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Things have a way of hitting you when you’re not expecting it.

It’s not always the good stuff. But sometimes, just sometimes, it is. I got this email about a week back, and I was tickled:

Putting in motion your tips from your current sales series…..
Already I have gotten WAY better responses!!!!
Normally I give a price right out the gate because that is their first question; then it’s just crickets. I never hear back from them. This time, I was very interested, asked a lot of questions, and she instantly got excited and wanted to book before hearing a price!

THANK YOU! For all your hard work and sharing with the world!

XOXO
~Cassandra

I so love hearing things like this. Makes me feel useful.

It also reminded me of one last sales secret I wanted to share to round out the free mini-course I’ve been running. It helps get the type of reaction Cassandra just described.

I call it the 89% problem.

Now, for the record, I don’t know if it’s really done by 89% of the people out there. I suspect a fair bit more, to be honest, but I do know most people do it, and it’s costly.

See the last thing most people talk about with their potential clients in their meetings is price. It usually goes a little something like this:

“Here’s how much things cost. See what you think. Call me if you want me. See ya!”

This is a mistake.

Sales work best when people are excited. Very excited.

When you stoke the flames and people build a bond with you and your work in a way they feel in their gut and they can’t stop thinking about you, pricing becomes secondary. You don’t want to prove your value. You want people to feel your value.

But! Here’s what happens when a lot of people see your price: They choke.

It yanks them right out of excitement-land, straight back into woah-this-costs-a-lot-land. And if you don’t take them back to excitement-land, it may just be a one-way trip.

The first words the couple utters after you wrap things up should be “Oh my gosh! She was amazing!!!”

What you don’t want is “I don’t know if we can afford this.”

So, here’s what you do. After talking about pricing, bring the conversation right back to the work. Don’t let them walk out the door talking about pricing. If they’re not booking on the spot, make the first words after the meeting be about you and your work.

Ask some questions about the photography. The wedding. Their needs, hopes, and wants. Anything to remind them why they’re thrilled about you. Leave them dreaming, hoping, and wanting.

It’s not a lot, but in sales, small differences are big differences. You’re welcome.

Enrollment is about to close on the Momentum Sales online course. It’s a full-fledged wedding photography sales system, and the teaching begins next week. Take a look. I think you’ll like it.

 

The Pain Problem by Spencer Lum
7

How much does it hurt?

Sometimes, too much. Often, more than I want to admit. Most times, more than I expected.

I just wrapped up a presentation at Camp Go Away last week. Of course, I use the term presentation lightly, given that I was hobbling together the pieces up to the very last minute. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Camp Go Away is a small, back-to-the-basics shindig put together by the wonderful and talented Chellise and Michael of Chellise Michael Photography, and you can count me in as a fan. If you’re looking for a get together that smells like a warm fire in a cool morning breeze (quite literally, in fact) and oozes with heart, this is it. It is a beautiful thing.

There I was, talking about some of the pain I’ve experienced in my life – in career, in artistry, in expectation and hopes and the dreams of being more that too often were less, when it hits me. Maybe this feeling that I’ve nursed so much of my life isn’t mine alone. I ask everyone, “Is pain something you know as creatives?”

painproblem

They say when you laugh, people laugh with you, but when you cry, you’re going to be doing it alone with a bottle of bourbon, and if I had to hazard a guess, I’d guess that it’s a feeling a lot of people know. But hurt has a way of making you feel small and isolated and very, very alone. So no matter how much I figure it couldn’t have just been me, it was a hard feeling to shake.

But I asked, and hands went up. Hands from talented photographers producing wonderful work. And I realized, we are never alone. If you’ve ever felt worthless, you are not alone. If you’ve ever felt trapped, you are not alone. If you’ve ever felt like a fraud or a failure or like you’ve hit a wall, and maybe this time, you won’t make it through, you are not alone.

Creativity is a stream. You can drink from the stream, take from the stream, and swim in the stream, but you can’t freeze it. You can’t pickle it and preserve it or hold on to it any more than you can hold on to your thoughts, and the harder you try, the more it will stop you from seeing the next swell coming down the pipes. But you can foster it. You can become aware of it and open yourself to experiencing it and putting yourself in places that make the visit from the muse that much more likely.

