Get Savvy in Personal Branding with Nikki Closser

October 11, 2021 Artist Spotlight

Episode 97: Nikki Closser

In Episode 97 of the Portrait System Podcast, the tables are turned as Ashleigh Taylor, co-host of the Clubhouse Conversations, chats with Nikki Closser, our wonderful Portrait System Podcast host. And what a treat it is to shine the light on Nikki and hear about her passion that she provides with such a giving heart through her career in photography,.

Nikki has just come out with a course all about specializing in Personal Branding Photography, which she has been doing for the last 7 out of 9 years in her photography career. Ashleigh gets into the details with Nikki about the encounter at a networking event that changed the trajectory of Nikki’s career and how specializing in personal branding has allowed Nikki to retire from social work and never work weekends again.

Be sure to listen to the whole podcast to hear Nikki’s advice for how to make the most out of networking situations — even the most challenging ones and even if you’re really shy. You also might like to hear how Nikki frames her conversations with clients in order to create the ideal shooting situations, such as shooting in her studio rather than on location. You also won’t want to miss hearing about how memorizing the poses that sell the best can help you have bigger sales with less stress. And she also gives lots of great examples of how she infuses her social media posts, pdfs, and website with confident language and imagery that reassures her clients that they will be well taken care of when they book with her.

Be sure to check out Nikki’s new course in The Portrait Masters Store: Personal Branding: The Contemporary Headshot System.

And here are some links to things mentioned in this conversation: Episode 16: Nikki Closser, Episode 1: Saray Taylor-Roman, Styled Beauty Shoot with Saray Taylor-Roman and Sue, Clubhouse Conversation: Felicia Reed, The Portrait Masters Shootout, and Startup: The 90 Day Challenge.

In this blog, you’ll find beautiful images of Nikki, by Nikki, and of Nikki working her magic, links to her website, and highlights from the podcast.

Get to Know Nikki Closser

I love being able to share with people — and even with this podcast, to interview other people who are doing it, who are living this really cool life with a career that they really love. And if there’s something that I can do to help someone to achieve that. Like, hell, yes, I’m all about it. And to me, that’s like, I put my blood, sweat, and tears into this course because my goal is to help as many people as possible with this genre if this is something that they’re interested in, and I love doing it.

“My philosophy and what I’m hearing from my clients is that people are starting to want more than just the head and shoulders, sit down, you know, click click, kind of experience. And I will say, there are some phenomenal headshot photographers. You know, when you look at Peter Hurley, he is the expert of headshots, you know, and there is a time and a place for that, for sure.

But any time, you know, when someone reaches out to me and says, I just want headshots, sometimes they don’t know that there is another option. They don’t know that they could get hair and makeup, and they could get, you know, just all of these different poses and looks in multiple different photos that they can use in their branding for the entire year — for their social media, and for their website, and just everything, and for newsletters, and speaking gigs, and you know, just all of the things that people need photos for.

Sometimes people don’t know that more than a headshot is an option. . . And so these are all things that I’m trying to talk to people about when they say, I just want a headshot. I’m always trying to convert them into, you know, personal branding because it’s more money for me. And in the end, it’s more money for them, especially if they’re entrepreneurs. Because the more great content they have, the more they have to market with, the more professional they look, the more clients they’re going to book.

“My personal philosophy is that personal branding is headshots, but it is a contemporary experience, and it’s contemporary photos kind of blended in.”

For corporate, often what they need, especially now, is a headshot for their Zoom profile photo. They need something for the company directory, and oftentimes, it is this kind of head-and-shoulders shot. But what I’m finding is companies are making a shift.

So, I got this gig with a really big tech company where they flew me around the country to photograph their 12 team leaders, and they didn’t want the head and shoulders. They wanted the hair and makeup. They wanted more body included, more of their personality included. . . And I’m again, I’m just finding that more and more people, more companies are loosening restrictions with, ‘Oh, your background has to be gray, and it has to be head and shoulders.’

I just think that it’s a bigger shift into this more contemporary branding, which is why I wanted to do the course to show that, yes, there is a time and place for headshots, but in every single shoot that I do, I’m including the headshot that they need — that head and shoulders — and we’re also including their personality.

And if they are someone who sells products, or you know, has certain colors implemented into their brand, I’m incorporating all of that so that they just have a huge variety, and it’s so much less stress for them when they need content for anything that has to do with their business.”

This is a business. This is about being profitable. Like, I’ve been able to create this life where I get to decide if I want to, you know, be with my son on his first day of kindergarten, like I just did. It makes me tear up thinking about how I was able to be with my baby for kindergarten. Whereas, if I was still a school social worker, I would have missed that because I would have had to have been at my school on the first day of school because it’s my job, and you can’t miss the first day of school when you’re a school social worker. So I would have missed my son’s first day.

You know, I’ve been able to create this life, and it is about the money, but it isn’t. It’s about the money because the money affords me to have the opportunities and the experiences that I have been able to have and that I’ve been able to give my children and my husband, you know, where the money is what allows me to kind of do that. So, it is about the money, but to me, it’s about the experiences — the life experiences and the freedom — the life of freedom that I get to live — to design this life for myself. But in the end, I had to make money to do that.

And so when you say, this is a business, and it’s profitable, that is 100 percent what it comes down to. And one more thing that I have to remember, too. I’m helping my clients make money by creating these photos for them. I have had clients straight up say to me that ‘I book more,’ like they are are attracting more clients based on simply just changing their photos in their social media. They are now making more money because of those photos.

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Click Here to Read the Podcast Transcript

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Please note this transcript was generated by AI and may contain errors.

00:00:00:09 – 00:00:32:03

You’re listening to the Portrait System podcast. You know, you can feel it through the photos, and I know that sounds really super cheesy, but you can you can feel if someone is competent and just it just makes all the difference in your marketing. And these are things that you can communicate to your clients, like, When you feel amazing in your photos, your potential clients feel that and they’re more likely to book you.

This is the Portrait System Podcast, a show that helps portrait photographers and people hoping to become one. Navigate the world of photography, business, money and so much more. We totally keep it real. We share stories about the incredible ups and the very difficult downs when running a photography business. I’m your host, Nikki Closser, and the point of this podcast is for you to learn actionable steps that you can take to grow your own business and also to feel inspired and empowered by the stories you hear.

This week, I’m in the hot seat again because Ashleigh Taylor interviewed me all about personal branding photography. As some of you may know, the personal branding was the genre that I have focused on for many years, and this is what I absolutely love doing because it’s no weekends, no long hours.

00:01:04:13 – 00:01:35:26

It’s efficient and lucrative, and I get to help other entrepreneurs grow their business with the photos I create for them. Ashleigh and I chat all about how I market my personal branding sessions, how I price them. We talked all about how I structure my photoshoots to sell more and make sure the clients get what they want and just overall, how I grew my business with personal branding. I had a lot of fun chatting with Ashleigh. She asked me such great questions, and I’m excited for you to hear. OK, let’s get started. Hey, Nikki. Hi, how are you?

00:01:35:28 – 00:01:58:00

I’m good. I’m so excited to be interviewing you today. And for those of you listening who may not know me. My name is Ashleigh Taylor and I co-host the Thursday Clubhouse Edition episodes of the Portrait System podcast, and I’m so honored to get to interview Nikki today. So, Nikki, welcome. It’s your turn to be on the other side.

00:01:59:01 – 00:02:07:24

Yeah, I’m like nervous. I’m usually not nervous to interview people, but being interviewed, I feel like it’s a lot more. There’s a lot more vulnerability.

00:02:08:01 – 00:02:17:05

Yeah, totally. I’m kind of nervous to interview you too, even though like I’m used to doing it on the the like clubhouse editions. This feels like, Oh, this is the big time

00:02:19:24 – 00:02:27:00

I wanted you to do it. One because I’m super comfortable talking to you and to because you just do such a great job on the Clubhouse episode. So, oh

00:02:27:02 – 00:03:03:09

thing, where to go. I’m so excited to just dive right in because I know we have a lot to talk about today, and I just know that, you know, obviously most people listening right now know who you are, but maybe we have a new listener watcher on YouTube. So if you could just briefly catch everyone up on your story, just the highlights, especially how you went from weddings, because I know you were, I know you were a social worker first, but then how you went from weddings to portrait and especially, like now, your specialty, a personal branding.

00:03:03:24 – 00:03:36:19

Yeah. So I did do my full episode like just kind of my full general story in episode 16. But if you didn’t listen to that, so the gist of it is I was a social worker for 12 years. I got super burned out and I just I decided I needed to do something different and I decided I was going to do photography like that was what I was going to do, and I got really excited about it and. It was one of those things where I didn’t really know what I was doing or how to do it, I just knew I was going to do it. And I started out shooting babies, families.

