On December 5, Amazon announced plans for their very own grocery store, called Amazon Go. What does that have to do with the photography business?
Most of us think of Amazon as only existing online, but Amazon Go is a physical grocery store with one major twist:
There’s no checkout.
No lines, no cashiers, no struggling to pull out your credit card, and no need to try to remember the PLU code of those bananas you picked up. You just scan your smartphone when you walk in, grab what you want, and walk out.
Using technology similar to self-driving cars, they can detect changes in inventory and automatically charge the correct person for what they took from the shelves.
The technology may be new, but the reason behind it is not. In 2015, they announced Amazon Dash — the little WiFi buttons you press to order new detergent when you’re running low. Back in 1999, Amazon patented “1-Click” buying, which allows customers to check out with a single click.
They’ve spent billions of dollars developing these technologies that make the buying experience as friction-free as possible because they understand something most of us tend to overlook.
They know that all consumers are growing more impatient every single day, which also has some extreme implications for your photography business.
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What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Most likely, when you started your photography business, you were all on your own, hustling to do everything by yourself. Think about the first few clients you had.
How many back-and-forth phone calls and emails did you exchange just to get them scheduled? How many re-schedules and re-shoots did you do? How many prep and follow-up meetings did you have to organize for each client?
And that’s just for the booking and scheduling, right?
It’s understandable. You have to hustle to get the business off the ground, but the reality is, the things you did to get started are not the things you need to do to grow your business.
In fact, some of these things are holding your business back from growing any bigger than it is now.
As your photography business grows, you become busier and busier. Aside from booking and scheduling, you still have to take care of marketing, shooting, cropping, culling, editing, retouching, uploading, and selling for each and every client, which all takes up an incredible amount of time.
But when a potential client reaches out to book a session, do you think they care about how busy you are?
They don’t. They won’t wait for you to get back to them in a few days or even a few hours.
They want the Amazon experience. They want to hit a button and go.
It’s not fair, but if you don’t answer their phone call or respond back to their email immediately, they’ll call five other photography businesses within the hour.
We are living in the age of instant gratification. When we want something, we want it right now, and photography clients are no different. They’re just like you, me, and everyone else — becoming less and less patient as time goes on.
The way we all handled booking and scheduling when we started our business just won’t cut it anymore.
A Better Way to Book
To really grow and scale, you need to start automating and streamlining the different things you do in your business. That begins with driving traffic to booking and scheduling pages instead of just your sites.
We need something that syncs with your calendar, collects customer information, and takes credit card down payments.
When we replace all the back-and-forth, one-on-one texting, calling, and email overloads with online booking and scheduling, we accomplish at least two major things we need to grow the business.
- We can put more of ourselves into the things worthy of our time and attention.
- We keep clients from slipping through the cracks by removing friction from the booking process.
When you started your business, you proved to the world and yourself that you can do this. People will actually pay you to take their pictures and create artwork for them. That really is an awesome feeling!
Now, though, it’s time to think about growth. Even if you don’t want to go full-time or don’t want too many more clients, you owe it to yourself and your family to make the leap from photography-as-a-hobby to photography-as-a-business and start thinking like a real business owner.
Like Amazon, the best companies in the world go to great lengths to automate and remove friction from the buying process. As small-business owners, we need to adapt and use the technology available to us to offer a similar, friction-free experience to clients who want to book us.