Jamie Swanson – Episode 014 – A Photographer Podcast Interview
In this episode of from Nothing to Profit, A Photographer’s Podcast, Matt and Kia interview Jamie Swanson, who is really leading the personal brand photography market. Jamie is actually starting a new podcast about building a personal brand so make sure to listen in. She also has a Facebook group for personal brand photography you should go join now. In the beginning, 2011, Jamie really focused on wedding photography. Then Jamie really focused on Moderntog, helping other photographers grow their businesses, in all genres. Now, Jamie focuses solely on personal brand photography and growing her client’s following, through Moderntog. She offers a 6 week course on how to transition to personal brand photography. Jamie also offers a membership for photographers who have taken her 6 week course. This started because Jamie was looking for an ongoing personal brand photographer for herself and she couldn’t find one. So she decided to train them up. Client’s are willing to invest in their business and they need your work on an ongoing basis. This gives you steady and consistent income as well. Jamie also talks about goal setting, starting with her yearly goals, then breaking them down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily steps to reach those goals.
Transcription was done by Temi.com which means it’s an AI generated transcript. The transcript may contain spelling, grammar and other errors, and is not a substitute for watching the video.
Speaker 1: [00:01] Welcome to from nothing to profit, a photographer’s podcast with Matt and Kayak where each week they talk to photographers about what is working in their business now so you can swipe those ideas and grow your business faster.
Matt: [00:16] Hey everybody. Welcome to from nothing to profit with Matt and Kaya. So today we have a really awesome guest that I’ve, Jamie Swanson, who I’ve been friends with kind of via the Internet for a couple of years now, but we, if you guys listened to some earlier shows and people have referenced Jamie because Jamie’s really leading the personal brand photography movement and I know she believes that that’s the future of the industry. So I’m excited to talk to her about it. But she’s both an online entrepreneur and a photographer and you may know our because she founded modern tog or the modern tog back in 2011. So you may have been part of her community. Um, but you know her, what she kind does is help photographers and you know, live their life of being a, being a photographer. I know Jamie personally because we’re in a facebook group that’s called like photographer blogger group and it’s like, it, it ranges in size, but it’s anywhere from like 40 to 50 people have a bunch of people that put together resources for photographer. So we’ve been in that together for a number of years and you just announced the other day and in that group that you actually have a new podcast coming out as well. So do you want to take a quick second and plug your pro, your new podcast and tell us anything else we need to know about you?
Jamie: [01:33] You’re the sweetest thing. Sure. Um, so my new podcast is called the personal brand journey with Jamie m Swanson and basically since 2011 I’ve focused on growing the modern tog brand because I didn’t want to have to be the face of my business. I think a lot of us, you know, don’t want to have to be like the person, but I’m seeing more and more that the way to get ahead is to really build those personal connections. And so it’s basically chronicling my journey of starting a personal brand. So it’s not photography specific, but if there are photographers listening who want to be more of the face of their business, I mean your art, if, if your name is your business then you already are doing that in some respects. But basically I’m just talking about all that I’m doing and the strategy behind it so you can find that. But otherwise I have a personal brand photography group on facebook that’s free that you can find by going to PBP community.com. And that’s probably, I’m on instagram to you, Jamie, m swanson, but that’s the best way to find me. Thank you.
Matt: [02:33] Yeah. Awesome. So share a little bit about your, like your expertise and what you’re known for and for the people that haven’t come across to you yet in the industry.
Jamie: [02:42] Sure. So I started my photography business back in 2008 and I, I started like many people do kind of doing whatever I could get paid to do, but in 2009 we decided to niche down into weddings and to pursue doing photography full time. And so, um, we did, we, we focused in on weddings and we did that a full time starting in 2011. It took us about a year and a half to go from just starting out to completely supporting our family with photography. And then I did that for quite a while and then we moved to Minnesota and had our fifth and sixth children and we had a really hard time finding childcare up here. So since moving up here, we’ve just kind of done a little bit of portraiture on the side, um, and then had focused more on helping other people get clients through the modern tog.
Jamie: [03:33] And last year it was about a year ago now I had made this decision to start doing more of the personal brand stuff and was going to focus on instagram originally. And I needed photos. Like, yes, I can take photos, yes, my husband can do some. But I wanted somebody who could come and do these photos for us and we couldn’t find. I mean, we can find thousands of photographers who take beautiful images, but we had a really hard time finding people who really understood what we needed as online entrepreneurs in like to grow the social media following that we wanted and to really not just take a pretty headshot or a perfectly posed photo, but really understood how to capture our story and do it in such a way that it would help strengthen the personal brand that I wanted to grow. And so the light bulbs went off and basically I would the modern tog I had been.
Jamie: [04:24] I started that in 2011 and had been teaching pretty much any kind of photographer how to grow their business because I love photography. But I’m even geekier about the business side. Like I love the business side. And I, um, so I was helping wedding photographers and portrait photographers and um, it was pretty generic. And since last December, I’ve niched down and focused all in on the personal brand photography because I realized that I wasn’t the only entrepreneur, an online entrepreneur or influencer who needed images and that there were a ton of other people out there who would want these images on an ongoing basis because if you’re trying to grow on Instagram, you need to post daily and you don’t want to be spending half an hour a day taking selfies that aren’t even going to necessarily strengthen your brand and all that. So yeah, it was really big eyeopener.
Jamie: [05:14] But I’ve, I’ve niched out and I really believe that that’s. I know you said that, but that’s where we’re going in the future with, um, the industry and professional like to be profitable as a professional photographer. And so I’ve completely focused on that since it was, I think December 27th was the day that I shared about it with my audience for the first time. And since then it’s been my sole focus because it’s, it’s just made everything easier for my photographers. And it’s, it’s really, I’m seeing so many businesses transformed and I’ve done some shoots since then with that too. I, I love it because it’s kind of like wedding photography, but it’s way less stressful because there’s no, like crazy mother of the brides running around. Right. So anyways. Yeah. So Jamie, since I,
Kia: [05:58] since we haven’t ever met in person before, I have heard of modern tog and I’ve heard your name before. I would love to know even back further. So you say you have six children, how old are they? What did you do before you were a photographer and what is your husband involved in the business now or that type of thing? Just to get to know a little bit more about who you are.
