Category Archives: Business

unnamedI’ll just go ahead and admit it now. I am not super woman. I can’t keep up. Maybe if I had some level of predictability to my day, things would be different, but with a baby and a toddler, the only thing I can predict is that Murphy will always show up… in the form of a giant poop diaper right when we’re walking out the door, a pair of shoes put on the wrong feet, a meltdown because a sticker didn’t make it into the van and we HAVE to have THAT sticker. Isn’t that kind of the beauty of the wonderment of childhood though? The unpredictability? It’s amazing what we lose as adults that children bring back, even if only for a brief time.

Anyway, things have gotten really difficult to keep up with and when I do try to keep up, I find myself doing things half way, which isn’t who I am. To take a load off and make sure that I stop slipping through the cracks, I’ve made the leap into being an employer and I’ve hired someone awesome! I want you all to meet Kristen Tillman. She’s the Director of Marketing and Sales. Kristen and I go way back to middle school. I was the trouble child. She was the angel. Somehow that changed in high school and I became the angel and Kristen was always “grounded.” Lol! Anyway, Kristen will be working remotely from Savannah, GA and bringing some southern charm (which we all know… I can’t pull that off) to JSP. She lives there with her husband, Jon, and her daughter, Ellie. Kristen is currently going through training and I’m so excited to have her on board and taking over some areas for me. Soon, I hope to bring her in for a session and get some beautiful head shots of her.

It’s been 4 years in the works, but I’m really excited to release these images. I’ve been working for months to create a cohesive look for my brand and after 4 years of being in business, it is finally here. This is the first part of my new client packaging.

This post is intended for clients, though I’m sure many photographers will be looking at this post. If you’re a photographer, before you read any further, note that I will not be disclosing information on where my products were purchased. I have several reasons behind this; the main reason being that I don’t want everyone having my exact same packaging. Aside from that, I’ve spent months doing the design work and finding the right companies to work with to pull this all together and I would be doing a disservice to myself and the many tireless hours (during the last part of my pregnancy and having a newborn) I’ve worked to create this for my clients.

To my clients… It is really important to me that you have the best experience possible with a photographer. Whether you’re a wedding or portrait client, you deserve the best. I’ve been in business for 4 years and I’ve never had packaging quite like this and I have to say, it feels good to finally give you what you deserve. I believe that a cohesive feel to a brand makes me feel complete when I’m working with them. To have fragmented branding can be confusing and make you have an awkward feeling about my company. When I shop somewhere that has packaging that is so nice I don’t want to throw it away, it makes me feel like I not only received a quality product, but that the company cares about how their clients feel when they’re done with their transaction and walk out the door. This is no different. I want you to feel a cohesive and fluid experience through and through and packaging that is too nice to throw away is an important part to the big picture. So here it is!

When you receive your package in the mail, it will look like this.

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When you open your package, it will have a thank you card on top with the digital negatives on the bottom.

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This is the thank you card.

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In it you’ll find my business card, a personalized, handwritten thank you card with two referral cards to hand out to friends, a card to remind you to leave feedback for me, and some information on my referral program. On the back of those cards you’ll find my logo and website information.

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This is the box your digital negatives will arrive in.

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I can’t believe it’s already been 4 years. Last Saturday, JSP turned 4 years old! It feels like just yesterday when I was sitting in my living room trying to come up with a name for my business. I’ve told the story too many times to talk about yet again in this blog article, but these last 4 years have gone by so fast. I’m really happy with where I’ve come from and where I am today. It’s fun to go back and see my blog articles from back then and see how much I’ve improved, read stories from the past, and really see how my business has been shaped through everything in the past. I didn’t start blogging until about 8 months into my business opening, but I sooooo cherish the memories I’ve been able to create and save for a lifetime through this blog. It’s really awesome. If you’re like me, you probably cringe a bit at your early work. Right? Right. Next year will hit the big 5 year mark and if you’re lucky, I may just do a giveaway, but for today, since I just came back from maternity leave, I’ll leave it at happy birthday!

So what do you all think? If you’re reading this on my blog, then you can clearly see that there is a new design! Many of you who visit my blog on a regular basis may have seen that I was using my blog as my website/blog (aka blogsite) but then switched back to having a separate blog and website. I didn’t like the design because it wasn’t very fluid. It just didn’t flow.

Last week at our Jacksonville PUG meeting, we had a really great speaker on SEO and one of things he spoke about was just how bad flash websites are for search engines. Now, this was something I already knew but I thought the “SEO friendly” flash sites had some sort of html mirror of sorts to allow search engines to easily index my site, but he proved that that wasn’t true when he did an audit on my website. This was the kick in the butt I needed to get my new blog+site redesign DONE! I feel like I’ve been so busy I just haven’t had time.

So last Friday and Saturday, I literally spent 13+ hours in front of the computer each day plugging away at a new design, new layout, and SEO friendly site. And there you have it! Blogsite is done! I really love it. I don’t know why I never did it this way before. It’s not only SEO friendly, it’s incredibly cost effective.