00:03:36:27 – 00:04:07:04

You know any anything, anyone and everything just to see what I enjoyed. And I thought for sure that weddings were going to be my like, full time gig for a long time. And then I started doing weddings and I realized, like, I don’t love this. This is really hard. Very time consuming. And you know, at the time, I didn’t have kids, so it wasn’t a huge deal to like, you know, not have my weekends and miss out on that sort of thing. And I was just doing so many evenings.

00:04:07:17 – 00:04:43:15

You know, you remember what it was like when you were a wedding photographer or having to meet with couples in the evenings for, like, you know, getting to know each other and are you going to book me and the constant emails, the putting together of timelines because I was doing this while I was a full time social worker. So I was I was kind of like building my business, doing all of that on the evenings and weekends. And I know, you know, yeah. So anyways, it was really hard. I decided it was something that I did not want to do anymore. Once I discovered portraits and, you know, discovered Sue and just her kind of like business model and just photographing portraits.

00:04:43:17 – 00:05:00:10

But then then I started doing portraits. I was doing a lot of like mother daughter, senior high school seniors and that sort of thing. And I was also doing evenings and weekends because that’s when people aren’t in school and when they’re not working. And like, did you find that with portraits that you were still doing evenings and weekends?

00:05:00:13 – 00:05:33:10

Yeah. I mean, I sometimes still take a weekend shoot, to be honest, if you know they can’t do another day. But I typically tell people now, like when my makeup artists, you know, also do weddings, so they’re not available on the weekends. Like, that’s like my excuse. Like, if you want a good makeup artist, you’re going to have to choose a weekday. And that usually works for most people. But yeah, I mean, yeah, I don’t. I never work evenings because of the natural light. Like, I still primarily shoot natural light, but weekends, right? Tough one, but definitely not as bad as when I shot weddings.

00:05:33:12 – 00:05:33:27

Oh my gosh.

00:05:35:02 – 00:06:10:00

Yeah. I mean, throughout this, actually, now that I think about it, I mean, where I live in Michigan, in the in the fall, in winter, I mean you. The Sun goes down by four thirty five o’clock. So it was more so summer. I guess summer and spring evenings was when I was working, but still it was. It just got to the point where I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Yeah. And I was starting to think like, OK, what? I’m going to start doing? And then I started going to networking meetings. And what I was finding as I was meeting women who needed photos for work and and not only did I love that aspect that I got to provide and create these like.

00:06:10:29 – 00:06:44:26

Really professional, beautiful photos to help people kind of like bring in more clients, but also they didn’t want to work evenings or weekends either. Yeah, and this worked for them. Yeah. So it was when I started going to these networking meetings and my clientele started becoming personal branding clients, you know, more of contemporary headshots and that sort of thing. I realize I love doing this. I love connecting with these women. I love creating their marketing and their, you know, photos that they were going to use to help book more clients.

00:06:44:28 – 00:07:06:22

And I was like, I love this so much. And like the icing on the cake was no week, no one weekends and no evenings. Yeah. And that was like back in 20, 2014. Oh wow. I really decided that I love, love personal branding. I was still doing that. Other things I hadn’t transitioned to fully marketing. I think I was to that. I think I was still a little bit too scared at that point.

00:07:06:25 – 00:07:19:04

OK, yeah, because I didn’t realize that you had been doing personal branding that long. So that’s like even news to me. I just didn’t quite realize that that’s a long time that’s like seven years of specializing in it.

00:07:19:14 – 00:07:49:12

Well, I can tell you exactly how it happened. I remember when I made me that kind of shift. I was at a it was called like a women’s show. What was it called the Northwest Women Show? I was still living in Seattle at the time and across from me. Look, I had this huge booth, I won like best booth of the show, and now I have it. I basically had my entire studio. I moved it to set up in this at the show. So like, I moved couches in, I moved like. Everything.

00:07:50:28 – 00:08:21:21

Yeah, I had like portraits hung up, I had just tables and I had my racks of dresses, so it was really kind of extravagant and it was a ton of work. And I did book several shoots, but I was at that point I was really marketing towards, you know, portraits, mother and daughter celebrating, turning 50. And all of those are really great things to shoot. And I it’s not that I don’t enjoy shooting those. I just really love personal branding as the main thing I wanted to focus on. But yeah, across the.

00:08:23:07 – 00:08:53:07

Aisle from me was this woman. And she focuses on sales and she teaches people how to sell. And I remember we started chatting. It was like a really dead day. It was like the Sunday of the show and there was no one there, and she and I started chatting and. She was telling me she was like, gosh, you know, I would really love to book you, but I feel like you only book like shoot models. And I was like, Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, I don’t photograph models, and I brought over this box and this box of before and after so that she could look at, Oh, so she yes.

00:08:53:09 – 00:09:28:25

So that way she could see like, no, this is like the everyday photo of the person, what they look like, you know, just on a typical day. And then this is for the photo shoot and that sort of thing. Anyways, we start, we kind of bonded over that and she was like, Have you ever considered trying, you know, like a women’s networking group here in Seattle? And because I know that I need updated photos and I know a lot of women who would like that and I was like, Tell me more. And so she told me about this group and I started going. And I mean, I don’t know if you want to get into that or not about how I utilize networking groups, but that to me, like that just changed everything.

00:09:28:27 – 00:10:05:08

Yeah, I love that because I think also one of the things you said that’s so important for people to realize, too, is when you do these business marketing activities like a trade show that can be a big investment. You never know what it’s going to come out of it. And I think people sign up for that because they want the booking right there like I’m going to book like 20 photoshoots. But what you don’t realize is, like all the little magical interactions that can happen along the way that can propel your career forward. And for you, making this connection with this woman sounds like it was really trajectory changing for how you saw your business.

00:10:05:20 – 00:10:18:00

And so like, I just love that so much because people don’t always realize that the thing they’re going to get out of the event is not maybe what they signed up for the event to do. You know what I mean? Yeah.

00:10:18:12 – 00:10:52:15

Oh, totally, totally. And I also booked vendors that day like you just never know. But exactly what you said is it came down to me building this relationship with Nikki Roush. Her name’s Nicky Roush and until this day she’s one of my dearest amazing friends and exactly what you said. That particular relationship opened my door to women in Seattle who needed photos because she was so well connected among hundreds of women entrepreneurs, and so many of these people became my clients because of her.

00:10:52:21 – 00:11:00:25

And so you make such a good point that it’s not often about the bookings it’s about. Just the connections you can make and yeah,

00:11:00:27 – 00:11:33:19

so yeah, and you never know where those connections are going to come from. Again, I think a trade show, if you think about it, it’s again like the people who walk through the door to pay to go to the event booking you. Sometimes people don’t realize like it’s the other business owners at the event that are going to be the best connection for you. And that can go with networking, too. And I’d love to hear more about how networking changed the trajectory for you with personal branding as well. But it’s like sometimes you go to that event thinking, Oh, you need to like, you know, hit up everyone at the event.

00:11:33:21 – 00:11:57:10

But it’s sometimes just like the wallflower that you talk to that ends up being, you know, that you talked to for like 30 minutes. That ends up being the person that changes everything for you or the great relationship that you end up making. So let’s dive into that. The networking so you meet Nikki Roush and then you start going to this networking group. So how did that really impact the personal branding for you?

00:11:59:09 – 00:12:01:09

You know, at first,

00:12:01:22 – 00:12:42:08

I was still feeling like a little kind of unnerved thinking about how to incorporate all of this into my brand. And we get that question a lot. I know you get that question, too is. You know, when you when you have such a an Instagram and a website full of weddings and families, how do you kind of make that shift over? So my main focus was building my portfolio in that way. Like, I needed to build my my personal branding portfolio, so like any time you want to shift a genre, you’ve got to build your portfolio so that you have photos to show people so that they know what they’re getting and what to expect.

00:12:42:10 – 00:13:17:20

So I kind of had that on my mind. And I remember and I may have told this story before, but I remember walking into my first networking meeting, not at this particular group that Nicky originally introduced me to, but a different one. And I remembered feeling like it was super clique-y. I was really, really nervous, and I didn’t feel welcomed. It wasn’t a real positive experience and I had to, like, go to the bathroom and collect myself and think like, OK, how am I going to make this work for me? And I had paid a little bit extra for a table to just have my work displayed or whatever.

00:13:18:08 – 00:13:51:22

And the person who was next to me was the she was kind of like the queen bee of the group. I guess you could say I could tell that she was someone who was definitely a big influence on the members. And and I thought to myself like, I need, I’m going to kill her with kindness. Any time I feel that any energy of not feeling welcome, I just kill them with kindness. And it works so, so, so well. And so I just started asking her questions about what she does, and I find that this is for any type of networking situation.

00:13:51:24 – 00:14:21:29

Asking people about them and what they do will automatically bring their guard down because they’re like, OK, this person’s interested in me. So if you’re like going to a networking event? Or, you know anything, anytime you want to talk to someone, if you ask them about themselves. It opens up so many doors. So I started asking this person who I knew was such a big influence in the group, like about her and what she does, and she started talking to me about everything she does and the next thing I knew.

