This post is a part of the “What I learned in my first year” series.
Click on the links if you would like to read more:
Part 1:”The Investments”
Part 2: “Getting Published”
Do Facebook contests really work at bringing in more clients?
Hmmm… Im still unsure about this one! Ive hosted three facebook contests click here & here & here to see them, and I want to say that its brought me tons of clients, but so far the majority of my inquiries are referrals of past clients, friends, or family... Not much strangers who are forced to LIKE my page from Facebook contests :)
Its always so stressful putting yourself out there hoping that you get enough people to join the contest... & that people actually vote! Each time I told myself that Id never do it again...
But what can I say I get urges to make clients happy with giveaways!
Contests bring you a lot of LIKES, but be prepared to Lose a big chunk after the winner is announced because its not who they were voting for! It makes me kinda sad to see the LIKES drop, its feels like Im getting dumped each time! I started reevalutaing myself and wondering what I was doing wrong… Maybe they think I talk too much or dont like my photos! But like my mama always said you can’t please everyone, so just be yourself! I figure that if they want to leave then so be it! We werent meant to be Facebook Friends anyway! “If they don’t like it then don’t look at it!”
I have to look at the bright side of things: contests are a way to market my business for FREE to hundreds of people regardless if they stick around or not. I want to Attract or Repel so I can get the clients that are RIGHT for me! I also need to focus on the 300 of the 400 LIKES that actually stick around, instead of the people I lost! Im grateful for those of you that stick around! :)
Before my first contest I had around 150 LIKES, after the contest I got up to 350 -But then went down to 300! Those 300 stuck around the whole time, then I hosted my second contest. I tried a different way to host the contest, which wasn’t too strict & I got an additional 200 LIKES, which eventually dropped down to 450. This last contest in November, I got up to 850 LIKES and then went down to 748! Im debating on having a “Comeback Contest” in May when I return from Maternity leave… but I think Im going to host it a little different. I need to find a way that works for me so I dont get so stressed out and a way that we dont annoy as many people by forcing them to vote lol! Any suggestions that have worked for any of you, or that you think might work better would be greatly appreciated! Im really itching to get over 1,000 LIKES! That would be sooo cool! That would mean that every time I post an engagement or wedding it would reach out to 1,000 people! Well that is only if they checked the “Show in News Feed” box.
Before I began my business I hardly used Facebook! Only to exchange photos with family & friends but other than that I was a pretty silent user. Now that Ive started my business page Ive surprised my family and friends with how much I post! (I try so hard not to overdo it, I promise!) But Ive realized that Facebook is an awesome tool to market your business for FREE, to build relationships with your clients & stay connected with them while gaining future clients! So each post, photo, or link is shared for a reason. :) there is a method to my madness!
Here are the photos from each of the Contest winners:
Click Here to see more of Marina & Josh's shoot
Click Here to see more of Lerissa & Kurt's shoot
Click Here to see more of Kristin & Jose's shoot
Everyone has their own steps to achieve their dreams… sometimes you look back and see how you could’ve cut corners or avoided different bumps in the roads, if only someone would’ve told you! So Im writing this series in hopes that it will help someone (anyone) learn from my mistakes & experiences so they can hopefully achieve their goals faster :) I know that reading other seasoned photographers tips definitely helped me to avoid certain struggles in the business.
So here is a list of what I will be covering: -They are in no particular order of importance… (the highlighted titles are links to the completed blog posts)
Pt. 1 Investments
Pt. 2 Getting Published
Pt. 3 Facebook Contests
Pt. 4 Choosing Second Shooters
Pt. 5 Wedding Timelines
Pt. 6 How to avoid Drama in the business
Pt. 7 Wedding Attire -Style vs. Comfort
Pt. 8 Finding your shooting style
Pt. 9 Importance of First Look!
Pt. 10 Meeting People who follow your blog
It's not every day that we can get the whole family together... with my parents being divorced, siblings being busy with their lives, and my lil bro being in the hospital due to his uncontrollable behaviors, So it was awesome that my mom was able to work her magic & get us all in to visit him for a few hours! I think that Michael is the HEART of the family… no matter what we will all gather together because of him! And what's the point of the holidays if you can't spend it with the people you love!?!
-Click here to read more about my brother’s syndrome
Watching him open his presents, the typical sibling clownin, & playing the matching game (with EVERYONE Getting along) is a miracle! No cameras are allowed into the hospital so it was a sweet gesture for the nurse to snap a photo of all of us & print it out! Its definitely not the best quality photo but Best believe we're going to frame this xerox paper picture cuz it's the only photo we have of us together and who knows when thatll happen again! It just reminds me of how important our jobs as photographers are to make sure to capture these special moments... No matter what they're printed on, they are valued!
Here's lil Jack making cookies for Santa!
