This is a follow up story for The Match Artist. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
We’re Shane and Nick from The Match Artist. We’re an online dating photography company that coaches clients into looking their best, resulting in more matches and happier dating life. We specialize in facial expression coaching to ensure our clients are always looking confident, approachable, and a bit mysterious. We create an accurate brand of a person for dating apps and Instagram. With the requirement of masks at many establishments, many typical dating approaches no longer work. Many recent clients are now going on 2-3 quality dates per week while working toward a potential relationship.
Our typical clients are engineers or people in finance- People who seek to optimize as much of their life as possible.
Our best month since covid has settled a bit was a $16,242 month.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
The Match Artist had been slowly growing until Covid nearly shut it down completely. We had many shots that got canceled in March due to the pandemic. This was hard to watch our livelihood dwindle from factors completely out of our control.
I want to do everything that I can before a shoot to ensure I can connect with people on a deeper level and bring out confident, approachable facial expressions.
Unfortunately, we went from $10k in monthly revenue to $0 from March-July. We started doing socially distanced shoots in August, and our sales have finally outpaced where we were pre-pandemic. Our biggest increase in sales is most likely due to the nature of what Covid has done to dating. Many people are comfortable approaching others at a bar or cafe to start a conversation, but masks and social distancing have made this much more difficult. With the inability to approach in person, people are switching to online dating at an increasing rate.
We used the shutdown as an opportunity to review our marketing strategy. We updated the website to include more testimonials, blogs, and before/after photos. We’ve heard several positive comments regarding the before/afters and the new testimonials. Our website traffic has grown slightly, but our conversion rate has grown significantly. With all of the successful recent clients have been having, we have been more confident in our product than ever before!
Nearly all of our bookings have been directly from SEO. We added a landing page that tracks the user’s location and displays their city in the header. This has led to us traveling to shoot in Chicago / San Francisco five times in the past six weeks. We dialed in our travel package and changed marketing. So far, clients have been happy to pay for this service.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The biggest realization over the past year relates to this being FAR more than just photos. We’ve always said, ‘It’s More Than Just Photos,’ and now we’re realizing that it’s also a huge step in personal development. Many of our clients have always hated photos of themselves, leading to self-doubt and self-confidence issues, but after going through one of our photoshoots and seeing the outcome, their doubt is erased and their confidence is boosted.
Men often have a hard time getting their pictures taken. It’s something very uncomfortable when they generally exceed in other areas of their life. It’s been incredible to see clients ‘living their best lives’ after seeing how good they actually look in our photos.
From a business perspective, we’ve also learned how important it is to have repeatable processes in place. When we only had a few clients we could “wing it,” but this quickly fell apart as we brought in more clients. I wish we would’ve had these processes built earlier.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
With the future uncertain, we are going to stay lean until the pandemic is over. A four-month shutdown was eye-opening for us, and we will be much better prepared if this happens again.
Before the pandemic, we were working on an aggressive growth plan, but unfortunately, Covid has made that plan too risky.
We plan on staying lean and ensuring every month is profitable.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
It’s not necessarily related to growing a business or entrepreneurship, but Free Will by Sam Harris was extremely eye-opening for us. He delves into the science of decision making and how most of it is deep within our subconscious before we actively make decisions. This confirmed our process of facial expression coaching for our clients and even made us dig deeper. Each micro-expression communicates subtle things to our minds, and we can hack this to display the exact mood we want someone else to feel and show for a photograph.
When you are given a decision between a left or right swipe, and especially with it being a split-second decision, your mind has already decided based on subconscious analysis of whether they are conveying confidence, mystery, mischief, approachability, etc.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
From our photographer, Nick:
I don’t have as much of an entrepreneurial background as Shane, but I’ve had to adapt. I’ve mostly been a photographer for the past eight years, but to grow, I had to research and work a lot of 10-12 hour days, and wake up at 5 am. I’ve learned more about sales, communication, marketing tools, etc - in addition to the photo work I’ve been doing. It’s been amazing to see the growth when I shifted gears to improve areas that I’m not very good at.
I’ve also made a huge effort to really get to know our clients and show them they are valued. This obviously isn’t for many businesses, but our questionnaire asks for their favorite music, podcasts, etc. I want to do everything that I can before a shoot to ensure I can connect with people on a deeper level and bring out confident, approachable facial expressions. This has led to several great friendships in a few cities. The majority of my friendships are past clients due to the nature of what we share during a session.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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