My guest Dave Moss & I discuss why it is imperative that you decide what your version of success looks like for you and your business, the power of coaching for professional photographers, and the results of Dave’s survey of nearly 200 professional photographers, and the one thing that 92% of them said they are not doing for their business. Leave with insight on small changes that you can make that will make a major difference in your business moving forward.
A full transcript of the episode can be found at the bottom of this post.
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Christine Tremoulet: [00:00:00] You’re listening to Reframe Success, and I’m your host, Christine Tremoulet. I believe that you can have a successful photography business and you get to define what success looks like for you. My guests and I will help you with actionable advice and information on how to get there. I want you to know that I believe in you and that you are enough.
Now let’s get on with the show.
This episode is sponsored by InstaLocal, the course I created to help you discover your personal 17-minute a day strategy to connect with and book more clients in your local market. Learn more at GoInstaLocal.com.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:00:47] Hello everyone and welcome. Joining me today is Dave Moss. Dave is a wedding photographer along with his wife, Abby, and a business coach. He lives in Calgary, which is in Alberta, Canada. And he’s speaking coming up at WPPI in February of 2020. Along with true North, which is an April. Dave, you have to tell me where true North is, and he is speaking in number of sold out conferences this year.
So we would tell you all about them, but you can’t join because they’re already sold out. You can find his work at abbyplusdave.com and you can also find his coaching work at davemosscoaching.com. So thank you so much for joining me today, Dave.
Dave Moss: [00:01:32] Hey, thanks for having me. Pleasure to be here. I mean, I say it’s a pleasure to be here sitting at my desk, but it’s pleasure to talk to you.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:01:40] You’re there. And I’m here, but you’re there. In Canada, we’re probably in very different climates at this time of year,
Dave Moss: [00:01:46] Very likely. Yeah.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:01:49] So you and Abby are wedding photographers.
Dave Moss: [00:01:52] Yep.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:01:52] So let’s talk for just a second about that. Tell me a little bit about your wedding photography business and what you and Abby do.
Dave Moss: [00:01:58] Yeah. So we’ve been shooting weddings together for, 2020 will be our 11th year shooting together. We shoot mostly local weddings. I say local, as the, the mountains, which are about 45 minutes West from here. So Banff National Park and Lake Louise and places like that have been . They’re our main, main focus, since about three years into our business where we realized that we both love it out there.
We love outdoor weddings. We love being able to take couples on hikes and do things like that. We do occasional weddings in the city and occasional weddings, other places around the world. But most of our focus is on a mountain weddings. And so we love it. But, it takes a lot of time and energy. And because of the aforementioned climate differences that we have, half of our year was usually either quiet or very cold for weddings, and so that’s where we branched off into. I branched off into coaching and Abby has her own other, a side business as well. I would say side business are becoming very quickly becoming our main, main businesses.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:02:59] I’d say at this point you’re , essentially, it’s almost like you have one business 50% of the year and one business the other 50% of the year in a, well, it’s not necessarily divided in the year like that, but they’re almost 50/50 at this point, aren’t they?
Dave Moss: [00:03:15] Yeah, I definitely do like all of my speaker circuit stuff in the winter time, which is nice. But then I coach year round, so I have, I have that going on. We actually slowed our wedding business down this year, and we’re only doing, between 10 and 15 weddings just because. Coaching has gotten so busy for me and Abby’s business has gotten so busy for her, and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to dedicate to it because in the past when we were shooting, you know, 25 30 weddings, mostly through the summer, we wouldn’t have been able to handle this workload as well.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:03:42] Right. Handle your other clients.
And let’s go into that because, so you guys are both doing weddings. So how, why, why did you add coaching on, you know, you had, you had a full schedule, you had a full roster of wedding clients. What led you into doing coaching?
Dave Moss: [00:04:00] It’s something that I feel like I was already doing anyways. Unintentionally, I’ve always been the kind of person that whenever somebody has a question, I’m, I tried my best to answer it. I am a constant researcher. I read so many business books and blogs and podcasts and everything else like that, that it was already there.
And, also about. Math wise, two and a half years ago now, I guess. yeah, two and a half years I took a life coaching training course. I had met a couple of life coaches and it seems super, super interesting and I wanted to have more tools for my own life, but also just more tools to be able to, to handle the conversations I was having with people and to be able to help out.
And it just felt like a good fit. So I took a nine month life coach training program and loved it and decided that I wanted to also do that. And I also like wedding photography is great, but it can be tough on the body. So as I get older, it was just the idea of like, I’m not going to be able to retire at 55 as a wedding photographer.
I mean, I could, there’s people out there who are still shooting weddings at that age and good on them, but it’s definitely not what I wanted to be doing. And so I was thinking about alternate plans and what else I could do and, and teaching and education definitely seemed like the way for me to go, but I didn’t want to follow the traditional photography teaching and education.
Method where it’s either, you know, online courses or, or, you know, w 10 person workshops, things like that. I really wanted to have a more one-on-one approach, and so coaching just seemed like the right way to go for that.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:05:36] And now I called you a business coach in the opening, but you really have a longer term. What is it that you refer to your coaching as.
Dave Moss: [00:05:47] Yeah, so the, the mouthful term that I refer to myself as is a business performance and life design coach. Because so much of what is holding us back in business is usually an aspect of our lives. And so that’s where my life coach training comes into it with, with my business coaching is oftentimes there are personal issues, emotional issues, limiting beliefs, mental blocks, things like that, that come from our life.
That ended up. Affecting our business. And so the business coaching is people that’s, that’s the hook, you know, that’s why people come to me cause they want more clients or they want to market into a new way or they just want some help with some systematization or things like that. And then the life coaching is kind of the added bonus that a lot of people end up getting out of it that they weren’t initially expecting or, or, or initially coming to me for.
