Today we are answering this question: How do you get gorgeous brand photos for your website and social media without spending a fortune?
I know that feeling so well when you’re scrolling through other people’s websites or Instagram feeds and are just like “damn, how do they make it all look so pro?!”
It is SO easy to get stuck in comparison or convince yourself no one is going to want to work with you unless you have perfectly polished photos, which is a total lie.
So today I’m going to break down how to create next-level imagery for next to nothing so that you can create a powerful brand presence online starting today, without having to spend a ton of time or money.
STEP 1: Identify if it is the right time to invest in a professional shoot
Not going to lie, having professional photos are amazing. The way a professional can work with the lighting, capture your energy and vibe in candid shots, and polish things post production is so so nice.
However, if you are holding back from launching your website, posting more on social media, or bringing in paying clients UNTIL you have a pro shoot PLEASE LISTEN CLOSELY.
You DO NOT need professional photos to make money!
In fact, I was in business for FIVE YEARS and had made over $100k in sales before I invested in a solo professional photoshoot – and I STILL use many of those photos to this day, almost 5 years later!
Just like all decisions in your business, you want to invest in the right things at the right TIMES in your business.
Think of it like this, if you want to lose weight and you see all these fit health conscious women drinking celery juice you might assume “I need to drink celery juice to lose weight” – but what you don’t see is the years of foundational healthy eating and exercise habits they already have in place – so of course there is a benefit to drinking celery juice but buying a juicer and stocking your fridge with celery before investing in say a gym membership or a coach to0 get that foundation in place will just take time and money with minimal results.
So the first step is to identify if this is the right time to invest in a professional shoot.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I know which business I am starting or can I answer this question “what do you do?”
- Have I worked with any paying clients or at least 5 practice clients?
- Do I know who I want to work with, and what those people are looking for in a (fill in the blank – yoga teacher, coach, therapist, creative consultant, etc.)
- Am I making any money in my business?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, I highly suggest you implement the steps in this mini training before investing in professional photos.
If you answered “Yes” to the above, then still go through this training because it will save you thousands over the next few years – BUT I also have a podcast coming out next week that will help you prep, plan, and make the most out of your first (or next) professional photoshoot. That training is worth its weight in GOLD so be sure to subscribe and catch Episode 22: Images That Sell: Your Guide to Professional Photo Shoots.
Ok so here is the mistake most creative entrepreneurs make… they think they need pro photos to get clients, and though this can be helpful in up leveling your brand, you need solid strategies to start working with real people before investing or getting your money’s worth out of a brand shoot. This business foundation is exactly what I teach in The Aligned Female Entrepreneur.
When hiring a professional, whether a photographer, website designer, etc they need to know what you do, who you work with and the message you want to convey through your visuals.
I know of many professionals with GORGEOUS Pinterest-perfect sites and feeds but still struggle to pay their bills.
Truth bomb: You do NOT need pro photos to get clients, you need clients to get pro photos
When you start working with the humans who need you NOW, planning your photos is less about making it all look perfect, you can be much more authentic and strategic about the images you share, the energy and message you convey, and the story you tell through your images. More on that next week in Episode 22.
Ready to get started and on your way to six-figures and a gorgeous website without needing to spend a dime? Move onto step 2!
STEP 2: Get Started for Free with Next-Level Selfies and Stock Photos
1. Selfies: you need to find good lighting- don’t use a flash, focus on NATURAL LIGHT – outside or near a sunny window but out of direct sun so you don’t look all shiny. Try out a portrait setting on an iPhone or something with a subtle filter like Snapseed, Facetune, Instagram filter or another photo editing to make it look a little more polished – PLEASE do not use crazy amounts of filters!! People are trying to connect with you and read your vibe, show them something real that they can relate to.
Here was the only image of me (a selfie!) on my first health coaching site that landed me over $50k in business just starting out!
BONUS VIDEO: How to create next-level iPhone selfies
In this short video, I show you how I create simple, high-converting selfies. (NOTE: as a business coach I would most likely change out of my workout gear for a headshot for my website (and probably put on a little makeup and do my hair, haha) but wanted to give you the gist.
iPhone selfie before and AFTER using Snapseed “portrait filter”
2. Stock photos: You can create a beautiful site with a few good iPhone images and stock photos. These are professional photos that you can download for free or for a small fee. I like Unsplash for free photos and stocksy.com for paid. For example, if I was a therapist who did retreats and healing through connection to nature, this selfie plus the stock photos below would be plenty for a simple starter site!
