Turning Frustration into Fuel: Harnessing Change and Growth in Your Photography Business with Fiona Margo

Pricing your business is about the numbers, sure, but it’s also about your emotions. Self-worth, imposter syndrome, uncertainty – all of those things can play a part when deciding on your pricing structure for your photography business. But what if there was a simple way to align your pricing?

In today’s episode, I’m interviewing Fiona Margo, an adventurous photographer in the Seattle area, who shares how she uses resentment to measure her pricing packages (yes, you read that right), how to create a marketing plan that works, and whether or not Instagram is still a viable marketing tool. 

Also, if you’re not serving your ideal clients, if you’re not getting inquiries, if you’re not booked out, think about new and creative ways to market your business, not only online but in your local area. This will help you boost your visibility and create the business that you want. 

What’s in this episode:

  • [03:47] Fiona is very specific about pricing and location on her website so that clients know exactly what they’re getting when they book a photo session
  • [08:44] Fiona’s advice on creating a marketing plan, how to tweak it when you’re not getting the results you wanted, and if Instagram is still worth the effort for creators
  • [12:46] How to get more involved in your community and boost your visibility as a local business
  • [14:02] How Fiona’s photography business works and how she makes it profitable (and the answer might surprise you!)
  • [18:15] Some advice for when you’re not getting inquiries or not serving your ideal clients and feeling stuck in your business, plus tips on pricing your business
  • [31:50] Fiona shares her best practices of building an email list

Tune in to this episode for tips on pricing and marketing your photography business.

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Want to put an end to awkward moments in your photo sessions and create genuine connection? Download The Storyteller’s Toolkit today, featuring 200+ emotive photography prompts, so you’re never left wondering what to say. 

Meet Fiona 

Since 2011, Fiona Margo has been providing adventure, family and lifestyle newborn photography to fun loving, adventurous and snuggly families in Seattle and beyond. She’s passionate about helping other family photographers market their business effectively. She’s previously been an instructor at the Unraveled Academy and has taught workshops about family and newborn photography from Waco, Texas, to Seattle, Washington. She also hosts her own podcast, The Family Photography Marketing Podcast.

Connect with Fiona

Visit Fiona’s Website

Follow Fiona on Instagram

Did this episode inspire you to check in with yourself and how your pricing makes you feel? Check out this episode Pricing Strategies and Mindset Shifts for a Profitable Photography Business with Jane Goodrich that offers you even more insight on finding alignment in your business!


[00:00:00] Fiona Margo So I run my business off of one main emotion, and that’s resentment. And so within pricing, I think what happens to people is they get stuck into what they should do or what everyone else is doing, and it doesn’t actually work for them and they feel resentful and that automatically leads to burnout. So for me, when I’m getting packed up for a session and I’m leaving for that session and I do the work and I come home and I edit and I feel like I am fairly compensated, I’m happy with my pay. That is the best indicator for me. And no one else can give me that insight. I have to look internally for that and so I know when I get in my car, I packed my backpack and I’m heading to a session and I feel resentful about that work. It’s time for me to check in about my pricing. So that’s that’s kind of the arrow to which I decide how I should be priced or not. 

[00:00:50] Lisa DiGeso Welcome to the Art and Soul Show, where we dive into heart opening chats on photography, business life, and that messy in-between. I’m your host, Lisa DiGeso, mom, a photographer and entrepreneur, and I’ll be sharing honest conversations and advice for photographers with insight on mindset, entrepreneurship and creativity. The goal of this podcast is for you to be able to gain insights and strategies that will get you real results. Because let’s face it, having a photography business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the place you can go when you need a boost of encouragement, a kick in the pants and inspiration to pick up your camera. This is the art and soul show. Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome back to the show today. I’m super excited to dive into today’s conversation with Fiona Margo. Since 2011, Fiona has been providing adventure, family and lifestyle newborn photography to fun loving, adventurous and snuggly families in Seattle and beyond. She’s passionate about helping other family photographers market their business effectively. She’s been previously an instructor at the Unravel Academy and has taught workshops about family and newborn photography from Waco, Texas, to Seattle, Washington. She hosts her own podcast, The Family Photography Marketing Podcast, and I was first introduced to her by a dear friend, Colie James. So I’m super excited to dive into today’s conversation without further ado. Welcome, Fiona. 

