How We Started A $45K/Month Product Photography And Video Company
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, we are Kyle Nelson and Eli Libby; Co-Founders of Results Imagery. We started product photography, video production, and media consultancy agency.
We help our clients create conversion-centric media (photos and videos), then help them monetize them through the correct distribution channels such as product listings, digital advertising, social media campaigns, and print advertising. Photography includes products on white eCommerce photography and lifestyle product photography. Our video production includes lifestyle product videos, stop-motion videos and brand documentaries/about us videos. Our monthly revenue is currently $45,000 a month.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
We both had previous experience in another start-up called Soul id which was a social media platform for action sports. We ran the marketing and media at that company which was a blast. After we left that company, we split directions. Eli got involved in the eCommerce industry by starting a brand called Winterial which he grew to hundreds of SKUs. Kyle headed in the media direction and started a commercial photography company where he worked with Fortune 500 companies and small businesses.
At this time Kyle wanted to be able to get back in the start-up world, grow a large brand and a team of like-minded creatives and innovators. So like any entrepreneur, he jumped on Google and started to search for media companies that were also technology-based companies as well. That is where the inspiration of starting a digital agency that solely focused on the media portion for brands and product companies came to life.
Culture is the centerpiece of a successful company. Creating a place for employees to come to work and enjoy what they do, the environment and who they work with will pay long term dividends.
Knowing that Eli had a background in eCommerce and that is where Kyle wanted to target, he booked a lunch with Eli to chat over “the next big idea” and needed a co-founder. At the time he knew that Eli was looking for new opportunities in the media industry to pursue his passion for photography and video production. So we grabbed some burgers and beers and that is where Results Imagery came to life. With Eli’s strong background in eCommerce and Kyle’s background in media (and both our start-up backgrounds), we were able to fuse together a strong founding team to launch our company.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
When a client comes to us, there are two main things that Result Imagery focuses on, and those are brand discovery and creating a turnkey solution for them to outsource their media. Outsourcing such a vital part of the business can be stressful which is the problem that we bridge. In the early days of the company, the struggles involved learning how to find these types of clients and educate them on the importance of high-quality media. Once that is accomplished, it is a matter of delivering the value of our service over simply using their phone and what it actually takes to create high-quality images.
The most important piece of our process is the pre-production process and iron out every detail between us and the clients before turning the cameras on. Having “lived and learned” from the early days in the company where we would have to redo productions due to a simple detail that wasn't documented, this process is now the foundation of our business. Integrations with project management software like Trello and better client communication tools like Zoom have simplified and streamlined this piece of our business.
Early on we attended any and every networking event with a couple of hour radius of us. This includes speaking at a handful of 1 Million Cups chapters.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching Results Imagery began by gathering a local base of clients to help fund the initial website development and start-up costs. The company was bootstrapped at conception and to this day has only taken a small investment from family. Our goal from day one was to build a solid foundation using quality tools, software, and talent.
Investing in this mentality from early on has put the best foot forward for the company. From past experiences and being well connected to successful entrepreneurs, our company created a vision to maintain the quality of quantity from an early stage.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since launch, we have believed in the power of search advertising. Customers who are searching for our service are “hot” leads, meaning they have the intention to purchase our service. For search advertising, we are using the following platforms with great success: Google Adwords and Bing Ads. Through months of “sifting,” we have dialed in relative keywords and a process for negative keywords that have proven successful so far.
Our target market is eCommerce sellers, brand holding companies, online retailers and marketing agencies. Most of our clients are not in our local market which allows us to have an expansive reach around the nation (and world). Even though we do work with local companies, a 30k foot view of our past and current client list shows we have worked with individuals in a majority of the states and 10 different countries.
We spent time and money on the Facebook and social media world only to learn that customers need time to educate and the lead cycle is nearly triple the time. Social media has evolved into a better branding platform for us rather than a sales channel and looks to be staying that way. We have seen some success in client acquisition from latching onto giveaways with larger brands, but aside from that, there isn't much.
