4 simple steps to improve your photography that anyone can do starting today.

What’s going on, everybody? Shane Baker with Shane Baker Studios, and I am up in the wilderness right now. I’m actually headed back down to the valley for a photoshoot later on this afternoon, but I wanted to take a quick moment. It’s the end of the year, right?

And a lot of photographers talk about their businesses,  the successes they’ve had this past year, the hopes that they have for 2018, and one of the things that I’m noticing is that I’ve got a few photographer friends that are saying, “You know, I work by referral only”, and here’s the problem with that– it’s that when they say that, they’re not even full-time photographers. And what I’ve learned in business is that typically, what it means when you say “I work by referral only” is it means that you really don’t know how to create and drive business to you.

And (Toni, what’s going on? Matt What’s going on?) Now, here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with not knowing to drive business to you. What I fear for most photographers is that they use that phrase– “I work by referral only”, they use that as a crutch and they never take the time to figure out a few simple things that could change in their business and what they do every single day to actually start driving business to them. So, now, I do have friends that have businesses, that are very healthy, that do work by referral only. Here’s the difference though, those people have a systematic process to follow-up with their referrals. They’ve got a way of reaching out and engaging with those people. So that is a form of lead generation. So, they’re not just sitting by the phone, waiting for it to ring. In fact, that’s the stupidest way to do business I’ve ever heard. And if you’re in that mode right now and you’re a photographer, and you just, you feel like in 2017, you’ve just kind of waited for people to come to you, it doesn’t work, it didn’t work in 2017 for you, it’s not gonna work in 2018 for you. And there has to be a few things that you can change up.

(Caitlin, Sara, what’s going on?) So I’m going to give you guys a few simple tips on if you really want to build a business by referral, to share with you some things that people that are doing at a high level, are using to make sure that it’s successful.


Number one, have a database. What that means is if you can’t tell somebody the names, phone numbers, and emails of everybody who’s ever reached out to you for a photo shoot, then, you don’t have a database. You need to get a database. I don’t care if they’re scraps of paper that you’re keeping in your messy office. It’s got to be something. You have to know all this stuff. (Hey Mo what’s going on? Samantha, Augustine, what’s going on?)


Here’s the step number two: Once you’ve got that database, you have to nurture those leads. And there’s a thousand ways to do that. If you’re not an extrovert and you don’t like to go into parties and events, it could be something simple. Maybe you send those people a handwritten note, and every single day, you pick one or two people to connect with. Maybe it’s just a simple facebook message. You don’t even have to tell people that you’re necessarily a photographer, you just have to say “Hey, how’s it going? I was thinking about you, I wanted to reach out to you. They already know that you’re a photographer at the point is that you’re nurturing that relationship, you’re keeping in touch with them. And here’s the thing, you have to be consistent with it. You have to do it every single day, you have to have a process for it. And if you really truly want to build a business by referral, that’s the way that you do it. And here’s the thing, most photographers, they don’t–that’s not what they’re doing. They’re literally waiting by the phone for a message or an email to come through or somebody to refer business to them. That is the stupidest way I have ever heard from anybody who wants to build a business and to be honest with you, I’ve never met a single person or photographer or otherwise, who is successful and earning a full-time income that is using that process. And so, if that’s something that you’ve been doing (Good morning, Augustine from Pinetop, man. Brian, what’s going on? Barbara- Gayla says “I work with the knot, and when I do events, people would come and ask for a card so that is a way I’ve gotten clients.” What’s up dude? What’s going on?) That is awesome. Now, here’s the thing, you keep following up with them, you’re putting yourself out there to those events, right? So you’re doing more than just sitting there, waiting by the phone. (She says, “That’s a good idea, I’ve heard of that way before, from a photographer named Amy Dye.” Amy is awesome. Barbara, yeah, you would know all about this, Barbara.) Barbara– If you guys don’t know, she’s an amazing real estate agent. Hit her up. That is exactly a process that she uses.


Here’s the thing guys, you don’t have to make a lead generation complicated. And I know there’s a ton of different personalities out there. So maybe you guys are really big extroverts and you love going out and meeting people, maybe you guys are introverts and that’s harder to do. But the truth is, no matter which one of those two you are, there are literally hundreds of ways that you guys can drive business to you in 2018. Here’s the point: Make sure you have a database, and make sure you nurture that database as often as possible. The worst thing that you possibly can do for 2018 is to simply wait by the phone or wait for other people to drive business to you. It’s not going to work. It didn’t work last year, it didn’t work in 2016 for you, and it’s definitely not going to work for 2018. Guys, hope this helps , stay fun, have a lot of good times out here, it’s the end of the year, I hope you guys hit all your goals and you guys are ready to go for 2018. I’m going to drive back to Phoenix and great ready for my photoshoot this afternoon. Have a good one.