For photographers who are wondering (and maybe potential clients who are interested) part of the cost of running a legitimate photography business is the expense of running a blog, website, proofing site, lead management/pricing software, etc. Many people don’t realize that you can easily throw down $100+ a month in these expenses alone. That doesn’t include business liability insurance, insurance on your gear, any necessary gear upgrades, rentals, taxes, business licensure, education, continuing education, etc. Running a business is expensive, but if you love what you do, it is worth it. Many people who deem themselves professional photographers just go buy a DSLR and automatically call themselves a professional photographer, but they don’t understand that to run a legitimate business, you have to have a business license and pay taxes.

Here is where I’m going to be frank, well, because that’s how I roll. Here is a run down of website expenses:

  • Website through ShowIt: $39 per month
  • Blog: $4.99 per month (you pay for hosting monthly, but pay for the blog software as a one time fee)
  • Blog dedicated hosting: $2.99 per month
  • ShootQ (lead management): $30 but am on a promotional code. Typically it is $60.
  • Proofing: Depending on who you go with, this can be very pricey. The cart system I’d like to use is either $80 per month or a one time fee of $999. So I’m currently saving some money using SmugMug at $150 per year, which is about $12.50 per month.

That’s $89.48 per month, just in website stuff. By eliminating the cost of a separate website, I’m saving $39 per month, which is a lot. That’s $468 per year. If you’d like to know, I purchased a prophoto blog from prophotoblogs.com several years ago. It’s basically software that allows you to build your own blog without knowing coding, but thanks to their advances, you also have the capability of creating a blogsite. What’s really exciting, at least for me, is that they are about to release P4, which includes additional features that are going to make things that much better. When you buy prophoto and they upgrade, you get a heavily discounted upgrade price instead of having to rebuy it. The other great thing about prophoto is that you don’t have to be a photographer. You can just need a website and be able to use it for any business. When I did more web design, I used prophoto for my clients who wanted a website and blog in one. It’s super handy and I just love it.

Not to mention, it’s SEO friendly! I also don’t have to pay anything extra to have my site available on iPads, iPhones, and other devices like that. It pains me to think of the money I wasted on websites that weren’t at their best potential.

Anyway, I hope this blog article is helpful for those of you, photographers or otherwise, who may be looking to save money on expensive websites or understand part of the breakdown for why photographers charge what they charge.

And because blogs are just better with a picture, here’s a picture of the prettiest girl in the world!

It feels like forever ago that I ordered these cards and they finally came in, but really, I was just so excited about them that I just COULD NOT wait to get them! When the knock came at my door around 11 this morning, I got up and BOLTED to the door in anticipation of getting my cards today! Seriously, when did business cards get so exciting? I don’t know, but people, and Internet, they are SUPER exciting!

Since I started my business, I had struggled with coming up with a solid brand that really represented me, my personality, and the kind of work I do. I watched a video in 2009 on The [b] School (which I am no longer a part of) that spoke volumes to me about my branding. I finally decided it was time to rebrand once and for all. In December of 2009, I finally finished my new logo and brand! I was incredibly excited. For those of you that have been following me for awhile, you know that I have a background in graphic design, so I’m able to do all of my own branding. Those of you who also have graphic design backgrounds also know how hard it is to get inside your own head and make a design that really represents you.

Since I rebranded, I promised myself I would get super nice business cards, but when I rebranded, we had plans of moving back to Florida, which meant I would spend a ton of money on cards that would become obsolete as soon as we moved, which could have been at any time because our home had been on the market for awhile. Well, long story short, after losing my corporate job and moving back to Florida, I had to start over with my business and I didn’t have the money to order nice business cards, so I ordered interim cards that were ok, but they weren’t that great. I felt the need to apologize every time I handed someone my business card. I’m super appreciative and thankful for Kate Gardiner for putting me in touch with an amazing photographer who then put me in touch with several other amazing photographers who have trusted me with second shooting for them throughout the last 5 months. After saving everything from my second shooter jobs, instead of dumping it into a lens, I decided to continue saving, but that I would finally, after a VERY long wait, reward myself with the “nice” business cards I had been wanting for so long. That, my internet friends, was why I was so giddy to get my new cards. The only thing is that I wished I could have gotten the logo done in a silver foil, but to do that would have costed waaaaay more than I wanted to spend. The cards would have been over $1.00 per card, at 500 cards, that’s a ton of money. I don’t want cards that are so expensive that I never want to hand them out, so I settled for the black ink.

I present to you my new Jen Shannon Photography business cards!! So I don’t get a thousand emails about who I went through, I’ll give you the details here. I ordered the cards through Taste of Ink Studios. They are the cotton business cards with black ink and debossing. They are SUPER thick too which is nice. If you need someone to design your cards for you, Taste of Ink Studios also has a design team that can design your cards for you. It took a little over a month to get them, but it was well worth the wait!

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