Jamie: [06:19] Sure. So I’m back in 2008. When I started my photography business, I was working as an actuary for an insurance company full time. At that point I think we had, we had three kids when I started working as an actuary or do we have to know? We had to, when I started my business, we’re about to have our third of my kids right now are 13, 11 and nine and then five, three and two, sorry, we’re, we’re in that stretch of birthday so I have to stop and think about who’s had their birthday yet or not. So we have everything from teenager all the way through toddler and it’s, it’s insane. That’s true. So back when we, when we started the business, it was just me and my husband was still finishing up college and so he was just doing some community classes on the side while working a part time as well.
Jamie: [07:13] And when he was done with his classes for that and when he graduated, uh, he decided I made him come with me to a wedding or to, to carry bags. And we got excited by all the really fun, you know, Dslr gear because gear’s fund and um, he, I, you know, like probably like most photographers out there, I’ve been like, look at this photo, look at that. I get so excited. And he had a really great eye for it. So I’m like, well if you’re here you can grab a camera and you know, I basically, we took an afternoon and I taught him the basics of shooting manual and I’m like, just shoot for fun, you know, like, we don’t need any of the images, but he was really, really good at it. And so he did that while he was in college for a little bit with me, just kind of practicing. But then when he left college he did join me in the wedding photography full time and I mean he’s, it wasn’t like he was a second under me by the time he was through with college and we did that full time. He was just as strong of a shooter as I was. And so we did that together until we moved to Minnesota in 2013. And um, so we. What did you want to know about kids? I can’t remember.
Kia: [08:23] No, I want to know how old they were and uh, and where you came from. And then. So now I just to, so I understand. So modern tog is what you do for a living, both of you. It’s
Jamie: [08:36] the majority, I know he doesn’t do that at all. He’s got a business and the pickleball industry of all things, but um, so I, we do, I mean I do a handful of shoots per year but I get so much more joy out of watching, like helping other photographers get clients and still do some because I want to be relevant. I want to know what’s going on, what’s working and you know, all of that, but the majority of my time is spent helping other people to really grow the businesses they want to have so they can have, they can leave the job they hate or they can finally do photography full time and actually make a living beyond just, you know, minimum wage or less. And so that’s where I focus the majority of my time. Okay. Awesome. And so modern tog what you do with it as help people by blogging and facebook groups for thin view, like you sell products or is it a subscription or how to.
Jamie: [09:30] How do people kind of get your, get your expertise? So I’m with the modern tog right now everything I’m doing is personal brand photography based and so I, um, I sell a course that helps photographers pivot into personal brand photography. It’s a six week course. I offered a couple times a year and then before I run the course, I do a challenge because most people, the beauty of personal brand photography is that since clients need this over and over and over again, you can actually book clients that work with you for years at a time every single quarter. Right. And so I, most of the photographers now that I’ve been doing this year only need about 12 ongoing clients, these recurring clients to make a full time living and because it’s commercial in nature, you can charge more for it than regular portraiture. And so it’s really my focus on helping people get these recurring clients.
Jamie: [10:27] That’s what the course does. It helps them pivot into it. And then, um, before I run the course, I do this challenge because it sounds too good to be true. Like, you know, only needing 12 clients and not having, you know, once you’re fully booked, you don’t have to worry as much about marketing and all that because you have your clients. Right. And so, um, a lot of people say, well, how do you find these? These people don’t exist. They’ll just do it themselves. Nobody’s going to pay, you know, as much as a wedding or whatever for a single shoot. And so I do this thing called the [inaudible] weekend challenge where I basically, I do it for free and I tell people, Hey, I’m going to be opening my course up, but I know that um, you know, this might sound too good to be true or whatever else.
Jamie: [11:03] So let me help you get your client, like get some clients for some portfolio building clients to, you know, to see if they’re out there. Because most people don’t realize how many online entrepreneurs that are because they may have friends that they don’t even realize sell stuff online. Or I’m making a really great living online because they don’t necessarily live any different than them. And you know, people don’t always get it, huh? Well a lot of people are in such a niche group that you don’t, you don’t find them unless you’re looking for them. Totally. And so I basically give them a script in it. I call it the, I think I call it the starter script where they can take it word for word and posted on social media. And the goal is to help them book at least two clients at $500 a piece over a weekend.
Jamie: [11:52] And so I give them the script, I give them the process, we walked through it together as a community. It’s really fun. We do this huge event and then, um, we watch what happens and the goal is that they could make at least a thousand dollars over the weekend. That’s why it’s called the [inaudible] weekend. And then if they do decide that they want to continue moving forward with this and really pivot into the personal brand photography, then they’ve already got the money. They need to take the course. So I do that for free. I have the course and then I do have a contract that I created with an intellectual property lawyer because personal brand photography is kind of like a hybrid between traditional commercial photography and portraiture. It’s, it’s a mix between traditional commercial photography and portraiture and so the contract is kind of a hybrid between the two as well.
Jamie: [12:42] And we. I had, I had recommended a different commercial contract for a while, but so many people were having to customize so much of it where there are lawyers that I just, I found a lawyer who was willing to work with me and create something that’s specific to this niche. So I have the contract, I have the course, and then for anyone who goes through the course, they get an exclusive invitation to a membership that they can join to work with me on an ongoing basis, but that’s only available to people who have gone through the course and that’s specifically focused on taking it and doing all of the marketing going forward. So that’s, that’s kind of the things. I do have some old products that are still out there that people can buy, but that’s what I focus on. I’m sharing with photographers.
Kia: [13:24] I’m really impressed because what you’ve done is found a need for photographers, but not necessarily like it doesn’t sound like it was what you were doing for yourself, but you created you. You’re teaching people how to do it even though you didn’t necessarily do it first. Right. Would that be.
