Seanna:

Hello. Hello. Welcome back to the online business lab podcast. I'm Seanna Asper and I'm so glad you're joining me today. In today's episode, I'm interviewing Casey Crowe Taylor. Casey is a wedding photographer who is an expert in creating an amazing client experience. When you look at her reviews, her clients love her. Casey was able to land her first $5,000 wedding shoot in her first year of business and she provides great insight on how she was able to do this. I absolutely loved my conversation with Casey because not only does she have a cool background in PR and marketing, but left that to follow her passion. She used some great strategy for getting her business started. In this episode, Casey not only shares how she was able to sell premium packages so early in her business, but she also shares how she cultivates a great client experience, including the systems she uses. Additionally, she talks about her process for following up to get those amazing client reviews. By the end of today's episode, you'll have actionable tips for enhancing your client experience so that you can create a raving fan base.

Seanna:

Hi Casey, thank you so much for joining me today.

Casey:

Hi Seanna. I'm so excited to be here.

Seanna:

So let's dive right in. I want you to take a little bit of time and explain your background and how your journey led you to where you're at today in your business.

Casey:

I graduated college in 2010 and I spent half of my senior year in Australia. My husband is Australian. We did not meet there. We met before that and that is why I went to, to study abroad in Australia. So I spent half of my senior year in Australia and then I spent half of my year commuting into New York city, interning for Victoria's secret corporate and working corporate and Victoria's secret was my dream job. I decided to, after my internship ended and I graduated, I decided to go back to Australia to live with my then boyfriend now husband and I lived there for almost two years and worked in fashion PR there. When I moved back, I desperately wanted to work at Victoria Secret again and so I worked really hard to keep my network and my contacts there. And it took me another, I'd say two years before I got in there.

Casey:

And then I finally got there, proof that persistence pays off. I was there for three and a half years. So before I took the leap to take my wedding photography business full time, I actually tried to be a freelancer entrepreneur one time before that and ultimately quit. So I quit my job Victoria's secret after just being totally burnt out. I was so, I had such a great time there and it was such a fun job to have for three years, but I just felt like I was living the same year over and over again cause we would launch like the same bra at the same time every year. My team produced a fashion show, so we did the fashion show at the same time every single year and I just felt like, Oh my gosh, how much longer can I like live the same year over and over again? So I just got burnt out and I quit with no other job I had planned to.

Casey:

This was like, so this was in 2015 nobody was being a social media manager yet. It hadn't existed. I was trying to do it. I didn't really know how to sell myself. I was still pretty young. I had a little bit of experience, but all in all I decided to apply for some jobs and I wound up taking a job in social media hoping that that would give me the experience I needed to then be a freelancer after a few years. So I took a job with Birchbox when I was at Birchbox. I did like a lot of social media content creation and I produced our videos and then my husband's job moved us to Washington DC I actually turned down like my dream dream job at Estee Lauder and their creative department on my birthday because I was just a, we were just ready for a new scene.

Casey:

We were ready to leave New York city after like five years of being there. And that is when I took a job at blue mercury in Washington DC I quickly learned that corporate life just wasn't for me. It was really hard for me to go to work every day and I just got to a point where I was so overwhelmed and I just needed some kind of distraction. Also during this time I had miscarried my, I miscarried my first pregnancy, which was super hard. So in an effort to kind of like get a distraction and get out there and do something new and learn something and distract myself from like my current life, which was going to a job I hated and grieving our pregnancy, I took a summer photography course for $200 in my town. It was like two blocks away from me and it just totally changed my life.

Casey:

I went in, I've always loved taking photos, how to DSLR, didn't know how to use it. I was taking content photos for blue mercury at the time, so I knew it would be helpful to my job and maybe make my job more exciting. And to be honest, I was also hoping to like up my Instagram photo game. And so that summer course I learned how to use my camera and I think it was mid September in 2016 I photographed a rehearsal dinner for my sister's college roommate and I just, I had the spark, I fell head over heels with photographing people and preserving really special moments for people. But I was so scared driving to that rehearsal dinner, I was like, who am I? I don't even really know how to use my camera. I don't really know what I'm doing, who am I to even do this?