00:14:22:01 – 00:14:50:18

We’re just like chatting away. And then finally, it turned to, OK, talk to me about what you do. And so I was able to open that door. And I knew I wanted to photograph this person. And so what I did is I offered a trade. And at the time, her business was sort of like life coach. And I remember thinking, like, as she’s very intelligent and I actually really love what she teaches. But I remember thinking, like, I don’t even need a life coach like I have at this point. I was working with Sue, like I have Sue Bryce.

00:14:52:09 – 00:14:52:24


00:14:55:03 – 00:15:26:15

Everything on Sue Bryce Education had gotten me to the point where I was at, where I was able to quit my job, my social work job and all of that. And in my head, I’m like, I need a life coach, but I’m going to offer a trade with this person because I felt like that was the best way to get, you know, get it, get her in the door. Now, today, the more confident me who is super confident about my pricing and my portfolio and everything, I probably wouldn’t have offered a trade. I would just have sort of invited her to do business business with me, and I would use different strategies around that.

00:15:26:17 – 00:15:58:15

But at the time, when I was still getting to know everyone and building relationships and all of that, I asked her if you want to do a trade, and she said yes. And so that’s what we did, and I photographed her. And because of her, I mean, I can’t even tell you how many clients I’ve gotten in the end. Now, had I gone in thinking, I want to get six bookings and I want this and I want that, and I don’t think I would have been successful if I would have let the energy in the room deter me or like make me leave, which there have been times when I’ve been tempted to leave meetings or whatever.

00:15:59:00 – 00:16:04:21

Every time I stay, I get something out of it and to me that you just have to find a way around that.

00:16:05:06 – 00:16:43:28

Yes, it makes sense. I yeah, it totally does. I mean, I’ve felt that myself in business. I’m an introvert. So like I know I have like a people say I have a big personality and they can’t believe that I’m an introvert, but I actually do feel quite intimidated in groups of people. And I also like will have those moments where I used to go to networking and feel like, Oh, I don’t want to be here. This is so hard, but I would do exactly like which is what Sue teaches, too, to ask questions, to be interested in other people, to shift your energy, to just show up and not be attached to any kind of outcome from that event.

00:16:44:00 – 00:16:59:07

And all those things make all the difference. And now I can go to networking groups and just know everyone in the room, but it takes years to get to that place. It’s not something that happens overnight. So I think that that’s such good advice for anyone listening. Yeah.

00:16:59:20 – 00:17:18:24

And I love that you brought up that you’re an introvert. Like, I don’t want people to think that just because you’re introverted or you’re shy or you’re awkward or whatever that you can’t do this because you can. Everyone can. Yes, it might not come as easy and it might feel. And you know, honestly, I’m also I hesitate to say that I’m an introvert

00:17:20:21 – 00:17:39:15

because again, I also have a big personality and I love talking with people. But I get my energy from being alone and from like recharging, being in a room full of people like sucks my energy dry and I and I need to like to get, you know, like some people will shoot for hours with their clients and like, then have lunch after and I’m just like, Oh yeah,

00:17:41:17 – 00:18:00:29

Once everyone leaves. The music goes off and I’m just like. But it’s so, so, so important to remember that regardless of your personality type there, as long as you do a certain few things and you’re consistent with it when you go to these groups, I’m telling you it can be life, it can be life changing. And I know you know that because you’ve experienced this.

00:18:01:01 – 00:18:27:11

Yeah, yeah. But I think for people listening, it’s important to drive home the point that it’s a skill and it’s a muscle. It’s like going to the gym, like you just need to work it out and just get stronger at it. It’s not like whatever your personality type type is, does not determine how successful you will be at networking. Just like if you don’t have a lot of muscle mass, it doesn’t mean you can’t, you know, become strong one day you just have to work it out, basically.

00:18:27:13 – 00:19:00:20

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it took me a while to really kind of figure out the recipe to like, nail these networking meetings to really understand that even if I was having an off day or even if I didn’t feel like it or whatever, if I followed certain steps. I was going to be successful that day. Yeah, at that group and successful doesn’t necessarily equal a booking. And you know, now 95 percent of the shoots that I do are personal branding, and that’s what I filled my calendar with really.

00:19:00:22 – 00:19:31:20

For the last like four or five years, that’s been what I’ve done pretty solidly. You know, I’d say 90 percent of the time. But again, it wasn’t something that just happened overnight. And I kind of. You know, came up with this. I guess like steps you could call it, and I actually put them in my personal branding course. Yeah, in the yeah, in the portrait masters store, it’s, you know, the steps to nailing networking meetings. And for me, it’s been a recipe that just it works.

00:19:32:16 – 00:20:03:09

I love that because I think for a lot of people, including myself, a blueprint in business is so helpful to follow if you can just implement something. And that’s what makes everything easy. That’s why Sue Bryce Education worked for me, and I think that the fact that you have a blueprint in your class is so exciting because it’s just going to make it so easy for people to just follow the recipe, follow the steps, implement. That’s the best way to move forward when you’re learning something new in business before you can make it your own. Totally.

00:20:03:11 – 00:20:29:28

So speaking of that, I do want to transition because personal branding can mean so many things to so many different photographers. I mean, Kevin and I, when we’ve done our clubhouse chats, we’ve interviewed a few personal branding photographers and oh boy, are they all different in their approach to what that means? So I would love if you could kind of tell people, what is Nikki Closser’s personal branding? What are you like teaching? What are you the expert in as far as personal branding? How do you define it?

00:20:30:18 – 00:21:07:03

Yeah, that’s a super good question, because it’s funny. I ended up I was I made a post on Instagram that I was doing a personal branding course. And what are the things that people want to know, you know, and I kind of wanted to just take note of that and someone was like, I want you to define the difference between headshots and personal branding because the person was very specific. Like, they firmly believe that there is a difference where I’m more of the belief that, yes, there there is a difference in the way in which the photos kind of look. Mm-Hmm. But the process to me is the same, and I like to incorporate the both into one shoot.

00:21:07:05 – 00:21:18:16

And that’s my personal philosophy is that personal branding is its headshots, but it is a contemporary experience, and it’s contemporary photos kind of blended into one.

00:21:19:02 – 00:21:28:06

OK, so do you just do in studio? Are you going on location with people or are you doing like flat? Because again, it can be so many different things for people.

00:21:29:01 – 00:22:03:21

Yeah. So I’m a firm believer in efficiency and simplicity. And so for me, the most. Most of what I do is within my studio, OK, because I’m in control, I control the light. I control the environment. I am so comfortable with everything that’s happening around me. Whereas going on location and I do do location on location, but I would say probably 70 percent of what I do is in studio, in my studio, for the most part.

00:22:04:13 – 00:22:32:05

I do do I go on location, but I feel like the amount of energy and effort that I’m, you know, expending when I, when I’m on location is so much more. And so there is like again, I go back to efficiency and. Just, you know, what I’m comfortable with is more so in studio, so that was a super long winded question that I’d say about 75 percent, I’m sorry, 70 percent I do in studio. The rest of it is on location. OK.

00:22:32:14 – 00:23:09:05

That’s really helpful because I mean, I think too and I’d love for if you could speak on this to is like convincing clients that they want the studio thing. I know I feel the same way as you like. I would rather be in my studio. Sometimes I get people that you know, are like, I really want to go on location or I’ll get a real return. They really want to get in one of their show houses. That’s all perfect big mansion. They want to show themselves in our house and my studio doesn’t look like a house. So there are times where you have to make an exception. But how do you? Yeah, how do you tell people like you want this studio photoshoot like to change your business?

00:23:10:08 – 00:23:42:20

Yeah, I mean, it depends on what what you want to shoot. And if you don’t want to shoot in studio, don’t show studio photos. If you want to shoot on location, show on location. So the majority of what I show is in my studio, so. So I’m kind of a, you know, it’s all about showing what you want to book in and showing who you want to attract. So I am posting and showing on my website as many photos that I can of in studio in exactly what I want to be shooting.

00:23:42:22 – 00:24:18:19

So that is kind of how it’s just all about marketing and showing what it is that I that I want to be shooting. And that’s a lot of what I do now. If people do ask me to go on location, we’ll chat about what is exactly is that they want. And if it’s not something I can produce in my studio, I will either work with them and go on location, and that means maybe charging an extra fee. So if I have to drive more than 45 minutes, one way there’s an extra hundred and fifty dollars fee for that travel fee. And that’s just something that I implemented a while ago when, you know, especially because of where I live, like I live out in the country.