[00:02:20] Fiona Margo Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. 

[00:02:24] Lisa DiGeso So tell us who you are and what you’re passionate about beyond that bio. 

[00:02:30] Fiona Margo Sure. So I’m also a mom. My girls are 13 and 11, and I live on an island near Seattle, which is kind of a unique lifestyle. And then my husband is a firefighter, so he has a unique schedule. So I’ve been able to build my business around his schedule and spend a lot of time with my girls. And so when I’m not doing photography, I love to work out at the gym and hang out with them. So, yeah, it’s a very fun life here on this island of mine. 

[00:02:57] Lisa DiGeso I love it. Well, I actually grew up in Vancouver Island, so just like slightly north and northern and Canadian. So I love that. So do you find that you do most of your work on the island or does it bring you over to the mainland? 

[00:03:10] Fiona Margo So most of the work I do is up in the mountains. So there’s two main mountain ranges I use. One is on my side of the water where I don’t have to take a ferry. And then the other mountain range is on the other side of the water. So one of the transitions I’m in right now is realizing that I have been spending a lot of time driving. So I just opened up a natural light studio on the island. It’s the only one here, so I’m very excited about that. So I’d say that I’m transitioning to do more local work, but really before now, most of my work has been in Seattle or in the mountains, so it’s been really fun, but definitely haven’t been a local local photographer. 

[00:03:47] Lisa DiGeso I love it. Well, you know, it’s funny because I always do such a deep dive when I go to interview and get questions ready for my podcast guests. And I love your website and how you got everything laid out specifically on location and price. So clients know exactly what they’re booking or where they’re going and what they’re getting. Can you share a little bit how you came up with this model, how you’ve built like I’m sure you’ve probably built travel in there and how it works for you? 

[00:04:14] Fiona Margo Sure. So yes, I’m very particular about my website actually built that out myself with a template, took me like 12000 hours, but it’s worthwhile for me to have that control. So yeah, I feel like a lot of photographer websites can be overly confusing and hard to navigate. And so I like to think about my website like a little road that someone’s driving on in a car and I want them to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for easily. And so clients are so much smarter than we think they are. So I want them to give them all the information so that I don’t have to have 50 emails back and forth with them. So that is kind of how I designed the website and then the work basically before the adventure stuff, I was just doing a lot of shoots in local parks and then I kind of had this idea of like, what if I could create art that looked like a landscape because I live in such a beautiful place, but the family is also just within that landscape. And then because I’m this type of person, I just took it to the extreme. So a lot of my locations are so remote that it’s like an eight mile drive on a mountain dirt road with a drop off the side. And when the families get there half the time, like mom and dad are in a fight about the road. And I’m like, All right, this is energy I like, let’s go hike. So I have loved it so much. It’s been amazing. I’ve had people fly in for the sessions. So it’s been I mean, working in places like that that are beautiful, where you see deer and bear and all of that stuff is just really, really magical. 

[00:05:39] Lisa DiGeso Are you an outdoor person by nature, do you find? 

[00:05:41] Fiona Margo Yes, I am. I’ve always been that way. So what I like to do is get to my sessions about an hour early and I just solo hike. So last year I did just miles of solo hiking. And at first I was really scared to do that. And then I just decided that I really want to be able to be in those spaces too. Even as a solo woman. And so I have my bear spray and I just put my shoulders back in and hike on in, and then I hike back out and meet my clients. So it’s actually a really good workout. 

[00:06:09] Lisa DiGeso I love that so much. My husband said to me, “If you didn’t have your camera in your in your hand, I don’t know if you’d go outside.” No, you’re not wrong, sir, you are not wrong. 

[00:06:21] Fiona Margo A lot of my families aren’t outdoorsy either, but they still want to appreciate these places. And I think it’s less intimidating for them to go into them with someone who knows every inch of the trail. So it’s been fun to introduce these beautiful wild spaces to people who haven’t done a lot of hiking. And of course, I have those super hiker families as well. But I love meeting people no matter where they are. 