Jamie: [13:41] Well, what have to say? What happened was that I. I was my ideal client, like I wanted this and I couldn’t find. I literally went to Google. I searched every term I can think of because there wasn’t a single term that was one of the things I’ve really pushed us using the term personal brand photography and I’ve been using it within my entrepreneurial communities as well to help raise awareness with entrepreneurs so they know what to look for when they’re looking for a photographer for this, but basically I’m like, okay, these people like they. There’s so many photographers who can take beautiful photos, but they don’t get what I need. They don’t understand my mindset behind this. They don’t understand that I’m not going to credit them on a facebook ad because I’m paying to get that out there and I don’t want to have to credit people every time I use a photo because it’s going to hurt my business and the goal is to help my business, right?
Jamie: [14:35] Or they don’t necessarily want to give me rights to let a graphic designer edit the photos, which I know makes every photographer bristle. But if I’m going to have a designer creating marketing materials for me, they need to be able to, uh, and I don’t do big editing tweaks, but if, you know, if, uh, if somebody does have a very distinct style on their instagram or something, they need to be able to apply their filters to it and not have the photographer freak out. And so there’s differences in personal brand photography that are very different from traditional portrait shirt. And a lot of them actually, um, are like the opposite of best practices in traditional portraiture that make it very different. And so I basically said, what is it that I need? And then because I wanted a photographer, I could hire on an ongoing basis and I just could not find someone out there that, I mean there was a couple people and I saw the opportunity to help photographers get clients like me who were willing to pay for it even though I could do it myself and I had all the gear who didn’t.
Jamie: [15:36] I’m, I’m at a point where I want to grow a team to leverage what I’m doing so that I’m not doing it all myself doing it myself as not ideal. And I know you love, you could cut your own hair to write your own toenails, but you pay someone else because it makes your life easier. So it makes complete sense. Yeah. And so it’s just, I basically took what I needed and said, okay, there’s this massive need for this. I know I’m not the only one who needs this. And um, I, I do have, I’m in a mastermind of other photographers are not photographers, other entrepreneurs that I pay to be a part of. It’s not one that I’m leading. And I was talking with them. They’re like, oh yeah, it’s so hard to find a photographer who really gets it, and like everything just resonated with what I was saying.
Jamie: [16:21] I’m like, yeah, we need this system. They’re like, yes, how do you find them? And I’m like, I’m going to train them, so I really feel part of my mission so to speak, or my calling is to really help transition the photography industry into like, I want to create this niche. I wanted to find it. I want to lead the way for it so that other photographers who really want to make a living doing photography and who are struggling to find the clients now can find these new clients who are itching to find someone who really gets them and they’re happy to pay money for somebody who provides an amazing service and can help them grow their business because it’s an investment for them. They make money off of this, so it’s just. It’s been really fun. I’m really excited about it. I know I could talk for ages about it, but I want to make sure that I’m staying within your vision for this podcast and wherever you want to take
Matt: [17:11] this is great because, you know, our goal is to make sure we help, you know, photographers. So I think the reason why we have on here is because Scott, we had Scott on earlier, a couple episodes ago and he was like, you guys have to have Jamie on because she’s doing really cool stuff. Um, and I kind of knew what was going on from afar, but this, I mean this is awesome to share this with photographers because it’s, it’s so helpful. I, the one thing I could think of when you were talking about building this community is it’s almost like they’re gonna these photographers are going to need a safe place because you’re really pushing back on some of the norms of the industry. And I know you implied this, but like, you know, you could teach a like, hey, you know, you’re not going to watermark your images when you give it to these influencers because they don’t want your watermark on their brand and they could go talk about that in another facebook group and kind of get destroyed, you know what I mean? So it’s really cool for you to say like, no, this is where, what the need is and I know what the need is and we’re gonna blaze this new trail together because it’s going to be different than what you guys have been told for the last five years or however long they’ve been in business.
Jamie: [18:20] Yeah. And I think, I think the thing is that I feel like it’s a shift like that happened back in the mid two thousands when digital cameras came out and there was, you know, this push back like well this isn’t how I do it. And you know, the whole online thing like giving digital’s was a massive like controversy for a very long time. And you know, and now it’s not as controversial because so many people do it, but a lot. There was a lot of pushback from studio photographers and I honestly think for a portrait businesses it’s really smart to sell prints and you know, to make sure that if you are selling digitals, they’re very profitably priced and whatever else. But I think if we’re willing to say what is it that they really need and are willing to step out and provide that and not just think about what we want but what they want and if we’re willing to shift outside of what we’ve been taught, our best practices because a lot of these things are best practices in traditional portrait turret.
Jamie: [19:19] And I don’t mean traditional in terms of the style of shooting, but just what portraiture has been because it’s commercial because you know it’s all online because this is actually helping them make a profit and isn’t just preserving their memories or a certain moment in time for them personally. It’s a totally different ballgame. And so in some ways, like the people who’ve gone through my course and who are in my group and have been listening to me talk about the differences, they have such a leg up over everyone else because my entrepreneur friends are like, well, of course I need to be able to pet a photo without crediting the person. And it’s not that they don’t want to share credit or they’re not gonna tell their friends about you. It’s just that it’s the goal for them when they, they hire a photographer is to strengthen their brand and connect better with their audience so that they can get more sales and have a bigger impact on the world.
Jamie: [20:13] Like those two things go hand in hand. And so if we can really take these photos that connect and give them the permission that they need to use them in a way that’s not inappropriate, that’s just the best way for them to use them in their business. Then when their friends start seeing the difference, they’re gonna say, Hey, holy cow, your photos are so much better than they used to be. Um, who you’re working with. And then they’ll refer you out and there’s so much of this is going to be based on referrals and really, um, leveraging those. But it’s, it’s different, it’s a totally different way of things and it is like opposite from what the best practices are in traditional portraiture, but it’s a different client and they’re willing to pay a lot more because it’s for commercial usage, it’s an investment and you’re a team member, you’re not just, you know, a photographer taking pictures for their family. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not just personal like use, it’s not just something that they see and they say, oh, that’s nice, but they don’t need like, this is a need, this is something that will be a huge investment in their business and they’re willing to pay really well for that.