Photo credit: unsplash.com
STEP 3: Ask yourself, “Who do I know?”
This is all about getting creative and tapping your network to find someone to take some simple but powerful professional photos at a fraction of the cost. I’m not usually a big fan of trades. I’m all about making money with a solid business model and investing in the things you need to go to the next level. But something I did when I started out was working with a friend who was a photographer. She needed some shots for a portfolio and I needed some pro shots for my website.
The second shoot that I did, I split a photographer with a girlfriend of mine who was also a coach, we each paid $500 which at the time seemed like a LOT, but I was able to use those images to start launching courses and charging higher rates and made that back quickly.
I was also part of a photoshoot at my yoga studio and part of a business mastermind that had a photographer take a few images of us I could use.
… so ask yourself if you know a photographer friend, or 1-4 other people who might want to go in on a photographer with you, book them for a few hours and get your first handful of professional shots!
PRO TIP: be sure to get at least 3-5 headshots of you looking directly into the camera, 3-5 inspirational shots where you are living the life, feeling the feels etc that your ideal client wants to feel, ex. If your client wants to feel strong and fit, include some images of you feeling strong and fit or a client, if they want to feel free, include images of dancing, laughing, playing, want to feel grounded? Maybe you, in a meditation position, in an epic relationship where they are loved and adored? A pic of you and your partner or a couple embracing and 3-5 lifestyle shots that share the story of what it is like working with you – AKA you in action ex. Coaching a client, working on your laptop, teaching a yoga class,
SO there you have it!
Your first steps to getting gorgeous brand photos without spending a fortune are to:
- Get clear – is this the right time in your business to make this investment?
- Start using next-level selfies and stock photos right away
- Ask yourself “who do I know?” then get creative with friends and book your first shoot
- Then be sure to check out Episode 22: Images That Sell: Your Guide to Professional Photo Shoots airing next Tuesday to make the most of that professional shoot and really take your business vibe and brand to the next level!
My personal journey with professional photoshoots…
★ 2013: “The five-figure selfie” My first selfie on the About page of my website and print materials that helped me make my first $50k as a Health Coach
★ 2014: My first “professional photographs” from a friend who wanted to use them for her portfolio:
Not bad, but not totally epic. Also, notice for you – do you feel more connected to the woman in the selfies or the woman looking at a plate of tomatoes?
PRO TIP: The most high-converting images will always be more about connection than perfection.
★ 2015: The next photo shoot I did I invested $500 and split the time with a friend who was also a coach.
At this point, I had worked with dozens of clients and knew a little more about what types of images I wanted, but thank GOD I didn’t spend a ton of money on these because I still didn’t really get my brand or message. We took hundreds of photos and I only ended up using a few.
When I look at these photos, I see a woman trying REALLY hard, but not really capturing my vibe or what it was like to work with me AT ALL. Like I’m randomly walking the streets of Boston trying to look like a businesswoman and meanwhile living off the grid in Vermont (eye roll). These were all about “me” not about connecting with the client – can you feel that?
PRO TIP: no matter what you do, selfies, pro shoot, trading, or collaborating with friends, your photos should serve a purpose, connect with your potential client, convey your authentic vibe, and tell a story of what it’s like working with you.
The only shot that really worked, or that I used from that shoot, is below. (Notice how eyes to the camera shots are WAY more effective for connecting with prospective clients?)
★ 2018: I *FINALLY* decided to invest in a professional shoot after making over $100k in my biz. I got the best team (the dream team at In Her Image Photo) loved their vibe. The energy was aligned. I knew who I was and who I was talking to, and it was more about connection than perfection. (NOTE: I did the U steps I lay out for you in next week’s training to make sure I got TONS of perfect shots I could use AND that converted people to paying clients… I still LOVE these images and use them to this day, 4 YEARS later!)
★ 2020: Lifestyle shoot – this was on Kauai where I was living at the time and just wanted to have fun and capture my life there. Fully leaning into connection over perfection. Soft belly, cellulite on my thighs, dirty feet, and a total vibe 🙂
What do you think of the evolution?
What are you learning that you want to take with you and apply in your own business?
DONT’T FORGET! Tune in next week to get a step-by-step guide to rock your first (or next) professional photo shoot!
Was this helpful?
Have additional questions?
As always, I love your feedback, leave a comment below!