It’s just kind of, it’s, I think, I think it’s my secret sauce, you know, as, as much as, as those things. Do or don’t exist, but my, my thing that differentiates me from, from other coaches, I think is definitely the life coaching part of it.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:06:48] well, and that’s probably why you and I have – full disclaimer. I’ve been your coach as well.
Dave Moss: [00:06:57] Yup. I believe in practicing what you preach. If I’m going to be a coach, I need to have one.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:07:01] And I’m, and I feel like that is a lot of, probably. Why? what drew you to me and why we work well together is because we do both see that. So similarly in, I also find that when I’m working with people, yes, they might be having problems selling, but when we did, we really dig in. It’s very often a mindset issue.
Something like that is what’s standing in their way. Getting into sales more than, more than anything else.
Noise: [00:07:35] Although I, I
Christine Tremoulet: [00:07:36] wouldn’t say you, even in your case, your case was special though. I feel like it was also just sorting out what do I want to do. And I love you and Abby are in a different situations.
So many of us, like when we’re looking at what’s next in our business, we’re just looking at ourselves. But you also had to keep in mind. Thank you. And Abby is a couple had to keep in mind like what was the next step for both of
Noise: [00:08:02] you?
Dave Moss: [00:08:04] Yeah. It was an individual divergence, both moving into our own sole businesses, but also maintaining the business that we run together as wedding photographers. Yeah.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:08:15] Was it hard like deciding when, when, when was the right time for that.
Dave Moss: [00:08:22] no, it definitely felt like a natural progression. We still love weddings, but we just weren’t loving shooting 30 weddings a year anymore. It was really starting to take a toll on us, especially in the, in the fall when it was crazy editing season. And. We weren’t seeing friends and family as much.
And so we knew that we needed to make a bit of a change. And so, my wife is very, very decisive. So she just said, by the end of 2020, I want to make sure that we have our other businesses in place so that we can shoot less weddings. And so this was at the beginning of. The end of 2018 she said this, and so we had enough lead time and I just sort of took the ball and ran with it and built my coaching business really, really hard over the last year, to the point now where we were able to only take on 10 weddings for this year, which was was a nice
Christine Tremoulet: [00:09:09] Right. That’s nice. That gives you time like that and yeah, this goes to the, to the core of the show, like what success is changes for everyone over time. It might change based on your partner, you know, if you’re married or have a life partner, whatever the case is, like taking into those things into account really are part of your success.
Yeah. Success doesn’t have to just look one way,
Dave Moss: [00:09:40] Yeah, totally. I’ve, and I’ve always felt that. I mean, for me, success has always just been framed by. Ownership over my time. And I think that Abby feels very similarly, and we were losing control of our time and our photography business. So it became time to, to reframe what we were doing, and, and come up with a way to get our
Noise: [00:09:59] So
Christine Tremoulet: [00:10:00] that interesting thing because so many of us measure success by money. Yay. But I hadn’t tell. Tell me more about that. .
Dave Moss: [00:10:09] Well, I think, yeah, I mean, Thai time for me is a finite resource, and so I want to be able to spend that as much as, as wisely as possible. Whereas like to me, money is, it’s, it’s an unattainable. It’s an unfillable. Well, right. Like you could have. A good living. They say, you know, people’s general happiness doesn’t change after they make $75,000 us a year, and so I could have $100 billion and be a Jeff Bezos or bill Gates, but is it actually going to make my life any better?
I mean, sure. Probably. Yeah. If I had $100 million, things would be great. But I didn’t want money to be the thing that defined my success or diff, or was my motivation just because it wasn’t a, it’s an unfillable. Well, I, you know, I, I want enough money to, to take care of my family and to, you know, maybe go on trips every now and again or feed my hobbies or stuff like that, but I could work a hundred hours a week in order to do that.
And then what? How rich is my life? How rich are the relationships that I have in my life? And so it always became, to me, success to be about control of my time, to be able to, you know, my, our dog got knee surgery last week and to be able to take a couple of days off just to spend that time with him and not feel inconvenienced by having to carry him up and down the stairs or do anything else like that.
Like that’s important to me. I don’t, I don’t need to, I’m not beholden to anybody. When it comes to making those decisions. And so that was always what success
Noise: [00:11:35] Okay. Love
Christine Tremoulet: [00:11:36] that so much because you know, I look at my own life and I think about hobbies and things, things that I say that I want to do. Like I love to knit. So I would like to spend more time knitting, but I don’t always structure my wife so that I can do that and yeah.
Dave Moss: [00:11:55] Yeah. I have more blocks of my block calendar for non-work activities than I do for work activities, and that’s by design to do that. I could, I could probably be busier and make more money, but it wouldn’t make me any happier and I wouldn’t feel any more successful. I’d probably be more stressed early
Christine Tremoulet: [00:12:11] It’s a such a fantastic way to look at it, I think. and to find what works for you because.
You know, that doesn’t work for everybody. I get that. Like for some people it really is what money is what makes me feel successful. And that’s great too. But you know, I liked that, that turn on it. which sort of goes into how it’s something I’ve heard you say before that you know about silver bullets in business.
And I feel like I, you know, I want to hear what you have to say about that. Like, are there silver bullets for somebody’s business? Is there one way to get something
Noise: [00:12:50] accomplished?
Dave Moss: [00:12:52] No, absolutely not. There is not one way to get anything accomplished. Everybody’s business is their own and, and just like success and how everybody frames success in their own way. I think everybody works in their business or their own way. Like there’s, there’s no. You can’t just buy something online that says, do business this way and you will be successful.
I think the only, the only thing that works on everybody’s business is just hard work. but beyond that, like I’m not a phone person. So you know, for someone to say that what made our business successful was picking up the phone and calling all of our clients. That would never make my business successful cause I would have a damn panic attack every time I had to pick up that phone to do a cold call to a, you know, an inquiry that came in.