I probably sound like the Grinch when i say "I'm glad that Christmas is over!" Don't get me wrong I love the season of giving just & spending time with the family... Its just I hate the take down & cleanup! Taking down the decorations, taking out the tree, putting away the mistletoe (or maybe I should keep that up all year long :) & storing all the Christmas wrapping! We didn't even host Christmas at my house, but all the prepping to go to our families gatherings left my house a disaster! I spent all Wednesday cleaning it up! Boo Not fun!
And yesterday was my birthday…
Remember the good ol days when you would celebrate your birthday for the whole week or even month! Then you get older, pop out a few kids & your lucky if anyone even remembers your birthday lol! Shoot, Im guilty of forgetting it too! Especially when your stuck with a birthday that's two days after Christmas!! Then it might get a few hours of recognition :)
A HUMUNGOUS Thank you to those of you who always send your love every year, and those newbies that surprised me with even knowing it was my bday! Yall made me feel special & are so sweet!
My cousin made me this cute little collage for my bday... I thought I'd share it with yall so you can see what i looked like as a little nugget :)
Whoever said “once you turn 21 then the years fly by”, was so doggone RIGHT! I'm just gonna embrace another year under the belt & salute (with a glass of sparkling cider0 of course) to another year of life! Woo hoo 26 years young!!!
Unfortunately my boo had to work, but I got to spend some girly time with my mamas, sis, & Tia. We ate at this little place called Tantalum in the LBC (thats gangsta talk for Long Beach) & it was bomb deezy! Definitely recommend! You get an awesome view of the bay too! So romantical!
Im going to try soo hard to blog a few more post before the end of the year! Ive got some thangs I want to wrap up so I can begin 2013 as fresh as can be! So stay tuned :)
*Baby Update: Everything seems to be looking fine, Im 34 weeks today, feeling large & in charge! Im already experiencing Braxton Hicks Contractions! So thats pretty exciting! Little Max is movin & groovin alot in my belly... I see knees & elbows bulging out of my belly (which kinda freaks me out)! Already going to start going to the doctors on a weekly basis. And his room & everything is ready for him! Big brother is waiting patiently for his baby to arrive!
It looks like a snow storm has hit our home, but instead of actual snow it's crumpled up tissue! Yes with snot! That's what happens when all 3of us are sick at the same time! A house full of snot, chapped noses, & groggy voices! It's gives us an excuse to stay in our pj’s all day & bundle up watching Stand by me! Oh and Forest Gump!
This post is a part of the “What I learned in my first year” Series. There’s no specific order that these posts are in… I’m kinda just jumpin round to different topics! So I guess Im not that organized lol Click here if you would like to read Part 1:”The Investments”
Today we’re talking about “Getting published!” I know that I’m no pro in this topic, but I just wanted to share this experience with you & maybe one day if I can come back and retouch on this topic, if I get published more often! :) Until then Im gonna pretend like I know what Im talking about so bear with me!
So I know Im a few weeks late but i really wanted to talk about how SUPER STOKED I am that I was published on Any Given Party! This is such a huge deal for me! It means that my photos were good enough to be published (or they just really liked the party details!)
This has given me a spark of confidence to now submit more sessions... maybe some weddings & engagement sessions because that's the market that I'm trying to reach out to. But anything is good for me right now! Getting Published is an awesome opportunity to get marketed to future brides & hopefully future clients for FREE! Holla Balla! If you didn't see the featured post feel free to check it out :) Here
Click here to see more photos from the original blog post!
By the way isn’t this a beautiful day to end the world! Wish I felt better so I could get off the couch & do something awesome today! Hmm O well maybe Ill get a chance at the next “end of the world scare!”
I probably won't be back on the blog until after the Xmas chaos is ova, but u gotta admit I was on a roll this week with 3 blog posts! Woop Woop! Have a wonderful time with your loved ones and cherish these moments ya’ll have together! I know I will while I'm wrapping tamales, baking cookies with my lil munchkin, Tappin Jacks bootay in some games, & just laughing with the familia!
From your furry Lil friend, me!
Do I have to get a shot today? Lil Jack asks the Doctor with worry in his little voice.
We'll see! She replies.
Umm how about not today! –Lil Jack
Good news, you just have to get a TB test done today... –Doc
He turns towards his daddy with his big brown eyes filling up with tears... Daddy tells him not to worry, that this is a test to see if he's the real Spiderman! So you have to be brave, itll just be a little prick, as he holds his hand and tries to keep him from looking. (Is it normal to fall in love all over again?) He seriously amazes me with the ideas he comes up with on the spot! He's such a great dad!
Lil Jack took the test like a champ! He was so excited when the nurse came in to reveal the big results that he is the real Spiderman! So don’t be shocked if he tries to shoot you with his web!
My baby has grown into a big boy! I can't believe 4years have already gone by!