Creativity is a feeling we all know. When that certain something clicks, and life gushes, and you feel it pouring out into everything you do. When everything becomes interesting and meaningful, and you can crack open impenetrable ideas as easily as eggs into a frying pan.

But no one is creative all the time, at least not in that way with the capital C. In fact, more likely, almost all of us are distinctly uncreative most of the time, but if you listen to the voices in your head and open yourself to the world around you, a little bit of that beautiful thing inside you will seep out and make its way to the world. And that is enough.

Creativity is not about pain. In fact, if being at Camp Go Away told me anything, as I stepped out of my life in a place that gave me no choice but to do so, it reminded me that creativity is love. I was blessed in each encounter I had, in each person I met, and that chance to see just a little bit of who they were, experiencing the universe, one person and one moment at a time. And this is something that’s there for all of us.

Creativity is immersion. An openness to inspiration, and the pain will only cloud that vision, blinding you to the fact that you already have what you need. You are what you need. That if you accept that and let the journey take shape, you will find all the answers.

As Mick Jagger said, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.

Holding on to the pain will only marginalize your power. It will push you to chase validation and lure you to the conformity lurking around the corner. One choice after the next, it is a slippery slope of doubt masked by further doubt.

Life coach Michael Neill compares this neediness to a game of fetch. He describes his two dogs. One loves to play fetch, and will chase the ball relentlessly, constantly begging and pleading for another throw. The other dog isn’t terribly interested in the game at all, and just enjoys where he is and what he is doing. Too many of us are like the first dog playing fetch, except instead of chasing a ball, we chase happiness, validation, and self-worth, moving the goal posts of joy so each time we accomplish something, we push our hope forward to tomorrow, instead of living in it today.

Growing up, I never had a pair of shoes that fit. My parents always bought them a size too large to let me grow into them. The only problem was by the time I would, they’d be worn out, and I’d have to move on to the next oversized pair. So I simply lived my childhood believing that shoes were supposed to be really loose.

Find your fit now. Revel in the craft. Love each step of the way.

Joy cannot be one step ahead of you. It is either there, or it is not. We either grab it, take it, and fight for it, or we dream a pipe dream of false expectations and unrealized hopes that someday, it will come. Don’t wait for the heavens to part so you can receive the divine right to simply be who you are. That day will never happen. Someday is always a day away, and if you’re to live a life of deep trust and true meaning, it will only come when you let go of the pain and take this thing you have and make it work, right here, right now, because that’s all any of us ever have.

 

How bad do you want it? by Spencer Lum
13

I always thought I wanted it pretty bad. I thought I was willing to take the hits, but when I look back and really think it through, I’d be hard pressed to make the case. It was all just plausible deniability. It was never my responsibility. Always something else. Some reason. Some excuse. Sometimes – maybe more times than not – it’s just easier to think more of yourself than to be more of yourself.

But though you can tell yourself whatever you want, life has a simple formula. You do, it gives. You don’t, it takes.

howbadwantit

They say the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and you see it all of the time. People hit the wall – great people, often the greatest of them – who can’t crawl out of themselves any longer.

And it’s only getting harder. It’s an age of virtual navel gazing and personal brand. Hell, I’ve burnt through whole days waiting for my apps to light up. New likes? Fans? Did I go viral? It’s like an accident. You just can’t not look.

Yeah, now more than ever, you have to stand for something. Be something. And, yeah, be proud. Stand tall. Do all of it. Don’t run from your shadow, and pack your achievements in a tiny dark box in the back of your brain.

But now more than ever, you also have to let it go. Thomas Szasz said:

“Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self- esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self- importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.”

If you want to step into your future, it’s not about building, but tearing down. The walls being removed aren’t exposing you. They’re letting you go forward.

And if you’re not stepping into your future, then you’re going to have to ask the question: “Is this really what I want?” Because the hard is what makes everything great. The hard is what makes it all worth doing, and if you don’t want the hard, and you just want the fame or the fortune, maybe you don’t really want that future.

There are going to be excuses, and there are going to be obstacles. Excuses you create. Obstacles you encounter. If you come across too many excuses, odds are you really don’t want it bad enough. Look where you are, and see if it’s the path that’s the problem and not the barriers. But if the things that are stopping you are in fact obstacles, then double down and push through with everything you’ve got.

In all cases, you either hang onto the past at the expense of the future or you let go of the past and find your future. That’s the choice. Pick carefully.

 

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