00:24:19:03 – 00:25:02:14

And so any large city is going to be far for me. So I basically any time I go on location, there’s an extra hundred and fifty dollars just drive fee. So one thing that I one in one phrase that I do say, like, if this is someone who you know, I’ll ask them about their space, like where on location do you want to go? And they might say, You know, Oh my office, I’m like, Oh, is there a lot of windows? Like, my office well no it’s kind of small or it’s this or that, and I’m like, OK, so let’s talk a little bit more about what is it that you want to achieve? And can you maybe send me some examples of photos of mine that you’ve seen that you like? And oftentimes I’ll say, you know, the photos that you see on my website that you see on my social media, 90 percent of them were were photographed in my studio.

00:25:02:16 – 00:25:12:17

And if you want your photos to be consistent with the work that you are seeing of mine, then it’s best that we do it in my studio because that’s where I can, you know, recreate that the best for you.

00:25:12:21 – 00:25:36:10

Yeah. And I love that because that’s just you showing that you’re confident and you’re the expert and you’re going to guide them through the process, which I mean all our clients like. But I particularly find with like entrepreneur clients, they really want you to be the boss of your business and like, tell them how it’s going to go. I’ve had so many clients lately that are just like, You’re the expert, you tell me, and I’m like, OK.

00:25:37:27 – 00:25:45:24

Cool So but it’s kind of cool that, you know, like, listen to you and they’ll do what you say when you take that authority with them.

00:25:46:21 – 00:26:18:03

That’s such a good point. And that’s such a good point overall that clients like to be directed and told what to do, and that’s something that I use in my marketing pitches. You don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pose or what to do because I am going to pose you and direct you through your entire photoshoot. And and the way that you communicate what you’re going to provide for your clients is so crucial. It can be the difference between whether or not they’re going to book you that language that you use around people just want to be exactly what you said.

00:26:18:05 – 00:26:34:23

They want you to take control. They want you to help them. I mean, how many clients have you had actually that are like, I’m not photogenic or I hate getting my photo taken, so I just don’t want to book right now or I need to lose 10 pounds or whatever. I mean, how many clients say things like that? Yeah. All of them.

00:26:35:14 – 00:27:07:03

So, yeah, you just have to take control and like, you have to make them like. I think when people can really feel that you are in control and not you have a system in place for your business and a process and an onboarding that then they feel like, Oh, I can trust this person. They they’ve got it, they’ve got my back, and then they start relaxing and then you get less high maintenance clients, too, I find, because someone who maybe might be considered a high maintenance client, they chill out because they’re like, Oh, you’ve got me?

00:27:08:10 – 00:27:43:24

Yeah, oh yeah, totally. I have said a couple of times. I just I really need you to trust me right now. Yeah, I love. They’re like, Oh, OK, you know, I told you, I totally trust you and I’m like, OK, good because. You know, like you said with the clients who are just and sometimes I think it’s out of nerves, like they’re just super nervous and they’re just trying to micromanage the situation. But I will say, though, that the more confident I’ve become with my posing, my directing, the things that I say to my clients in general, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had someone really try to control the situation because I think they they just know that I am.

00:27:44:00 – 00:27:45:07

I know what I’m doing. Like.

00:27:46:27 – 00:28:13:08

Yeah, exactly that confidence comes through. And that like comes from, like you said, over time, having your business system, your recipe that you implement every single time. So it becomes second nature and then you just become confident in it. So that’s why I love that you’re teaching people like a recipe for this, because then they can have that same confidence when they go into their business and when they add personal branding to their business too.

00:28:14:06 – 00:28:51:09

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it’s not even just to I want to make sure people know that you can kind of use this language of showing people how you’re going to provide this service and how you’re going to take care of them and how you’re going to direct them. It doesn’t just have to be in person talking to someone like, I use this language all over my social media, all over my website, like if you go to my website or if you go to my Instagram, you’re going to see me read, you know, the words and in the post and everything. You’re going to see me posing people. I’ll say things like, I will pose you and direct you through your photoshoot, so you don’t have to worry.

00:28:52:09 – 00:29:29:23

You know about what you’re doing, or I don’t believe that photo being photogenic is a real thing, it’s up to your photographer, which is me to take beautiful photos of you or if you hate having your photos taken. I’m the photographer for you because my specialty is photographing people in a flattering way, no matter what. Even if you think you’re not photogenic, like just all of these different things, I’m saying it constantly on my social media and on my website and in my PDF so that people before they even call me or contact me, they’re already feeling like I’m going to take care of them.

00:29:29:25 – 00:29:31:22

And I got there and I have their back.

00:29:32:04 – 00:30:04:21

Yeah, I love that. And that’s you having your brand. You know what I mean? Like, it’s kind of better because it’s like you’re a personal brand photographer helping other people create their brands. But it also like you have your brand locked down, and then that makes them probably even more confident in you because it’s like this girl knows her branding. And so she’s also going to be able to help me with mine. So I love that too, because it just kind of all works together when you can show that, like you show up professionally for your own business, people are going to again trust you more to help them with their brand.

00:30:05:02 – 00:30:39:27

Yeah, totally. And all of that can be communicated like, you know, I will say with the networking thing, I don’t want to scare people away from the whole networking group thing. Like, I hit that networking circuit hard for the first two years that I decided I was going to really focus heavily on personal branding. It has been a really long time since I’ve been to a meeting, like when I moved to Michigan from Seattle. I knew I had work to do and I had to start going to meetings and I did. But it didn’t take long before, you know, the the referrals started coming in.

00:30:39:29 – 00:31:18:10

But once you really build a name for yourself amongst the community, it snowballs so quickly. I still give. I’ve said this before. I still get referrals from meetings I went to four years ago, five years ago. Like on my form, because on my contacts contact form on website. I just say, How did you hear about me? I’ll be like, Oh my gosh, I haven’t heard from that client in six years. Wow, they’re still referring me, you know, and then I’ll reach out to them and thank them for referring me. And then they’re like, Oh yeah, by the way, I really need to book another photo shoot and I’m like, a win win. Like the relationships that you build as long as you are providing great service and giving them photos that they really, truly love.

00:31:19:04 – 00:31:25:08

You know, eventually these referrals are going to just start snowballing. It’s just it’s just how it is.

00:31:25:22 – 00:31:59:03

Yeah, I love that. And while we’re on the topic a little bit about networking and referrals and the kinds of clients you get, what would you say if there is one is the predominant like industry or job that your clients, your personal brand photoshoot clients have? Because I think as photographers, that’s something I see come up a lot in the SBE group as well, who are the people who need our personal branding shoot and who are the business owners who are willing to pay for this. So I think it would really help for people to hear who who are your clients? What do they do?

00:31:59:22 – 00:32:31:21

Yeah, that’s such a good question. Because you know what? My clients really vary so much, actually. Like, I have tons of realtors, I have insurance agents, I have life coaches, I have massage therapists, I have a fitness expert who I’m shooting next week. I have corporate clients. I’m photographing two hundred and seventy dental student dental graduate students coming up. Oh wow. You know, in four days in the fall, yeah, that was a huge gig. Like, super easy too and great money. Like, you know, I have, I’m in.

00:32:31:23 – 00:32:37:00

This is a thing to going back to the kind of headshots versus personal branding.

00:32:38:24 – 00:33:15:27

My philosophy and just what my experience from what I’m hearing from my clients is that people are starting to want more than just the head and shoulders sit down, you know, click click kind of experience. And I will say there are there are some phenomenal headshot photographers. You know, when you look at Peter Hurley, he is like the expert of head shots, you know, and there is a time and a place for that, for sure. But any time, you know, when someone reaches out to me and says, I just want headshots, sometimes they don’t know that there is another option.

00:33:16:05 – 00:33:21:01

They don’t know that they they could get hair and makeup and they could get.

00:33:23:10 – 00:33:57:02

You know, just all of these different poses and looks in multiple different photos that they can use in their branding for the entire year, for their social media and for their website and just everything, and for newsletters and speaking gigs and you know, just all of the things that people need photos for. Sometimes people don’t know that more than a headshot is an option. Now for corporate. Often what they need, especially now, is a headshot for their Zoom profile photo. They need something for the company directory, and oftentimes it is this kind of head and shoulders.

00:33:57:04 – 00:34:29:03

But what I’m finding is companies are making a shift. So I got this gig with a really big tech company where they flew me around the country to photograph their 12 team leaders, and they didn’t want the head and shoulders. Yeah, they wanted the hair and makeup. They wanted more of the kind of more body included, more their personality included. And that’s what god,  now since I did their team leaders for this specific team, the other teams are reaching out to me and wanting me to do the same thing, and this is a very corporate tech company.

00:34:30:16 – 00:35:14:29

And I’m again, I’m just finding that more and more people companies are loosening restrictions with, Oh, your background has to be gray. And it has to be head and shoulders like, I just think that it’s a bigger shift into this more contemporary branding, which is why I wanted to do the course to to show that, yes, there is a time and place for headshots, but in every single shoot that I do, I’m including the headshot that they need that head and shoulders, and we’re also including their personality. And if they are someone who sells products or, you know, has certain colors implemented into their brand, I’m incorporating all of that so that they just have a huge variety and it’s so much less stress for them when they need content for anything that has to do with their business.