Matt: [21:23] Yeah. And you know how easy it is, you know, being in business, as long as you have, how easy it is to justify a $2,000 purchase in your business versus trying to justify that when you go home at night, you know, it’s just, it feels different. So that’s the mindset they’re in there, they’re just investing $2,000 in their business that they feel like they’re going to get it returned tenfold back.
Jamie: [21:44] Right. Well, and it’s an expense. So if they’re in the US at least it’s a tax deduction as well. So, you know, that’s always a benefit to.
Matt: [21:52] Yeah. Awesome. So one of the things that we always ask and we have the segment that we call what’s working now, and you talked a lot about what’s working now for that, but do you have any stories to share about anybody that’s worked their way through this? The, your program yet or anything or what, what your, what the results you guys are seeing
Jamie: [22:10] so far? Absolutely. We’d be happy to share some. So I’m one of the photographers that took my course the very first time back in January of last year. Uh, his name is Daniel Woods and he, um, he had been doing some personal brand photography before he found my group and I had started talking about this and his largest client to date before taking the course was about $5,000. That wasn’t an average, that was like his best ever and after going through the course and implementing this in really getting a better understanding of what entrepreneurs and influences are looking for, he’s had two contracts with entrepreneurs. One of them was for $44,000. The other one was $37,000 for ongoing work with them. And so that just was like this massive shift when he realized what they wanted, it completely transformed his business. Marlena some Menza. She was another person who, um, use the starter script that I talked about in the one k weekend.
Jamie: [23:13] She got a couple of clients that way and she, they were just portfolio building clients for like $500 a piece. So pretty low in terms of profit, but it was more for her to build her portfolio and get moving like started in this. And she was able to, I think, I can’t remember if both of them, but at least one of them became a recurring client at full prices who pay her a couple thousand dollars per quarter to continue working with her and want to work with her on an ongoing basis. And I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve, is that when you realized that people need this on an ongoing basis and you can speak to that and you can see yourself as a team member and really show others, like show the entrepreneurs and influencers that you get what they want and you can provide that.
Jamie: [24:00] And then you have quick turnaround and you’re, you’re, you understand basically all the differences from what every other, more traditional portrait photographer is offering. Um, then the, they are just get excited like the right people. They’re just like, yes, let’s do this. And they sign up. And then the difference for photographers, I mean think about what it would mean to you guys to know that you have a certain amount of money coming in every single month and that that’s not going to end unless this other person goes out of business or you really screw up or something. Right? So like if you’re doing your job, you know you’re going to make x amount of dollars every single month and it’s going to be a steady stream of income instead of the wonderful summers where you make all the money and then like the totally dry off season where you’re scraping by and hoping that all that money you made will last. So it makes sense.
Matt: [24:49] Yeah, it makes complete sense. And it’s just there, you know, I’m a marketing person, so from a differentiation standpoint, like I just totally get this because I see these photographers in my market like running around like complaining that people aren’t giving them credit and pictures and just, you know, burning bridges all over the place because the world has changed and they’re still like fighting that battle and we’re gaining business from them because they’re picking fights with people about, you know, like, my logo is not on it or you didn’t tag me when you posted it and all that type of stuff. And I can just say it’d be like from a differentiation standpoint is like we get that you don’t want to tag us on everything, you know, please tell your friends about us, but we get that you don’t have to tag us. And people were like, thank goodness you finally get what I wanted, you know? And then like all sudden, like you’re speaking their language and they’re like, they’re in, you know, they’re already sold and so, so smart.
Jamie: [25:49] Yeah. And you know, one other thing that I can share that most people don’t understand is traditionally, not everybody, but a lot of people would make packages based on the amount of time that they’d be in a photo session. So for weddings that’s. That was huge, right? So you had a six hour, an eight hour, 10 hour package because you’re covering an event and so a lot of photographers come in and this isn’t, this is to add to the what’s working now. They think that for entrepreneurs and influencers, like maybe we should do a four hour shoot or then there’s an eight hour shoot or an all day and they try and make the value based on time. And this is another big difference is that that doesn’t work because entrepreneurs don’t need you to spend more time with them to get the value from it. Like they actually find it more valuable if you can provide the service in a shorter amount of time but still get them what they need because they’re so big.
Jamie: [26:41] If they’re building a team and hiring somebody for this time is our most limited resource. And so I really talk with, I really teach my photographers not to base our packages on time, but instead to base it on, you know, how many images are they going to get, how many brand stories are you going to work on photographing, which is a totally different differentiator. And um, a couple of other things. But you know, we think, oh yeah, if one hour versus two hour obviously to our would be more expensive. But for an entrepreneur influencer, they’re thinking, oh no, I just want it in one hour. Can we do it in 30 minutes? Or whatever it is. Because for them, saving time is actually a benefit. So there’s, there’s all sorts of little things that are different that when you understand them, the photographers that really get it and start marketing this, they’re finding it.
Jamie: [27:29] They’re finding clients so much easier as soon as they like get the word out in front of the right people. And that’s maybe the challenge if they don’t know these people already, once they get in front of them, it’s, it, it just clicks into place. And people are like, Oh, I’ve needed this so bad, you finally get it and they’re seen as the expert. They, they get the bookings and it’s just so much more rewarding. So anyways, I am so excited I can go on and on about this for like hours, but uh, I just think is really great. So
Kia: [27:58] yeah, I knew, I knew we needed to Jamie on just dropping knowledge on us, like we can’t even handle it right now. I feel like this, the, the personal branding concept is really new but also completely relevant. And so one of the things that I’ve been thinking about since we’ve been talking about this is that I have, I’m, my business is mainly portraits, family portraits, senior portraits, but I do work for my family clients that have businesses and so I do commercial work for them. And what I found really interesting is that they don’t, they don’t even know how to articulate what they need. And so I, you know, typically I would go to their, um, their business and I would photograph, you know, a couple hours worth of like all their staff, you know, people kind of what you would normally do for brandy and I’m guessing like the different stories, that type of thing.