Other forms of the organic acquisition have been through Linkedin, podcasts, expos and an SEO strategy. Of course, to increase profit margin, the focus is creating content that can be picked up by a search engine or platforms that are more “untouched”.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
At a top-level look at our business, we are very pleased with how it is doing and where it is heading. Month over month we are green and profitable which helps fuel reinvestment into the company to scale and grow. We like service-based companies because they typically have higher profit margins and are typically passion-based. We have been fortunate enough to grow a company that aligns with what we love to do, which is creating and managing.
Usually, we group up every morning and chat about the top executable actions we need to take for the day. That is of course if we aren't heading out to a locational shoot before the sunrise. Our office is separated into three sections. We have the main studio section where the photography and video production occurs, we have a media editing room where the media team have their own creative space and we have the ‘biz dev’ office where the day-to-day operations of growing the company happen.
Each space is filled with a different energy that is amazing to have at our location.
Our overall strategy to expand Results Imagery is to focus on key partnerships with marketing and web development agencies that can white label our services. In addition, we highly focus on monthly retainer clients that utilize our service monthly.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Early in the business, it was very chaotic in terms of logistics, organization, sales… Pretty much anything you could imagine that could go haywire did. We had some amazing learning opportunities early in the business and even recently that has helped shaped the way we do business and create relationships.
Early on we had a very weak pre-production process that, at times, led us to have to reshoot images or entire videos. This quickly changed once we realized our bottom line was shrinking. Now we have a very effective and strong pre-production process that allows us to discover brands, understand distribution plans of the media and create media that showcases products and increase conversion.
Earlier this year we decided to work with a PPC agency that ‘Guarantees’ their PPC services or money back in the first 60 days. Unfortunately, we were ultimately scammed out thousands of dollars and quite a few months of potential leads we lost. We did our due diligence, researched the PPC company before working with them and everything seemed to look good. This was a huge opportunity to take a closer look at agreements, contracts and small print, although they were ultimately at fault, we wrapped it up as a learning experience.
Below is a fun (chaotic) look of the very early days of the company before we were full-time at our first studio.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We love our tools. They help streamline different parts of our business and allows us to see either super granular and top-level; which helps us make the correct decisions for the business and make strategic moves. Some of the tools and software we utilize are Hubspot CRM and Marketing, Trello, Slack, Google Suite, Pixieset, Wipster, Upwork, Wave Apps and Adobe Suite.
We have used at least another dozen software since we started but we have found these have become our foundation to streamline communication in our company and improve our client experiences.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There has been a series of podcasts that have been influential as the business has grown, those are The Gary Vaynerchuk Audio Experience, How I Built This and The Impact Theory. These podcasts have similarities in the ways that they showcase the power of passion. Our business stems from our passion for creating high-quality images and videos and these podcasts help spark that initial drive to take the plunge to commit to the business.
We hold our network of connections near and dear to the companies core. We have leaned on our advisors as an influential resource to help steer the company in the right direction through their guidance and experience. Our lead advisor Tim Allen has been with us from day one, providing feedback and high-level direction for us on how to navigate the scalability of Results Imagery.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Love and learn from the times you fail and fail fast. The only way to grow is to fail and learn from that mistake. At Results Imagery, we have made countless mistakes early on in the company's life cycle. Our mentality revolves around embracing our failures and learning from how we can improve on or sculpt a process around them for future growth.
Another piece of advice for entrepreneurs getting started is to focus on building a strongly motivated team fueled by the culture of the company. Culture is the centerpiece of a successful company. Creating a place for employees to come to work and enjoy what they do, the environment and who they work with will pay long term dividends.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are in the process of hiring a full-time creative director to bridge the gap between the many inbound sales leads and our growing media team. This role will be influential in leading the logistics of production and ensuring the standard quality of media that we have set in place. This position will also be responsible for guiding a client from point A to point B and continuing to nurture the client for future projects.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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