00:35:15:01 – 00:35:34:19

And so these are all things that I’m trying to talk to people about when they say, I just want a headshot, I’m always trying to convert them into, you know, personal branding because it’s more money for me. And in the end, it’s more money for them, especially if they’re entrepreneurs. Because the more great content they have, the more they have the market with, the more professional they look, the more clients they’re going to book.

00:35:34:23 – 00:36:12:29

Yeah, I think that’s such an amazing point, too, because people like, especially after COVID, I would say that’s what my personal branding really started booming for me because people realize like, I’m not meeting you in person anymore, like I’m meeting you on Zoom or like online has become more important than ever that presence. So your pictures better communicate that you’re great to work with that you’re fun. Not this like stuffy old school photo, even if they’re a corporate or a lawyer or some job that we might like as photographers, I think is a more serious job or whatever, like an accountant or a lawyer.

00:36:13:19 – 00:36:43:23

But they still need like they still need to come across online as someone that people want to trust and work with. And so I love that you bring up how diverse your clientele is and that you’re even booking corporate clients. And that can be extremely lucrative, which transitions great into the next question, which is like, what is your average sale like? How has this financially impacted your business? Because I’m sure that that’s something that people want to know about when it comes to personal branding. Like how profitable is it?

00:36:44:24 – 00:37:14:24

Yeah. OK, so my average has kind of fluctuated over the years, but for the most part, it’s hovered right around $1800 per person. And this is this is when someone one person comes to my studio, I promise four looks. I typically deliver six, because I’m a quick shooter and I know that variety variety equals more. They’re going to purchase more photos, typically with a variety. So that’s why, you know, I just tried it in.

00:37:14:26 – 00:37:42:12

My shoots are quick. I have hair makeup that is typically no longer than 60 Minutes. Oh, wow. And then, yeah, and then I shoot for. Well, it depends on who I have like. Some of my makeup artists are really quick and some of them take longer. Yeah, but my main girl here in Michigan, I mean, 60 minutes done. And my shoot time is typically an hour, sometimes less, maybe a little bit more, depending on what’s going on. But I can get six outfits in in 60 Minutes.

00:37:42:14 – 00:38:00:20

Like, Wow, like so 10 minutes an outfit, just boom. Pose pose pose. I love that, though, because they probably like that if they’re busy entrepreneurs that they don’t have maybe time to, especially when you’re being flown out for these corporate jobs, like they maybe just don’t have time to spend four hours on a photo shoot.

00:38:01:16 – 00:38:14:04

You’re so right, and I don’t want them to leave exhausted either. Like, you know, I don’t want them to leave feeling just like so drained. I want them to leave feeling like, wow, I actually could have done more. Like, I kind of want to book another one. You know what I mean?

00:38:14:12 – 00:38:30:06

Yes, that’s a good point, because then that’s a repeat client that’s coming back for four more pictures. OK, yeah. So I bet everyone who is listening is wondering, like, how the heck do you shoot that fast? How do you get six outfits in 60 Minutes?

00:38:31:12 – 00:39:09:24

Yeah, OK. So you know, I kind of have it down to a little bit of a science. And again, if I’ve got a client who especially if they have products, that takes me a little bit longer to incorporate the products in there. Mm hmm. But once you learn kind of the poses for personal branding and, you know, like, yes, there is room for creativity for sure, but a lot of these poses are it’s like rinse and repeat. They work great for all body types. You know, it’s just something I’ve done. I photographed hundreds and hundreds of of people, and it starts to just get to the point where you just know what to do really quickly.

00:39:10:08 – 00:39:41:08

And during that hair and makeup time, during that 60 Minutes, I’m planning out their outfits and I actually in the course. I don’t mean to keep like plugging my own course, but all of this is in. I photograph two different clients real clients, and I don’t teach throughout the shoot like your basic well, I do a voiceover so you can I can talk about what I’m doing and why. But they’re like, I am in a shooting zone. They’re like real clients and you get to watch the two shoots so you can see how I go through. Quick, quick, quick. I don’t overshoot.

00:39:42:01 – 00:40:11:15

I take the time to get them in the pose that I want. I don’t just like. You know, if it’s not working, I just move on to the next thing. Like, I just have this kind of system down and you can see it in the two shoots that I do with my clients. You’re just like a fly on the wall and you just get to watch it. And it is. It’s something that I’ve just practice. I think is has been a huge part of it too. And it just, I don’t know. Eventually, you just start to get quicker, like, did you find you’ve gotten quicker over the years?

00:40:11:17 – 00:40:50:19

Yeah, definitely. And I actually really like that. Rinse and repeat once you get it into a groove and a rhythm because it just for me, it means profitable. Like I used to see it as like, Oh, that’s not artistic. That’s not creative. But at the end of the day, like, I’m running a business and I want to get people in and I want to get the shots that are going to sell and I want to hit, you know, the highlights for them and make sure that, you know, when we come to the reveal, I nailed it and I’m going to have a good sale. And so I’ve actually come to take a lot of I don’t know what the right word is, but like, it’s stress free and really like confident boosting to have a system.

00:40:50:29 – 00:41:24:21

And I think for people to be able to watch you do it, that is so amazing. Way back when I did weddings, I remember Jasmine Star had a course where you could watch her shoot a live wedding. I remember. That gave me so much confidence in shooting my own weddings because I could see what I was doing right, what I could maybe improve. And so I think for for personal branding, for people who are new to it, for them to be able to watch you shoot two real clients and see exactly how the process goes down is going to be so helpful and beneficial.

00:41:24:23 – 00:41:27:16

I mean, I want to watch it even though I do this all the time.

00:41:27:18 – 00:41:30:04

Like I’m I’m curious. I want to see,

00:41:31:22 – 00:42:04:15

yeah, I love watching people shoot. I like the Tuesday latest live with Saray. I just did you know on Saray? Yeah, I’m sorry, I just did Saray Taylor Roman. She’s in, she is episode number one. She’s our very first episode, so she does a shoot that you can watch. Like, I just love being a fly in the wall and watching people shoot. You can learn so much in the way that I shoot might resonate with some people, and for some people, it might not be their style. Like, I’m just putting it all out there and just showing what I do and and it’s like, take it or leave it in.

00:42:04:25 – 00:42:46:23

But you set out some really good things to you, though. Like, Yes, we are, you know, creators. We create photographs for people, but certain poses are, you know, work for all body types like there are, there are. If you can take 10 poses and they work for every single one of your clients, for the most part. Why not use all of those poses? And it’s going to look very different, like if I’m going to pose you in like a red jumpsuit on a white wall, in a pose that’s like, you know, here or whatever, I’m standing up or whatever and you’re not smiling, but I use the exact same pose on someone who’s wearing black, and I put them on a black background and they’re smiling.

00:42:46:25 – 00:43:23:06

It’s the same pose, but it looks very different. So you can still have like a wide variety of photos to show on your Instagram, even with like 10 poses that you just rotate through. Your clients are happy. They look great. It’s easy for you. And of course, like with every shoot, I always try to do, you know, my main, my main poses that I do for everyone, and then I get a little bit more creative. And like I said, especially if they have products like one of the shoots. Alicia, she has products, and so I’m shooting with the products. But for the most part, I try to do some creative photos or pose with each person.

00:43:23:16 – 00:43:30:07

And I will say to, I don’t always get through six outfits. It just depends. Sometimes people are really slow at changing.

00:43:30:19 – 00:43:31:17

Mm yeah.

00:43:31:19 – 00:43:57:28

And like putting their outfits on or whatever. And then, you know, three is three hours and I’m like, OK, I’m five or five outfits like, we’re done. You know, they’re tired, I’m tired, and you know, that’s just how it goes. So it just depends. But for the most part, it’s, yeah, six outfits in an hour. And it it’s worked so well for me and I’m consistently selling my middle or high package. It’s very rare that I sell my smallest package.

00:43:58:00 – 00:44:05:20

That’s awesome. Can you kind of tell people how many images that is in the middle or top package that they’re buying that client is buying?

00:44:06:12 – 00:44:37:15

Yep, I do five, 10 and 20 and there’s a $269 session fee and that includes hair and makeup. And I’ve considered raising that. I’ve really I probably should just raise my prices overall. But the smallest package is five orders for 800, and then it goes up from there. OK. So if someone wants to come in, they’re spending at least a thousand dollars. And some people, you know, have said to me that’s that’s too much. And I’m like, That’s fine. I’m here for you. When you are ready, you know there’s that’s OK. Like, I would love to photograph you and I’m I’m here when you’re ready.