Kia: [28:56] But the main goal was like, you know, headshot images for the website and you know, background images for the website and a magazine ad or something like that. But, but now they need more than that, but they don’t know how to say it. So they keep setting up sessions but they don’t know what they’re really wanting. And I literally had one of my clients, she said, I don’t know what I want, but I just need you to come and take some pictures and I can see if I like them. And so I’ve, I feel like there’s more of a need for that. Then, like you’re talking about influencers, people that are online. But I would say that pretty much every business is in a excuse kind of floundering. Like how do I make this happen? And even to just like you, Jamie, I mean I could do it all myself and last year in August I did like a full shoot and I’ve used those images throughout the year, but I have had a plan to take, you know, personal images for my personal photography brand. Just not made it happen, you know. But if someone else was doing it just like someone else doing my hair, do mind, you know, taking care of those kinds of things, I can just see where it’s, it’s way it’s bigger than even just, you know, influencers. I feel like it’s a, it’s a bigger market.
Jamie: [30:10] Absolutely. And I think that it’s, it isn’t just influencers and it isn’t just people who are in Instagram, it’s anybody who has an online business and even a lot of brick and mortar businesses who really want to have a genuine connection with their potential clients and get more people in the door. So I’m high longworth had a massage client who, um, she, her her lowest month of the year as usually July. And so she had hired, tied to come in and she wanted to create these images. Just like you’re talking about, and part of what I teach in the course that I offer is how do you actually help entrepreneurs and influencers figure out what images are really going to help them grow their business verse versus just look Nice and it all comes down to connection because if, if they see something in the images that they can connect with them and if they can see themselves in the image and they can connect with this person, then they’re going to feel like this person really knows them more and they’re going to be more likely to work with them.
Jamie: [31:11] That’s about as quick as I can explain that. But um, so he went in and he talked with this massage therapist and I have a whole questionnaire that I have people use to onboard because it’s, you can’t just show up with a camera and shoot and hope to get something good. You really do need to have a little bit more planning if you’re going to create real images that connect. And they went through this questionnaire and they, they determined that there were a couple themes in stories that they wanted to show. One of them was the massage therapist actually doing the massage with the client and then there were some more personal stuff that was about her that they wanted to share and they did this shoot and she started using the images and her July was like 40 percent higher than it’s ever been because she started using these images that connected more than just putting out whatever she had been using before and more generic stuff. And she made this beautiful video. Um, if you remind me, I can give you a link to it so people can go and watch the video. That was a testimonial for him because she was so thankful for how much it helped her business grow. And she’s now an ongoing client of his because she sees the value in it and she sees that it easily pays for itself several times over beyond just, you know, what she paid for it. It’s definitely an investment. So.
Matt: [32:27] And I can see why her business was up because now she had content that, that she could put out and then high quality content at that. So even if she had content before she upped her game. And a lot of businesses don’t even have
Jamie: [32:40] the content to begin with to put out. Absolutely. And you know, I think part of it is that this is, well this is actually why I’m starting my podcast is because people don’t really understand like why do I have to be the face or how do I do something that people are going to connect with more that’s not just going to blend in and look generic. And so, um, I’ve been studying a lot of the people who have really large personal brands and who are doing things well and it’s all based around telling stories both visually and some written. And in video, you know, there’s all of these different ways. But so we focus everything on sharing their stories. And so like, you know, Kira, when you were talking about your client not knowing exactly what they wanted, but they knew they needed something, you know, I would then say, well, why don’t you go in and say what, you know, that’s where you go ask them questions like, you know, who are their ideal clients, like who do they want to work with and what do they have in common with them that they can really highlight in these images that really will help people feel closer to them and connect with them.
Jamie: [33:41] Like they understand each other. So I had a mom, uh, actually one of my entrepreneur, entrepreneur friends, entrepreneurial friends, I don’t know, I cork over that word all the time. She’s a business owner and she had hired somebody to do a, just somebody she found to do some photos for her business like this. And they took beautiful head shots, more glamour type portraits. But she got him back and she told me, she’s like, she’s like, when you, I really need somebody from your [inaudible] I had done the one k weekend event and I shared this list of photographers, uh, to help them find business. She’s like, I need somebody there because even though these are beautiful, like, and I look amazing. I work with moms who are disheveled and they aren’t going to connect with. They’re going to see that. And they’d be like, oh, she’s this formal.
Jamie: [34:27] Got it all together. They don’t understand me. She was like, I need photos of me in chaos. I need to show my kids running around. I need to show that I’m like them so that they connect with me. And I thought that was really insightful. And I think that’s one of the big, another big difference that people, that’s part of what I teach. But we need to think beyond just like, how do I take a beautiful photo, but how do I take a photo that’s going to connect with who they want to work with? And um, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Once you understand the process, but getting there requires more of that. It definitely requires doing more of a questionnaire and asking a lot of questions and helping to get to know them and their business first. Yeah. And would you say that there are like there’s the need to do lifestyle portrait and product photography in it, like all three of those?
Jamie: [35:19] Absolutely. I mean they may want a formal headshot for speaking engagements or book covers or whatever, but I think the majority of it is going to be more lifestyle in um, feel. And even the product photography I think is going to be more lifestyle than traditional commercial, you know, take a formal product image that’s highly photoshop to kind of thing because they want to show like, let’s say somebody sells a physical planner so they’re going to want to have images of them with the planner and a whole bunch of settings like maybe in the morning with their coffee or maybe out and about, you know, sitting down, checking their planner to see what’s next or you know, a variety of things that really show the lifestyle of somebody using that product. And I think that’s a really nice add on for people is that sometimes, for example, there’s a, they’re not people who have been through my course, but there is a group of guys in Canada that do this where I think they work for a chip company and a couple of other product companies and they go, they have an adventure brand in that they will take people’s products out in the wilderness like camping and whatever else and get photos of them and their friends camping that.