But for, there’s some people out there where like, that’s a game changer for them. And so I think there’s a, there’s a million different ways of running your business successfully, and there’s a million different ways of running your business poorly. And it’s all a matter of . Molding your business to you and your life, and the things that bring you energy in the end to turn away the things that drain your energy.
Because realistically, that’s the only way that you’re going to be successful if you try to follow someone else’s methodology. Some things might work, but, but not all things. And I realized that early on, you know, going to a lot of conferences as, as an attendee, that my goal. At first was, you know, I would, I would hear somebody speak and be like, okay, that’s what, that’s what worked for them.
Let’s go home and completely change our business. And it was awful. And so as time went on, I realized take one thing from every talk that resonates with all of me. And that’s the thing that will, will help us in our business. And so we were just always adding one thing here and one thing there. And that’s ultimately what led to us, you know, running an 11 year business that’s been very successful to us was not.
Constantly trying to follow a another person’s model or idea for success, but really, really following our own
Christine Tremoulet: [00:14:47] Sometimes I find it interesting when I hear other speakers, because I’ve attended a lot of conferences over the years as well, and sometimes . The takeaway that I might get might be that I absolutely don’t want to do what they’re doing. Like it’s not even always, Oh, that’s great. That’s a great idea. I’m going to go revamp my business now and incorporate that.
Sometimes it’s like you said, you know, Oh, I don’t want to, for me it’s not, I’m okay to get the phone and talking to somebody, but I don’t want to be so tethered to my email that I have to respond to an inquiry within 30 seconds of it coming in.
Dave Moss: [00:15:28] The Jack.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:15:29] what if I’m with another client like so I know for some people they do that and that works amazing for them and their clients love that.
But for me, hearing other people say that this works great for me, made me go. Oh, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to train my clients that I’m on call 24 seven. At the time I was, I was focused on doing boudoir photography full time, and I’m like, no one has a booed wire emergency. And no one’s ever called me up and said, I have to have the pictures today.
So, I’ve never had that need. I’ve never had a need where the, responding to an inquiry can’t wait 24 hours. And for me personally, I feel that if, if they reach out to me and contact me, and by the time I contact them three hours later, they’ve already booked someone else. Well, they weren’t. They weren’t
Dave Moss: [00:16:23] They weren’t your
Christine Tremoulet: [00:16:24] and that’s okay.
And I’ve always felt okay with that and been able to release them like, Oh, well, I would’ve loved to have worked with them, but no. Well that, you know, my happiness matters more than I’m not living for the chime of my phone going, I don’t even have a word on my phone when I get email. I, I don’t know that an email has come in until I go and check it.
So I didn’t want to be beholding to that.
Oh, I love your phrase, and I mean, a lot of your coaching work is themed around the outdoors and hiking, but you know how you say like there’s no silver bullet, like you have to hike your own hike. I love that. That whole concept.
Dave Moss: [00:17:11] Yeah. I mean, it’s a through hiking term. It’s the idea that no matter what somebody else is doing, they’re going to hike their hike and you have to hike yours. If you want to carry 80 pounds of gear on your back. If that’s what makes you happy, then great. If the other person wants to go ultra light, then great. If you want to eat Mars bars instead of protein bars, great. You do, you do whatever you have to do in order to just. Put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward and just hike your own hike because everybody’s going to enjoy it for a different way.
You know, like I read the book North last year, which was a Scott Jurek, he’s a long distance runner, and he wanted to break the Appalachian trail speed record and there were so many other hikers who were like, Oh, well you’re missing the point of the Appalachian trail. You know, it’s about going slow and enjoying the views, and it’s like it wasn’t for him. The, the point for him was to push himself and try something and break a record and, and that’s okay.
There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Just like you were saying earlier, there’s nothing wrong with someone.
Someone’s idea of success being money, like I’m not, I’m not here to tell anybody that what they’re doing is, is right or wrong. Everybody’s got to hike their own hike, and it’s just a matter of knowing what that is and putting one foot in front of the
Christine Tremoulet: [00:18:21] All right. I feel like a lot of times it’s so tempting to compare. Money or volume, like, Oh they’ve got this many clients and I only have this many clients. I see this a lot. And the years of talking with um, a lot of us tend to actually talk about our business by the number of clients we have.
So we don’t necessarily, I mean, cause you know, cause we were all raised and taught, don’t talk about money.
That’s not polite. So that’s what we’re always taught. So we don’t say, Oh, I’ve got. $200,000 worth of weddings booked this year. We say, Oh, I have, you know, 25 weddings booked this year. Okay. Or I have 10 weddings, but this year.
Dave Moss: [00:19:03] Or I have 60 weddings book this year, but you don’t know that they’re all $250
Christine Tremoulet: [00:19:07] Or that they’re all elopements and maybe just only two hours each. Because if I talked to somebody once who actually told me that they did 50 weddings in a year, and I think I almost had a panic attack, right. As they said it, but then they explained to me and I said, Oh, in my market there’s a lot of elopements.
And so 25 of those were couples of loping and there was no shorter day. You know, there were weekdays and shorter weddings.
Just be careful what, what measure you’re using and making sure that’s the right measure for you, I think is the biggest advice I can give to anybody listening about this.
Dave Moss: [00:19:48] I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s all that really matters is just listen to your own heart. And, you know, take advice with a large grain of salt. it’s one of the things I often say to my clients is, as a coach is like, I’m not here to give you advice. You already know all the answers. I’m just here to help you find it.
But every now and again, you can take advice from other people, but their success doesn’t define your success. And I think that. You know, survivorship bias is a thing that exists inside of any creative industry or any business at all, where it’s like, this person had success in this way, so it must be the way to do it.
