Running a small business is no easy task. It's messy and thrilling, and terrifying all at the same time. But no matter what, it's definitely a journey worth taking. As a mom of two littles, I know the daily struggles, and I'm here to walk this journey with you. If you're ready to feel empowered, encouraged and on fire for the things you truly love, then you're in the right place. I'm Rebecca Rice, a pizza loving hot chocolate drinking family photographer and educator. And this is the business Journey podcast.
Hey, friends, welcome back to another episode of the business Journey podcast. I'm your host, Rebecca rice. And today we're diving into whether or not you should add associate photographers to your team. This has been a journey that I've been on the last about a year and a half. And it's just been an incredible ride. And I've had so many questions, the more that I've been talking about it, so I figured it deserves its own episode. So we'll get into that in just a second. But before we go too far, I wanted to let you know about a free class that I have just for you guys all about posing for families. It's called the keys to effective family posing. And the response that we've gotten from it has just been incredible that students that attend the free class are able to implement the things right away in their very next photo session. And they are actually seeing results from it. And so I love hearing that, of course, I talk all about how to avoid like awkward and stiff clients and how to effectively pose them in a way that looks genuine and authentic and brings out that real emotion. And so you want to check out that class, we've got it linked in the show notes. But if you want to type it in, it's Rebecca rice So check that out. I know it'll be helpful for you. Okay, let's jump into associate photographers. I first talked about my associate team in Episode 45 of this podcast. So if you want to go take a listen to that one, then you can. But I started associates several years ago, very informally.
The reason was, I got to the place where I was fully booked for the fall by like September, and I was turning families away for months. And I just hated doing that. And so I would reach out to some friends of mine and just very casually ask if they were available to shoot some family sessions for me, and it went well. And so we actually launched our official associate team last March. And it's just been incredible to see the photographers that we've been able to bring on in all kinds of cities, we serve families in Dallas and Nashville and Richmond and Raleigh and Chattanooga, Knoxville, gosh, I know Savannah, I feel like I'm missing some we're in so many different areas. And it's just been wild to be able to expand our reach and serve all of this people. But if you're here and you're like Rebecca, I don't even know what an associate photographer is. That's okay. Let me give like a really brief explanation, basically, and associate photographer is a contracted photographer that works for you, they could be an employee, but most of the time they are subcontractors. And they essentially photograph sessions for you. So they go, you the business owner handles all the marketing, the booking, the client, communication, everything like that, your associate goes and shoots the session, and then gives you the images to then edit, deliver all the things. And so there are some benefits of having an associate team, the thing that was the most attractive to me was that you can essentially multiply yourself so you don't have to turn people away, you're able to be in two places at once. So that was something that whenever I was facing, you know, September, and I was fully booked for the fall, I was like, I wish there's a way that I could just be in two places that I can shoot at this location and at that location and serve all these families at the same time. Well, that's what having associate photographers allows you to do. Let's say I'm shooting a session in McKinney and I want to you know somebody's inquiring for a location in Frisco, we're able to serve them at the same time through my associate team. Another benefit of having an associate team is it allows you to scale back the number of sessions that you personally shoot without taking a financial hit. So maybe you have little kids at home and you're wanting to spend more time with them and less time, you know, doing all of these sessions because, you know, you're in high demand and people want to book you, but it's just becoming overwhelming. So in that case, having an associate team allows you to still take on clients, um, in a slightly different way you pay your associate so your profit is a little bit less But you don't have to take this massive financial hit by not shooting. Another like reason you may want to scale back a number of sessions is maybe you want to pivot, maybe you want to take on a full time job, maybe you want to pivot and put your focuses in other areas I've had, you know, students who love photography, but then pivot into becoming private editors, or social media managers. Or even if you want to pivot into education like I did, there are so many reasons that you may want to pivot and lessen your shooting load. And so by bringing on associates, it allows you to make that pivot without taking that financial hit. And so it helps a lot for sure. Another reason you may want to bring on Associates is that it allows you to hit a new market of people in a different