Jamie: [36:26] Then they send to these companies to use as product photos, but they, it’s all adventure themed and so they can do it whenever they want to do it as long as the photos are in by whatever deadline. But they have the. So they just send them a bunch of the products. They do the photos when they feel like, you know, they, they set up these camping trips. I do a ton of different product photos while they’re out camping. Then they get to enjoy camping and get paid to do really fun stuff. Right. And then they just send them photos every month, you know, for a certain amount. So that’s another option is if people don’t just want personal brand with them in it, they could, you know, just send you the products and you can do different more lifestyle. Like you know, like maybe there’s a fall theme and you do a bunch of stuff outside with leaves or at a table with coffee and whatever else. But you can, you can definitely do it that way too if you want. And add that on as an easy way to make money on your own time without having to, you know, coordinate schedules.
Kia: [37:20] Yeah. That’s awesome. So the other thing that I was thinking about with this when I’ve been listening to you talk about like the needs and how they’re different. I do feel like portrait photography is actually going to follow the personal branding trends. And I’ve been, I’ve been kind of, you know, just mulling over it because like with my high school seniors, they don’t want your logo on there. They want to be able to edit the images. They want the images to tell a story about who they are, not necessarily, you know, be just reflective of what my look is. And so I wonder if you know this, this, the way that you’re learning to, uh, you know, you’re teaching people to apply it to personal branding. I feel like personal branding could potentially be what portrait photography is. Do you find that every sensor wants? Oh, absolutely. Every senior wants to be a personal brand like that. I mean they’re on instagram and snapchat and whatever else because I’m not a high school senior. I have a high schooler almost. She’ll be in high school next year, but not really. I mean they’re on it, but they’re communicating with each other. Not. Yeah. But there’s still some of them who want to have, have
Jamie: [38:25] those steady stream images now. They do it themselves, like whatever, but they’re not going to pay for a high end. But I think that if you started offering senior sessions that were like a couple times a year, like, you know, once every season or whatever that. I mean it’s more work for us, but you can charge more if you’re doing more and I think that that would really appeal to many of them because they want to have all those. I mean it’s like they will, everyone wants to be in the popular kids group, you know, it’s Kinda like the online popular thing to have all these followers and whatever else. So.
Kia: [39:00] But I think too, and I’ve just noticed this with my family clients this fall, they are like okay I want to do this session now, but then in the spring I want to do this session and then I want to do this in summer. Like I think there is, I, I could just almost see more of a subscription base for portrait photography in general. You know, so I’m so I’m so excited to, to see more of what you’re doing and hear more about it because I think you’re going to influence the industry with the whole personal branding concept and how you’re doing it. And I think it may influence more than just the personal branding part of it.
Jamie: [39:32] I hope so. That would be phenomenal. I mean, if more people can become profitable and be able to do what they love doing, like that’s a win in my book. That’s why I do what I do.
Kia: [39:41] So my last question for you in this section, and Gosh, we’ve, I don’t know if we’ll get matt. No, no, no, don’t apologize. This is exactly what we wanted from this is that uh, you know, we would be able to help other photographers learn from it, but also that we would learn from it ourselves. So we’re, you know, we’re asking the questions that we have but is so you felt a need for yourself personally. So how did you answer that need? Did you find a photographer to do it and kind of work with them to figure out what you wanted? Did you meet the need yourself and then realize that they’re photographers needed to be taught how to do that or what’s the, what’s the end to that story?
Jamie: [40:17] Yeah, so I went looking for a photographer and I couldn’t find anybody that I felt got it 100 percent. So I said, well, I guess I’ll train them up. So I did my course and I literally started it as a, a live Beta course because I said, hey, the first thing I did was I did this for like three part workshop that I’m like, Hey, this amazing opportunity is there, just come learn for free. Because I wanted to get the word out as much as I could. And I explained I’m going to be transitioning my business. This is the only kind of photography I’m going to offer in the future. Now I’m not doing tons of it, but that’s what I want to offer and focus on what I do. And I said, you know, when I’ve got it all set up and I, I’ve done a little more of it, I’ll, I’ll teach a course and I’ll bring you with.
Jamie: [40:56] Well, I had so many people who are excited about it, but they’re like, I don’t want to wait, can we? How can we do? How quickly can you do this? And I’m like, well, I can bring you with me. And so that’s what I did is I started a facebook group and they went through it and implemented it when I did. And then we, we did that a couple times and then in summer I said, okay, now that I’ve gotten this base down and you have been helping all these people, that’s been fun. Distraction. I really need a photographer for me. And so I put on a call, I put out a call to everybody who had been to through the course and just said, hey, if you guys want to be considered as my photography, I did it totally backwards, you know, I’m like, Hey, if you want to apply to be my photographer, you know, here’s the, just to make it easy for me to go through because at that point I had had a few hundred people go through the course and I knew that, I mean, people have been already pitching me over and over via messenger, like can I share, you know, whatever else.
Jamie: [41:46] And so, um, I hired, her name is Claire Harvey, she’s out of Washington DC. So I fly her to me four times a year and I pay her every quarter and so she comes out and does photos for me and I have to admit that I’ve been so excited about getting the word out about this and really serving photographers that I still have not even used like 85 percent of my photos, which I’m going to do better. And you know, this, I said you wanted that, but they’re beautiful. It’s just, I can’t tell you how awesome it is when I need to send a headshot or I need to, um, you know, throw something up on social media. Like I have this Bank of photos, I don’t have to worry about it. And so my goal is to actually start batch creating my social media content. And so I already have it ready to go and I can just grab the images that she created for me because they’re gorgeous and she did such a good job of capturing who I am and the stories that make up my life and the ways that I connect with other photographers.
Jamie: [42:46] And I just, I’m, I’m really excited about their beautiful, she’s a phenomenal photographer and um, it’s just been great, but it’s been good too because I’m like, oh, okay. As I’m doing this with her, I’m like, oh, I really, we should do it this way or that way. That would make it a little easier. Or Man, I am busy, I don’t want to have to do all of these things or whatever. I’m like, you just pick the images and send me what you think is good. I don’t even need to pick the final images. You just slack them because I trust you. And it’s showing me, Oh, when there’s trust, like, you know, we think our clients want all this control but one. And they do at first. But once you’ve worked with them once or twice, you’re like, Oh, you’ve got it. I trust you. Let’s do this. You knew you pick the images, you’ve added them, just send them to me when they’re done. And it’s phenomenal. It’s just such a cool thing to experience. But also then do you know, the shoots themselves. So yeah, it’s been really, really fun. That’s awesome. So have I have I taken over with all my questions of my quota is done?