[00:06:42] Lisa DiGeso I think it’s just such a neat thing because it’s like beyond just going to like a field or like you’re creating sort of an experience for them, too. And I and I love that you touched on like because coming to a photography session typically is quite stressful for families. And I think that maybe photographers, we don’t talk about that enough because a lot of the times they get there and they think that they’re unique. They’re the only ones that have ever gotten in a fight on the way to a session and trying to pull the mood around. Like it’s like, no, everybody is doing that. Everyone. 

[00:07:12] Fiona Margo Totally. And the memory for me is so vital because I have been on the other side of the lens, of course, just like we all have with sessions that have gone really uncomfortably for whatever reason. And when I look at those photos, I can’t help but remember those moments. And so I want my families, even if there was stress, I mean, I feel like there’s good stressors, the stress of being like, oh my gosh, we just adventured out to this amazing place, we can rally and do this thing as opposed to parents and kids are upset and that sort of stress I want to avoid. But the adventurous stress I like because then I feel like when my families look back on these images, they remember the adventure of that day. So that’s really important to me. 

[00:07:55] Lisa DiGeso I think also because you’ve like you’ve got a very clearly that this is an adventure. Like, it’s not like we’re just going to like tip toe off into a field like right beside of the road like this. You’re booking an adventure with me and you’re very clear about that. And I think that, that clarity, you probably have a lot less people that are arriving at the session not knowing what to expect because you’ve made it very, very clear what what’s happening. 

[00:08:18] Fiona Margo Totally. And I have to I try to say like multiple times I’m like, are you comfortable with dirt roads? And then they’re often like, well, we’ve driven a few. I’m like, Well, just so you know, this one’s really steep, but you’ll be fine and you can do it. And I also like to try to encourage people to push themselves a little bit outside of their comfort zones, because I can tell that they’re shocked that they actually made it to this remote location. And I think it gives them a little bit more confidence in everything. So it’s a great to be part of that journey. 

[00:08:43] Lisa DiGeso I love that. Well, we’re going to switch gears a little bit. We’re going to start talking about some marketing. And I think so many photographers really resist having a strategic marketing plan because it can really feel icky and gross when you put your heart and soul into your marketing and it totally bombs. And to be honest, I’m speaking from experience or two. So what is your advice on creating a marketing plan when you’re not getting the results that you’re hoping for, to get back on the horse and tweak it and keep going? 

[00:09:12] Fiona Margo So I think a lot of it comes down to mindset. I like to take on a scientist mindset when I’m on Instagram and I’m marketing, so I’m not emotionally attached to whether something succeeds or fails. I’m just gathering the data from what worked and what didn’t, and then repurposing that data to better market in the future. So it’s uncomfortable that as artists we have to market, but for the vast majority of us, especially when we’re in growth phase, that’s just part of what we have to do. So it’s how do you get your head around marketing in a way that feels really good to you? I will say that one thing that people get really confused about is the first thing they try to do is chase an ideal client and then they’re in chase mode, which can feel salesy and grabby, and I have to get attention onto my brand instead of really, really focusing on your ideal session and attracting people to that with marketing strategies that are based around things that feel really comfortable for you. So my advice with marketing is it takes two things. First, consistent action and secondly, patience. And unfortunately, we can fall off on both of those because we start to market, it fails, we retreat and go quiet and we don’t try again. And so unfortunately we don’t see the fruit of that labor. And I always push back a little bit when photographers say like, Oh, I don’t have time to market. And I’m like, Well, you have a lot of time to scroll. 

[00:10:34] Lisa DiGeso Totally. 

[00:10:35] Fiona Margo So you could go on to Instagram as a creator instead of a consumer and use that time really, really efficiently. 

[00:10:43] Lisa DiGeso I love that with being in like a little bit more intentional to scroll because it’s so funny. You do, you do just like end up picking up your phone. When you’re like, What am I even doing right now? Why is this even in my hand? Right. I love that idea of looking at as data and taking yourself out of that. Now, something that’s been a lot of a lot of things I’ve been hearing in a lot of our groups is that Instagram’s changing. They’re getting less views and they’re just like everyone’s just super frustrated. So what would be your advice for those that are like, Oh, it’s not worth the effort? Is it still worth the effort? And should they be using this as a marketing technique? 