But what you don’t realize is that a hundred or a thousand other people try that the exact same way and it didn’t work for them because it wasn’t right for them, or that it just didn’t work. So yeah, you really.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:20:31] true. I see things that people advise that they’ve only tested on themselves. And so people will say, Oh my God, you had some success. How much how’d you do that? And someone else tries to emulate what they did and it just falls flat for anyone else. It was just a matter of they had the right personality. It was the right time in the right market.
Yeah, it’s, I, I think that’s why a lot of times when I give people advice, I say, you know, take this, but find the way that works for you. Or as you say, hike your own hike because, or, you know, take things that you hear and let it marinade. Like, you know what, where’s my piece in that?
Dave Moss: [00:21:22] Yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s huge. Like one of the things that I always loved doing, early days, or is, a conference that’s in Vancouver, which is about a 12 to 14 hour drive West of us. And we would go every year and then we would drive home and we had a rule where it’s like, we couldn’t talk about what we learned until we passed the Cocahalla.
So it’s like we had to have like five hours of driving before we could start talking about it because just letting it sit. For a little bit makes you think about it in a different way. It’s like, because it’s really easy to get hyped in a conference or in a workshop and someone’s like, this is work for me, and the energy’s up, and you’re like, Oh yeah, I want that.
Absolutely. But then, you know, you had to take some time with it and it’s like, Oh, I do want that, but maybe not in that way. And so like, give, give, give yourself a little time to, to think about it instead of just changing instantly.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:22:12] will um, over the years, especially in the earliest years of my business, attending workshops and attending conferences was very formative, very, very impactful on my business and in a super positive Um. And most of the times it was the speakers. But you know, sometimes it’s also even the, the hallway conversations and everything else.
I think conferences and workshops and things are really important to get out to, if you can, to learn to see what other people are doing to get out of your bubble.
But also you have to distill it, be like, okay, that was cool. I liked that they’re doing that, but that’s not my personality You have to be sort of self-aware.
What’s your personality type? Then how do you function? Which leads me into asking about coaching, you know, how do you see how coaching has helped you or helps other people, the people that you’ve coached, cause you’ve had a number of coaching clients, like how do you think coaching helps people in their business?
Dave Moss: [00:23:23] I mean, it’s realistically, it’s the game changer. You know, I think that the mentoring or coaching or, or, or anything else like that is like, it’s really the thing that makes the difference. And I often use the, the analogy that. when I’m trying to explain what, what business coaching is or life coaching is to people, it’s like, it’s easiest to say.
It’s like, okay, well, you know, an NBA team or an NFL team or an NHL team, you know, it was professional hockey players. They know all the rules. They know all the plays, they know how to play the game. They’re at the peak performance that they’re at, but they still have a coach. They still have a coach that sees the things in them and the sees the things that they’re doing that they don’t see.
And can help them fix those things or improve those things or whatever. You know, like. If those people need a coach, what makes it makes us think that we don’t need those things. And not everybody needs a coach. I’m not here to shit on people, but you know, it’s, it’s the easiest way to explain what it is, is they see your blind spots that you may not see.
And that, you know, I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to who have said, you know, I’ve been doing it this way for five years, and all of a sudden it’s not working. What am I doing wrong? And when I have them break it down for me. You know what’s not working is very, very obvious, but it’s hard for them to see it because they’ve just been in it for so long that they don’t get to take that 30,000 foot view and say, Oh, this is where the gaps are.
So having somebody else look at your life or look at your business or look at both, is
Christine Tremoulet: [00:24:59] Okay. The other thing I, I’ve spotted is you’ve been doing something a certain way for so long um, it’s, it can be hard to let go of that thing.
Yeah. Hard to release it and having somebody to help you see like, Oh, if you, even if you like. Tweak this one thing, cause a lot of times you’re using the sports analogy.
That’s what a coach does for a baseball player or hockey player. Sometimes it’s as simple as, you know, if you moved your right foot a different way, you’d be more powerful in that move.
And it’s not even necessarily a huge thing, but a little thing can sometimes make a huge transformation.
Dave Moss: [00:25:44] Yeah, a little habit change can be huge. Or like you were talking about where it’s like, you know, they, they don’t want to change it cause they’ve been doing it so long, like sunk cost fallacy people, people still believe that the, the wedding wire is going to give them everything because it used to and they’ve put so much money in it that they don’t want to move away.
And this is by no means an admonishment to the Wedding Wire just happened to be the one that pops to the top of my head. But. The idea that because they’ve spent a time or money or effort doing it this way, that they shouldn’t change it because of the cost that they’ve put into it like that can, that can be really, really detrimental for a business because the world is constantly changing and you need to change with it and your changing, but all of a sudden you’re not, you know, your business isn’t changing along with you.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:26:29] So sometimes, you know, instead of saying an outside force, like sometimes it might be, I spent thousands of dollars having my website built and I don’t want to change it, you know, things like that. Or I spent X amount on my logo.
Yeah. Not that your website or your logo is necessarily your whole business, but let’s say it looks really dated and like you designed it 15 years ago, it might be something that needs to change, like maybe, maybe you have a logo that’s one style in your business as a completely different style. Now.
Dave Moss: [00:27:10] Yeah. I think it gets even more interesting when it’s things like, now you have a baby, or now maybe you had a divorce and you feel a little bit jaded around weddings, but I’ve been doing this this for so long that I don’t want to change it. Like your life needs to be to be readapted to your business or vice versa.
And you have the same sunk cost fallacy there. So it can be really, really interesting when somebody has a baby and it’s like, okay, well, you know, your hours are different now. Your life is different now, so we need to mold your business to play along with that. So your marketing stream and your sales stream have to change.