price point. So for me, I shoot in a luxury price point, and my associate team is more budget friendly. And so we're able to hit an entirely different demographic, a whole different range of people, that people that, you know, look at my pricing and say, Oh, that's way too high, my associate team is more in their budget. And so it allows us to have the opportunity because I would have people come in and inquire and find that I was out of their price range. And so I was then able to say well, I do have another option for you actually, instead of just turning them away and saying sorry, like I'm out of your price range, I could say I do have an associate photographer that you can work with that I still handle all of your editing and photo delivery, but they will be the ones capturing. And it's at a lower price point. And usually within their budget. And so that worked really well. It made me feel better about because I mean, nobody likes turning people away when you're out of their budget and too expensive. So it was a great option to have when that way I could still have my luxury pricing. But whenever somebody did inquire that I was out of their price range, I had a solid option for them, that didn't require them to go to somebody else. So I really enjoyed that. And another like benefit of having an associate team is I found that it was really easy to get a ton of new leads using Facebook ads. So this was something that my associate team whenever we started them last March, they had zero client base, they had never like worked with anybody, they didn't use my clientele like they were starting completely from scratch. And so we started them off with Facebook ads. And they ended up growing to six figures last year, in the 10 months that they were operating, which was just incredible and entirely through booking from Facebook ads. And if you're like Rebecca, Facebook ads are scary, I get it, they absolutely can be scary, especially if you're not like really familiar with Facebook ads or you don't quite know where to start. If that's you, I do have a Facebook ad mini course you can check out in my shop, we'll link it here for you that it's a really like comprehensive dive into my favorite strategies for booking photo sessions through Facebook ads, but all of that to say that's how, you know my associate team grew. And we were able to expand into other areas really easily through these ads, it feels like Facebook has become more of a pay to play game. And so there's this mindset switch that people have of like, oh my gosh, this is going to eat into my profits and all the things but you have to realize like, yes, you're gonna take home a little bit less, but you're able to book in a lot higher volume, because the ads are constantly marketing for you. So I have really enjoyed that part that has just become a lead generating machine. And we're able just to book sessions all the time and have my associates shoot them. The whole purpose of this episode is how do you know if you're ready for associates? So there's a couple of different things that I want to point out that may be good indicators if of like whether or not you're ready to start an associate team. And now, just to like preface, when I say associates, like you don't have to start off with 15 associate photographers in six or seven different cities like I have, start simple start with just one associate photographer in your city. You don't have to overcomplicate it, it doesn't have to be a completely separate brand, it can literally just be under your name and that when people are either out of your price range, or you are booked for a session that you can send them to your associate. So some ways to know if you're ready for an associate number one this I think is like the most important part is that you have solidified your style, that your editing style is consistent, and that you're not like every session you do isn't you know their own style. You switch around based on the session and based on what your mood feels like. It's really really important to have a solid consistent editing style and the reason for that is you can't bring on other photographers unless they match your style because then it gets very cut infusing for marketing that you want to showcase a consistent style. And if an associate is not able to match what you are bringing, then it just adds confusion to everything. So if you do have a nice and consistent style, for example, I shoot light and airy, we have a very consistent light and airy style, my editor edits a specific way. And so whether the photos are from me or from an associate, everything is getting delivered at the same way. Now, it is worth noting that my associates have to shoot with my style in mind. And so since we are light and airy, they can't just shoot in like super thick greenery and stuff like that, that lends itself more towards a moody style, we are constantly reminding them to you know, be shooting in spaces that are wide open, have lots of light available, because editing only goes so far, a lot of the the work that has to do with your style is done in camera. And so our associates have to shoot consistently with how we shoot. And that even goes down to the type of lens that they use. I'm really particular in the type of lens that my associates use, I only like prime lenses, I'm just not a fan of zoom lenses. Because I can see the difference in like the work of somebody that uses zoom versus uses prime. Not that Zoom is bad. It's just, it feels like a different style to me. And so all of my associates shoot with a specific type of lens. Because we want it to be consistent in our work, I can tell and maybe the average person can't tell, you know, like a client or something