[00:11:17] Fiona Margo So I think it needs to be part of an overall strategy. And unfortunately, as an industry, we haven’t shifted there. So when I started my business in 2011, Instagram, it was like not cool to use Instagram as a business. It was like pictures. It was like, Don’t do that. It was a no no. So I remember what it was like to market without that channel. And I think that the world after the pandemic and everything we’ve been through is primed to do offline marketing anyway and more in-person events and getting face to face and connecting with other people in your community. And so my nudge would be Instagram no matter what is still a great data gathering tool. If you want to test something or poll your audience or find out from potential clients why they haven’t booked you or get a poll about a location, I mean, it’s a great tool for that, but it is definitely not what it was in 2017 where for me I really booked out my entire business on that app and that is not true for me any longer and not true for most other photographers. So my advice would be limit your time there and come up with at least one marketing strategy that is face to face in person. I think that’s where we’re headed. People are craving connection so we can be a part of that in a really positive way in our own communities. The other issue with Instagram is photographers get in that thing where suddenly most of the people that follow you are other photographers who are never going to hire you. And at the heart of who we are, we’re local businesses. So I think we need to act more local. 

[00:12:45] Lisa DiGeso Mm I love that. What ideas would you have for getting a little bit more involved in your community to be seen as a local business? 

[00:12:53] Fiona Margo Sure. So I’m in this phase. It’s kind of funny. My business is in two phases. I have the booked out outdoor work that I booked mostly off a Black Friday sale. That’s been my booking strategy for the past five years or so. And then my studio is new and I’m in that growth phase just like everyone else. So what I do in my studio is I host baby playdates, free baby playdates. So I open up the space. I invite mums and babies to come in. They can socialize, meet each other, the kiddos can meet each other, and then they see the space, they fall in love with it. And it’s actually been a really, really great booking strategy for me. I have another marketing student who started a Facebook group called I won’t say what it’s called because I want to ruin her idea, but it’s basically about how to meet other mom friends and she hosts a meetup in her town at a local park, like once or twice a month, and it’s hosted by and sponsored by her photography business. So taking those sort of ideas where moms can look to you as a resource in the community is a great way to immerse yourself into local marketing. And if you’re too nervous to do that, just find one other business owner who shares an ideal client or ideal type of person that you’re serving and see if you can collaborate. 

[00:14:02] Lisa DiGeso I love that. Now I know that you don’t do in person sales and you are a thriving, successful business. And girl, you are speaking my language. So I want to hear more about that because I think there is this misconception in our industry, and it has been for years that there is literally only one way to have a profitable and successful business. And we both know that is not true. So I would love for you to share how your business works and how you make it profitable. 

[00:14:27] Fiona Margo So I run my business off of one main emotion and that’s resentment. And so within pricing, I think what happens to people is they get stuck into what they should do or what everyone else is doing and it doesn’t actually work for them and they feel resentful and that automatically leads to burnout. So for me, when I’m getting packed up for a session and I’m leaving for that session and I do the work and I come home and I edit and I feel like I am fairly compensated, I’m happy with my pay. That is the best indicator for me. And no one else can give me that insight. I have to look internally for that and so I know when I get in my car I packed my backpack and I’m heading to a session and I feel resentful about that work. It’s time for me to check in about my pricing. So that’s kind of the arrow to which I decide how I should be priced or not. 

[00:15:13] Lisa DiGeso Oh my gosh, you just blew my mind because it’s so true. It’s it’s absolutely because I do it. I get these ones and I’m just like, that was not worth it. That was not worth it. And I am so resentful that I have to go not spend time with my family and and go sit in front of the computer. But you’re so right. If you take resentment as your measuring tool. That’s brilliant. I love that. 

[00:15:39] Fiona Margo Yeah. And it works across many forms of this job. Like the type of clients that you’re working with. Like, I got into this thing for a while where I was doing, like, extended family sessions, and I noticed that there was always seem to be like one male figure who is like trying to control it. And I was like, How do I get away from this guy? And I couldn’t figure out how to get away from him. So I just said, I’m no longer doing extended family sessions. And that is perfectly okay to say. I mean, I feel like sometimes, especially as women, we struggle with laying a boundary and I have a lot of boundaries within my business. If a client says, you know, my kiddos, they don’t want to stay up so late, So could you meet us at 5 p.m. in July? I’m like, No, because you’re going to end up resentful. I’m going to end up resentful. It’s not going to end well. And I feel like those boundaries have only increased my growth. 