Casey:

But when I got there, I just, I just did it. I just forgot about the fear, told myself that I just have to try this. I just had a feeling that I had to try it or I would regret it and I don't like to regret things. And that's how the spark was born, honestly. And then for six months I worked, I took every single opportunity to shoot people for free. And I always forget to say photograph instead of shoot because shoot people sounds terrible. Yeah. So after that for like six months, anyone who got engaged, anyone I knew who was like a married couple that I could practice shooting with, I reached out to them and photographed them for free. That just quickly led to referrals and paying clients. Like I said, I did my rehearsal dinner in September of 2016 I booked my first wedding and just in January of 2017 so like four or five months later and I had never shot a wedding, but yeah, and then I stayed at my jobs until may of 2017 as soon as I booked.

Casey:

So I booked five weddings in January, 2017 and all of them were referrals from the free jobs I had done in the lead up. Once I had proof that people wanted to pay me to do this, I was like, okay, I put, I said I'm going to leave this job on May 15th I know that I've done this before. Right. I've left another job without another job lined up and I was okay. So I knew that if I left, if I put the date on it, May 15th is when I'm going to quit. And I'm just going to see what happens. If like the worst case scenario is it's like not for me. And I started freaking out, I can always get another job. And I think a lot of people get really nervous about taking that leap, but, and they think that like they're going to be homeless or like the world is going to end.

Casey:

But the reality is you can always get another job. So, and that was my attitude. I was like, I'm going to do this. I'm going to give myself six months and put in so much work. And in 2018 I had a full calendar of weddings booked in 2017 I had five weddings and I second shot for as many photographers who would let me second shoot for them. So that was a great way to supplement income for me. And we also downsized. So my husband and I moved from a house into a one bedroom apartment, cut our finances back a lot so that I had the freedom to try and do this. It wasn't like, yes, my, I could depend on my husband's salary, but we also made a lot of sacrifices for me to do this. And then, yeah, in 2018 I didn't, I only second shot with people for one year and 2018 I had a full calendar.

Casey:

I had 20 weddings and I don't even know how many other sessions. And then this year I took six months off for maternity leave with my daughter and I shot 18 weddings in six months. So I made more money than I did all of last year and I only worked for half of it, which is crazy. And also I learned a lot this wedding season. I learned that I have limits and I definitely surpassed them this year. But that's one of the most fun parts being an entrepreneur to me is that you get to call your own shots and learn your own limits and set your own boundaries. So really excited for 2020 my calendar's already halfway booked, going to do a lot of new things in 2020 and I'm, I'm so excited. So yeah, that is my story from college to now.

Seanna:

Oh, I love it. I love it because I feel like so many people can relate to different parts of that even if they, you know, they didn't have the same background. It just like the path to entrepreneurship is a lot like that for a lot of people and there's all that uncertainty up front and like trying to figure out how to make it work and the story of downsizing and making sacrifices. So you have that space to try to do something you really want to do. Like people can relate to that. Right? But it does sound like you've had some really good success. Not, I don't want to say early on because I think as entrepreneurs like you can sit there five and six months into your business and be like, why isn't, why aren't things happening? And so you like your, I don't know, like want that early on success to be in the first few months, but over the past three years you have built up a lot of success and I'm excited for you to kind of like dive into that with us a little bit.

Casey:

And so in preparing for this interview, you mentioned to me that your, your business has grown fast and you actually booked your first $5,000 wedding client in your first year of business. So in 2017 I want you to kind of like explain that price tag because you know, I'm not a photographer so I don't know what that like, that sounds like a lot of money for a wedding. I know for my wedding, like that was more than I paid for my photographer. So put that into perspective, like for a new photographer, how much would they really be expecting to earn on their first wedding in their first year of business?

Casey:

Yes. So, and this is kind of one of my favorite parts about being a wedding photographer, is that if you're smart about it, you can name your price. I'm not saying you can like buy a camera, not know how to use it and come like come onto the scene charging $2,000 I mean that you can refine your skills to a point where you can actually, so I charged $2,000 for my first wedding ever. I'd never shot a wedding by myself ever. I at that point that I booked that wedding, I had only second shot one other wedding and I knew that by the time I was going to shoot that wedding, which was in June of 2017 I knew that I was going to work my behind off to be a $2,000 wedding photographer and I think that's probably pretty ballsy. But that's the person I am.

