Finding Your Genius Zone

“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow

two heroes of business sales

istock // RichVintage

Have you found your genius zone? The zone where you absolutely love what you do (and you make lots of money doing it)?  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls this zone your flow.  It’s where you get lost doing what you love.  Luckily for many of us it’s where we also make the most money per hour! I explained on our VIP list how you can find this zone with only a few minutes of work (not getting these email? Sign up here.) 

$10 – $15/ hr tasks (outsource these to spend more time in the genius zone and in flow)

  • Basic customer service
  • Cleaning
  • Running to the store
  • Sorting
  • Talking to unqualified leads
  • Chores
  • Yardwork
  • Running errands
  • Anything you don’t want to do

Stop doing the things that are holding you back. Go ahead and find your genius zone.  Fall into flow. And design the life and business you’ve always wanted.


Mike AllebachMike Allebach

Founded Brandsmash as a marketing resource for photography small business owners with his mantra “Your story changes everything.” Hailed by a Rock n Roll Bride as “the Original Tattooed Bride Photographer” Mike Allebach crafted one of the most distinct niches in photography. Ariel author of Offbeat Bride said “It’s obvious that Mike Allebach so totally gets offbeat brides.”

Posted in Making Money, Personal Growth

How to Market for Portrait Photographers | Sue Bryce

Sue Bryce 800

I’ve worked in a Portrait Studio for 26 years. The first 12 years we were Wedding and Portrait. It always amazed me that people called us for wedding bookings but we called them for portrait bookings. This I feel is where photographers often get mixed up. Wedding photography is Event based marketing example: Are you available, are you in my price range do we connect. But Portrait Photography is not an event its one of those things that all people want but never get around to do it. Usually it’s Mom saying can we have a family portrait trying desperately to herd everyone together for a bad photo.  Lets face it she has been doing that since you were babies. You have a product that everyone wants they just don’t know it.

Since there is no life event around updating your portrait our clients get confused about when to do it and why spend the money. So your job as a Portrait maker is to market to the WHY? do I need this. The target there for me has always been Mom. Obviously I specialize in a Glamour Beauty genre so my marketing has always been to the ‘Girls Day Out’ or the classic beauty brand message that all Women know “Because you are worth it” or the “Have you ever wanted to look and feel like the Models in magazines” The Mom marketing sell has always been easy for me as we are photographers and we stop time. “You are someone that I love I want to capture you for all time”

Remember first find the WHY, not in what you do . .  but in WHY your clients want you and need you. Then speak to them through those needs. Marketing is not about getting noticed it’s about giving service. Too many photographers are marketing on price and competition instead of value and at the end of the day the person paying needs to be excited, educated and then treated with exceptional service.  Then they will tell 10 friends and you will be in business. In business you need to take a step back from your website and see it like someone who does not know ANYTHING about our industry. Ask yourself these questions Does my website accurately and clearly portray what I do and what I sell? You would be surprised how many do not.  What is the need my clients have? What is stopping them from getting this need met? Do I value what I do and what I sell?

Every time I see photographers with hurdles it’s alway about ‘Putting themselves out there’ that is not marketing that is personal confidence you need to develop into your own power in this area if you are struggling here. The best marketers i’ve seen are natural connectors, but do not be discouraged as connection is something that can be learned enthusiasm connects more people than BS or slick snake oil sales pitches. Even an introvert becomes an extrovert when they talk about what they love. Be open, learn to promote yourself with your enthusiasm for what you create and focus on giving service not getting paid you’ll be amazed at how that flips over night
– Sue Bryce
Posted in Marketing, Niche, Personal Growth, Photography, Small Business, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , |

Do you need a coach for your photography business?

Mike Allebach

Do I need a coach for my photography business?

I talk a lot about the value of coaching and that creates lots of questions around it.

My coach Walter played a huge part in my growth as a business owner.  I found Walter when he was coaching three of my friends.  Each of my friends seemed to be at the start of something big and were showing great drive towards their goals.   So I got curious.

If you have a great business mentor in your life who checks in on your monthly and gives great life advice then you probably don’t need a coach. On the other hand, if you feel like you’ve plateaued in your career and you want to move forward, coaching might be for you.

What life coaches and business coaches aren’t for:

  • Therapy.  If you are stuck in life and blame it on a “someone” or “something” you can’t control you probably aren’t ready for coaching.  A trained & licensed therapist would be more beneficial.
  • General photography advice.  Most coaches are professionals not professional photographers.  Business coaches are knowledgable about business practices.  Don’t go to a coach for photography advice.
  • Doing your work for you. You still have to do the hard work.
  • Nagging & reminding. You are an adult.  It’s up to you to do anything you’ve committed to doing.

What are life and business coaches for:

  • Asking questions – Good life & business coaches know how to ask the right questions.
  • Uncovering Strengths – Identify the things you do better than most people. MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg
  • Realizing Weaknesses – Identifying weaknesses so you can find partners in those areas
  • Setting & Reaching Goals – Give you a system for recording milestones and reaching goals
  • Accountability – Sometimes just agreeing to a date and time with another person helps you get stuff done.
  • Personal Branding –  Uncover who you already are.
  • Celebrating small victories.  When you reach a milestone they can celebrate with you.

Coaches help point you towards Self-Actualization. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs Self-Actualization is the highest point of humanity.  This is realizing what your potential to help people is and being unfettered by the naysayers. Some people may get to this point after coaching.  Although coaching itself can only give you a glimpse or a flicker.

Dr Seuss describes Self-Actualization with his own terms

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

I went through a year of coaching.  On the day I signed up, I choose the number of coaching sessions.  This is important for coaching, it prevents unhealthy dynamics and dependance on the coach.  Unlike a mentor who you are friends with, a paid coach is someone you’ve hired.  You have a finite chunk of time to measure whether the coach is helping you reach your goals.  For the first two months I went twice and ever month after I went once.  During my year in coaching I started public speaking, learned people skills for when I’m feeling socially awkward and solidified my personal brand.   I also spent a lot of time learning what drives me and my strengths and weaknesses.  I received a huge amount of value from coaching.  It’s been a great investment. 

Coaches are great for helping prepare for transitions.  Thinking of leaving your full time job for the business you’ve started?  Before you leave would be a perfect time to get a coach (while you have extra cash in hand).  Most executive, business and life coaching prefer the phone or skype.  If you prefer in person coaching, you’ll obviously need to find a local coach!

Coaches can vary greatly in quality so I would find someone who is personally recommended or highly reviewed.  Be picky when choosing a coach, make sure you trust them.  Some coaches may have a formal therapy practice while others may be certified executive business coaches or life coaches.  Unlike therapy, coaching will not be covered by medical insurance.   It’s a business expense not medical. Expect to pay $100 to 300 for a life coach or $250+ hr for a more specialized business coach.

Score.org also provides services to business owners in the US.  Much of it is free.  If you are unsure where to go, check with your local chapter of Score.org first.

Have you been coached?  Are you a coach?  Write your experience in the comments below.


Mike AllebachMike Allebach

Founded Brandsmash as a marketing resource for photography small business owners with his mantra “Your story changes everything.” Prior to going full time with his photography business, Mike was a Marketing Director. Hailed by a Rock n Roll Bride as “the Original Tattooed Bride Photographer” Mike Allebach crafted one of the most distinct niches in photography.

Posted in Branding, Small Business Tagged , , , , |