[00:16:25] Lisa DiGeso It’s so true. I was really feeling resentful with it’s always been men, I don’t know why. It’s like the dads at like family sessions. It got to the point where I actually decided I’m like, I’m not doing family sessions anymore. Like, this has become too painful to deal with them that I don’t want to do these. And I’m like, Well, would feel better. I’m like, What if I added motherhood sessions? What if I like, eliminated men? And I was like, I’m really sorry, dudes, if you’re listening, but I’ve had some really crappy experiences.  

[00:16:54] Fiona Margo I had a whole I had a whole post last year that got a lot of attention where I was just like, You are no longer welcome. Like you are no longer welcome in my brand. I don’t know what you’re. I’m a psychology major, so I’m always trying to figure out what it is. And my main theory is that moms are very used to vulnerably parenting their children in front of other people and dads aren’t. And so when you put them in front of a camera and kids start doing things, they just get so frustrated because they don’t want to be seen parenting. This is my theory, and I mean, I understand it, but at the same time, like now, it even says on my website, like, who do you work with? 

[00:17:30] Lisa DiGeso I know!

[00:17:34] Fiona Margo I say, do not show up if you’re a grumpy dad. And in my studio, it’s no dads. I do motherhood, babies under one, maternity. 

[00:17:40] Lisa DiGeso I’m like, Oh my goodness, I love it. You’re doing exactly what was in my head that I’ve been too scared to do. And I love this conversation. Yeah, this gives me permission to do it. 

[00:17:52] Fiona Margo Totally, because there’s people who, like I have friends who they’re like, Oh, I just I love dads. I love, like, the work of bringing them around. And I’m like, I don’t love that work. Like, that is not what I’m here to do. I want to just have them be present. Yeah. 

[00:18:05] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. Like sometimes when I get the dad who’s like, super into it and, like, I’m just, like, bring me more of your friends. Like, I love it. Oh, dear. So can you maybe give advice on those that might be struggling to get inquiries? Maybe they’re just kind of just feeling a little bit stuck in their business. 

[00:18:25] Fiona Margo So, I mean, I think that the majority of people feel stuck because they feel like they don’t have anything to show in terms of what I’ve talked to with other photographers. So they have this idea of how they want to be perceived as a photographer. But the sessions they’ve been taking on are not aligned, and so they don’t have any motivation really to show those sessions. So my advice is always to do a few creative projects or model calls that you have full creative control over. Not only does that really raise your confidence, but it gives you something that you’re excited about marketing, and then that excitement can kind of lead to systems and habits within marketing that you can then roll forward with other sessions. So if someone’s stuck, I. I say, first of all, you need to figure out what you were trying to book in the next 3 to 6 months, because people are often showing sessions and focusing on sessions that they’re no longer booking. So then a client says, Oh, wow, I love these sessions that you just posted, and you’re like, Oh, well, I’m no longer doing those, but how about these? And then you get into that uncomfortable selling because now you’re trying to sell them on something they haven’t seen. So a strategic plan based around the type of sessions that you like to do. And the hardest thing for my marketing students to really comprehend is the amount of times that people have to see things to actually see them. So it’s psychologically back that it’s about 7 to 10 times. So the overall thing that keeps people quiet when they’re marketing is they worry about being annoying. We don’t want to worry about being annoying. We just want to keep showing up. I do this thing of this pattern of like give, give, give, ask. So you’re when you’re in your stories or you’re posting three of your posts are just fun and educational and helpful and hand-holding, but you have to make sure you have one in there that actually ask people to get on your calendar. And that’s what a lot of photographers are missing. 

[00:20:05] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, because they just assume that you’re going to post, post, post. And then they’re like, Oh, of course I want that. And that’s not how it works. 

[00:20:14] Fiona Margo No, and it’s okay. It’s perfectly okay to ask because people are following your business. They want to know how to get on your calendar. So you have to make that as easy as possible. Yep. 

[00:20:23] Lisa DiGeso And I noticed on your website because I am so nosy that I was like, you can’t book you can’t book any of your sessions right now because you had said that you book out at Black Friday. But I think that’s like psychologically, that’s probably really in your benefit too, because they’re like, oh, she’s, she’s so booked that I can’t get in and now I need to get on a waitlist. So when she does have an availability, I’m of course going to take that session regardless of what it’s going to cost me. 