Casey:

I know I am so confident in myself and I am very motivated by myself so I don't really need external motivators and I knew exactly where I was going to be skillset wise when that job came around. So I think it's a lot of thinking into the future instead of thinking about what you think you cost right now. I think a lot of photographers wind up shooting their first weddings for free, which I am a believer of shooting for free for experience 100% that is why I did not ask for money. Well let me back up for a second. I believe in something I either shoot for free or full-priced. I don't really do discounts and I didn't do discounts when I was first starting. So when I first started I was like, okay, for six months I'm going to reach out to people and shoot for free so that I have a portfolio, looks like on social media, I'm getting booked for jobs, I'm, I'm honing on my skills and that way there's no expectations.

Casey:

And the other thing I thought about was that I didn't want to like take like $100 from someone for a session because I was really counting on those referrals. And if a referral, if they were going to say, Oh, she charged me $100 that was going to be my starting point. And I did not want to start that low. So for me it was a better investment to spend six months time honing in on my skills so that I could charge $400 for a session. So it might seem like shooting for free for six months is you're not going to make that much money but you actually wind up making more because once you set your price it is, you can't just go from like being a $100 photographer to $500 in like four months. Does that make sense? So it's really all over the map.

Casey:

I knew that for my time and I knew that the work I was gonna put in was going to be worth at least $2,000 for an eight hour timeline for a wedding day. So that's where I started. And I also, because I put in so much work in practicing and shooting and editing, I have always raised my prices on a quarterly basis. I think a lot of people wait until like the next year to raise their prices. And I think if you're putting in the work, you can, you can raise those rates because you're now, you now have the skills to be valued at a higher rate. I know the work that I'm putting in and I get to give myself a raise after all of that hard work. I think you have to be, you definitely have to be really careful in raising your prices. If you're not doing the work, that's probably not going to work out so great for you.

Casey:

But if you are putting in the work, and it doesn't have to be free either, I don't do a lot of free work anymore now, especially now that I have my daughter, I just don't, I'd rather have that time with her. But when I was doing some free work, it was all to like level up experiment and be better for my current clients and future clients. So now I don't do a lot of free work, but in working with my paid clients, I'm still honing my skills. I'm still getting better all the time. So with that, and I am constantly working on the back end of my client experience as well. So making sure like I do, I revise my emails all the time. I do any email series for my clients to add to their customer experience. So those are other ways that I'm constantly improving my experience and therefore making it a more expensive product.

Casey:

So to go back to, so with 2017 I did after I booked that $5,000 wedding and that was my biggest package. So that included all day wedding photography and engagement session and a rehearsal dinner coverage. So that was my biggest package. I actually think technically it was like $5250 or something like that, but I just really sold the experience of this couple. They're still one of my most supportive and wonderful couples I've ever worked with. But yeah, I booked them in like it was just one year later from when I had started my business, I booked them. So I booked that wedding in September of 2017 and it might, the rehearsal dinner I shot, which was the first event I ever shot was September, 2016 and then when I was like, okay, wow, somebody wants to pay me this much money for a wedding. So once I booked that, my lowest package started at 4,500 it's scary.

Casey:

Like it's still scary sometimes. Like I just upped my pricing again and it's so scary until that first person books and then you're like, okay, validation like, but it is scary. Like I, I have had a couple of leads who I've lost out and I think that like as you get higher and higher in the price in the, in the price bracket, you kind of lose two photographers who are a, just a little bit cheaper where I think when you're in like a $3,000, like when you're between like the 3000 and the 4,000 bracket, I feel like you lose out to people who are doing it like Uber cheap. At least that's what I, that's what I've kind of found. But then, you know, I had a client book me at my new price and it's just like, it feels so great to just have that validation, but I've never ever once had to go back and lower my prices.

Seanna:

Wow. I love that. And you, you've shared so many good nuggets there that I want to kind of go back and touch on a couple of things. So you started off and you worked for free for six months and I love something that you shared in that in, in kind of like that stickiness of that starting price. So if you had booked those sessions for $100 and then people that were making those referrals told people what that price was, it would kind of keep you stuck there. Or they would begin like questioning, Oh well why? Why is she charging me $300 when they were $100 and it creates that stickiness. Whereas when you're doing it for free, starting out, those people feel like they got a deal, they got some awesome pictures and now they're willing to spread the message and no one expects you to work for free forever.