00:44:37:17 – 00:45:10:00

And that’s it. And but for the most part, because because I’ve nailed down using my my pitch, you know, my sales pitch. And my marketing that I have tailored around these rebuttals and things that people say like, I’m not photogenic, I need to lose 10 pounds, I’m, you know, it’s too expensive. Like all of these things, I’ve infused rebuttals to all of those into my marketing that by the time they get to me, they’ve probably I’ve probably already.

00:45:11:13 – 00:45:18:03

You know, whatever objection they had, I’ve already. Like, how would you say it like that? Answered it.

00:45:19:00 – 00:45:47:00

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think that’s the best marketing is when you answer someone’s fears before they’ve even asked the question to you, because then they’re like, This girl gets me or this person gets me like, they’re in my head. They know what I’m thinking. Like, that’s the kind of marketing that works the best. So I think that that’s probably why you have such a high booking rate is because you’ve already answered their biggest fears before they even picked up the phone and spoken to you.

00:45:47:23 – 00:46:19:12

Totally, totally. I’ve put the time in ahead of time to avoid all of that, and I remember when I was moving from Seattle to Michigan and I’m thinking like, OK, here I go, you know, I’ve got to build up my clientele again and that sort of thing. Or actually, I should take that back. I started my studio in in Michigan before I moved back from Seattle, so I already did have some clientele, but even when I just opened my studio here. I was kind of feeling like, oh, but I’ve already done the marketing and I’ve already done this and I’ve already done that and I’m like, Wait a minute.

00:46:19:14 – 00:46:49:14

That’s right. I already have. I know what to do. I just have to kind of do it again and hit that networking circuit circuit again. But, you know, the website was built. You know, everything was there and ready. And that’s what’s so great about having your own sort of like system and having everything built in your business and spending the time up front. Because if you do move or you do shoot another genre or whatever, all you have to do is either rebuild that portfolio or start making connections and everything else is already done in there for you. Yes.

00:46:49:16 – 00:46:50:16

So that’s yeah,

00:46:50:18 – 00:47:10:25

I think that’s so huge and I think that’s so huge for people to remember, too, if they want to add personal branding to their portfolio or add to add this genre to their services because it’s not going to be like starting from square one, it’s just something that they can add to become even more profitable in their business and just address more client needs.

00:47:11:10 – 00:47:44:12

Exactly, exactly. And I love what you said, too about this is a business. This is about being profitable. Like, I’ve been able to create this life where I get to decide if I want to, you know, be with my son on his first day of kindergarten, like I just did makes me tear up to thinking about, like how I was able, you know, to be with my baby for kindergarten, whereas I was still a school social worker. I would have missed that because I would have had to have been at my school on the first day of school because it’s my job and you can’t miss the first day of school when you’re a school social worker.

00:47:44:16 – 00:48:18:13

Yeah. So I would have missed my son’s first day. You know, I’ve been able to create this, this life and it is about the money, but it isn’t. It’s about the money because the money affords me to have the opportunities and the experiences that I have been able to have. And I’ve been able to give my children and my husband, you know, where the money is, what allows me to kind of do that. So it is about the money, but it to me, it’s about the experiences, the life experiences and the freedom, the life of freedom that I get to live to design this, this life for myself.

00:48:18:18 – 00:48:53:14

But in the end, I had to make money to do that. And so when you say this is a business and it’s profitable, that is 100 percent what it comes down to. And I’m like totally going off a tangent. But one more thing is that I have to remember to. I’m helping my clients make money by creating these photos for them. I have had clients straight up say to me that I book more like they are are attracting more clients in their target client based on simply just changing their photos in their social media that they are now making more money because of those photos.

00:48:53:16 – 00:48:58:29

So yes, they’re paying me money, but they are making money in return of from what we’re creating for them.

00:48:59:03 – 00:49:35:27

Yes, that’s such an important thing, too, because it’s a great why to keep motivated in your business that you’re helping yourself. Yes, to have the life you want, but you’re also creating an impact for other people to live their best lives and you’re setting that example for them. I know I had a personal brand client once who told me afterwards, like, you know, I spent twenty five hundred dollars with you, and that was really scary and big for me. But then I had my best year ever in business. And she said, You know, of course, the photos were amazing, but also her own confidence level from like seeing herself represented so professionally like it might not, she said.

00:49:36:02 – 00:50:07:07

It may or may not be how other others perceived her from the photos, but how she perceived herself from looking at herself in the photos was like, I need to show up and be that boss every single day, like I need to be the woman in this photo that I’m presenting and I see it for myself. Like now, it’s real for me, and I just thought that was like, really interesting way and perspective of looking at it. And it just was like, Oh my God, I can’t believe that my photoshoot, like, impacted her in such a huge way, and I know that that’s what it sounds like you’re doing for all your clients.

00:50:07:09 – 00:50:08:09

That’s so amazing.

00:50:08:28 – 00:50:33:23

It’s so true. And I’m so glad you got that feedback from your client because I think that happens more than we think. And, you know, some clients are really verbal about it, and some aren’t. I can think about this guy, Steve and I did his photos and I got a very similar response. Like, I feel amazing, like I just my ego feels better. And therefore, when he is putting it out there to his audience,

00:50:35:21 – 00:51:02:12

they feel it. You know, you can feel it through the photos. And I know that sounds really super cheesy, but you can you can feel if someone is competent and just it just makes all the difference in your marketing. And these are things that you can communicate to your clients to like. When you feel amazing in your photos, your potential clients feel that and they’re more likely to book you. So, I mean, there’s just a million things that you can, you know, talk to clients about when it comes to.

00:51:04:05 – 00:51:05:25

Why they need professional photos.

00:51:06:04 – 00:51:34:22

Yes, I love that. I want to transition to asking you about the class. I know we’ve kind of hinted at it or brought it up a little bit in this conversation, but I really want to know more details. That’s cool. So I know you talked about that there is a shooting component in the class where we get to be a fly on the wall. But do you also teach marketing personal branding? Is it just shooting? Is there posing guide. Tell me everything that’s included in it.

00:51:35:00 – 00:52:05:24

Yeah, yeah. OK. So yeah, you’ll see that. Like I mentioned, the two photo shoots that I do with real clients from start to finish, you know, starting with hair and makeup, we go through the styling together how I pick the photos like the you just you basically see it all. And then we go through marketing and I give you my pitch. I teach you how to perfect your pitch, how to incorporate that pitch into your marketing. The networking steps for to nail networking meetings. And then I also cover the pricing and packages and just go into detail about that.

00:52:06:01 – 00:52:37:02

I also show my workflow. And this is something that I’ve been very vocal about, and I’m a hack when it comes to my workflow and how I, you know, retouch upload into Lightroom, how I organize my files. But I have it down to a science because again, efficiency and just, you know, this is a business and I’m trying to get done. I love what I do, but I’m trying to get done so I can do other things like so I take you through how I completely my whole editing process, my whole workflow from start to finish.

00:52:37:18 – 00:53:09:04

And I also show a live photo viewing. So we recorded one of the shoots that I did her photo reveal on Zoom. You get to see exactly how I do that. There are there’s different downloads, too, so rebuttals. So all of the reasons that people say they don’t want a photo shoot or they’re not ready for a photo shoot or whatever. There’s a download for that with a rebuttal for every objection I’ve ever, I’ve ever gotten. So and then I just show how I create a slideshow. There’s a download for that because I do a slideshow for each, each of my clients.

00:53:09:17 – 00:53:50:10

And then there is the download for nailing the networking meetings in five steps. And there is also what I did is it’s not really. And this is a little add on to the course, but it’s it’s not really opposing guide. It is something like I got to see how many photos it actually is, but over one hundred and fifty real client photos that I’ve taken. And I tried to show as much variety as I could. But I took I went through all my actually. I went through like the the archives of all of the shoots that I’ve done and just was like, Oh my gosh, remember when I photographed her? I remember when we did that shoot and when I did his photos and whatever was really cool to go through.

00:53:50:12 – 00:54:21:18

Just all of the clients who I photographed and pick out one or two shots from each client in with some clients, I have like five or six because I really like the whole series or whatever. And so they’re just real client photos like instead of hiring models and, you know, showing you the way that I pose in that way. I was just like, I’m just going to take real client photos and. Everyone can see them and just have them all in one place as like a download, so. So yeah, there’s tons of stuff in it and I really, really enjoyed putting it together.

00:54:21:20 – 00:54:28:10

It’s very real and raw and you know, I don’t sugarcoat things, and I just.

00:54:29:26 – 00:54:58:17

I love being able to share with people and even with this podcast to interview other people who are doing it, who are living this like really cool life with a career that they really love. And if there’s something that I can do to help someone to achieve that. Like, hell, yes, I’m all about it. And to me, that’s like I put my blood, sweat and tears into this course because my goal is to help as many people as possible with this genre. If this is something that you’re interested in and I love doing it.

