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Confidence: A Crutial Component to Business Success


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Joyce Smith, the amazing photographer, writer and owner of WordSmith is here today to share with MCP readers about how confidence plays a huge role in building a successful photography business (or really any business). She is sharing an excerpt from her “How to Sell” guide.

Watch the blog tomorrow for a chance to win her full product line (including her 2 new additions). Each prize is valued at $380 for a total of $1,900 work of prizes that will be given away!!! If you just want to purchase, come back tomorrow for a 15% off code too.

wordsmith-logo-web-4 Confidence: A Crutial Component to Business Success Business Tips Guest Bloggers

{what to wear}: seniors guide (BRAND NEW)

{what to wear}: a guide to being ready for your closeup

{what to write}: the perfect words for client communications

{how to sell}: the complete online sales workflow

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In this excerpt, Joyce considers one of the overlooked yet crucial component to solid portrait sales, whether online or in-person: confidence.

I am not a gregarious person by nature, nor am I the life of the party. Swear. I don’t love meeting new people and trying to win them over. I could never, ever be a telemarketer or sales rep. I say this lest you believe that I possess some sort of inherent charisma that makes clients want to buy from me and hire me over and over again; in other words, what I know is not something that is specific to me and unteachable.  My personality, lovely as I like to think it can be to those who know me well, does not magically lead to instant sales.

Regardless of my cautious, sometimes reluctant-to-speak-up nature, I still possess something extremely invaluable to what I do, and that is my overarching philosophy–my unshakeable, sincere belief–that what I do has meaning.  We have all heard “You have to believe in your work,” and yet how often do we sit back and watch the “rock stars” of photography and think, “Good for them, but I could never be that confident”? But confident you must be if you want to impart the important message of “Yes, she’s so worth it” to your clients. Please note that I don’t mean you need to brag.  On the contrary, you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard. Rather, you are someone who knows that he or she is in demand, both valued and valuable, and doesn’t need to boast about it (not too loudly anyway!). When you truly believe in yourself and your work in this way, clients will perceive what you do as more desirable. This is true whether your target market can spend $500 or $5000 with you.

While this may seem all a bit too Anthony Robbins and Rhonda Byrnes’ The Secret for you, I‘ll be darned if it doesn’t work! When I first started out I was confident about work that now makes me cringe a little inside (we have all been there, and we will be there again as we continually improve!). Nevertheless, I knew the type of photographer I wanted to be and I carried myself as if I had already arrived. It was clear to me early on that I needed to come from a place of confidence. I knew that projecting any whiff of desperation to my clients, any air whatsoever of “Gee, I really hope you like my pictures. I really do think I’m a bit better than The Picture People, don’t you think?” would be the kiss of death. Did I sometimes think these less confident thoughts in the back of my mind? Sure!  But did I allow them to pervade my thoughts and, consequently, my client interactions? Not for one second.

If you are someone who struggles with this concept (and you probably already know if you have this innate confidence or not), it’s helpful to think of your images as a product that you are very excited about. You can trick yourself somewhat into thinking you’re not selling yourself per se. Couldn’t you talk enthusiastically about the newest Bugaboo stroller or the latest Pampered Chef gadget that’s made your potato peeling drudgery infinitely easier? Haven’t you told friends why they simply had to go see your latest favorite movie? Then why can’t you get excited about the latest artist who is THE photographer to go to?

Isn’t she fabulous? Oh wait, she’s me!  All kidding aside, while I do believe that we are our brands–clients will remember how their sessions felt and how we interacted with them as well as their images–this sort of mental distancing exercise can be fruitful if you’re struggling. If all else fails, slightly shift focus to your wonderful subjects. “Wasn’t it so wonderful when we got this shot?” you ask your client when she picks up her order. “Oh, that little one was so sweet and the light was perfect that day,” you effuse as you show sample session albums to your new client. After all, we should have no problem whatsoever being effervescent about what it is we purportedly love to do!  Once you fully embrace the idea that you provide both treasured images and a memorable experience to your clients, the respect you show yourself will infuse each interaction you have throughout the process and the sales you desire will follow.