Casey:

Right. So the, the people coming to you are not going to be like, Oh yeah I can, I get that free deal. Like I mean I'm sure some people might, but like in general people aren't to do that and it's an amazing way to build up that skill set and get comfortable and have that experience, build your portfolio and that applies to not just photography that applies in so many different areas of business. If you're starting out and you know that eventually based on like your drive and everything that you know currently, you know where you're going to be six months from now, a year from now and you just have to get started. That idea of working for free to build up the referrals build up the portfolio is an amazing idea. And I know there are a lot of people out there, they're like, no, never work for free. There are a lot of camps on that, but I think you made a really good point at least for people to consider when they're starting out and they're trying to figure out like, Oh what do I do? How do I build up this program?

Casey:

Yeah cause like some people actually set them, they, they set themselves back out a lot more than they even realize they are by pricing themselves super low to begin with. They have to climb then climb out of that super low price. And I think especially if it's a side hustle, so I was still working my nine to five for those six months. So like I was waking up at 5:00 AM working till 8:00 AM on my photography business and then doing nights and weekends. I worked so much in those six months but they paid off like big time, big, big, big time. They paid off because a lot of people, and I didn't know this until I was talking with a friend a few months ago and they were like a lot of wedding photographers don't actually make a profit for a few years. And I have made a profit every single year in my business.

Casey:

And that's in addition to heavily investing back into my business every year. So I think that yes you can make money right off the bat, but you can actually make more money if you just put in the work for six months and then start at a higher price, you'll be able to cause $100 for a one hour session. You're losing money that doesn't even cover that probably doesn't even cover like the gas that got you there or your SD cards that you bought, like shoot the session with photography, getting the initial equipment is so expensive. And also like if you're delivering galleries, you're paying monthly for a gallery host, probably I use Dropbox for free for the first six months. And then I bought a gallery who was, but I did everything like really scrappy for the first six months when I was doing all of my free jobs.

Casey:

But you're kind of losing money there. And then again it sticks. So, and the other thing is, is I think a lot of people believe that doing free work means you have to work for free forever. I, every single free job I ever had, I have ever done has gotten me a paid one. Every single one I can sit down and tell you every single free job I did and the pay jobs like the first ever. So my rehearsal dinner, I shot for free. My first ever job has now made me like 15 grand just from referrals. So that rehearsal dinner was a couple who had just gotten engaged. They wound up hiring me for their wedding, they paid full price, they have their like, one of my biggest referrals now too. But they have referred me to three friends. So I mean it's probably more, it's probably closer to like 20 grand just from that.

Casey:

So I think like when you're, when people are doing these free jobs, I think it's really important to remember to treat it just like you would a paying job. So I was professional, like dress professionally, acted professionally. I got the photos to them. And the same amount of time that I would have if it was a paid shoot and just treated the whole thing just like I would have done if it was a paid job and like that's where people were raving about the experience. So I think when you are shooting for free it is important for you to initiate the job and not, I never like if somebody reached out to me and was like, Hey do you need stuff for your portfolio? Like my boyfriend and I really want photos. I never said yes to that. I always was the initiator. And I think that makes a big difference in setting yourself up in the future that you're not reactively acting to free jobs.

Casey:

You're proactively seeking out free jobs that are going to further your portfolio and further your craft.

Seanna:

You're like seeking out the people that are going to be your referral network, the right people and who are great referrals.

Casey:

So I was very strategic when I did this and specifically worked with with couples who I do like had a lot of friends or you know were in a sorority with girls who are at the age where they're probably going to get engaged soon. It was pretty strategic in the people I sought out and then also the places that I photographed them. I really wanted to photograph people in spots that were like I could geotag and a lot of people were going to see it. I get a lot of referrals from geotags on Instagram and on Pinterest going to places where I wanted to be hired to shoot.

Casey:

It was also huge in that too.

Casey:

Like mentioning the geotags is like one of those marketing things I've never even thought about.

Casey:

Especially hopefully for wedding vendors because think about it, if you're a bride and you book your venue or even if you're looking at venues, you're going to go on that geotag and look at all of the past weddings that were there and I got a lot of inquiries from that as I felt my portfolio up over the years. As someone will see even if it's deep in there, they're scrolling through because they're invested in their venue or a potential venue and they want to see what photos looked like at those venues. So I get a ton of inquiries just from that. They're like, I saw a photograph or the wedding, you photographed a good stone in on Instagram. And then Pinterest is like Google search for weddings. It's crazy.

Seanna:

I want to hit on something that you've like has been sprinkled through a lot of your comments here and is really important to highlight and really the meat of what I want to talk about here.

