It can be hard to give up the more creative side of being a photographer to work on the business side of it all. Sal wants to give you a reality check, by showing you what his life is like. He spends more time on the business side than the creative side, hands down. He wants you to understand that he knows you all got into this because you love taking pretty pictures. Every single photographer loves taking pretty pictures, but then what happens is, if you want to run a sustainable business, you have to understand that 95% of your time should be spent on the business side, not the creative side. It sucks. Sal does it because he knows that the 95% he is spending on business gives him the luxury to have that 5%, to not have to work for someone else, to not have to sit at a desk job in a cubicle.
Understand the timeline from running an ad to getting paid
Here’s the part where Sal feels like you guys are getting overwhelmed and not really processing, your marketing pipeline and the way your business works. You are not selling a product, so it’s typically going to be four to six weeks from the time you run an ad, to the time you book, to the time you shoot, to the time that sale hits. So, say you run an ad the first of the month, for example. It’s going to take a week to get people calling, to get them into your system. Now you schedule their shoot, maybe you schedule it two weeks out, you’re already three weeks in. Now it’s two weeks before they come in to see their pictures. That’s five weeks, just like that.
Sal says you have to understand that and what that means. That means that you have to constantly be marketing every day, every week, so that every week out in the future is the sixth week. Meaning: do marketing this week that you know is going to come to fruition in week six. Next week, week two, do marketing so that it comes to fruition in week seven. Week three is going to come to fruition week eight. Run an ad week four, get paid week nine. Does that make sense? Because that’s how you have to be thinking.
Sal emphasizes that the minute you’re thinking, “No, we’re super busy,” and you take your foot off the gas pedal, you just lost a week in the future and then by the time you realize it, it’s too fucking late, because now you have to start all over again and you’ve lost momentum. That’s where most business owners struggle. Not just photographers, but business owners, solo entrepreneurs as well. If you’re a company, a lot of the time you have a Marketing Department to do all of this for you. But, if you’re doing this by yourself, it’s very difficult to start understanding that. Think: What did I do? What did I do for marketing this week? And if you didn’t do anything, that means nothing’s going to happen in the next six weeks.
The solution: your marketing calendar
That is just how it works. You’ve got to start looking at it this way. Put a calendar together. There are many resources out there on how to put a marketing calendar together (If you’re a Level Up member, check out the bonus content for a guide to setting one up). How many of you have actually put one together? And if you haven’t, Sal wants to know what the fuck you are waiting for? You’ve got to take the step. This is Sal’s reality check so you guys understand. He knows it’s easy to see videos and shit like that. You see people who look like they are living the dream, traveling the world. When Sal is traveling, he is working on business. He just shot a wedding in Spain. While he was in Spain, he was waking up early on U.S. time handling marketing, handling the business. Then he would go and shoot his wedding, go home that night, and pass out. He would wake up early the next morning to catch up with his team to answer any questions or do anything that needed to happen to keep his business moving forward. His business can’t stall because he is on some grandiose trip or wedding in Europe. That is just not how it works. You’ve got to keep things moving forward.