Matt: [43:49] No, but this is awesome. So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna I’m just gonna jump into some of the lightning round questions and see if we get a little bit more knowledge out of you. So the first question I want to ask you is just what is the best advice that you’ve ever received and maybe any ideas of how you ended up here due to advice.
Jamie: [44:05] So imperfect fast action is far better than waiting for everything to be perfect because oh it’s so true. Like this course for example, like I was going to wait until I had it all figured out and prerecorded and it probably still would have been in production or whatever because there’s always something to improve and instead I’m like okay, well we can do it live on facebook live but I don’t have this on my calendar, you know, my kids might be in because you just, you know, whatever it was live. No, my family, I got six crazy people running around plus a husband and a dog, you know, so being willing to move forward and saying, I don’t even have an outline, but here’s what I think we cover, you know, and then doing it live and then saying, oh you guys have all these questions about this specific thing.
Jamie: [44:53] Well let’s do a lesson on. It was like the imperfect action that was just fast was so much more effective than waiting for it to be quote unquote perfect and it was a much better product and it got done so much faster and like just getting it done fast is by far so much, but don’t wait for it to be perfect because it won’t be perfect and there it’s just fear. We’re afraid of being judged and just getting something out there and then learning from it and then adjusting will get you so much farther in your business than anything else.
Matt: [45:24] That’s really good. What is one personal habit that you have that’s contributed to your success?
Jamie: [45:30] I have learned that I need to be really clear about what my goals are and then I need to break them down so every quarter I set out goals for the next three months and those are. So I started actually on a yearly level and I sent my yearly goals and then I. When I come to the first quarter I say, okay, to hit those goals, what do I need to do this quarter? And then at the beginning of every month I say, okay, if I need to do that this quarter, what do I need to do this month? And then at the beginning of every week I say, okay, I look at my monthly goals. They say that means I need to do that this week. And then every single day, the first thing I do when I come and start working, as I say, okay, based on what I need to get done this week, what do I need to be working on today?
Jamie: [46:07] And it’s just this natural progression. And I hate systems. I hate planning, but doing it this way and just keeping it simple has made me so much more effective and make sure that I don’t drop the ball on things and it, I, I’m multi passionate, I love to like do this and that and the other thing. But with six kids, like my amount of work time is so limited that I need to stay focused and that has been by far the best thing to keep me focused. Yeah. Because aren’t you like in the big into knitting or something like that. It’s not your hobby. I love to make rainbow quilts. Yeah.
Matt: [46:43] So I knew there was something there. That’s awesome. So. Okay, so we have this comment where it says recommended Internet resource and we had talked about this a little bit before we jumped on air. So what would you recommend for an inner resource besides your own a class that will. We’ll link to it.
Jamie: [47:00] You’re so sweet. Yeah, no, I, I highly believe in community and so facebook groups are one of my favorite internet resources to go to. I’m part of several of them. I’ve run several of them, but I have found that good facebook groups, because not all facebook groups are equal, but good facebook groups can be one of the best ways to grow your business because you get real world advice on what’s going on or what’s really working. Um, if you’re in groups that are really helpful where people really want to help each other and not just under just critique people in negative ways. You can build genuine friendships and you just never know where they’re going to take you. Like, you know, Matt, that’s how I met you and that’s. I can’t tell you how many amazing things I’ve gotten from being part of facebook groups that never would have existed if I hadn’t jumped into them.
Matt: [47:51] Yeah, that makes complete sense. Especially how you and I came about becoming friends. Do you have a book that you want to share with our audience?
Jamie: [47:59] Oh, I have lots and lots and lots of books, but I think, um, I think start with why is probably one of the most powerful books because it talks about really understanding what you stand for and what drives you. And when you can, when you can focus in on that and really communicate that to the people you want to reach, you attract your ideal clients and everything just becomes so much easier because your business isn’t just about selling photography now it’s about, you know, making women feel their best through boudoir photography or whatever it is. Like you have this bigger why and it’s also part of personal branding and that people connect with you over that. Why so much more so that Simon Sinek or Sinek, I’m not sure how you say his last name, but it’s start with why and it’s so good. Um, if you’re short on time, there’s also a ted talk that sums it up in about 20 minutes that you can watch, but it’s really, really phenomenal.
Matt: [49:01] Awesome. Okay. So that was the lightening round. That was good. Um, so just to Kinda wrap up, any parting guidance that you would like to give our audience and then I’m definitely let the audience know how they can connect with you for sure.
Jamie: [49:16] Okay. Um, I guess obviously this is going to be clear, but I think that if, um, if they’re struggling to get the clients they really want to get, there is an abundance of personal brand photography, clients, entrepreneurs, influencers who needs you. So if you want to check it out, I do have the free group, um, you know, if you like shooting stories, if you like lifestyle, if you really want to work with incredible successful people who value what you do, I can’t recommend it enough so it feels self promotional saying that. But really I just, I love the, I really think it’s such a, it’s going to be where the future is going because there’s more and more online entrepreneurs every day and it is very different from what I mean, not the shooting itself, although that is different as well, but there’s just so many differences from what we’ve been taught that um, yeah, I just, I just think that if you want to dive in, that would be great.
Jamie: [50:11] You can join my free group on facebook or you can, this link will take you directly to it PBP community.com. Uh, it’s also a personal brand photography on facebook if you want to search that, if you want to learn more about personal branding and really understand that works and follow my journey. I mean if I crash and burn, at least you’ll be entertained because I’m going to share the behind the scenes. But I do. I have been studying this and I’ve already been testing a lot of it with the modern tog audience and it’s been working. And so I do believe that it’ll help you understand how to connect with people better. It’s also something you can send your entrepreneur friends too, or business owner friends too. But personal brand journey with Jamie m swanson a, it’s brand new. It’s just launched in December. And so it’s really exciting to have that out there.