Seanna:

Even though we've talked about so much goodness already, it does not take very long online of looking at your reviews and your website to see how much your clients love you. And you've kind of mentioned this and talking about like the doing the free sessions and how you've always gotten a referral out of the free sessions and being professional in those, but your client experience has to be amazing. And I want you to kind of touch on like how do you make your clients feel so valued because that's not just a photography thing that's like what we all need to be doing in our business.

Casey:

Totally. I think so right off the bat, client experience has always been my number one priority in every single aspect of my business. And I've always been focused on creating the best experience for my clients. And it's kind of like happened over time that way. I think for me, the reason, the reason the spark happens for me at this rehearsal dinner is because I really loved capturing people and capturing people's really treasured relationships. And so my heart has always been in people in this business. And so it's always been really important to me. You know, I knew the people that I photographed the first time. So for weddings it's really important for me to get to know my client's story. I want to know how they met. I want to know, you know, what they love to do together. What's a normal day like?

Casey:

I don't, I want to know the big special moments, but I also want to know the, you know, the little everyday moments with them too. I get really personalized with my engagement sessions. I really helped my clients plan and engagement session. That's true to them. I think engagement sessions get like a little bit of a bad rep sometimes because they can be really cheesy. And I actually, I was on a call with a potential bride last week who was like, I just really don't want to wear a floral dress in a field. And I was like, I'm like here for that. Some of my clients want to do that and I'm here for that because I'm here to serve them. But I'm also definitely here to do something totally different and crazy. So I think for me, I have never, there's a lot of noise in photography about having an ideal client that I am very anti my, my ideal client is based on my client's values and not anything else.

Casey:

Not where they shop, not what their budgets are, not what colors they like use to decorate their home. There's all this crazy stuff about making an ideal client. And for me, my ideal client are couples who want a wedding that expresses who they are. The number one priority for their wedding is to have fun with the people they love the most. That is number one goal and what they're looking forward to most. And so I treat my couples in a very individualistic way and I don't put them in a box and I don't tell them we have to shoot at sunset for this. Like if I, I actually just did an engagement session in the greenhouse on a Sunday morning and it was raining and I don't depend on natural light. So I use artificial light as well. So I am always looking for ways that I can serve my couples and serve who they are instead of trying to like put them in a weird box of like this is how I shoot engagement sessions and this is where I shoot them.

Casey:

You can pick where you want to go. Like I really want to work with them to make something that is authentic to them. And the other reason I do this is because that's where the best photos happen. The best photos of my clients happen when they feel comfortable, when they feel like themselves. My favorite thing that my clients tell me is like, like one of my clients recently, Jenny was like, I love, she's like this photo of my hair is messy, my nose is crinkled, but I love this because you captured how I feel about my husband to be. This is how he makes me feel on the inside and you have taken that photo for us that we have and like that. Those are the best compliments to me and I definitely focus on like the messier real moments. Then like perfectly styled moments that is not me.

Casey:

I have just constantly over time thought about how can I make this experience better for my clients? How do I make it really personal? And I also just think that a lot of photographers and wedding professionals in general forget that we are in the service industry and we are here to serve our clients, not to boss them around. And so I always talk to my clients and I always let them know that there's like an open door that I'm there to serve them. If they have a crazy wild idea that they want to do, I definitely want to hear it or if they have, I had like my, one of my clients last year wanted to recreate photos from her grandmother's wedding album. I loved that and I think that part of the reason why she felt so comfortable coming to me with that is because I had that open door policy of being very open to personal details and ideas and that.

Casey:

I had a bride this year who's like, I don't really like when bridal parties are all lined up in one line. And I was like, cool, let's do something different. I'm always open to doing things different and doing things, especially for my clients. And then yeah, like I mean for engagements and for engagement sessions I go like really crazy because we got a whole hour together and I really want it to be authentic to them. And so I, I have like a mini email series that they get, which is like the first one is like all of the questions. So what I really like to do with my clients is anticipate their needs. I really want to answer questions before they even ask them because I want to provide a full service to them, not just taking their photos and delivering them. I really want to make them feel accommodated, like over accommodated almost.

Casey:

I always think of, I forgot his last Brian, he's the CEO and cofounder of Airbnb, but there's a talk, the really great talk from him where he talks about when they were, when they were building Airbnb, they just kept thinking about, okay, what is a five star experience look like for us? And they'd be like, you know, they would describe it like you get to your house, it's clean. The key is easy to find. There's like cookies out for you and there's coffee ready to go. And then they'd be like, okay, let's level up what would be the six star experience, the seven eight. So that's what I do in my business every year. I want to think about what is the six, seven, eight star experience that I can provide for my clients. So yeah, for their engagement sessions. I mean I do this crazy email of all the questions that I think they're probably going to answer.