You know, maybe it’s time to really, really invest into a CRM and automate the heck out of your business. Or, you know, maybe if you, you’ve got divorced and you don’t love the idea of weddings and they’re completely draining to you, great. Let’s switch to commercial photography, or let’s switch to something else.
Like, you don’t, just because you’ve been a wedding photographer for so long, it doesn’t mean that you are a wedding photographer. You can be just a photographer or something else, or just because you have been doing, you know. Six touch point meetings with all of your clients for your entire business, where you’ve got a newborn now.
So that’s not something that you can do. So maybe we switch it to zoom or maybe you just send out more email tips.
And it’s really interesting when, when people miss those parts, and that’s why I think for me, the life design portion is such a huge factor in it because people are often trying to cram their business into their lives rather than molded
Noise: [00:28:37] and
Christine Tremoulet: [00:28:38] you know, I fit a test though too. When you switch genres how hard that can be. Like.
Dave Moss: [00:28:45] Oh, it’s intensely
Christine Tremoulet: [00:28:46] I like switching from predominantly weddings to predominantly boudoir all of a sudden I was like, but wait, I’m a wa. I am a wedding photographer. No, I am Christine. Wedding photography was the work that I did, but that, yeah, I can say that today in hindsight, but this is a transition that happened nine years ago, so it’s a lot easier to say than it was in the moment.
Dave Moss: [00:29:12] So let me, let me ask you the question then. At that point in time, if you had external help, you may have, I don’t know, but if you had external help, like a coach or a mentor who was helping you through that transition, do you think
Christine Tremoulet: [00:29:23] Oh, I did have a coach then. That is how I made it through the transition, but I still remember in having moments where I was like. It’s like I was just so used to identify as a wedding photographer that, and that was what all of my friends were. So my whole social circle was also wedding photographers. So it was just, it was a little hard, but…
Dave Moss: [00:29:47] Yeah. That’s why for psychological reasons, I tell photographers all the time, start following other types of photographers, whether they’re street photographers or concert photographers or documentary photographers or whatever. Like don’t just have your whole feed. Be wedding photography because psychologically for me, when I made that change, I just started thinking of myself as a photographer and not as a label photographer, and it became a lot easier to to try other things or move in different ways.
But yeah, I can totally see how that psychology would be tough. I struggled for years just thinking that I wasn’t even a photographer. Like think.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:30:25] Well, that’s a, that’s a big deal for some people because they’re like, Oh, you know, this goes into the success thing. I’m not making X, or I’m not booking Y. And so you can hear people like sort of hedge it, like, yeah, I mean, yeah, I’m, I mean. I’ve started photographing weddings. I only have 10 this year, and I’m like, okay, Hey. Then you’re doing it … like you’re in it. Good!
Dave Moss: [00:30:51] but I mean, even for the people who are successful, like we were booking full years of weddings multiple years in a row, and I still didn’t feel like a photographer. I had intense imposter syndrome being like, well, no, you know, my wife’s the photographer. I just, I just there to help her and things like that.
And it’s, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:31:08] Was she a photographer
Dave Moss: [00:31:09] We kind of started around the same time, but when we started our business, it started under her name because I still had a full time engineering job. but for me, like that was just imposter syndrome is something that I’ve had my entire life and it just reared its ugly head again in photography.
And it wasn’t until I took my life coaching course and was confronted with that and, and worked with a coach at the time to deal with that, that I realized, you know, and this was. Seven years into our business. I was still facing that. That challenge and yeah, it gets, it can be tough. It’s tough doing anything as a human, and when you add in, you know, creativity in a business and, and putting, putting everything on the line behind it, it, it adds a lot of stress.
A lot of pressure.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:31:53] I think another big stress point for people is we’re creatives and we’re creating and selling what we are creating. . And so that it becomes emotionally hard to sell your creativity because when somebody turns down buying it, you feel like they’re turning down you as a person, not the service that you provide.
Dave Moss: [00:32:23] Yeah. You’re, you are personally invested in all of that because it’s your creativity. It’s your, it’s your baby really. This is your creation and they don’t want anything to do with it. And it’s hard to not take that personally.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:32:36] Right. I told somebody that I was trying to explain to somebody that you almost have to separate it, right? Like they’re saying no to a service. They are not saying no to you as a person, but you almost start to feel like you have a split personality, I guess, in a way. But I do a lot of times. That’s my suggestion for people is you, you look at it as they’re saying business. They’re not saying no to me.
Noise: [00:33:02] Yeah.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:33:03] Um, but like what, what would you tell somebody if they were struggling with that?
Dave Moss: [00:33:08] Mmm. Well, if, if, if I was on a call with somebody who was struggling with that, the first thing that I would, I would ask them is, is that true? Are they turning you down or, is it something else? And then I would let them talk there. Like I said, I don’t want to give them advice. They already, they already know that that’s not true, and so they need to come to it in, in their own way.
Because as we’ve sort of the theme for this conversation, everybody’s life is different. Everybody’s business is different. Everybody’s version of success is different. So everybody’s methodology of, of coming to terms with that reality is going to be different because our perception is our reality. So it would definitely just be a conversation where I asked them questions and they come to their own realization on that because I can’t tell.
I can’t say, well, that’s not true because you’re not going to believe me because you feel it. It’s 100% true for you. That is your reality. So yeah, it’s, it’s a little more complicated than just saying, well, this is how it is because. Who knows what that person’s life has been to lead up to that belief.
Cause there’s definitely photographers out there who never feel that, you know, someone says no to their service and they’re like, cool. And they just move on. Uh, but they’re devastating. So.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:34:24] The comment about separating the two was actually not to a photographer. It wasn’t a coaching client, so it wasn’t that, like you said, that situation where I was letting them get to it themselves. It was talking to somebody outside the photo industry and trying to explain to them like, well, trying to explain to them they had ghosted a photographer and I was like, you know, it’s actually really hard.
