Today’s guest is the ever-so-talented and one of my really good friends, Rachel Traxler. Rach is a destination wedding and elopement photographer, making photos a warm, joyful and connective experience. She’s a Type 7 enneagram, so her heart for spontaneous adventure is BIG. Even though she lives in a small Wisconsin town of 600 people, she has been able to market herself to travel the world, all while doing what she loves. This girl is no joke and you are about to LOVE today’s episode all about marketing yourself in the destination market, so let’s dive on in!
On her career path:
This is such a funny story, and long story short, I accidentally fell into photography. It’s not like I always wanted to be that, it was more of a pipe dream for me. I specifically remember in college, or even earlier, having to write down my dream job. One of my dream jobs was traveling the world doing photography because I honestly just thought I had to write down my pipe dream. So it’s super funny that that’s what I ended up doing here now, but I actually got a job after college in the medical field working in the cancer center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. So I was working with cancer patients and I loved it, I loved the medical field. But honestly, I’m a Type 7 enneagram and I crave adventure so much, so working in a windowless office job following protocol just did not make my heart happy at all. Honestly without a plan, I never wanted to take photography full-time, I just went for it and made the leap. And Trent, my husband, really had my back on it and really pushed me to do it. So I went full-time and I just have not looked back and it’s been so so incredible.
On growing your biz quickly:
All good things take time, and with time comes experience too. But there’s definitely ways to fast-track those processes and pass down knowledge from your experience. One thing- the whole “fake it til you make it” only gets you so far. I truly think you need to know what you’re doing and be confident, especially in your business. Your business in general shouldn’t be a question mark and if you feel it’s a shiz-show, then your business is going to reflect that. I think gaining confidence comes with experience and investing in yourself honestly with education is the number one way you can fast-track your success a lot quicker too- the way you invest in yourself and invest in your education and your business will truly reflect that.
You get to a certain point where you have to know what you’re doing. I went to two workshops back-to-back and I truly feel like that played a big factor in having a quicker success for me. What I mean is everything kind of took off as soon as I went to those workshops. The funny thing is I didn’t even know what a workshop was back then when I was going to them. I literally won a spot to one of the workshops for free through Instagram, and I didn’t understand that. I didn’t know what I was signing up for, I was still working at Mayo Clinic. I was sitting at my desk in the cancer center and I signed up for this workshop that I didn’t know what it was, and I won it, and the first thing I thought was “well how the heck am I going to get off work for this?” because it was during the week and luckily for me by the time the workshop came around I had already gone full-time. But after the workshops I just feel like things really took off for me. Looking back, I can’t believe how lucky I got. Because the connections I made from that, and the education and knowledge I learned from that was crazy. I truly feel like that was the first big stepping stone and foundation for where my business truly started.
I had so much to learn, we all do. I think at that point I was a sponge and taking in everything. The two workshops, one in California and one in Oregon, were one of the first times I was traveling by myself across the country for something. It really put me out of my comfort zone. I was able to meet and network with so many photographers that I still talk to all the time. The people you form connections with will then have weddings that they can’t shoot and then they say “oh but I have a friend that does,” so that was another part of how I got into more destination work too, and traveling and all of that. Everything about workshops is so rewarding- they put you out of your comfort zone, you form such deep connections with people, you gain experience, and create an awesome portfolio, and I just love everything about workshops. You’re surrounded by people who all have the same passion and you get each other. It’s nice to have people to talk to that just get it and are just as passionate about it as you are to build your community and network.
On the struggle with clients ghosting you:
As far as clients ghosting you, I suggest taking a look at your process and workflow and making sure you’re not just sending over your pricing guide and holding your breath and hoping for the best. I’ve been there, done that- that’s what I used to do. I’d get an inquiry I was super excited about, I’d throw all my stuff at them and just cross my fingers and hope that it would work out. So from then, I’ve found that wasn’t working and I’ve created a specific workflow that helps ensure that I don’t get ghosted. I have specific outlines that I follow just to give an overall better client experience. One of my favorite things I love to do is get them on the phone right away, and that helps me have control over part of the process because I’m able to lead the conversation and foster a relationship with them. Then once I’ve created that bond and that relationship, being able to follow up with them in a specific way in a specific outline making sure there’s no way they’d want to ghost you, and if they did then they ain’t for you. But getting raving reviews and referrals from family or friends of theirs, they’re going to be less likely to ghost you too because they’ve heard from family and friends and they’re really interested in working with you.
On handling price shopping:
On my contact form I have them write a specific budget that they have in mind and so I have an idea going into it, but honestly it’s not like if they have a low price listed that I would say “oh they’re not my ideal clients.” They don’t know. This is their first time mostly likely getting married. They don’t know the process, they don’t know it as well as we do- it’s our professional job so we know it in and out so we can’t get frustrated if they don’t know it and then they lowball a number. They may not know, so that’s why I like to talk to them first. And by the time I talk to them they may be talking to a few other photographers and then also realize the pricing is higher than they realize and then they’re able to do that, they just didn’t know it up front. So I just like to talk to people and I think that fosters a relationship with them quicker and that way they can see that investment before they see numbers- see that relationship and what that could be. It’s a big investment for these people and you have to let them know what they’re investing in. You can’t just throw a high number at them and expect them to just say “oh ok.” You have to take that relationship and educate them and foster that whole connection.
Tips for growing yourself in the destination market:
Tips for attracting ideal clients:
On running a business:
Get your shiz together from the start. Sometimes that takes time, but it’s going to make your life so much easier if you just figure that out right away. The sooner you can figure out who you are, the better your entire your business will be. But also, on the other end, I know this does take time. It takes time to figure out who you are, who you want to be and all that. Also know what you’re getting into. There’s so much that goes into a photography business that people get started for the photos and they don’t realize that there’s actually a lot more to running a business than just taking photos. Don’t get too overwhelmed either. Take things in chunks and never bite off more than you can chew because that’s the fastest track to burnout. So make sure you’re pacing yourself as well, know what you’re getting into, figure out you are and what you want to do with your business and get your shiz together from the start.
Client connection quiz: https://racheltraxler.com/client-experience-quiz