00:54:58:22 – 00:55:31:01

So I love that. I mean, there’s so many things that you said that are just like, Oh my gosh, so exciting, like the reveal, like actually showing a reveal. I think that’s so powerful. I can’t tell you how many times, like I’ve been personally asked or I see questions in SBE about, like just the mechanics of doing it on Zoom. And it’s like, guys, do you know how to use do? But like, I know, it’s really intimidating if you haven’t done it before and people, yeah, when they haven’t done it, we’ll just kind of work out all these what ifs in their head, even though they haven’t happened yet.

00:55:31:03 – 00:55:46:01

And so I think it’s so calming to see someone do it and to see like, Oh, it really is that easy because it really it’s it’s easy, but until you see someone do it confidently, it’s hard to kind of imagine it if you haven’t done it. So I think that’s going to be so huge for people.

00:55:46:25 – 00:55:50:24

I was super nervous, too, because I’m like, I hope she. I hope she likes some, you know,

00:55:52:12 – 00:56:26:15

one in the class, regardless of what happens, you know, and it was just kind of like I was watching her expression as because you can see her face as she’s watching this light show and whatever. And I’m like, I hope it’s a good like. I hope that expression means she likes the photos. I’m like sweating and like, you know, anyway, so yeah, it’s all in there. And yeah, it was good. It was. It’s been a it’s been really fun and I did it in my studio. And so everything you see is just like what you see is what you get for my business. And again, I didn’t I didn’t want to pick models, you know, I just wanted it to be two real clients.

00:56:26:17 – 00:56:28:03

And so that’s what I did. So, yeah,

00:56:28:05 – 00:57:09:11

I love that too, because that’s that’s so valuable too. Like, I personally sometimes can get annoyed when, like a photographer is shooting a model because I’m like, I, you know, like, anyone can shoot that beautiful person like they know what they’re doing, but like, that’s not how my business operates. I operate off real people. And so I think that that’s just so, so helpful to you for people to see you work with real people, how you calm their nerves, how you direct them, how you like. We’ve talked about earlier, like put yourself in that confident position to you’re the authority and they trust you. I also love that you said that you are going to share about pricing because again, like if I had a dollar for every time someone else and see how you price personal branding like, I think we’d all be rich pretty much.

00:57:11:00 – 00:57:28:26

separately. Yeah. Like, it’s one of the top ask questions because I think people get really hung up on the fact that it’s maybe not like a printed portrait or something like that, but it’s just so helpful to see how someone else successfully practices in their business and makes it profitable.

00:57:29:20 – 00:57:55:07

Yeah, for sure. And I want to encourage people like record yourself shooting like a real player because there were some phrases that I was saying. I’m like, How many times am I going to say that? Like, I thought it like a hundred and fifty times, and I looked at my makeup artist and I’m like, If I start repeating myself with that same phrase, like, can you just tell me to mix it up a little bit like the client’s got to be so? So anyways, you know the things that you learn from watching yourself, it’s like, it’s really, you know, it’s a learning experience.

00:57:55:09 – 00:58:07:12

So I know I have some like default phrases. I think they just must be like, come out of my mouth default. But they work more for women. So sometimes when I’m shooting a man, I hear myself say it and I’m like, Well, I don’t mind doing like, it’s like, so cute.

00:58:10:23 – 00:58:16:08

You’re like, dude, like corporate lawyer or whatever. And I’m telling him he’s so cute and he’s like, 70 years old. Yeah,

00:58:18:11 – 00:58:22:18

it’s so funny. I know. But for autopilot? Yeah.

00:58:24:06 – 00:58:24:29

So funny,

00:58:26:16 – 00:58:30:06

but yeah, so anyway, thank you for asking. It’s in the portrait master store.

00:58:30:08 – 00:58:41:16

So yeah, that’s the other question I was going to ask. It’s like, are people when they’re listening to this podcast going to be able to go to the portrait master store and grab it, when does it come out? Give me the details.

00:58:42:00 – 00:58:56:00

Yup. By the time this is launched, this episode is launched. It should be in the portrait master store. Yeah, four trimesters dot com. And if you click on the store or shop, it will be there personal branding, the contemporary headshot system.

00:58:56:17 – 00:59:08:05

That’s exciting. And then there’s the courses for all levels of photographers, right? Whether they’re experienced and they want to add personal branding, or maybe they’re just starting out like if there is, you know, it’s yeah,

00:59:08:14 – 00:59:19:02

it’s funny because even though I’ve been doing this, you know, for really I’ve been shooting, let’s see, nine years, almost a decade now, you know, shooting in general and just with my business. And

00:59:20:18 – 00:59:52:04

it’s so funny because even though I’ve got this really successful business, I feel like I still always have something to learn, like I feel like there’s always something that you can learn from any course and definitely newbies. I think veterans, I mean, I hope that I could teach better in something like I. I think there’s always there’s always some sort of value in learning the way someone else does something. I mean, you know, you can always learn something from someone regardless of the, you know, if they have more experience than you or less experience than you.

00:59:52:06 – 00:59:53:06

And so, yeah,

00:59:53:08 – 01:00:35:16

no, I totally agree levels. Yeah. Yeah, that’s perfect. Because yeah, I think that like if you’re just starting out, it’s like you want to soak in all the information. But sometimes when you’ve been shooting for a long time, like things get kind of stale, stale. Yeah, I was like, I’m like, That’s the right word, because I think there’s so much like wonderfulness and having a system and having it down and all the stuff. But then sometimes we start feeling like, you know, could I push myself more? Could I add something new to my business? Can I become more profitable? Like. So I think that’s so amazing because as a veteran, we always want to learn and we always want to pick up new skills and not get stale and sometimes just even watching like a little shift that someone else like seeing someone else do something in the making.

01:00:35:18 – 01:01:02:24

That little shift in our business can just be so impactful. I mean, I made a shift in my business after interviewing Felicia Reed, and it’s like a huge difference. And I was just like, Wow, that’s so crazy that I’ve been doing my business for all this time, and I don’t think of that. And yeah, just interviewing her and being like, that was kind of inspiring when he died. Just me, like a big dog. Yeah, I mean,

01:01:03:19 – 01:01:33:28

I can’t tell you, that’s one of one of the most amazing parts about interviewing people for for the portrait system is that I learned something from everyone and I love it. Like, there’s so many different personalities and ways to do things. And and yes, the majority of us are like taking on a business model, but we’re all making it our own and we’re all just adding certain parts to it that I didn’t think of. You didn’t think of or whatever. And it’s just it’s just so cool. I just absolutely love hearing from other people. And yeah, it’s just it’s amazing.

01:01:34:12 – 01:01:55:07

Yay. Well, I am excited to watch her class. I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see what new things I learn. So I think that time of the episode where we go into the closing questions and I am going to like, flip the table on you and ask you your closing questions, if that’s if that’s cool with you.

01:01:55:18 – 01:01:57:04

Yes, please do. OK.

01:01:57:10 – 01:02:10:12

And I’m going to kind of change it up just a tiny bit because I want you to make it about personal branding, too. So when you do a personal branding shoot, what is it that you absolutely can’t live without when doing that shoot?

01:02:11:13 – 01:02:34:20

Trying to remember what I said in the other episode? I’m trying to remember what I said. I can’t remember I said before, but it’ll probably be a similar answer at my spider holster is one for sure. Yeah, I am naked without it. Yeah, a reflector is so important to me and this might. This might sound like kind of cheesy, but it’s having the poses in my in my back pocket like.

01:02:36:08 – 01:03:00:03

Having these poses nailed down is what allows me to get the variety to move quickly, to make them feel the confidence that I have so that they trust me is knowing these poses like the back of my hand these like. Specific poses that I just use for everyone, and so that I think as, yeah, just having the knowledge of the poses and being able to know how to do it.

01:03:00:21 – 01:03:05:03

I love that. And then when you’re not working, how do you spend your time?

01:03:06:13 – 01:03:39:01

Oh yeah. With with my family, my kids, my kids are my sons are five and three now. And we we love summer and it’s about to be fall and then winter, which I’m not super excited about. But, you know, I’m super fortunate to have. We purchased a lake house here in Michigan, and then we also have our primary house and that’s on 10 acres. So that has always been a dream of my husband is to have land because he rides BMX bike. And so he is able to build his dirt jumps on our property. And oh Ashleigh, I planted wildflowers.

01:03:39:03 – 01:04:11:29

I did like a wildflower meadow and I made a kind of small for this first one because I’m not a green thumb at all. And I was like, I don’t know if this is going to grow, but it did, and it’s freaking beautiful, and I can’t wait to do photo shoots in it. So I but I don’t I don’t spend time doing it. I just planted it. And then I the last I’m looking at it in, like riding the four wheeler around the property and looking at the wildflowers. So, yeah, swimming at the lake, I was spending time with my family and friends. That’s just what life is about to me, traveling as much as I can.

