Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Samantha Bachand and I own Two Little Monkeys Photography. My studio is based in Indian Trail, NC and I have the pleasure of serving the Charlotte, NC area. I do occasionally have people travel to the area to have photos taken. I mainly focus on newborn and family photography. The majority of my clients are couples that are beginning or expanding their families.
Despite 2020 being a hard year, I was able to do 74 newborn photo shoots, not including other family sessions. Of course, this was lower than average due to Covid-19.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
It all started when I was pregnant with twins when I was 16 years old. I never had a lot of photos to look back on growing up and wanted to document as much as I could with my kids. Right after the twins were born I knew I wanted newborn photos taken. They were premature and while it was a hard time in my life I wanted to document them being little as possible. We went to have photos taken and I just fell in love with it. I’ve always loved babies and immediately could see myself pursuing photography full time.
At the time I wasn’t set on a particular career path and while at the time I never operated a professional camera, used studio lighting, etc...I was more than willing to learn as the fire had been lit!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I conducted a lot of research to figure out what I needed to learn as well as what I needed to start to get into photography the right way. I talked my husband into spending money on a Canon 40D camera which at the time was more than we could afford but we made it work.
Don’t expect overnight success. It took me years to get to a point where I’m steadily making money as a business.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Once I learned the basics I went on to offer free as well as cheap photo sessions to start building my portfolio. I will always remember the days traveling to clients’ homes and hauling props and a bean bag (what’s used to pose newborn babies on) in and out of clients’ homes.
At the time the challenge was to get good enough to charge more. While there were fewer photographers to compete with at the time, there were still enough that I needed to be cheaper since I was just starting and a lot of the knowledge it takes to be a successful newborn photographer is by working hands-on with newborns.
As I gained experience over a few years I felt comfortable with raising my prices to match the industry standard and continued to work on building a local reputation.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
SEO has been the biggest help since the start. My husband did all of my SEO and a lot of my clients find my business from a Google search. In recent years while SEO helps I also gain business from social media. Mainly Facebook.
I’m a part of many local groups and there are always people asking for photographer recommendations. I have tried Google ads as well as running Facebook ads and neither has shown to perform as well as SEO and simple word of mouth.
I get a lot of repeat clients that follow me on social media (Instagram and Facebook). I also have a newsletter which also helps to keep clients coming back.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I am profitable and the business is steady and on track with past trends. Usually, right after Christmas, I start to see an expected drop in website traffic and new client inquiries. For example, since the start of 2021, I have had 200 website visitors. The bounce rate is low and most if not all come from SEO. Granted, I had issues with my website this past month, but that’s just an example of an expected slow-down period.
As far as growth I usually grow between 5-10% year over year and this is just from SEO, local Facebook group mentions, client referrals, and my local reputation.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I think the one thing that is worth mentioning is with photography being an art, I’ve really had to hone in on my own style. Every photographer is different and with an established style, it really helps potential clients see exactly what they’re going to get. While things do change such as new cameras, lenses, lighting, etc. My style has stayed consistent and only has improved over the years.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I may just be old school and my husband bugs me daily about it, but I keep a paper schedule. This really helps me keep track of scheduled sessions, etc. As far as photography I use Adobe Camera Raw/Photoshop for editing and blog stomp for prepping images for web sharing. For my newsletter I use MadMimi.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
One of my favorite photographers and a pioneer in the newborn photography world, Rachel Vanoven, has been very influential from the start. Recently, she has started The Collective which has continued to be a huge resource for me. I’m always learning something new from her whether it be related to posing, lighting, photography in general, or business-related.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
To simply stick with it. Don’t expect overnight success. It took me years to get to a point where I’m steadily making money as a business.
Many people run as soon as it gets tough and with social media being as hot as it is now you constantly only see people’s success but don’t see the struggles such as dips in business.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m a one-person show - and as of now, I plan to keep it that way!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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