It’s hard for us because we feel like. We’re being turned down. It’s just an interesting moment when you’re like, Hey, I might explain to you that when you turn, when you just go away as a photographer, I’m hurt because I feel like you’re turning down my art and my creativity and me as an individual and everything else.
One of the things I wanted to ask you about so. Over the past. I’m not sure when it started. You’ve done a big survey and I want to hear about your survey. So when did that
Dave Moss: [00:35:20] Um, wait, did that start? I think at the end of, hang on, I’m gonna, I’m gonna. I’m going to check for the my first email just because then I can really tell you exactly when it’s.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:35:31] But I’d love, I feel like this is the engineer’s side of you showing up that you are. You’re such an analytical person, so wanting to survey and you surveyed photog predominantly wedding photographers
Dave Moss: [00:35:44] any photographer, but wedding photography was definitely the market that I hit the most, just because it’s the, the industry that I was in. So I sent out the first questionnaire in October of 2017
Christine Tremoulet: [00:35:59] Wow. I didn’t realize, I thought it was at, that just started in 2019.
Dave Moss: [00:36:03] years, years ago. it really molded in 2018 after I read Tim Ferriss’s book, Tribe of Mentors, because I loved some of the questions that he asked. But yeah, since 2017 I have had this 20 questions thing that I would send out to photographers, and it initially started because of that analytical engineer mind of mine where I wanted to understand how other people’s businesses worked so that I could better understand.
Our business and, and what was working for other people and, and why. So I came up with this list of 20 questions. That has changed a lot over the years. It’s been mostly stable for about the last year. but in the first sort of two years of it, it, those questions changed. It. Originally it was 11 questions and it was 15, and then eventually came to 20.
but yeah, I would ask all sorts of different questions like. How do you define success in your life and in your business? Or how do you practice as a creative person, or what type of marketing has worked best for you and your business and all sorts of different types of things. And, and just for the first two years of it, just collected that data and had a huge spreadsheet and a bunch of Google docs with my favorite answers and things.
And then eventually some friends of ours were like, you need to do something with that. And so they asked me to speak at their, their small little, kind of workshop slash conference kind of thing. And so I wrote a talk for that. And that’s moved into now the, the talks that I’m giving at WPPI and other places over this winter is all centered around that questionnaire project and the lessons that I’ve learned and the data that I’ve pulled from that.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:37:36] In the end, how many people did you end up
Dave Moss: [00:37:38] I sent it, I’ve sent it out to over 600 people and I’ve only got 184 responses, which is perfectly fine. The fact that 184 people have taken the time to fill out this questionnaire because it’s not, I mean, it can be short if you have one word answers for everything, but a lot of people put a lot of care and attention into it.
You know, I’ve gotten some really amazing essay answers from, from people, so. I mean 184 questions answers from, I’ve got people from Africa, India, China, Australia, all over the States and Canada, all over Europe, South America, so really all over the place. and, and people who have been in business for six months and people who have been in business for 30 years. So it’s, it’s a really wide, wide range of, of, of information that I’ve gotten back.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:38:23] So I would love if you could share with us high level, I know this is your, you know, this is, as you mentioned, this is what you’re speaking about at WPPI this year. So if people are interested, they can attend your masterclass and learn deep what you’ve learned. But are there some high level insights that you can share with us.
Dave Moss: [00:38:48] Yeah. I think w without giving it all away, there’s definitely a, there’s definitely some, some things that I can talk about that I don’t, I don’t mind. the first being that, we’re all really, really hard on ourselves. two of my favorite questions that I got the answers for, asked one question, what are three adjectives people you’re your best friends would use to describe you?
And then what’s one adjective adjective you would use to describe yourself? And I asked them very specifically in that order thinking that, okay, you know, if, if, if they’re putting kind words down from their friends,
Noise: [00:39:21] Okay.
Dave Moss: [00:39:21] will that affect the word that they use for themselves? And. People were really critical on themselves, but really kind and how they S they believe that their friends and family would view them.
And it just, it re, um, this is by no, no means groundbreaking psychological research, but it definitely reinforced to me that we are our harshest critics. and everybody you talk to, regardless of how long they’ve been in business or where they are, or what they do, is probably their harshest critic. So it’s, it can be really nice to, to give each other grace, but also in the same time, I really implore everyone to give themselves a little bit of grace.
You know, if regardless of how busy you are or how much money you’re charging, you’re doing it. That’s how they’re really matters. You know, you’re, you’re, you’re out there putting the work in and, and trying to make this dream come true. And so. Give yourself a little grace and be kind to yourself. what else?
What else can I talk about? The one thing that blows me away all the time, I think I sent you this stat a couple of weeks ago. you know, I asked, I straight up stole this question from Tim Ferris. it was, it was such a great question that I just had to take it from him. I tried to get in contact with them to say I was using it, but.
That guy’s probably got 500,000 emails a day. but I asked the question, you know, what hard thing are you not doing enough? and with a little bit of wiggle room, if you count, you know, blogging or social media in this, 92% of people said that they weren’t marketing enough or at all. depending upon the, the, the way they answered that question.
And it really, really floored me because it means, you know. For everybody out there who’s struggling to get clients. Well, the way you get clients is by marketing, and there’s a million different ways to market. It doesn’t have to be going to wedding fairs and it doesn’t have to be buying ad space, and it doesn’t like, there’s so many different ways to market, but if 92% of your competition isn’t marketing, that’s a really easy way to go and fill your roster of clients, is to really think about your marketing.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:41:21] That one blew my mind because it just shows like how much room and you hear so often I’m in a crowded market or my market won’t buy, or I live. Even people that say like, I live in a remote place, but nobody else is marketing. So I was just like, wow, that makes so much room for the, for the people that are willing to step out and like really make that a priority in their business.