01:04:12:15 – 01:04:14:22

That’s yeah, that’s where it’s at, for me, for sure.

01:04:14:24 – 01:04:20:11

I love it. I did see the wildflowers on social media and I was like, Oh, that’s so cool. I love that. They’re beautiful.

01:04:21:01 – 01:04:35:11

So that’s if you go. If if you go into my house remodel highlights, I put it in there like on my Instagram Stories or whatever and the highlights it’s in there, like all of the home remodel stuff is in there. So I put the wildflowers in there. It gets me. It’s technically remodeling. Yeah,

01:04:36:28 – 01:04:38:23

let’s see the wildflowers. That’s where I put it.

01:04:39:00 – 01:04:43:29

Definitely. I love they’re really beautiful. And you did that shoot to like a maternity shoot. I want to say, Oh

01:04:44:01 – 01:05:03:15

yeah, that was for my my kids, one of their babysitters. That was kind of like quick last minute, whatever. But I haven’t really done like a full blown proper shoot in there yet. Oh, just she’s been so busy. I just haven’t had a chance and I focus so much on in studios. I think next summer, you know, once I grow, I’m a little bit more. I’ll. Do you like incorporating shoots?

01:05:03:20 – 01:05:21:01

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So cool. So I’m going to mix it up instead of asking you the quote question, I want to know what do you think people need to have in their studio To be a personal brand Photographer is a props wardrobe. What are the essential items?

01:05:21:20 – 01:05:23:15

Yeah, OK, that’s a good question. So.

01:05:25:01 – 01:05:56:07

Gosh, I’ve had every sort of studio from in my family room to a huge studio that I own that I didn’t own, it was mine that I rented by myself. I’ve shared studios. I currently share a studio. I have very minimal things now. I run my business with so minimally. I have a full Apple box. a half Apple Box as two opposing stool, a reflector, a fan to blow hair or hairdryer. If you’ve got an assistant, if you don’t have an assistant, which sometimes my makeup artist isn’t able to stay that day. So I’m not a fan and I just do it by myself.

01:05:58:08 – 01:06:29:25

You know, obviously my cameras and and backdrops I’ve always used just painted v flat or sheer curtain with backlight. I was just so, so, so simple. I don’t really have a wardrobe anymore, I used to, but I just found with personal branding, people kind of know what they want to wear and what their branding colors are and that sort of thing. So I really don’t have a wardrobe. I mean, I don’t want you to feel like you have to have it all because, you know, you don’t. Literally everything that I named it, I mean, that’s.

01:06:30:24 – 01:06:43:29

Basically, what I use 90 percent of the time and within the studio, there is some furniture in there that I use, but for the most part it is so basic. So you know, if you’re wondering about. You don’t need a whole lot. You really just don’t.

01:06:44:11 – 01:07:14:06

I love that so much because I think people can get really carried away with all the the fancy things the Sets. Oh, I did. Yeah, I mean, I have to one one year I did my budget at the end of the year and saw that I spent. We do pretty much on wardrobe and I was shocked and I was just like, OK, I’m not going to buy any more wardrobe because it wasn’t like that. Money could have gone to my family and me. Like, Why did I spend three thousand dollars on dresses? Like, That’s dumb.

01:07:15:26 – 01:07:37:09

Totally like, even like little like knickknack, things that I’d have like on the shelf and like, you know, things for like, had been, I mean, just, you name it, I had it and I sold it in a garage sale recently because I just do not use it anymore. Now, granted, if I was going to be doing lots of creative shoots all the time, I probably would have held on to that. But that’s just not what I’m really interested anymore. So, yeah,

01:07:37:15 – 01:07:59:14

yeah, I think that’s a great thing, though, about the personal branding genre. Just to take it back to profitability is that it is so simple and so minimal, and in a way that’s so beautiful about it because you can keep all that money as profit. You don’t need to keep coming up with a new gimmick or a new thing that’s going to draw people into your studio. You are what’s going to draw people into your studio?

01:07:59:16 – 01:08:02:18

Totally. That’s such a great point. Such a great point, Ashleigh.

01:08:04:00 – 01:08:10:19

And then what advice would you give to people just getting started in the personal branding genre?

01:08:12:17 – 01:08:44:20

Gosh, you know, I think about because we do the 90 day startup challenge in the Sue Bryce education, so if you’re a member, you get access to the 90 day challenge. And I say it because I host it, and so I say over and over and over and over, it’s always putting one step forward. It could be something as simple as like printing out a form that you know you need to send in to the IRS to get your EIN like do one thing a day. It could be, you know, finding the website platform that you want to use.

01:08:44:22 – 01:09:19:13

I mean, it could be just the simplest of things. And if I’m going to relate it to, you know, if. It’s all about taking one step forward. We’ve all have different life circumstances that allow us to spend a ton of time on our business or just a little bit of time in our business. But regardless of how much time you have, if you are doing one thing a day, the next thing you know you’ve got so much shit accomplished, then it’s like you have a business and you’re running it. And the next thing you know, it’s like you get to quit your job as a school social worker or, you know, obviously I’m talking about myself.

01:09:19:15 – 01:09:54:18

But as long as you keep moving forward and when it comes specifically to personal branding, I cannot stress enough. I mean, it goes back to everything that building a portfolio, getting yourself out there and networking, getting your pitch. You know, all of these things. And I know when I say, when I say it all, it sounds overwhelming. But again, it just goes. Just pick one thing, you know, just pick one thing that you can do and like in the 90 day challenge, there are checklists for each week that we go through.

01:09:56:01 – 01:10:13:14

You know, for for each 12 weeks of the 90 days, we have checklists for each week, and if you can just check things off, you know, if it’s slowly, if it’s quickly, you know, whatever, it’s just doing one thing and and taking steps forward and eventually you’ll get there. That’s just the best advice I can give.

01:10:13:23 – 01:10:47:10

Yeah, I love that. It’s just one step forward at a time. A business is not built overnight. I think we can get so caught up in people’s success and think that it was easy for somebody else and not hear all the hardships because, you know, social media is a highlight reel, but it totally is. It is so much hard work for all of us and it it just is about that consistency. I remember Sue always saying certainty and conviction, so I guess consistency wasn’t part of that, but I feel like that should be.

01:10:48:15 – 01:11:00:06

Hopefully, probably there’s consistency, certainty and conviction is what we’re going to call it now because I think it’s just all about that. That consistency is so true.

01:11:00:19 – 01:11:01:14

It’s so true.

01:11:02:10 – 01:11:13:04

OK, and lastly, it’s I want to ask, how can people find you online? And again, let’s just repeat how they can buy the personal branding course.

01:11:14:11 – 01:11:33:21

Yep, so everything’s just under my name, my Instagram, my Facebook pages, it’s all just Nikki Closser and my website, Nikki Closser. com and then the personal branding course can be found at the Portrait Masters store. So and you click on the store and it is called personal branding. The contemporary headshot system so interesting

01:11:33:23 – 01:11:36:10

that that’s so exciting. I can’t wait to get it.

01:11:37:15 – 01:11:41:03

Things, Ashley. I always love chatting with you. Thank you for being such a good host.

01:11:41:05 – 01:11:52:02

Oh, thank you. I love chatting with you too. This was so fun and exciting, and I’m really excited for you, and I really am excited to see the course and get my hands on it. I know I will learn so much.

01:11:53:00 – 01:11:58:14

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yay. All right. I will. I’ll see you soon. Hopefully. Yes, you do. We’ve, you know.

01:11:58:24 – 01:12:08:25

Yeah, I’ll be at shoot out at one of the bays. So you know, everyone who’s listening to this, if they’re there, can come say hi to both of us and I’ll see you. So that’ll be so fun.

01:12:09:20 – 01:12:22:24

Yeah. If people are wondering what that is that since we couldn’t do the Portrait Masters big conference this year, just still with COVID restrictions and everything, we decided to do a shoot out. So it’s a smaller event where people are going to be able to build their portfolio with different models. And

01:12:24:11 – 01:12:25:21

yeah, so can’t wait.

01:12:26:19 – 01:12:29:20

Can’t we can’t wait to see you too.

01:12:30:06 – 01:12:31:22

All right, girl, I will see you then.

01:12:31:24 – 01:12:34:05

Okay, thanks again. Bye.

Thank you so much for listening to the Portrait System Podcast. Your five-star reviews really help us to continue what we do. So, if you like listening, would you mind giving us a review wherever you listen? I also encourage you to head over to, where you can find all of the education you need to be a successful photographer. There are over 1,000 on-demand educational videos on things like posing, lighting, styling, retouching, shooting, marketing, sales, business, and self-value

There’s also the 90 Day Startup Challenge, plus so many downloads showing hundreds of different poses. We have to-do checklists for your business, lighting PDFs, I mean truly everything to help make you a better photographer and to make you more money. Once again, that’s