Jamie: [51:00] Um, but otherwise we’re gonna be doing the one k weekend event again really soon. And so if you’re in the free facebook group, you can have, when you enter, when you’re asked to enter, because you have to answer a couple questions, you have the option to leave your email there. It’s not required, but if you do then you’ll get notified of the one K we can event that’s free. So even if you’re not sure and you just kinda want to get, you know, you want to know what these differences are, you want understand it a little better and you want to know how to or you want to join us and trying to get to clients in a weekend for a thousand dollars, you know, even if you don’t care to take the course and you just want to see if that might be something that you enjoy doing, join us for that. You know, it’d be really fun to have you. So I’m going to do it in the group.
Kia: [51:44] I, I think, uh, what I like about what you’re doing is that you are, first of all, you’re figuring out how people can pay for it before they even do it with the one k weekend. But you’re doing that same thing essentially with people’s clients where if they, if, if, if, if the personal brandon works, then they’re making more money so they’re able to pay for the photographer to do the work for them. So I love, I love the concept and I don’t think that you need to apologize for what you’re saying is tooting your own horn because a, you’ve just put yourself into a place where you’re serving people, whether they’re building a personal brand or whether they’re a photographer who wants to be a personal brand photographer. I feel like what you’re doing is taking your time to teach people how to do something that nobody really completely understands right now.
Kia: [52:34] Uh, so I, I think it’s fantastic. My only other thing that I would want to know from you, and I don’t necessarily think that you need to answer it on the podcast, but maybe down the road I would love to hear like best practices that you would like to see personal branding as a whole, uh, adhere by, if that makes sense. So like, you know, uh, just, just general best practices that you think that the um, the industry should follow because not everyone’s your course, but if I use the same words the same, some of those types of things, I think that could be really helping.
Jamie: [53:08] Yeah. I’m and I’m happy to share it with whomever. I think one, using the term personal brand photography, I’m just keeping that really consistent. It’s going to help. That’s the term that I’m using on my podcast to help explain it. I think the other things is really focusing on client and being really communicative with your customer service. Like don’t wait for days to respond. Getting images back. Really, they can’t wait six weeks to get the images. I really focus on good fast turnaround times. Um, and really serving the client very, very well both with communication as well as delivery and all of that. Another thing, this is massive, is really respecting their brand and being discerning on how you align yourself with them. If you work with a large influencer that’s got a million followers, it might be very tempting to try and use that as an endorsement or I’m not saying you can’t, but you need to be really discerning on how you represent that relationship because they’ve had a lot of people at that.
Jamie: [54:14] By that point. They’ve got people who are trying to take advantage of their name and the brand that they’ve built for self promotion and so being really clear about how you can and cannot use their name and your marketing and that’s something that my contract goes over that you know, you can have that conversation with your client and say, what, what are you comfortable with and what are you not? Because if they’ve had people take advantage of them and at some point they will, and I’m sure maybe even you guys have experienced this, you know, I’ve, I’ve experienced it several times over that if they have any sort of audience, people try and take advantage of that. So when we’re, when we recognize that and we say, what, what can I do to make sure that this isn’t going to offend you or that it’s not going to cross any lines and you become really clear about that before you even start working with them, they’re going to be like, oh thank you.
Jamie: [55:03] You get it. You know, you’re not just self serving with this and that trust is just going to be so much stronger and the more they might send you another person that has. Oh yeah. And instagram followers, like, hey, go to this person. They get it. Like you don’t have to have that conversation. You know what I mean? Absolutely. I mean it’s why like the royals, I always use the same photographers because they know that person is going to be trustworthy and they aren’t going to leak anything that they shouldn’t and that trust is so valuable and you are going to see things behind the scenes like that, that person might not want public. And so having that commitment to privacy and to really trusting that relationship as massive and then, you know what I mean? Just being honest, not making excuses. There’s, there’s a variety.
Jamie: [55:49] I really try and call people to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Um, but because one, I think it’s best for business, but two, I think that that’s how you get booked and stayed booked. But those are, those are the really big things. I just, I really think that the privacy thing is a really big one that people may not understand because I mean if you were going to work with Tony Robbins or Oprah, of course you want to like shout out to everyone and if you see something about Tony Robbins, oprah behind the scenes that might be newsworthy or get you a bunch of tension. Like you have to know, you can’t just share that and you need to know how are they gonna? Like maybe you, you understand that you’re their official photographer but you’re not official or whatever. Like you need to be so careful because yes they will.
Jamie: [56:33] If you respect their privacy and their trust and you talk with them about it, then at like once they realized that you really are in it to serve them first and foremost, they will eventually help you. Like, and I’ve seen that time and time again already this year with the multiple photographers I’ve worked with that when you use that discernment and you’re really respectful of them and their audience and their business, many times they will go above and beyond to really help you grow your business and spread the word for you because you have built that trust, but it’s not immediate and it does take time showing that, but that will benefit you far more than just trying to take advantage of the brand they built.
Matt: [57:14] That’s awesome. That’s really good. Alright, so let’s leave it there on that note. Um, and we’ll link everything. I’m in the shownotes so wherever people are listening to this podcast, they can find it there, but then also on the website photo, podcast.com and they can get all these resources and sign up for your free stuff in your class and all that stuff. So Jamie, thanks so much for making time. Yes, thank you Jamie. Thank you for coming on the podcast. I mean Scott had come through Scott, one of our earlier guests that come through, you’re a class and he was like, you guys have to do this. And I was like, okay. Like I said, I’ve been watching a far so I knew it was just a matter of time and I’m glad it worked out as soon as it did. So again, thank you so much and I wish the best of luck to you and all your students because I really think it’s an amazing thing. You’re doing
Jamie: [58:02] awesome. Thank you. Matt and Kaia.
Matt: [58:04] All right, thank you everybody for joining us. So hopefully you learned a lot from Jamie. I know we did and I hope you guys will have a good week and we’ll see you guys next week.
Speaker 1: [58:14] Thank you for listening to from nothing to profit a photographer’s podcast with Matt and Kaiya. Be sure to subscribe for more business strategy and ideas to help you create a profitable and successful business you’ve always wanted. See you on the next episode of from nothing to profit.