Want to learn a bit more about earning $2000 per client in your boudoir photography business? Read on-- I have to warn you, though, you may not be all too happy with what you're about to read...
Let me start by saying I'm no genius. And I'm not a "sell the dream" type of photography fake guru. --You know the type, the ones who sell courses and seminars that promise riches in sales or being "totally booked," but they, themselves, have never actually run a successful photography business. I mean, because, if you were actually that successful (and busy) in photography why would you even bother selling a course for a few bucks!?
Why do they do it? Well, there are indeed those who are genuinely altruistic and want to help others succeed. There is also a another group who have learned that "selling the dream" is more profitable for them than running their own photography business. (Or at a minimum it brings in some easy cash.) Photographers out there are eager for success...and if they knew just that one secret to being fully booked... their lives and businesses would change forever! Dangling that money carrot in front of photographers is a powerful lure and very hard to resist.
What does any of that have to do with me? Well, I'm here to tell you that earning $2000 per client is indeed possible but the primary answer to reaching this-- as important as it is-- isn't going to be found in a crappy online "How to run a boudoir photography business" course... so save your money and put it toward something that can help you actually grow your photography business. I also know that if you're reading this article you're probably not making $2000 per client...but would like to!
...And that's fine! The wonderful thing about the photography business is that it is very community driven. There are countless message boards, forums, & groups out there with people willing to help others get started, and assist with almost anything from marketing to sales, and general business information, as well.
This type of large and diverse community can also be a drawback. You'll find lots of contrary advice and differences of opinions which can confuse-- and peppered along the path are wayyyy too many self-proclaimed "experts." --And not to mention the people who are purely wrong... or crazy. It can become overwhelming for a new boudoir photographer!
All of the "noise" out there can be confusing. After all-- you've probably started your boudoir photography business to make money, right? It was going to be so easy! Simply buy camera and money will follow! "Girl Power!" OK, so why aren't you making any? Let me guess... a few weeks after starting your business there weren't any people banging down your door and the first dose of reality hit home. Perhaps you started to think Hmmmm... what could I be doing wrong?? I did everything the internet told me to!
After your business initially went nowhere you decided to step back and maybe reassess and do some further research. What could you have possibly missed???
You've followed the prescribed boudoir internet "path to success" to the "T." You've signed up for every "boudoir-babe" style message board and chat group. You've "girl-powered" through a bunch of podcasts. "Girl Power!" You've made it clear to the universe you're here to heal all the damaged women psyches with your boudoir talents. You've talked all your BFFs into volunteering for photos and quickly posted them to your IG account with the obligatory "She slayed it..." commentary... You've even unrelentingly regurgitated the "body positive" and "love yourself" mantras in every single social media post... but nothing...
So, what could be the issue?
I'm here to assure you that making $1,000 - $2,000 per client possible. It's very possible. I do it regularly. --But here comes the uncomfortable part... There are likely several smaller reasons why you are not seeing that kind of money, and one really big one.
Typically, what I see that as main reason why so many boudoir photographers fail to succeed boils down to one thing-- a lack of self awareness. --Which is something that people really don't want to hear. Let me explain...
Do you know how in the early rounds of the American Idol auditions there are always people who go out and sing for the judges who are cringy awful singers, and all the judges wince in pain (or laugh) after the first few bars of singing. One judge ultimately always says something along the lines of "We appreciate your efforts, but this type of competition may not be for you... I vote no." And then the contestant walks away angry saying "I know I'm good! THEY don't know anything!" It seems the only person who doesn't realize they are not a good singer is the singer themselves... and still refuse to believe it.
Well... this may be you. Putting yourself out there completely unprepared- and not even being aware. How are your photographic chops? Do you know? What is your level of business acumen? What is your level of marketing and branding skills?
The first level of fail is surprisingly the most basic, and seemingly the least important to a new photographer (and it should be most important!)
You lack photographic skills.
You, however, are most likely a bad photographer... and no one wants to tell you... and odds are you don't realize it.
You've probably landed on the idea you were going to be a boudoir photographer quite suddenly... ran out and bought a camera... set up a website... and you were off. Just like that you're now "a pro."
Let me ask you this-- If you took out the "boudoir photographer" part and substituted, say, "rock guitar player"-- and told your friends you suddenly decided one day you were going to be a pro rock guitar player and were super disappointed because no one was coming along offering you millions of dollars to join the mega rock band-- would that be surprising? I mean you know nothing about music. Nothing about playing the guitar. Nothing about the music business at all. But hey... what does all that stuff really have to do with anything??
