We’re excited to share this next blog post with you! We had the privilege of having an interview with Andi Diamond from Andi Diamond Photography. She shares great insights to her own entrepreneurial journey that led to her success, and gives great resources to help other videographers and photographers. To your preference, you can listen to everything Andi had to say, or you can read through the transcription.
Consider some of these questions as you read or listen to the interview:
1. What thing have I put off doing for my business that I know I should do? What small act could I do today to take a step towards doing that thing?
2. From what Andi says, what are some ways I can improve my own time management and my need to feel in control of everything?
3. Finish the sentence: My business could benefit if I stopped ____________________.
Rise to the Top with Megan DiPiero – https://www.facebook.com/groups/risetothetopwithmegandipiero/
Imaging USA – https://imagingusa.org/
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) – https://www.ppa.com/
Wedding & Portrait Photography International (WPPI) – https://www.wppiexpo.com/
If you’d like to connect more with Andi:
Trevor: Hi Andi, I’m curious to know, how did you promote yourself when you first started, and what things worked for you?
Andi: I think that’s still something that I’m constantly working on, but what I have found, and I think probably most successful entrepreneurs can attest to is that word of mouth is the strongest, and most successful thing that you can use for promotion. So in the beginning, I mean, I would photograph anybody and everybody; anybody who would give me a chance. And then as my business started growing, as I started growing, I realized, like I said, that I wasn’t for everybody and everybody wasn’t for me. And I had to realize that that was okay. So I mean I have done everything from print collateral, social media marketing, email marketing. Like I said, word of mouth. I do a lot of in-person things. And I think marketing is a very, like multipronged approach where you can’t just put all your eggs in one basket and just do one thing. So for me it’s been being in my community, communicating well with clients, providing great experiences for clients. So I’ll be somebody who they want to talk about. And then just really for me the biggest thing is forming relationships and you know, I make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. So it’s just coming back and figuring out what works best and then kind of tweaking it to continue to throw out a larger rope or a lot of a larger net and try to reel more people in and connect with more people.
Trevor: You mentioned providing some kind of experience for your clients. I don’t know if it’s a buzz word per se, but it’s a word that comes up more and more now, especially with the millennial generation. Like, oh, we’re all about having experiences when we go and do something. What are your thoughts on that – it’s part of providing an experience.
Andi: Yeah. For me and for how I’ve built my business, it’s all about the experience. So I want to help my clients from the beginning to the end as far as, you know, actually sitting with them in person and talking about hair and makeup and wardrobe and you know, what they want from their session, what do they want for their final artwork? What is it that they’re needing from the session? Because oftentimes people don’t necessarily know or they come to you thinking one thing just because that’s what they’ve always thought or that’s what their friends have done. And that may be exactly what it is that they want, but I want to open their eyes to other things that they may potentially want or need that maybe they hadn’t thought about. So, you know, in order to be a true boutique style photographer, for me anyway, I feel like I need to provide that experience and I want to provide that experience. I love getting to know my clients. I love, you know, just hearing their life story and hearing about their relationships and their kids and what it is that they do for a living. What makes them happy, the challenges that they’re going through. That’s just me as a very social person that I like acting with people. And so I feel like if I’m going to be away from my family, then it’s going to be because I’m enjoying the people who I am with and I’m having a good time. And so I’m really fortunate, right? That as an entrepreneur I get to also pick the people who I want to work with. Whereas in corporate America, you don’t have that choice. So, you know, like I said before, I’m not necessarily the perfect one for everybody and everybody’s not the perfect client for me. And that was one of the things that I had to really wrap my arms around in the very beginning.
Trevor: That’s interesting cause did you find that there were just some clients that were eating up a lot of your time that you didn’t necessarily want to work with or how come?
Andi: Yeah, for sure. You know, or who are just more demanding than others. But also I didn’t have the confidence to decide what I wanted just yet. So I allowed that to happen until I got to the point where very early in the beginning of my relationship with the new client, I can help them to set expectations. And so they have realistic expectations. Also just let them know like, this is this, I provide this, this is what I’m going to do for you. And what are you wanting from the experience as well, so we could really cater to what it is that they want. But again, managing expectations and making sure that the things that they want aren’t necessarily unrealistic.
Trevor: That makes perfect sense. Obviously, as a photographer, you are juggling so many things. From shooting clients, editing, prints, I mean the list goes on and on. You’re a one man band. How do you handle the management of all these different jobs and when do you feel you’re most productive?
Andi: So I am fortunate enough I have an assistant in the office who helps me with a lot of the office managerial stuff. And she is fantastic and I absolutely adore her. Actually today’s her birthday. Happy birthday Olivia! So that is extremely helpful because there are so many little nuances and I think most photographers will be able to tell you the majority of our day is not spent photographing people. The majority of our day is spent, it should be spent anyway, marketing and networking and, and forming relationships with people. So the things that don’t make me money are the things that I need to allow other people to do for me and realize that there could be other people out there who could do it better than me as well. So, you know, I’ve decided the things that I’m really good at and that I can do well. And then the other things that are either time suckers or that somebody else can do better than me, I will happily pay for somebody else to do that.