I can’t even believe that my first year of photographer is already over! There has been sooo many highs & lows, successes & failures... I thought it might be cool to start a series of "What I’ve learned in my first year of Photography".
Let's rewind to the very beginning... "The Investments!"
Everyone says its pretty pricey starting a business, but its SUPER DUPER PRICEY!!! You definitely have to take a chunk from your savings, a leap of faith, & hold on like heck! There are many investments that you have to make in order to start making money! I decided to share some of my investments with you to help you understand that this is no joke!
In 2010 I went from being a stay at home mom with my cake business on the side, to working at a bakery to help save for our wedding & a "fancy" camera! In July of 2011 I left my job to go to photography school & in September 2011 I decided to take on photography as a full time job. Read more about how it all began here. During these events my husband was working as a Paramedic and was the sole provider for our family. In early 2012 he left his job to go to school. So money was definitely tight! I mean TIGHT! But luckily we had paid for all the gear before all of these changes occured. Thank God he was also getting paid while he was attending school so that's how we kept afloat. I threw in what I could when I booked lifestyle sessions & weddings here & there. We try to live very modestly & don't like to charge money that we don't have.
So now that you have the behind the scenes story, here are the investments we’ve made so far...
September 2011- I bought a Canon t3i rebel with an additional kit lens with the money I saved up from my old job! (We also got a homie discount which helped out a lot!) Then I found out within a week that the lens that we bought wasn't as fancy as I had thought! It was very limited :( But I was grateful for having anything at this point! Click here to see some of my first photos
December 2011- Jack bought me the 50mm F1.4 for xmas! read more about it here. I outgrew the kit lenses quick, it wasnt giving me the style that I wanted in my photos! But this lil baby is definitely my go to lens... Probably because it was my only pro lens for a while!
Feb 2012- I rented a 70-200mm 2.8 & 580exii & external flash for my first second shooting gig. Then soon after we spent some of our tax return $mula$ to buy the 70-200mm 2.8 (a wedding must have) & Markii which were both discounted at the WPPI conference. Read more about the MArk II purchase here
March 2012- I booked my first wedding & rented the 580exii flash & I now use my T3i for my backup camera.
April- July 2012- started second shooting more & booking lifestyle portraits then used the profits to payback our savings account. Its better than taking out a loan -No Interest! I raised some money to buy the 580exii flash! So now I own a flash & two lenses a 50mm 1.4 & 70-200mm 2.8 and these are what I use for weddings! I also rent a 35mm or 24-70mm, depending on what kind of mood Im in :)
October 2012- Finally bought an external hard drive to store all the wedding photos since I was taking up all the space on my mom’s pc laptop.
The above doesn’t mention the cost of classes, workshops, and other little things that are essential for the business.
In my first year I booked 3 weddings of my own & two hand fulls of lifestyle portraits, so the profits go right back to our savings account! I'm yet to pay back the cost for all the equipment (and I'm already itching to buy another lens to add diversity to my photos) but I'm definitely working on repaying as fast as I could, cuz once I'm caught up then I want to get a 35mm lens! Until then I gotta rent rent rent!
I’ve also saved money by using things that we've already had, like...
Our desktops until they decided to take a dump on us. Now Im mooching off my mom’s laptop for all my business needs, which is getting old for her cuz I'm taking up all her space! I also created my own website and logo -off of a free platform, that I've changed the design a million times! Instead of spending money that I don’t have on branding and packaging Disc’s, I offer awesome Online Galleries for my clients to download, share, & print their photos! I will elaborate more on that in another series.
I know that some photographers are lucky enough to own all the coolest lenses and I wish that I was included in that batch but I'm going to have to wait & work with what I've got, rent, and rock it out as much as I can until I can afford to buy my own gear! I don't like spending our savings on business when it could be spent on other things like family vacations! It makes me feel guilty. So anywhoo this is how we invested in my business! It might not have been the right way, but everyone has their own path! I am so grateful for my Husband/Best Friend Jack for supporting me and making this journey possible! I love him more every day! He's the one that has always inspired me to do what I want to do!
I hope this help those of you who are interested in getting into photography, or following a different dream! You can do it! Unfortunately it's gonna take some money honey! This is the unfun part of this business!
I'M JANELLE MARINA
Wife, Mama Shark, + Photographer.
Most days, you'll find me in mismatched socks and a top knot, working behind my computer with a smile on my face, listening to Zac Brown Band and R&B
--or, dancing in the kitchen with my 3 littles and hunka husband, seeing who could come up with the coolest dance moves. I'm a wedding photographer, West Elm lover, aspiring advocate for our buddies with special needs, and a Certified Dreamer since 1986. We live in a cozy city in Southern California and are always up for a good adventure. I enjoy telling stories with my camera, grubbing on spicy food, and solving the latest Dateline case.