Casey:

They're probably gonna ask. So they just feel served. And also I really want to make, start making them feel comfortable like a month before their engagement session even hits. Because I feel like when you're a month out from your engagement session, that's probably when you're starting to get a little bit nervous. You're thinking about it, it's on your mind. You want to know what to wear, you don't know what to expect. So I want to get ahead of that for them all the time. And I do a similar thing with my wedding clients as well. Just getting ahead of your client's needs and serving them before they have to ask goes such a long way in creating an experience on wedding days. I mean, I take, I always arrive early on wedding days. I really want to get to the bride's room and figure out who her closest people are.

Casey:

Bride or groom. Grooms too. I want to figure out who her closest people are. Is it her mom, is it an aunt, is it her sister? Is it her best friend from college? I'm always looking out on wedding on wedding days who my clients are spending the most time with because I then know that those are the people that I should focus. I always shoot all guests, but of course I want to keep an extra eye out for special moments happening with special people on their wedding day, so it's just, I think little details like that that go a long way in my experience and I also like, I just love getting to know my clients and their people. I had a, a mother of the bride this year who was so involved in planning and photos and I just loved getting to know her as well as my clients.

Casey:

I think sometimes photographers get a little bit weird about communicating with other people besides the couple, but I just welcome that because I really want to feel like a friend feel like I'm part of their day and not just a vendor that shows up cause again that's how I'm going to get the best photos of them through knock. Like if you think about it like think about a stranger coming in to take photos of you on like your biggest one of the biggest days of your lives like that already. Probably your body language is already play like Ooh, you're already like stiffening. Where like if your friend comes in to take photos of you, you're going to get up and you're going to give them a hug and you're going to be excited. Like I really want my clients to be excited to see me on their wedding day and I am always, genuinely in so excited to see my brides and rooms on their wedding day.

Casey:

I'd give them a huge hug as soon as I see them and I always say goodbye. A lot of my second shooters are like wow, a lot of photographers I she was like don't say goodbye to their clients and I was like, what? I always even if it takes me an extra 15 to 20 minutes I will stay. Like if my couples are like dancing, I'm not going to interrupt them but I will stay so I can say goodbye to them because I just feel like it would be so weird to just like go. But yeah, so like full full experience from start to finish all the time.

Seanna:

Your pictures have to like as you're explaining the client experience and really getting to know them and doing things that are so like particular and special to each client. I had a few things pop into my head first. Those pictures have to mean so much more to your client. Then like if if they had that photographer that's like, and this is how I do pictures, like this is how I do engagement sessions, this is what your wedding pictures are going to look like. Like having those ones that are particular to them and really showcase them as a couple, like those have to be so special and so exciting to get the, the second thing that popped into my mind with that was that you're just really focusing in on serving your clients in the best way possible. And you're being creative, right? You're not putting yourself in a box as an entrepreneur, right?

Seanna:

Because if they're coming to you and they have all these different ideas, like you have to be creative because it's potentially a shot that you've never done before, right. You have to put in that like legwork of the, the setup and getting the lighting right and be confident in yourself as a photographer to know like, Oh yeah, I can do that. Like you want to do that. We'll figure it out. Versus someone that has those, like this is how I do engagement pictures. They don't have to get uncomfortable because they're doing the same pictures for like everybody. Right. And I love that because it exudes confidence in your skill.

Casey:

Yeah. And I also always encourage my clients to come to me with new ideas. I love creative, like creatively collaborating with my clients to do something new. I am not a creature of habit or routine. I really like getting out of my comfort zone. It was something that's hard to start out with, but that's where I make the best things. Whether it's photos, connections, relationships, it's always outside of my comfort zone. So I am always putting myself in uncomfortable positions. Honestly. Like that artificial light session engagement session that I shot was the first session I've ever shot. Fully artificial light. But I knew how to work my light. I knew that my clients trusted me and I'd let them know like, you know, this is one of my first times using this light. We're going to, we're going to figure it out.

