Name: Dorie Howell
Niche: Newborn photographer
Location: Washington DC
Years in the business: 10 years
Also known for: Her affiliation with education portal and membership site IPS Mastermind
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Finding Dorie’s Passion
Dorie’s journey to photography is a familiar one: When her daughter was born, her husband gave her a DSLR and she just started shooting. Turns out she was pretty good at it. She’d always been a creative person, and it didn’t take long before a friend saw her photos on Facebook and requested her services!
What makes Dorie stand out is what she called her entrepreneurial spirit. Her outlook on this is refreshing and every new photographer should take note! While she enjoyed taking pictures and she was good at it, that was not enough for her.
Dorie figured out early on that she needed to be compensated. Imagine that! She points out that many photographers (especially women) are using family or shared money to fund their businesses as well as spending time away from their families doing their work.
Yes, “work,” as in, “I need to get paid.”
Old School Networking
When Dorie started out 10 years ago, Facebook was pretty new. She worked it and grew her network, but she notes that now, the tides have turned to more traditional networking: getting out of the house and meeting face to face and just knowing as many people as you can.
If that last sentence made you break a sweat, I recommend checking out your free trial of IPS Mastermind–this is something they tackle, and trust me, you’re not alone!
Let’s talk procedures here. Dorie gives us the rundown on everything from first contact to selection appointment.
First, she acknowledges that 40% of the time, she’s hearing from the partners/men/dads-to-be. She handles the men and women differently based on her experiences of what they want to know.
Men typically want to know the specifics–they get a PDF with some ballpark numbers, but it’s all geared towards getting them on the phone.
Women tend to want to know more about the experience and how everything happens. I send them a video of me that also shows some cute newborn photos and some video clips of sessions set to nice, gentle music. Again, the idea is to get them on the phone.
Dorie goes on a fact-finding mission when she gets the potential clients on the phone. Sometimes brand-new parents don’t know what to ask, so she has some questions handy.
She wants to know if they’ve ever worked with a professional photographer (other than at a wedding). This reference helps manage expectations and gives Dorie the opportunity to educate the client as necessary.
She also asks what their perfect image would be. Most people already envision something when they think of their newborn photos, and their answer will help you make that vision a reality.
She also gets the essential info: when the baby is due, where they’re located and, also important, whether they have looked at her website. Since so many clients are referrals or come from social media, it’s good to ask if they’ve seen the website and if they haven’t direct them there.
Parents notify Dorie within three days of their child’s birth. Then she schedules their session. Her ideal window is between 7 and 12 days old.
When parents come to the studio, they hand over the baby. There are lots of portraits on the walls and some products out for them to look at. There is also a comfortable parent waiting area and — no joke — many times they end up falling asleep. This is even a selling point for exhausted new parents: Come to my studio and take a nap!
Dorie sends a couple of things home with the new (and hopefully somewhat rested) parents. A thank you card, a reminder to set their selection appointment and a little brochure with a pricing summary. A “greatest hits,” if you will. Too many options overwhelm new parents, so keep it streamlined and easy.
Three weeks is the maximum window before the emotional attachment really weakens. After their session, Dorie is sure to send them an upbeat reminder email that basically covers the who/what/where/when/why for the upcoming appointment.
Dorie stresses the importance of being clear and direct about what’s expected at this appointment: payment.
Remember, all your interactions with the clients up to this point is about building trust and guiding them towards what’s best for them. And you know this because of the date you’ve gathered during your consultations and also because you are a professional!
Dorie believes that no matter what your price point, you’ll have some potential customers complain about price. “It’s so expensive!” Here’s her reply:
“Yes, it is. I have a lot of experience, I’m well known in the area, and my services aren’t cheap, but I guarantee the results in the end.”
Another objection that comes up is digitals. Dorie’s digitals policy is to sell them as a separate product just like anything else. Remember that all these objections should have come up before the selection appointment, so you’ll already know what their sticking points are.
Know your value and your numbers
Dorie believes that many new photographers don’t see the value that they offer with their services, and this can lead them to a fearful mindset that blocks their earning potential.
You are capturing and documenting milestones in a family’s life–never underestimate that! Your own personal relationship with money should not (but often does) influence how you ask for it.
This, and other mindset challenges, are great topics for IPS Mastermind students. There are plenty of instructors, so these issues get tackled from many angles.
And as a final example of how Dorie’s entrepreneurial instinct kicks in is this: she knows her numbers. She knows exactly what she needs to make on a session to come out ahead.
Because of this she can think on her feet and negotiate like a pro–an example is her flexibility in pricing digitals when her clients buy other products.
If figuring that magic number freaks you out, IPS Mastermind is perfect for you. Dorie believes that you will benefit from IPS Mastermind if you:
- Struggle with marketing. You just don’t seem to make traction.
- Panic about pricing. You don’t know how to calculate that magic number without experiencing an existential crisis.
Or maybe you just want to up your client experience game. IPS Mastermind can teach you how to finesse every tiny detail to get your clients the ideal experience and you a successful business.
Don’t forget to get your FREE three-day trial here: www.ipsmastermind.com/Christian