Trevor: That actually leads into my next question, what beliefs would you say photographers have that stopped them from having a better workflow or maybe growing their business?
Andi: Control. The need for control. Yeah. I mean, honestly the need for control and thinking that nobody can do it their way or nobody can do it as good as them. Or that they have to have their hand in every single aspect of production or editing. I mean, I outsource everything that I could outsource like editing. You know, I outsource my housekeeping. And why wouldn’t I? And that frees up my time, right? So why wouldn’t I outsource the other things that can allow me to focus more energy and more attention on marketing and networking, which is then gonna make me more money, you know. I want to have, I still want to have my eyeballs on obviously final products, and final pieces that I’m delivering to clients because that’s my name and that’s my brand. But like, for example, when it comes to editing a wedding, of course backend or on the front end, rather, I want to shoot it very clean, very elegant and get as close color wise, exposure, everything else as I can. But sitting for hours and hours and editing 2000 images isn’t making me money. You know, at that point I can be connecting with a new bride and making relationships with new people so that way I can, again, just increase my bottom line.
Trevor: Yeah, that makes sense. Cause I mean as a photographer, I mean taking those pictures and understanding the lighting and exposure, the thing that you’ve spent all those previous years learning and crafting, that’s your core thing. That’s who you are. So yeah, outsourcing all the editing makes sense cause then you’re still looking at the final product, making sure it looks fantastic for your client. Is that right? Am I getting all that right?
Andi: If with the people who you are outsourcing certain things to so they know what your style is, what your expectations are, you know, what it is that you want, and then so it’s consistent also because every edited wedding has to have the same consistent feel.
Trevor: Looking back on all your 12 years of experience in photography, what advice would you give to photographers who are first starting or those photographers who already have some years of experience?
Andi: Business business, business. Business, everything about running a successful business. And then just kind of like, what is it called? Like reverse engineering as far as your finances. Like figuring out, okay, how much money do I need to make so that this is a viable profession for me? And then figuring out, working backwards, what does that mean in terms of the number of shoots that I need to do every month? What does that mean in terms of the average sale that I need per client? How many shoots do I want to do a week or how many shoots do I want to do a month? So just kind of knowing what your numbers are and then working from there. So that way you’re not just constantly spinning your wheels, which I think a lot of us probably do in the beginning. And, establishing your brand and figuring out do you want to be, you know, low volume – high sales, do you want to be high volume sales, high volume – low sales, kind of figuring out what your business model is as well. And then, you know, I’m always learning and tweaking and like I said, I’m human. I definitely, definitely make mistakes and there’s things that I do wrong and, you know, sometimes upset somebody by it. And so then it’s just figuring out like, what can I do to make it right and move forward from there. And that’s a hard lesson to learn too, because especially for women, I think, I’m sure men as well, but I think especially for women, you know, we tend to be more people pleasers and we always want to make people happy. An, you know, if I ever upset somebody, that upsets me. I don’t want that to be the case. So it’s just learning how to sometimes eat some humble pie and you know, let’s make things right if need be. And then hopefully you know, your client accepts it.
Trevor: For sure. Would you say the hardest part is when you maybe don’t get something right or a client is upset, or what’s been the hardest part about running your business?
Andi: Honestly I think it would be time management. Yeah, I think the hardest part is time management and just figuring out how to do all of the things that need to be done and still have a home life and a family life or you know, time to yourself or whatever it is that you need. I think, at least in my experience, that’s been one of the most difficult things is just figuring out how to have the time, even with outsourcing certain things, like how to have the time to be able to get all the things done that I need to, to get what I need to get done while still providing the same level of service that I want to provide to my clients. Cause I spend a lot of time and attention on them. So, when I I get behind, then I need to really kind of, spend extra hours in my office working, working, working, and then your whole home work life balance gets all off and that gets a little squirrely. And I’ve never forgotten. It’s a little bit different, but it’s something that I have what my assistant calls my sticky note graveyard. And I’m sure there’s way, simpler ways to do things, but I just, things will come into my head and I write it down and then I just throw it over on her desk that goes oh this and this and this. And I, and I’m constantly thinking things, so I’m like, we have to do this and we have to do that and then we just have to, you know, and I’m just constantly tossing messages over onto her dash and she’s so good like, got it. Interpreted. Yes, I know what that means. Okay.