This is big, and probably most overlooked. I used to be a bit more active in the past on social media following boudoir photographers, and I'm happy to report that my unscientific survey is that 80% of boudoir photographers are technically bad. Bad. You'd think that photographers would be super vigilant in making certain they have the amazing technical skills needed to survive! Nope. Not only that... most don't even seem to care. ...And aren't even aware of how bad they really are.
Going back to my rock guitarist example.... Do you think having excellent guitar skills may just be an important aspect of being a successful pro guitar player? Putting yourself out there with no guitar skills and advertising yourself as a pro guitar player may be a bit strange.... but people in the photography world do this every day!
Simply buy camera...and *BOOM* I'm a pro! This course of action would be an immediate fail for a guitar player-- where it may take years of practice to get the skills to succeed at a pro level-- but photographers do this all the time. Seem a bit odd?
Photographing women is actually pretty hard. It takes a while to learn. It could take a few years of hard work to build up a level of accomplishment. What is your plan to make yourself stand out among the millions of other photographers? Yes, that's right, millions. Everyone these days is walking about with a cell phone that has a camera. We're all photographers. What makes your photos so special that people are willing to pay you?
The simple fact is that photos are the primary product you are selling. If you are not that much better than every other Jane walking around with camera in hand, why would anyone bother to spend their hard earned money to let you take their photo? They wont!
--And don't be fooled. Boudoir narratives don't make a difference. Constantly regurgitating the mantra that you are "changing women's lives" is not enough. It's really not enough. Don't fall into that trap and think that boudoir catchphrases make any difference to anyone. They don't. Your bad photography isn't changing anyone life.
The Fix: Want to be a successful boudoir photographer? How about taking 5 to 10 hours a week practicing and have regular critical reviews with an accomplished photographer who can point out your shortcomings and help you work to fix them?
Think of it like guitar lessons. Think of it like "paint the fence" in Karate Kid.
It's not easy... but it's the only way. If you have no interest in putting in the work to master the actual skills in photographing boudoir then why are you even doing it? In a business that is tough in the best of situations-- by being a bad photographer you're starting out with 2 3/4 strikes against you.
You lack business skills
Many people starting a boudoir photography business simply don't know how to run any business, period. It's pretty much, again, like jumping in an ocean when you don't know how to swim.
I know, I know, you're "changing women's lives..." --And again, I restate, boudoir mantras aren't going to save you.
After all, what is the point of starting a (full time) boudoir photography business if you are simply not changing the status quo of your life as it existed beforehand? Why even do it? The idea of starting a business would be to create some level of financial improvement and to provide a lifestyle you couldn't achieve by working a typical 9-5 in an office-- at a minimum!
I could write dozens of blog posts on all the things I've seen people do in the world of boudoir that make no sense. As a matter of fact, learning about business, in general, is hard... so much so that people pay tens of thousands of dollars to learn about business from professionals... it's called business school.
One glaring example of lack of business skills I see are people running boudoir businesses apparently trying not make money by charging rates where they can in no way be supporting themselves or earning a profit.
Photographers will make a random decision to start charging $139 for a boudoir session... because the woman across town is charging $199 for her Ooh, La La! Package-- you'll grab all her business!! Great business choice, right? Probably not. How do you know that woman across town is profitable? Or booking any clients? Or is not crazy? You don't! But yet, you still did it... And you would not be alone in doing this!
Photographers often create hapless pricing and package schemes which make no sense. Basing your pricing off someone else is pretty much a one way street to failure. You don't know anything about that person! Picking a random number out of the air isn't a smart way to operate. This "guess pricing" strategy doesn't account for the photographers time. Doesn't account for what you want to earn in a year. And typically end up earning the photographer a sub-minimum wage for their efforts-- at best. Let me tell you-- there are much easier ways to earn yourself $4/hr other than running a photography business. So why do you do it?
Not understanding how to set pricing in your business is just one of the dozens of business mistakes boudoir photographers make.
The Fix: The point of this article isn't to get knee deep into the specifics on how to fix this issue... but you have to do it! There are countless articles online that will walk you through it in much greater detail than I care to get into here. There are numerous spreadsheets and "what do I need to charge" calculators online ( like this calculator.... or this earning calculator.... or this earning calculator) that are free and simple tools that are seemingly overlooked when people are starting their business.