First up is a Seattle area photographer who has quickly built her business beyond cookie-cutter wedding photography and senior pics. An alumna of my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University (Attaway, Lutes!), Christy Pelland is now an award winning photographer, generous volunteer, and was named one of the Business Examiner's 40 under 40. She recently launched her new Sweet Betty Jean service - a classic pin-up style shoot where the photograph is "painted" to resemble old pin-ups from the 40s and 50s. Below she shares some of her secrets to success.
1. Tell us a little about your business, c.pelland photography, and what you do.
I officially started my photography company in 2005, the year I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University. I wanted to use my artistic talents along with my ability to quickly build a strong relationship with others – photography was the natural fit.
2. How did you determine your niche market, and how do you strive to differentiate yourself from other area photographers?
I knew anyone could call themselves a photographer but no one could do exactly what I do; from the way I connect with my clients to the artistic choices I make during the editing process. I'm not a trendy photographer or photo journalist I'm a storyteller. The images I provide simply spark memories of the moments they represent, memories that give way to the stories you'll tell for a lifetime.
I come from the stand point that there is a right fit for everyone, I'm lucky enough that the perfect clients find me year after year.
3. You use facebook as an effective marketing tool. Can you tell us a little about your strategy there and the intention behind it?
My career is all about connecting with people, Facebook takes it to a whole new level. I share most everything about the business there from upcoming events to current projects - and just enough of my personal life to show who I am and what I love. I’m open about who I am and what I do because I know the clients I want to work with will respect that and enjoy a good laugh at the experiences I choose to share. Facebook is all about connecting with others – luckily, so I my business. It is simply another tool – a really awesome & free tool!
4. One of the hardest parts of setting up shop can be setting your prices. Do you have any tips to share?
Know your skill level, know your competition and have confidence. If you've got the product people want paired with undeniably genuine customer service and a likable personality - success will find you. Have goals in mind – for me, I turn to the business plan which states booking a certain amount of weddings & sessions each year – I know my prices are right on when I book just that amount.
5. As a momma to two lovely little girls and an active member of your community and social circle, you seem to be doing it all! How do you manage your time effectively?
Google calendar. I schedule in everything from daily tasks to international travel, dance class for my daughter to date night with my husband, hours of editing images to a 'mountain therapy' day spent skiing. Checklists are proven to improve performance in every aspect of life - this application helps me keep it all together. I've always needed to write things down to learn and remember them, the calendar system allows for automatic reminders sent directly to my phone and anywhere access.
Beyond the calendars and checklists, it's knowing what's most important in my life. Giving the most I can and truly living in each moment. A full life is the only kind I want to lead.
6. And just for fun, what would you be doing if you weren't doing photography?
Writing and illustrating books for children – you learn so much more about the beauty of life when you see it as a child.
Thank you, Christy! Readers, be sure to check out Christy's stunning portfolio on her website and connect with her on facebook! If you have any suggestions for other small business owners you'd like to hear from, drop me a line and I'm happy to accommodate.
All photos used with permission from Christy Pelland.