Trevor: Sticky note graveyard. Awesome. Well I just have a couple of closing questions for you. First, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
Andi: Hmm. I would say just kind of in general, being able to leave corporate America and then more than tripling the money that I was making when I was working for somebody else. When I say corporate America and the job that I had, I mean it was in healthcare and I was working directly with patients. So I wasn’t, you know, I wasn’t in a desk job per se, or doing accounting or something like that. So I would say for me, I am most proud of the fact that I didn’t know how to do those things. I did my job at the hospital and then I went home. So I didn’t know about PR and marketing, but I knew about budgeting. Like most entrepreneurs, I dove into it, having no clue all of the stuff that comes along with running a business outside of taking pretty pictures of people. So I would say the thing that I’m most proud of is honestly developing and building a business for myself and then just crushing what I made before in what I happen to have a master’s degree in, you know, and I don’t have a degree in this. And I’ve really had to learn. There’s a lot of people skills obviously, which I feel like I had that skill set anyway. But just learning how to further connect with people and build a business and build something that people want and are willing to invest in me and invest their time with me to have me create something for them, that, I would say is my proudest accomplishment because people are willing to pay me to create something for them and that’s kind of awesome, right? Or they’re willing to pay me to be a part of their life typically in something that’s really, really meaningful or really special, whether it be, you know, the birth of their kids, or their wedding, or for women, like boudoir sessions, which that leaves them in a very vulnerable and intimidating position. But they’re trusting me to create that for them. And I love doing that for people. So yeah, I’m proud of the relationships that I’ve built through this and the fact that I’ve created income for my family that’s far surpassed anything that I got paid when I was working for the man.
Trevor: Yeah, definitely things to be proud of. That’s amazing. Thank you for sharing that. What three resources would you recommend to photographers either to develop their craft or grow their business?
Andi: There’s a lot of really great online Facebook groups that I think are super helpful with business depending on either a specific genre that you are focused on. You know, just a girlfriend of mine, Megan DiPiero has a group called Rise to the Top! I got to give her a shout out because she’s an amazing business woman and she’s got a free Facebook group called Rise to the Top! With Megan DiPiero. So shout out to you Megan. And she shares tons of business knowledge. But there are a lot of other groups on social media, specifically Facebook that are geared towards maybe, you know, specifically high school seniors or newborns. I think any marketing and business advice can be tweaked towards whatever it is that you want to shoot. It’s having the basic knowledge, it’s having that basic knowledge of marketing and, you know, in PR that you can use to tweak whatever it is that you enjoy the most. I love going to Imaging USA, PPA has a national conference every year, so that’s coming up in January. I love going to that every year. I get a ton of information. I have a lot of friends who go to WPPI in Vegas. I haven’t been in several years, but for me, I love going to Imaging. It’s in Tennessee this year, so I’ll be there in January.
Other resources? When I first started and social media wasn’t as popular, but when I first started I would just call people. I mean I was kind of ballsy. Like if I saw something on somebody’s website and I was trying to figure out, how do I make a website, or how do I do this, how do I do that? I would look at people’s websites, usually not people in my area, people outside of Tampa. And I would just call them and I would say, I’m a new photographer and you know, I saw you do this or this. Is there any way that I can steal, you know, 15 minutes of your time to ask you this question or that question? And sometimes people would and sometimes people wouldn’t. And so now if I have the time, I try to be able to pay it forward cause a lot of people did help me, and then a lot of people didn’t. But I’m super appreciative of the people who did. So I think connecting with local groups or mastermind groups, there’s a lot of groups again online that you can connect with other photographers. So you keep yourself accountable. I’m in a masterminds group where we meet once a month online through a Skype conversation and we talk about everything from, you know, successes and challenges and where we are financially that month, where our goal was if we met it, if we didn’t meet it. So that keeps us all, there’s six of us in the group, so it keeps us all accountable and we’ve been doing this meeting every month for a few years now.
Trevor: Great resources, I appreciate that. Conferences and everything. Lastly, what are the best ways for people to connect with you?
Andi: Oh, okay. You know, I guess I’m old school because I like Facebook a lot better than Instagram. You can find me on Facebook. It’s just Andi with an ‘I’. A-N-D-I Diamond. And my beauty website is Beauty.AndiDiamond.com. And then my corporate website for headshots and personal branding is Headshots.AndiDiamond.com. So yeah, just through social media or if you’re in town, if you ever get out of your cold city and want to be here in Florida, I encourage people to come and you can come to my studio and we can all go grab lunch. I love meeting new people and connecting with people. Community over competition. I’m a big fan of that.
Trevor: Thank you so much. Andi, this has been absolutely amazing, very insightful to learn all the things that you’ve been through, and also what you’re currently doing to grow your business and I love the fact that you always try to pay it forward.
Andi: I think you have to. I’m only going to get rewarded and grow stronger by helping other people and helping my community. So, I mean, people, obviously we all have time restrictions, especially this time of year, right? We’re all completely slammed right now, but it’s only going to help grow my community if I’m helping other people and vice versa and then we’re continuing to pay it forward. So I’m a big fan of that.
Trevor: Awesome. Well like I said, we’re going to be compiling some of this together for other photographers who expressed a lot of interest in wanting to learn how to better market themselves and grow their business. That’s kind of the plan from here. Thank you so much Andi for your time. I hope you guys have a great holiday. Good luck with all the kids! Take care.