be time to examine why and if changes are needed. Sometimes, we’ve gone back to the drawing board meaning we asked ourselves some tough questions:
- Why do you like photography?
- What do you hope to gain as a photographer?
- Can you see yourself doing anything else?
- If you were not making any money, would you still be a photographer?
You can tailor these questions to fit your industry and ask these of yourself then write your answers down and keep this near you at all times.
On days where we are struggling, I can go back and re-read our answers. I can continue to support him, because he has a purpose and he’s determined to fulfill it. Nothing worth having comes easy. And please don’t fall for those get rich quick schemes because they don’t work. Period. It takes hard work, sacrifice, long hours of work, dedication, commitment, perseverance, and prayer. Know your giftings and how God wants you to use them. Then trust Him for the increase.
All that I’ve shared today is hubby’s and my part in this. It’s The Lord that will do the rest. When we are in His will, He obligates Himself to be our provider. So He knows how and where to bring the customers. When we’ve done all we can, trust Him and again I say, trust Him.
So what do I do in between sales again? I do my part and I trust my God.