if somebody uses a zoom lens versus a prime lens, but my I can tell. And that matters to me. And so part of the consistency is the gear that they are shooting on. And people ask, you know, do I provide the gear know, if they're an employee of mine, I do have a couple of full time employees that are also associate shooters. For me, yes, I provided gear for them, because they are my full time employees. But the majority of my associates are just contracted. And so they have their own businesses, they provide their own gear, their gear does need to be like to qualify to shoot for us, they have to shoot on specific gear, all that to say we have a solidified style. So if you are still in the phase of trying to figure out what style you love what style you want to shoot with consistently, then you're probably not yet in the place to bring on an associate photographer. But if you do have a consistent style and you shoot a certain way, you deliver a consistent cohesive galleries, then the next thing that I would ask to know if you're ready for associates, is Are you fully booked and turning people away? Now when I say fully booked, that looks different for everybody, you may have a full time job outside of photography, and so fully booked to you is four sessions a month, that's fine. Maybe you do photography full time and fully booked to you is four sessions a week. I don't know what that looks like for you. But you get to decide your schedule. And if you're to the point where you are fully booked by whatever standards that is for you, and you are having to turn people away because of lack of availability, or maybe you're fully booked for two whole months. And so you're booking people for 234 months from now, then I would say you're absolutely ready to bring on associates because you no longer would have to turn people away, you would be able to book more sessions in the next couple of months than having to say, okay, my first opening is four months from now, it lends itself to a lot of opportunities. So that's not to say if you're not fully booked, you're not ready for associates, because you still may be but it's really hard to have fully booked associates if you yourself are not fully booked. Because at this point, once you have associates, the way to profit is through excellent marketing. And that's one thing that our team has done really, really well specifically through Facebook ads, or Facebook ads have kept us fully booked. And so if you feel like you're not great at marketing, then you may want to up your marketing game before adding associates. That way you can confidently be fully booked and your associates can also confidently be fully booked. So those are the two questions that I would say like kind of ask yourself, Is your style consistent and solidified? And are you fully booked in turning people away? If the answer is yes, then you may be ready to or you may want to start thinking about adding on associates to your team and people ask me all the time like Rebecca, do you have a course for this? At the time of this recording? No I don't have a course for this yet. Not to say I won't create one it might be on the horizon at some point. But for the near future. It's not right now. But I do offer one on one mentoring for associate like growing an associate team or adding on one or two associates in those like one on one calls. I walk you through The back end of you know, what do our workflows look like? And how does the communication go with our associates, as well as setting up our marketing and all of those other pieces and you know, logistics of where do I find my associates and everything like that. If you are interested in booking a one on one call with me to, you know, be able to dive into associates and learn more about it, just shoot my team an email at Hello at Rebecca rice And we can send over information for that. I have worked with a handful of people in starting their associate teams, and it's been really fun to watch just their business explode, because they're able to scale in this way that it doesn't require much more time from you, but you're able to serve a lot more clients through your associate photographers. So I personally am a big fan of the associate model. I know it's not for everybody. But hey, if you're like interested in learning more about it, you can also DM me at Rebecca rice photography on Instagram and we can chat about it there to see like, is that something that maybe you should pursue associates are a lot more common in the wedding industry. But I think that there's a huge opportunity for associates in the portrait industry as well. And so I honestly would love to chat about it and answer any questions you have. But with that, we're gonna go ahead and close out for today. So short and sweet episode, hope it was helpful for you. Again, I would love to chat more in my DMs or my email so seriously, when I when I say like DME I mean it. I have people every week, they're like, Okay,
Rebecca, you said DMU. So here I am. Please be that person this week because I love having those conversations. So with that, we'll go ahead and close out for today, and I'll see you this time next week. Bye guys.

72. Should you add associate shooters?