Dave Moss: [00:41:56] Yeah, and just much like we were talking about earlier, find the type of marketing that works for you because the only way to get into the habit of marketing a lot. Is to market in a way that has no resistance or little resistance to you as a person. So whatever that is, whether it’s writing content for your website SEO, or whether it’s rubbing elbows with vendors and venues, what there’s so many different ways that you can market your business.
Pick three because one’s never enough. Pick three. And just do those things and form a habit and just, just do it. And I mean, I’m not going to say that that’s a magic bullet because I don’t believe in them, but it will definitely help you get more inquiries into your inbox. There are a number of other things that will come between that and a sale, but number one, just start putting yourself out there more and, and with
Christine Tremoulet: [00:42:47] Well, I’ve always said, um, about blogging, when, when people ask me, they’re like, Oh, but I’m not that good at SEO. And my response to that always is, well, you know, the blog posts that Google will never index. That’s the one you never write. And it’s sort of the same thing. Like the, the marketing that will never work for you is.
The marketing that you don’t do. Like if you, if you do no marketing, no one will even know that you exist. If you’re not willing to talk about yourself, why should anyone
Noise: [00:43:19] else
Dave Moss: [00:43:20] Yup. Yeah, I hear that so often of, Oh, I just really don’t want to self promote. I don’t like talking about myself. Things like that. And it’s like, well, guess what? You’re your business, you are the thing that is being sold. Your service relies on you, unless you have associate photographers or things like that.
So. You need to talk about yourself, but find a way that it can be, you can be comfortable doing it. You know, whether it’s just showing off your life through Insta stories that works for some people, or whether it’s, you know, if you’re, if you love to bake cookies, well bake cookies and then go around to all the vendors and venues in your area and bring them some homemade cookies and just say, Hey, just thought I’d stop in and say hello and bring you some cookies.
Like, it doesn’t have to be, you don’t need to stand on a soapbox and say, look at me. I’m amazing. But you do have to put yourself out there in, in whatever way you’re comfortable with.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:44:09] I think that’s the big resistance is I don’t want to seem salesy.
Dave Moss: [00:44:15] Yeah. Nobody wants to seem salesy and not even used. Car salesman want to seem salesy. Everybody wants to seem personable and, and, and do that. But sales doesn’t have to be, I mean, it’s a four letter word, but it doesn’t have to be a four letter word. Sales is important.
Noise: [00:44:32] Sales
Christine Tremoulet: [00:44:33] is important. It’s the foundation of your life. That’s it. That’s what your business is.
Dave Moss: [00:44:37] Yeah.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:44:38] If you are not selling. Then … I wish I could remember who I heard say this many years ago. I went to imaging. So if you’re listening, if you’re the person that said this in your talk at imaging, it was a speaker on stage.
If you were the person that said this, the imaging, please reach out to me and let me know because it changed my my life. But they were like, if you are not selling, you have an expensive hobby.
Dave Moss: [00:45:05] Yeah.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:45:07] And any. Then when I know that it was a man, I, I for the life of me cannot figure out who it was. I’ve tried to look up speakers and everything else to find them, but he was like, that hobby definition isn’t mine.
That happy definition is the IRS. So the internal revenue service, for those of us in the United States, if you are not making a profit, your business is not a business as a hobby and like that change. Everything. For me as far as my perception of selling, okay, if I want to be a business, I must do this.
It’s not a choice.
Dave Moss: [00:45:44] not just a little bit like 80% of your time should be taken up with sales and marketing activities, and then 20% of your time is taken up with actually doing the job. Because if you look at successful businesses, it’s 80 20 or 90 10 it’s not, it’s not like 50 50 you need to be out there marketing and building sales and working on your sales funnel and understanding customer service and helping people.
By what you’re putting out there, because if you’re not doing that, then you’re not going to be actually doing the thing you got into this to do, which is take pictures. So
Christine Tremoulet: [00:46:19] That’s hard because get into those because we want to take photos and, um, for some people. Bless their hearts. I don’t understand. I don’t like editing photos. I know, and that’s fine. I mean, some people love editing photos though too, so they get into it for these things. Like I have such an appreciation for people, especially people that can do a lot of editing and you know, they have a vision of what a photo should be and they can create it as through both taking the photo and through editing it.
I have so much respect for that, but that’s not my joy.
Dave Moss: [00:46:54] Yes. Absolutely. I would say if you want to edit a lot of photos, that’s easy marketing cause there’s a lot of people out there who don’t want to edit their photos.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:47:08] Right. Yeah. I mean, that’s really, and I know people that have started at companies that, that really was part part of how they got their start, because that’s what they loved. Um, and so they were like, Oh, wait, there’s people like Christine who will gladly hire me. I mean, I feel like, success, looking at your business, and, um.
Looking for your own holes, your own pitfalls, your own stumbling blocks can be really important. And speaking of editing photos, I knew from the start that that was, I taught me, I talk about this all the time. I feel like I knew from the start that was one of mine, that the editing was going to be my own downfall.
So I actually have worked with an editor pretty much my entire photography career. I’ve had somebody that edits my photos for me.
Because that’s what it takes to get them out the door.
Dave Moss: [00:48:02] Yeah, and that’s great. No, like if you, if you don’t have the time or money or inclination to get a coach, at least do a SWOT analysis on your business. That’s SW OT for those listening, which is your strengths, your weaknesses, your opportunities. And I always forget the T. What is the T strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
But yeah, do it, do a breakdown of what’s working for you and what’s not working for you in you and in your business. And if you know, if is is a bottleneck. Then maybe take on an extra couple of shoots and use that money to pay for an editor because you’re going to get all that time back that you’re not editing anymore.