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  1. Joyce Smith on October 20, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Oh, are you singing my song!!! E-mail overwhelms me and, by the time I get to all the e-mails, it’s carline time and I haven’t even edited, ordered, or packaged client portrait orders. Definitely going to reconsider how I approach the never-ending deluge of e-mail!!! Thanks!

  2. JulieLim on October 20, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Thank you so much for this post. Odd thing is… just yesterday I was thinking about the type of message I send out to potential clients. Anything and everything from my body language to the way I speak about my work the clients will pick up and sort of judge prematurely. First impression. I have decided not to worry about it so much and just focus on my photography – I am a starter 😛 Thanks again!

  3. jody on October 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

    As always Jodi, I love your subject choice. This is very interesting and helpful. Thank you Joyce.

  4. Sarah on October 20, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I just found your blog and I absolutely love it! I subscribed and am really looking forward to reading the regular posts.As far as this topic goes, it couldn’t come at a better time. I struggle with confidence sometimes, especially when comparing my work with other photographers’ work. And that can translate to how much I feel I should charge and how my clients feel after a session. Thanks for the encouragement, it’s very helpful!!

  5. Shannon White (S & G Photography) on October 20, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Great post! I recently purchased the What To Say and am very happy!

  6. GayleV on October 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I just purchased some of Joyce’s guides last week and I can’t tell you how helpful they have been. Her words about confidence are VERY true!!

  7. Sheila on October 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    LOVE Joyce’s products! I have What to Write and How to Sell, and they are worth much more than what I paid for them (and she didn’t pay me to say that!). 🙂

  8. Kassia on October 20, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Fantastic timing for this post. I was just whining to… I mean… talking to my husband last night about how I felt like I was in a confidence rut. As with anything I know there are ups and downs, but with photography…because it’s akin to a very personal type of art… how WE as photographers capture others… sometimes its easy to feel less-than-confident. So, thank-you for posting this… great subject matter! Just what I needed to help get me back on track… 🙂

  9. Heather on October 20, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Wow – sooooo well said! I immediately identified with this post! I am constantly worrying that when I show the photos to my clients, they aren’t going to like them, or other photographers are going to make fun of me. WHY DO I DO THAT TO MYSELF, because I seem to be the only one doing it! I think I am realistic about where I am on the learning curve – I have a lot to learn, and honestly, hope I always continue to learn, but where I am now is not bad. AND – it is good enough, that people seek me out to take pictures for them. In my full-time career, I AM a rock star. I am confident in saying that, don’t care who sees it, and say it to those above me. Why? Because I have proven myself over time, and that’s the key – time. I felt the same way as I do about my photography right now beginning that career. Shy and intimidated, but then I realized I could achieve all those before me had and made my mind up to do so. I need to do that in my photography as well. You gotta start somewhere, and in the meantime – you have to fake it ’till you make it! THANK YOU JOYCE for reminding us all of our worth!

  10. maz on October 21, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Wise words and so well put. I am inspired to find more about Joyce’s work and also to print out these words and stick them above my desk. Thankpou so much!

  11. Dana on October 21, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I posted on my facebook!

  12. Dana on October 21, 2009 at 9:51 am

    tweet tweet!

  13. Laurie LeBlanc on October 21, 2009 at 10:14 am

    This was such a timely post for me. I really want to do something more formally with my photography, but my confidence level is just not there. I am comfortable around family and friends, for the most part, but I don’t yet consider myself a “real” photographer. Outside of photography, I am much more confident, probably 7 or 8, but with photography, I’m probably at a 5. I’m happy with some of my work but not enough to say I’m ready to start taking pictures of total strangers by myself. I’d say my confidence level is a 5 but I am taking steps to improve that. I’ve joined some local photography groups, I’m trying to purchase some equipment that will help bring my abilities up (taking pictures in low light is a big challenge right now)and I started a blog. Thank you Jodi and Joyce for the excellent blog piece and for your generous prizes!