Casey:

And I'm always competent to that. I can figure something out. To quote Marie Forleo, everything is figureoutable and I fully know that in myself. I have been able to figure out lots and lots of things in my life. So I am very confident in my resourcefulness to figure things out, even if it's on the spot. I think my job at Victoria's secret was one of the best training camps for that. I had to constantly be on my toes and super resourceful in that job. It was a really high stress job and on like national press days, you know, I had to be on the spot a lot of the times and on my feet and really confident. So, and you know, pitching. I did a lot of pitching cause I was in PR a lot of times I would get kind of bumped. I didn't figure out what I wanted to do earlier, but at the same time, the skills that I learned in my corporate life have lended incredibly well to my entrepreneur life and I definitely would not have been able to grow my business as fast as I have without that experience.

Casey:

So I highly recommend getting uncomfortable as much as you possibly can.

Seanna:

Yeah, no, that's so good. And for the people listening that are not photographers. Some bullet points are some tips to focus on a focus on your clients, right? Like this is about them and getting those referrals and continuing to grow. Like focus on your clients. It's always about them, always put them at the forefront of what you're doing in your business and you won't go wrong because of your clients feel good about what you're doing. Like you will continue to grow.

Casey:

Yeah, and I think another big thing is anticipating their future needs. That is when people feel like really, really served I think is when you can anticipate the questions that they're going to ask and answer them right away. Like when I talk to potential brides on the phone, most of the time they don't have any questions at the end because I've already answered all of the questions for them. And I think that that is a huge component in making people feel served is when you can anticipate their needs or their concerns and address them right away

Seanna:

And that makes him feel like you really know what you're doing, right. They, they're like, okay, I can trust you because you gave me all that information.

Casey:

Yeah. And the other thing is, is like you don't have to have a ton of experience to do that. Just put yourself in your client's shoes and be like, okay, if I was my client, what would all my questions be? Can I put together an FAQ page that can address all of their questions and concerns so that they can read through that before our call? And you know, you don't have to have all the experience to know that now. You know, with, with experience, you do learn some new questions that you might not have thought of, but you can definitely anticipate your client's needs even if you haven't had your first client yet.

Seanna:

No, that's so true because most of the time you're, you're doing work that you've had done or that you know, like you have a lot of personal experience with. So you know what you would want from yourself if you were in that situation. So you definitely can answer those questions.

Casey:

And like, even when I was selling myself before I had photographs, any weddings by myself at all, I knew the experience I wanted to provide. So I think that's important too. If you're starting out

Casey:

Think about the experience that you want to provide for your clients. Think about the projects that you want to deliver to them and you just have to paint that picture for people.

Casey:

I think it can be hard to figure out how to sell in a not salesy way. And I also think a lot of people take for granted and assume that other people just like know what they provide. But you really, it is really important to like paint a picture even if it hasn't happened yet. Cause that's what I did. I'd hadn't happened yet, but I was painting this picture of this experience I was going to provide and people believed in it and bought in it. And I had the confidence in myself to know that I was going to do everything I could to prepare for that moment. And yeah, I think just starting and just look a little bit into the future. Also super, super helps in growing quicker. Instead of just, I know that a lot of people are like be here now, be in the present moment.

Casey:

That's all great and all. But when you're planning a business, I think looking at three to six months into the future and thinking about what you want your future to look like, then you reverse engineer back from there. And I have always in my business and you being a wedding photographer because you book so far out you have to sell your future. You, you shouldn't be selling your like current self. So you want to so your future self and not your current self. So I think thinking about that too in raising your prices and asking for more, just remember that you are selling your future self and even if you are an entrepreneur who books things in quicker timelines, I think that still applies to think about What service you want to provide in the future. There's no, you don't have to like constantly be selling the you that's now think about the you that in six months.

Seanna:

Yeah, that's such a good point. And you, you hit on something that I love because it's scary and you were talking about sales for a minute and I think that ties in to the client experience so much because for me personally, the best phrase I ever heard was a serve don't sell. And so if you know how you're going to serve your client and you're painting that picture for them, you're selling them by telling them how you're going to serve them and they want that experience. They want to work with you specifically because they know what you're going to give them. And it takes all the nasty like, Oh, so you want to buy, you know, it takes that away because they're like, Oh yes, I need that service that you're going to provide me. I need you to be there for me. And it makes it feel much more friendly because it's about the client and business is always about the client.

