Category Archives: Branding

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. 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 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.

What the Easter Bunny, the Honest Politician and the Upscale Bride Have in Common | Jeff Jochum

(c) istockphoto

(c) istockphoto

What the Easter Bunny, the Honest Politician and the Upscale Bride Have in Common

ANSWER: In spite of our most optimistic desires, none of them really exists.

Yeah, I telegraphed that one, didn’t I? (Did I rush it?  I feel like I rushed it, a little.)

Okay… then let’s get to the point. Why are “upscale brides” in that list, in the first place?  If they don’t really exist, why are there hundreds (thousands?) of books, classes, workshops and advisors that are enticing you with how to find, attract, pitch and sell to them?  Maybe it’s the same reason we keep electing the same “old white guys” to public office and expecting different results – wishful thinking.  Alas, as we keep discovering every election cycle, and after spending lots of money and time on workshops, books and “good advice” – wishing does not make it so.

IMHO, the confusion about the concept of Upscale Brides is centered in the increasingly inaccurate belief that we can categorize the behavior of people by evaluating their age, education, location, income levels, etc.  These points of data are referred to as “demographics” and have been at the center of 99% of all marketing theory and execution for a century or more.  Here’s the thing…

Demographics don’t work. Never really have. 

So, why does every professional marketeer use them, if they don’t work? You can blame that on a psychological bias known as “anchoring.” (This is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.) When we don’t have clear data that helps us  understand the behavior of the market, we use the information we have, which is usually just the easily-compiled demographic data, even if it is totally invalid for our purpose.

I call this the “Big Lie.”

Now, those of us who aren’t satisfied with the Big Lie, i.e. using demographics as a key indicator for behavior, are often forced to compile social data (stories, examples and anecdotes) to reach our own analytical conclusions.  For me, this is why and how I initially derived the philosophical concept of Specialism over 20 years ago. The goal of this type of social research is the need to add behavioral metrics to our analysis, i.e. how people “act” rather than simply who they “are.” 

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