  14. Maria Black on October 21, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    This was a perfect topic for me right now! I had just yesterday decided that I am going to have to fake the confidence I hope to have for real one day. That is my plan. Kind of like when you smile when you’re really not feeling happy and pretty soon you are really feeling it!

  15. Allison on October 21, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    This is a great give away. I secretly hope I win because I could really use this stuff! I have such a LOVE and passion for photography but sometimes my knowledge and lack of money limit me from becoming what I want to be. I see what I want to be but it is taking time to get there. Photography wise, I would give myself a 6.5-7….. I am most confident with people that I don’t know and newborns drop my confidence level. They are HARD. Thanks again for this contest. It it awesome… pick ME!!!!

  16. Sari on October 21, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Another great read! Thank you Jodi and Joyce!

  17. Erin on October 22, 2009 at 8:37 am

    When I started working as a contracted assistant wedding photographer my confidence, both personal & professional, was very low. I had just finished graduate school, found a job, and within two years realized that I was headed down the wrong path. Luckily, a photography class that I took (just for fun) grew into a job when my instructor asked me to work for him. I left my job and haven’t looked back. The experience of growing from an assistant to lead photographer helped me get on the right track and bring my confidence level to 3 – a good starting place. My abilities and comfort in a new field were budding. During that time, I decided to experiment in child/family photography and found my passion. My first eureka moment occurred when the daughter of my very first client (also my first newborn shoot) celebrated her first birthday. Seeing a child grow in front of me, from newborn to 1 year old, solidified my commitment in this newfound career and skyrocketed my confidence to 6. Buoyed by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I began reading books on business, marketing, and communication. From the Carnegie classics to Dane Sanders and Seth Godin (next on my list), I can’t seem to put them down. I follow several blogs, and every day that I read something new I can feel my confidence incrementally growing. That’s just how my brain works – I research, then act. My research has, so far, brought me to a 7 (I’m still just getting started!) but I’m anxiously anticipating the moment when I hit 8. That’s when I’ve decided to act on my dreams of officially starting my own business!! My constant professional growth has mirrored itself beautifully in my personal life, a connection that spurs me on like nothing else can. I am one of the lucky ones. My interests, values, and (growing) abilities have come together in one job, and my personal confidence now soars.

  18. Kristin on October 22, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Bravo! Excellent post! I’m a photography enthusiast with no professional aspirations, but this is advice from which anyone in any field can benefit. I’m inspired! Thank you.

  19. Jenn on October 22, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Your blog post came at the most appropriate time for me. I’m just starting out, and realizing all of the things I’m doing wrong. Good thing it’s early in this process and I can course-correct, and Joyce Smith’s posting yesterday put even simple things in mind that I can change. Often times, when I’d send an email to clients letting them know their photos were ready for proofing, I would write “hope you like them!”. At the time I write that I’m trying to be nice, but I can see how it can potentially come off desperates, as though I’m begging them to like me/my photos. And this is so strange for me. I’m doing photography as a side business. In real-life, I’m an engineer working in a pharmaceutical company. I’m very confident in my technical ability, and because of that, people rarely question it. I think part of that is because it’s technical, not creative…there are no gray areas. But in photography, you’re putting you’re heart/soul/vision into it. I’m going to say “I’m a photographer” with confidence 🙂

  20. Johanna on October 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    I twittered and I follow you on twitter!

  21. Rebecca Cooper on October 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    posted on facebook. 🙂 thanks

  22. Christine DeSavino on October 27, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Thank you for this reminder…words I need to hear!

  23. Market Umbrella on November 28, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Well done! I liked your post it is very helpful for me.I really want to do something more formally with my photography and I do my best in it. You know Joyce- I have so many photos of umbrellas whichever I like so much…….

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