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PPA Studio Makeover - Wes Roberts Update #1 - PPA Today

PPA Studio Makeover - Wes Roberts Update #1

In the previous post 2 Studios Are Getting a Full Business Makeover This Year! you met PPA Studio Makeover recipients, Wes Roberts and Krista Newbill and read the overview of the makeover process.

Now that the makeovers are underway, you can follow along with their progress! First up is Wes as he and the PPA mentor team dove into the financials of his business.

Wes's Story

The Financials

Wes was super excited to get started. He's been working with PPA's Business Consultant and CPA, Bridget Jackson, to get a handle on where he is currently and the best way to move forward.

First, we always did a complete financial analysis of the studio. It's important to know what's working and what's not. We did this by comparing Wes' studio's numbers to PPA's Benchmark Survey. By comparing his cost of sales, overhead and net profit we started to get a good picture of the pitfalls that are causing monetary loss. We also uncovered potential opportunities for savings.

Wes' numbers looked better than the average benchmark studios in 2013 and 2014. However, his 20% cost of sales percentage doubled between 2013 and 2014. While, in general, 20% is a great number to achieve (below the recommended 25%), we had to figure out what has changed to cause such a drastic uptick and put everything in place to ensure that trend would not continue in 2015.

Second, PPA mentors helped Wes develop a photography business plan for 2015 that included three goals:

  1. the number of sessions he wants to photograph (broken down by month)
  2. the sales average of each session
  3. his net profit

Wes used PPA's SquareOne tool to help him identify these numbers and how they relate to one another. Once he understood how many sessions and at what sales average he needs in order to reach his net profit goal for the year, he started looking at other tweaks to make in his photography business such as pricing, sales strategy and marketing. We recommend you go take a look at SquareOne and follow along as we share the makeover process, you'll be surprised how small changes can make a huge financial impact for you.

Wes square one.jpg

Mentor Meeting

After he created his sales and session projections, Wes met with Ashley Brooke of, a social media expert that will help Wes understand and identify his brand.

After some getting-to-know-you questions to help him build a doable social media/marketing schedule and a scan of his website, Ashley suggested implementing a larger senior image and reordering the sidebar images so that his seniors' gallery was at the top. Remember, last month we found out one of Wes's goals is to sell more seniors photography.

Wes website image.jpgAshley then helped Wes define a realistic blogging schedule and shared ideas to make posts easier. She recommended posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday, focusing mostly on senior work, highlighting boutiques in the area where seniors shop and location scouting. She asked him to consider adding a category of blogs called "From Wes's Desk" for the posts that are more emotional and heart-centered so as not to confuse the reader about the context.

The idea is to have his posts become "columns" with corresponding hashtags. This allows the reader to easily understand the different voices of his studio. She also explained that effective posts are often 1-5 images with just a few sentences, that certain times of the day are more effective (mornings and evenings) and she recommended using a scheduling software like Hootsuite to schedule posts a week in advance. This way Wes can be consistent and push his posts out to all social media sites (except Instagram which needs to be done separately).

We asked Wes for his thoughts on the first month of the makeover. Here's what he had to say:

What have you learned about yourself this month as a business owner?

I have to find my target market and keep them in mind on all my business decisions. There could be a ton of great things that come my way but if it doesn't line up with my target audience then I don't need to step in that direction.

What have you learned about yourself personally so far?

I have to push hard past myself. I'm the first person, be it out of fear of rejection, to say my work is not good enough or any other self-defeating mentally. I could have 1,000 people in my corner pulling for me but if I don't believe I can, then I can't succeed.

How is this makeover affecting your personal life thus far?

Well! Just having a new baby come into the family has added a new level of stress. Time is definitely being competed for between family and work, but Meg (my wife) has been super understanding. She knows the studio is how we now live and sacrifices have to be made, but I also know that family comes first and to break away from the business when needed. Did I mention that Meg left her job in January and the studio is now our sole income? Yep, can you add more stress?! Oh wait! Having our 5 year old act crazy to gain attention away from the baby. Yep!


Check back soon for Krista's first update and again next month to see how Wes is evolving as a business person and coping with the stresses of life with a new baby!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on April 13, 2015 3:33 PM.

PhotoVision For Free, U.K.'s Copyright Hub, and the Scuba Monster: Round Up 4/5 - 4/9 was the previous entry in this blog.

Competition Image Critique: Just Do It is the next entry in this blog.

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