Casey:

Oh yeah. I think like the client is, is always right. Thankfully I have not had a ton of unhappy clients, actually had my first ever on happy bride this year. So it took three years and I think unfortunately what ended up happening is we like weren't the best style match for each other. And I think I do a very good job of explaining what I do and how I do it and how I serve my clients. Unfortunately, I think, and I made some fixes, a lot of it was like the tailoring of her dress, which obviously I couldn't control. I'm not a tailor, I'm just a photographer because I am there to serve her. I did, I did free Photoshop work for her to fix those functionings and things like that. And that went a long way. So I think when someone comes to you and they're unhappy with their product, I think for me, I was confident in the fact that I didn't get defensive about it.

Casey:

I knew that it was just that we weren't it. It ended up that we weren't the best fit. Even though I did my best the best that I could to explain to her who I was, what I do, and I didn't get defensive about it. I just said, Hey, let's figure out how to fix this. And it taught me a lot that it taught me a lot too. You know, maybe I, I, I'm not explaining and setting expectations as, as good as I could be. So I've now from that experience, because I always want to be as clear and set expectations as best as I possibly can with my clients so that they're happy and they know exactly what they're getting into from my unhappy bride. I have now included kind of like instructions for potential clients on what to look for when they look through my galleries.

Casey:

Because you know, with this bride, my, the gallery I sent her was no different than any of the galleries I had shared with her. But I think the place where I recognize where I could have done a little bit better is giving my potential clients a little bit of like a roadmap to when they're looking through these galleries. And so now I have a blurb in my, you know, consultation follow up email that says, you know, when you're looking through my galleries, I really want you to make sure that you like the emotional way that I shoot photographs, that I focus on messy moments of July over like perfectly style details. I want you to, I want to make sure that you like my more natural style of posing us to post like as opposed to something really highly stylized. So now, you know, I think when there's bad experiences you always have to ask yourself what you can learn from it and you really can't get defensive when you're in a service based industry. You've just got to figure out what's done is done, let's figure out how to make it better. And then always figure out how you can make the experience better for future clients. So that was something I pretty much implemented right away and I didn't take it personally. I think a lot of people can get caught up without defensiveness and taking it really personally. But you just have to get back up and figure out how to make your business better for the next person.

Seanna:

Yeah. And what an amazing way to grow from that experience by like figuring out like what in my system could be better so that this doesn't happen in the future. I love that because it's hard to not get defensive in those moments. Right.

Casey:

I would totally is. It totally is.

Seanna:

Growing from that, like that is what helps move your business forward. And that's amazing.

Casey:

Yeah. Negative experiences travel a lot faster than positive ones. And so what I really wanted to do, and, and again this was all about even though she was my first unhappy bride, like I wasn't going to treat her any different than my happy brides. I really wanted to make her feel served still and try and do everything I could because obviously we couldn't reshoot her wedding day and that really sucked. But what I could do is, you know, fix where her dress was bunched. I also, you know, looked through, she didn't like some of my compositions so I looked through some, some more photos to see if there was some different compositions. Again, like I didn't let this be personal about me as an artist. It was focused on serving her the best that I could with what I had so that her experience isn't totally horrible.

Casey:

I think like a lot of people, if you're going to get defensive and be personally hurt, you're just going to add fuel to the fire. And so now like when she talks about like how she might've been disappointed in her wedding photos, she's not going to go on and on forever. She's going to go, you know, but she, you know, photo-shopped 40 photos for me and it made me feel a lot better. You know, like I just feel like that goes a long way cause negative. Think about it, when you have a negative experience, you tell everyone about it. Positive experience. You walk a few people in, in a relevant circumstance. But like when you have a really negative experience like you call your mom, your sister, your friend, you tell your boyfriend, your husband, you tell everyone I really wanted to nip that in the butt right away.

Seanna:

Yeah that's so true.

Seanna:

Well you have shared such amazing insight on the client experience and how you've built this business and thank you so much for joining me today like I have absolutely loved learning from you and learning about your business and your systems that you have in it for serving your clients, so thank you.

Casey:

Yes, thank you. This was so much fun.

Seanna:

I will forever think of Casey when I think of cultivating the client experience and I hope now you will too. I know she really got me thinking about how to make sure my clients feel well taken care of in my business. If you would like to learn more about Casey and connect with her online, I've provided all of her links in the show notes at seannaasper.com/015 thank you so much for tuning in today. If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to iTunes and leave a review and don't forget to subscribe to be notified when new episodes are released, okay, friend. Bye for now.

 

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