recently on the build a little biz facebook page we had a chat about thinking outside the box when it comes to growing your biz and selling your stuff. particularly if you make a handmade product, or perform a one-on-one service, there comes a point where you cannot fit any more work into your schedule. so what do you do?
my suggestion is that you have to think differently about your ‘thing’. up until this point you have been on one path: “i make doodads. people like them. i will sell them. i will build a site where people can buy them. i will promote my ass off so more people will come. i will make even more doodads and sell even more doodads.” and onwards. but that plan of ‘make more to sell more’ is going to hit a ceiling at some point.
my photography business has two aspects – i provide a service (hour long photo sessions that result in me editing a minimum of 25 images) and a product (portraits, collages, albums and other photo gifts that i design and print using client’s favourite photos). because of the time it takes, there are only so many photo sessions i can do a week, only so many photos i can edit. i have recently worked out the ‘right amount’ of work for me, the amount i can handle comfortably without getting overwhelmed or burnt out. but what if i want to grow my business? make more money? i can’t add in more photo sessions so i am going to have to think a little differently about what i sell and how i can sell it.
is there a digital product that i can make and sell?
sell an ebook to other mums who want to start a photography business. sell an instruction manual for people who want to learn how to make their own digital designs. create some sort of online course for using photoshop to create something amazing. sell ready to go action sets for photographers. sell completed digital designs for photographers to use with their clients. (once these things are made and the work is done, they can be sold repeatedly with very little cost.)
is there a way that i can provide my service to a large group at once?
a group workshop for mums on how to take better photos of kids. a photography class for kids. ‘quick’ photo sessions to a large group at once – party plan style, or for a school or community group perhaps. (once these things are set up you can use the same materials and structure each time.)
is there a way i can provide my service on an ongoing basis?
create a membership site with monthly fees – again maybe for mums who want to be better photographers, or photographers who want to start their own business, or people who want to learn about photoshop. create a series of digital products that lead into the next one so existing clients continue to buy from you. start a mentoring program which takes place over the course of a year.
is there a way i can reduce the amount of time it takes me to make my thing?
stop making every photo product as a custom made design from scratch – for some of my products offer just two designs to choose from. sell my photo gifts without having to do a photo session and large batch of editing – i can make these products using digital photos people already have.
can i offer my service or product in a way that is modified to save time?
do a day of mini-sessions – the session takes a fraction of the time, i only edit a fraction of the photos, and people order what they want on the spot so the post-session interaction time with clients is a lot less.
can i stop doing or outsource the things that take me a long time or that i don’t enjoy?
i like creating my digital designs and photo gifts so i don’t want to outsource any of that. i don’t like doing accounting/invoicing type things so maybe hiring someone to do that would help. framing is a finicky thing that is a time sink for me, so maybe not offer it or charge a huge premium for that service.
can i bundle products or services?
bundle some of my products that are quick and easy to do with something that takes a lot longer - clients feel they have more value added when they buy a package and i make more on the entire package without adding much more time to the order.)
so, this is just my brainstorm for my business. i have no interest in going ahead with some of these ideas, and other ideas i have already started to implement. but this was a very good exercise to force myself to think of ways i could expand my business without adding more sessions and photo-editing to my plate. and i plan to revisit this list again and see what is working well and what other ideas i can come up with.
by the way, there is one more thing i could consider: can i charge more for my thing?
i heard this advice once: when you get too busy, increase your prices. there is a lot more to finding the right price, of course. but i thought this point was worth a mention! i am planning some future posts on pricing so stay tuned...
what do you think? are there other ways that you can think of to expand a business by offering additional services, information or products? or by offering your existing products and services in a new way? please leave a comment, i would love to hear from you.