So on and so forth. There’s a lot of different places that people struggle in their businesses, but you can outsource a lot of it if you don’t like marketing, but you want to have blog, blog posts. You can pay people to write your blog posts for you or to handle your social media or to. Run your Facebook ads like you don’t ha, you don’t have to be doing this stuff yourself, but it needs to exist in your business.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:49:05] Yeah. It doesn’t always even have to be take on extra work. In my case, I figured out how much extra that would cost and I just, it was not going to be a large price jump, so I just bumped my prices up a bit so that I could cover it because what I realized through observation. And watching other people was that I would see people who would say, Oh, I’m, I’m running a week behind on delivering this, so I’m going to give my client X number of extra album spreads.
And I was like, okay. And they felt okay with that because in in your mind, like those album spreads are sort of free or they don’t really cost a lot. But I was like, okay, wait, I already am not great at editing. So adding a few more albums spreads is also probably not in my own best interest from that perspective.
But then I’m actually also paying for the album spreads. So I sort of worked out like, well, what do I charge for an album spread. Okay. If I might give people five extra albums, Fred’s, I may as well pay an editor just to get the album the. The editing work done on time so that my clients are happier and yeah, just finding that for me.
I knew from the day I started my business, that was going to be my struggle, was the editing portion of, of the photography work for other people. That’s not the struggle of all of them. The struggle is that the start of the client journey and it’s the marketing, so find somebody that can help you with that.
Or find somebody that can help you with the writing. Find somebody that knows about SEO, or as you said, if you want to run ads, you know that can help you with it
Dave Moss: [00:50:48] does your books so that you have more money because your taxes are done properly, whatever it is, whatever your weakness Uh, there’s a photographer I know in San Diego who pays someone to do his laundry because that’s a weakness of his, and he’s like, that’s two hours a week I can get back where I can either be on the beach or I can be doing a session or whatever.
But it doesn’t necessarily even have to be business-related because when you’re a solo entrepreneur or partnership, the things in your life affect the time in your
Christine Tremoulet: [00:51:12] that is a golden nugget right there. Such, such a great point. I love that. So is there anything, anything in closing you want to add.
Dave Moss: [00:51:25] I would just say go out and have conversations with other people, who are, who are doing what you’re doing. And you’ll very, very quickly realize that we are all. Mostly struggling with the same few things, and maybe through those conversations you can find some, some creative ways to fix the holes in your business.
And if that’s not working, definitely reach out to a coach and find a coach that works for you. There’s a lot of different ways for, for people to get coaches out there, whether it’s group, online classes, whether it’s local, whether it’s one-on-one, whether it’s a creativity mentor, where it’s more focused on the shooting, then the, then the business side or blend or whatever.
I will say that that, that type of education has been. One of, if not the best investment in myself and in my career in the last five years. And it was one of the questions I asked on my questionnaire and the people who had been in business five to seven years or longer. Who had coaches or mentors also agreed that it was one of the best investments in their career in business and wish they would have done it sooner.
So I would, I would implore, have a coach, and if you can’t afford a coach or you can’t find a coach, at least have conversations with other people in your industry, whether they’re local or just internet friends, and just talk about what struggles you’re dealing with and chances are they will be too. And maybe between the two of you, you guys can creative solutions for
Christine Tremoulet: [00:52:49] that you can trust who is also able to point things out in a way to you that helps you improve.
Dave Moss: [00:52:56] Oh, and one last point. It’s a, it’s the only post in my coaching blog right now. and it’s kind of there for a reason, just for the, for the start. But if you’re going to hire a coach or a mentor, do your homework first. Make sure they’re successful in the way that you want to be successful. make sure that.
They, you know, they’re not just a staikos oil salesman. Cause there’s a lot of people out there unfortunately who, who called themselves a coach or call themselves a consultant or call themselves a mentor who don’thave the
Christine Tremoulet: [00:53:23] so my,
Dave Moss: [00:53:24] up. So do your homework.
Christine Tremoulet: [00:53:26] was, has never been my, they were my business coach, but they had never actually been a photographer themselves.
Dave Moss: [00:53:33] Yeah, that’s perfectly fine too. They know how to run a business. I’ve got clients who aren’t photographers, and I don’t know much about their industry, but I can talk to them about, you know, marketing or sales or customer service,
Christine Tremoulet: [00:53:45] I always like to point the edge people to keep that in mind. Like maybe the best person for you is outside the industry because they may have insights that you don’t see, or maybe they are in the industry. So just like you said, find the right person for you. thank you so much again for joining me.
As we mentioned, people can find you at Abby plus Dave, your photography site, and Dave Moss coaching and your Dave Moss coach on Instagram. , thank you everyone for listening and you go check out. I, I feel like Dave always writes some really insightful and wise posts. I’ve definitely had a lot of aha moments just in the things that you’ve shared.
So, I hope people go and check you out and learn more about you. And I didn’t ask where is the true North conference in April.
Dave Moss: [00:54:36] Oh, it’s in a a a tiny little town in Ontario called Chatham Kent, Ontario. So the closest airport is either the Windsor airport or Toronto airport, but it’s this beautiful little town in Ontario at this boutique hotel. It’s a 50 person conference, so there’s not a lot of tickets. So if you’re thinking about going, then I would definitely jump on
Christine Tremoulet: [00:54:57] Right. I’ll be sure to include them like I, along with the link and your social media, all those links will be included in the show notes, and as I mentioned, Dave is speaking at WPPI at 8:30 AM on Thursday morning, so you can go see him at 8:30 in the morning and you can see me at three in the afternoon and your Thursday will be all set.
Noise: [00:55:17] Thank you again.
Dave Moss: [00:55:21] Well, thanks for having me. This was a great, I always have great conversations with you, so it was a joy
Christine Tremoulet: [00:55:26] Thank you again so much for joining us. Show notes for this episode are available at Reframesuccess.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends and be sure to leave a five star review!
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