Today we have the second part of a series of guest posts by Brittany Salay of Brittany Lauren Photography. Brittany is a photographer in Charlotte, North Carolina who also happens to have a degree in Finance. She will be sharing important information in a series of blog posts all about the financial side of a photography business.
Time is Money
It’s true what they say, Time is Money, and you need to take this to heart when it comes to your business. In the last post, we explored how much you need to bring in per month, net of taxes, to cover all of you personal and business expenses. Now we are going to dive in to how many hours you spend on each client that comes through your door from the first inquiry all the way to putting product in their hands. Knowing this will help you see how much you are truly profiting from each client and how many clients you should ACTUALLY be taking on per week/month/year.
I’m sure you don’t think about it all the time because you have a workflow you follow with each client but we need to really lay out every step you take. We are also going to address the amount of time you realistically spend on average for each step in your client’s experience. As a portrait photographer, I have a workflow in my studio management system that helps me keep track of each client so I know everyone is getting the same experience.
Write out every step you take with your clients no matter how small it is in their photography experience. Include everything your clients see happen and all the behind the scenes they don’t know about. You need to be honest with yourself and put the amount of time you spend on average for each task. This will show you where you are spending most of your time with each client. Make sure you are being as accurate as possible. This can be hard because some clients are different than others. I would say to over estimate to be cautious.
For example, it takes much longer to edit a Newborn session than it does a Senior session but I went with the higher editing time of 3 hours for newborns. Also, not every client orders an album which takes much longer to design and order than just prints. On my workflow step, Design work for custom products, I put 2 hours for clients that order more custom products not just prints. This way I know that if every client that comes in orders custom products, I’ve already crunch my numbers and know I’m not loosing money.
I sat down to revisited my workflow and wrote out my steps. Putting pen to paper first before going to excel really helps me visualize and internalize whats really going on in my business. Remember, mine probably looks different than yours and that is ok. We run our businesses differently!
Here are a few things to consider:
Travel time - I include any location 30 minutes away in the session fee. If I have to drive more than 30 minutes away, I charge for travel. Again, time is money.
Social Media/blogging – Blogging each session and putting images on Facebook/Instagram/website obviously isn’t something you have to do but I do this with every session. It takes time away from other things I can be working on in my business so I want to know how that affects my bottom line.
Financial tracking - A really important item that I know most of us skip right over is the last one, Financial tracking! I know it’s extremely boring to log your sales in your books BUT this is how you will see how your business is really doing, what you’re selling and what your average sales are. IT’S SOOOO IMPORTANT! I’ve gotten in to the habit of putting every client in my books at the end of each week so I don’t have to worry about getting it all together at the end of the year for taxes or to see my progress. I can talk about that all day long so I’ll just save it for another post.
So now that you’ve sat down and wrote all of your steps out, does it surprise you as to how many hours you are actually spending on each client? I was very surprised the first time I did this. If I’m spending on average 13.5 hours per client, I can calculate how much per hour I am making. In the next post, we will talk about how this translates to how many clients you should be taking on per week and how much you should be making on average per client to meet your desired yearly salary. I promise we will bring the picture together more and more with each post. Just follow along and we will make sense of all these crazy numbers!
Leave a comment and let me know how many hours you are spending on each of your portrait clients. If you have any questions, leave those in the comments too so we can all learn together!
Brittany is the owner of Brittany Lauren Photography in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Check out her site and be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram at the links below.