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  • lets talk about running a retouching business.

    There are a few photographic groups in my area, and there is even a group of retouchers in my area. P.A.T. Photographic Artists of Texas. At least twice a year I hold a workshop on digital retouching. Usually I focus on technique, but the last one I focused (no pun intended) on how I ran my business. I actually got more out of that workshop than I had hoped. I realized that I was starving for information about business practices for a retoucher.

    Well, it would seem now that I have found another source to satisfy my need.

  • #2
    You are lucky to have others around that you can share ideas with in person. I sometimes think I'm all alone in this world when it comes to face to face contact with other retouchers.

    I am just starting in my business and so far I'm content to let the business grow in it's own way - each job so far has suggested possibilities for more business. I also learn from each job.

    I'm getting quite a bit of work from some scrapbooking friends and one big job from a family member that wanted a collage for a 40th wedding anniversary.

    I look forward to sharing with you on the business aspects of this gig.

    Margaret

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    • #3
      I have been in photography all my life. It is the only field I have ever help a job in. I started my own business in 1998, and so far I have been doing very well. The location of my business has helped a great deal.

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      • #4
        I'm ashamed to say that it was as recently as a month ago that I learned my local Yellow Pages had a heading for "Photo Retouching and Restoration". Since I had no interest in local business, it had never occured to me to look. I've checked the websites (for those that have them), and there samples are in-line with a lot of the work I see here.

        I have, however, been involved in the photography marketplace for a couple of decades, now. The vast majority work as small businesses, or just individuals. And that means you'll only get business from them by talking to them.

        Check your Yellow Pages, under Photographers, and also under the heading I mentioned above. Call them. They'll blow you off. Don't take it personally, that's just human nature. Take notes (I use MS Outlook's contact manager). Write down their reaction, what they said, etc. Make a notation to call them back a month or so later. They'll probably blow you off again, but again it's just human nature. They'll say "I do it myself" or "I have a guy/girl on staff" or "we use a service" or "we don't need that kind of work done". Don't take them seriously. They're not trying to mislead you, they just don't like to give out details of their business to strangers.

        But, by the 4th or 5th call, you're no longer a stranger. And once you start getting some work it will snowball as you can say "I do work for XYZ studio".

        As I said, I've used this technique now for many years in dealing with photographers and other small businesses. Perhaps one day I'll actually start using it for my retouching business
        Learn by teaching
        Take responsibility for learning

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        • #5
          I think that's a good suggestion Doug. If others are trying to break into that part of their business, and they get a bad reaction, they most likely simply give up. That makes a huge difference in the amount of competition you'll have from others trying to get their foot in the door. If you keep trying, and the others give up, guess who finally gets the shot at it.

          Ed

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          • #6
            Persistance is every thing. I do cold calls, studio walk ins, mailouts, banner adds, email mailouts, and I pay a service to register my website with search engines across the planet. Now all my business is retouching. In the past five years I have probably only done 4 restoration jobs.

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            • #7
              A thought here - when we were building our business the best thing we did was to set up a 10x10 exhibit at the "home shows" and handed out hundreds of "inquiry packages" that explained our work and what it is that we do.

              That expended into doing a few exhibits for "founders days" in stores and banks - and a few shopping center shows where we joined the local art groups in weekend exhibits.

              Haven't had to do an outside show now in nearly a decade because we have a backlog of work but we still set up for lectures in our own showroom from time to time for various clubs and organizations.

              The idea of persistence being a necessity is a very very valid point, we are still getting business from shows we did 10 years ago. We know because they bring in the dated literature with them! Most people don't move fast when it comes to having a photo restored!

              Jim Conway

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              • #8
                This is an Awesome Resource

                Greetings to all:

                I am overwhelmed about finding RetouchPro.com. Especially the retouching business networking and the challenges sections. By just reading this thread and looking at all the talented retouchers doing those challenges, I have learned so much. I have been praying to find such a resource for the past few years.

                We, as professional retouchers, must unite our efforts and finances behind such groups as RetouchPro.com.

                I have so much to say, but I can't put it here all at once! I too have experiences to share in this business. Thank God, I have grown enough with my business to be able to support my growing family. I still maintain a part-time job (4 hours/week) at a bookstore when things get to close for comfort. I also teach Photoshop for our local adult ed center (Three 7-week sessions per semester).

                Unfortunately, I currently have no health insurance. However, I am FREE and need no permission from a boss to spend time with my family, take a long lunch, pray/meditate, play my radio, take a walk, pull some weeds, plant some seeds or take a day or more off! I can also work for any client I choose, as well as their competition!

                Nevertheless, I am excited about sharing and learning with all of you. I'll leave you with a word of inspiration as a businessperson striving to provide a good, reliable service:

                "No labor of love is performed at a total loss. Those who render more service than that for which they are paid sooner or later receive pay for much more than they actually do."
                --Law of Success, Napoleon Hill

                Eric Curtis Bond
                www.abetterreality.net

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                • #9
                  Welcome to RetouchPRO Eric! I'm glad you found us! You're right - this really is a great resource and a wonderful group of people too! I look forward to all that you have to share with us.

                  Jeanie

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                  • #10
                    Welcome to Retouch Pro!! I look forward to your comments and advice! Sounds like you have a lot of good practical info to share! Tom

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                    • #11
                      Welcome!

                      Welcome, Eric! I checked out your website...wonderful photos! Such depth and color...your eye for lighting is amazing. And I like the way your "before and after" retouching samples work, with just a sweep of the mouse. Think I'll do some of that when I redo my own site (long overdue for updating). I hope you will share your experience and skills with us. I have learned so much here, and look forward to seeing more of what talented folks like you can show us.

                      Phyllis

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                      • #12
                        Hi Eric,

                        Glad to have you aboard. If I had known you were looking for a place like this, I'd have let you know long ago. If you don't already know, the site's not all about business. You can just chew the fat when the time is right.

                        Ed

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                        • #13
                          Welcome, Aric, and Welcome, Eric!

                          It's good to add new experienced businessfolks to our forum.

                          Both of your websites are very professional -- have you found that your customers still come to you from the more traditional methods of marketing, or have you begun to see new customers responding to your website?

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                          • #14
                            Photo Grafix intro

                            I greatly appreciate the responses from everyone. I haven't had much time to respond until recently due to my busy schedule. We are also on pins and needles with a baby that was due Tuesday!

                            Anyway, I haven't noticed too many customers from the website. However, I have yet to explore the marketing methods described by Aric (which are also quite interesting). I think I've had a total of 4 to 5 calls from folks who found me online. I've gotten about 2 restoration orders out of those calls. So with over 100 total retouching and restoration orders/jobs since--and 100's of images worked on--that makes a small percentage.

                            By the way, most of my marketing is a even combination of phone calls and word of mouth. Some advertising is included.

                            My web site is basically an online portfolio. My web designer handles all of it and I am always satisfied with his speedy updates and handiwork (he's affordable too!) Thanks for the compliments!

                            Eric
                            www.abetterreality.net

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