Home Based Business: Mindy Leeders Photography
Mindy Leeders is a wife, mother, freelance graphic artist and more recently, a photographer. It is photography that she has chosen to start as her own home based business. Mindy Leeders Photography specializes in Engagement, Wedding, Maternity, Newborn and Child photography. TKG’s Jennifer Geh recently booked Mindy for her daughter’s newborn photo session. Mindy also operates a stationery business through Etsy; great for those invitations, announcements and other stationery needs! I recently had a chance to ask her some questions about getting her brand new business off the ground. She made some excellent points about the pros and cons of relying on social media to promote a new business. She even shares some tips to make social media work for your home based business!
1. What social media platforms are you currently using to promote your business?
Mainly Facebook. It started through my personal Facebook page, posting a few photos of my baby Madelyn (which is when I decided to get back into Photography). I took Photography classes in college but ended up majoring in Graphic Arts and Illustration and have been working in that field for 10 years.
On Facebook I started asking a few friends to let me take some pictures and word of mouth has been really great so far! While I don’t have a ton of free time in between freelance Graphic Design and raising our sweet little one, Facebook has been a quick and simple way to start promoting. I created a Facebook business page under my personal page and started uploading photos with my logo so that friends of friends could start seeing my work while I build my portfolio. It’s great because through a business page on Facebook, I can track how many views, likes, etc. that I receive on each new upload.
I do have a wonderful support system including friends and family who have helped to get the word out and until I have time to create a Photography website, this social platform is helping greatly!
2. A. Do you feel that these platforms have increased your business’ scope?
Yes! I know I need to start advertising in different ways, but while I am trying to figure out how to manage all the work coming in, this is perfect. I actually received an e-mail from Facebook after hitting 50 likes offering $50.00 off of a Facebook advertisement but to use it I have to submit credit card information which takes over automatic payments after the $50.00 credit is used. I am going to hold off on this until I research further.
Facebook does have limitations for me though, such as: my price lists are actually images uploaded to a picture album which is hard to locate on the site; I also can’t accept payments (to my knowledge) unless I request e-mail addresses and send an invoice through PayPal.
B. Do you feel as though you are getting more jobs due to using social media to promote your business?
Yes. So far, clients have been family, friends and friends of friends. Like I said before, word of mouth is just wonderful but I do believe it’s the online networking between friends that allow those people to see my work and then ask about me. Facebook is also great because there is a built-in e-mail system to send a quick message or question. I have my cell phone number listed as well but so far people seem to lean towards e-mail.
3. If you are using more than Facebook, which platform do you feel has the greatest reach for your business?
For my Photography business, I am exclusively using Facebook. However, I do have a custom Stationery Business online as well. It’s through an ETSY site and the link to that is: StationeryBliss.Etsy.com. Etsy is a large handmade e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items as well as arts and craft supplies. Many people know of ETSY and go there to find new shops offering the goods they cannot create themselves. I find that it’s a wonderful site but since there are such a large number of private businesses, my shop gets lost or overlooked in searches. I have a Facebook page for the stationery as well and actually have a twitter page too, although I spend less time keeping up with those. My stationery is something I do in my spare time because I love design and custom products; any sales are just a nice little bit of income.
4. Have you been featured in any traditional media? (newspaper, radio, etc.)
5. Have you been featured on a blog of any sort? If so, do you have a link to that post?
This is the first feature I have had and it’s funny because it happened through networking of my social media site!
6. Why do you think social media is a good fit for your business?
I’ve seen it work! It’s only been a few months since I “officially” started my business and it’s going great! I think people will always want photos taken for multiple reasons and I’m sure clientele will build on itself naturally over time but as a starting point, Facebook has just been incredible. It helps that my business specifically has a finished product that needs to be viewed to enjoy and cherish. I think it would be different if it was some type of service where the end product was not easily seen.
7.How much time do you spend in a week promoting your business on various social media platforms?
I try and post a few photos after each session to keep my page live in the feed, so at least a few times a week. I do however spend a huge amount of time checking e-mails, responding through Facebook, checking updates to previous posts and viewing results and comments on my work. My husband would probably say I am attached to my phone
8.Or, are you purely an organic user – you allow social media to do the ‘talking” for you (as it should be to a certain extent) – do you just allow others to post and comment on your work, or do you actively promote?
I try to post new photos in the feed (especially if I have a certain type of session that I haven’t posted before, such as a maternity, engagement or wedding…coming soon!)
Mindy made some excellent points during our conversation. Facebook can do a lot, but it can’t do everything. A payment system through Facebook might make things more streamlined, but for now, a supplemental system such as PayPal is necessary to accept online payments. Of course, in a situation such as Mindy’s, where you must meet your clients face to face, cash and checks work, but if you are going to be shipping product, PayPal or something similar is a must.
Another valid point made by Mindy is that while much of social media can be utilized for free, it is often quite time consuming. If you are just getting started, this is a fantastic way to promote your business, but as many of TKG’s Web Marketing clients have found, it can also become bigger than you. Be sure to budget your time. Decide how much time is necessary to devote to social media, so that it doesn’t take over your life beyond what your plan. Mindy also points out that social media can even make your business grow a little faster than you had anticipated. Be ready for a lot of action, pretty quickly if your product or service really takes off.
If you have a home based business you are running or promoting (or both) with social media, we’d love to hear from you!