[00:20:48] Fiona Margo Exactly. So the scarcity has worked really well for me. A lot of photographers jump into that booking model too quickly when they when the scarcity is not truly there and then the clients can see through, oh, you don’t you’re not actually having a problem with availability. So it’s about building up to that. But yeah, I found that that works really well. And not only do I create a waitlist, but I also create a referral network. So once you’re kind of booked out, then you can find other photographers you can send them to. And seeing fellow photographers as friends and colleagues instead of competition has been really, really beneficial to my business as well. 

[00:21:23] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, I love that. I think I fully believe. I think together we’re better. And it’s so much better to have like an arsenal of all these amazing other artists you can send people to locally. And I think that just it’s great. Like we’re all magic in different ways. 

[00:21:37] Fiona Margo Yeah. My friend Lauren and I hosted a family photographer picnic in Seattle, and we had all these photographers come and everyone wore flowy dresses and it was that golden hour, and we had all these picnic spreads and then everyone was just taking headshots. And then, you know, they’re in a group chat that I’m in as well, and they’re setting up sessions with each other and they have all these great ideas and that helps everyone. And everyone’s always so worried like, Oh, there’s this person in the community that’s not charging enough. Well, what’s going to make her charge more, shaming her or bringing her into a community and helping her see her worth? And so I’m a much bigger fan of the latter. 

[00:22:13] Lisa DiGeso Oh, preaching to the choir. I love that. Now, for many new photographers, speaking of quote unquote competition, they look down the block to see what the other photographer is charging. They pick a price and they just stay there. Can you maybe share your advice on getting away from that and any advice you might have on pricing yourself to be able to create a profit? 

[00:22:33] Fiona Margo I mean, it’s the pricing is so individual for every person. And so it’s you know, there’s definitely people who I would never say like, oh, no, nobody can run a business. Everyone is welcome to run the business however they want to. But I would say that especially for women, it can be really scary to step into a place of charging what you’re worth and then having to have feedback about that. So I would say that before you go, before you raise your prices, you need to have a little chat with yourself about your own self worth, and that’s going to help you too. You know, it’s always those little comments or negative things that people say that can really hurt our ability to go to the next level. I mean, I just always have this idea like I am valuable and I feel like photographers are not saying that enough. And so my advice would be, don’t look down the street at all. I feel like for the vast majority of new photographers in the first couple of years of their business, they have to really, really protect their brain around comparison and self doubt. And oftentimes that means putting blinders on and that’s perfectly okay. So I always want to give people permission that you can be like, I’m not going to look at what everyone else is doing. And then once you get confident in your own processes and your own pricing, then you can open yourself up more. But it definitely needs to be about going back to that idea of resentment. If you are making profit that you want to make. I always do a dream board every year, so I want to make sure that I’m making enough to actually conquer the dreams on that dream board. And that is so personal to me. So my advice would just be really, really focus on your own self-worth first, and that will allow you to raise prices as you need to. 

[00:24:03] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, I love that. It’s so true, I think and it’s funny when it comes down to self value because like there has been times where it has been so directly tied, like my self-worth to the amount I’m charging. And like currently I’ve actually I’m taking a sabbatical from my photography business because it was getting to the point where I’m like, I am so drastically under charging and I am so resentful that I need to shut this entire thing down right now because this is a hot mess that I need to fix. And so I’ve just been taking that break and this time just even figure out what do I want from this business, but how like my self-worth and value was tied to the amount I was charging was actually really scary when I started to shine a light on that totally. 

[00:24:45] Fiona Margo That’s why being a creative artist, business owner is like the hardest combination because you’re creating something vulnerable. The way that we’re marketing, we’re throwing it immediately out for everyone to look at and judge, and then we’re trying to put a price on it. I mean, it’s nearly impossible to do it without having a lot of big feelings. So having a support system or having a way that you can check in with yourself and be like, okay, this is okay and it’s okay to try things. And if they don’t feel aligned, you can you’re in control. You can always back things off or try something new. So I feel like the freedom to try until you figure out what makes you feel really excited when you get in the car, really excited when you send the invoice, that joyful feeling when it’s paid. That is what we’re going for with pricing. 

[00:25:26] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, joy chasing, I love that. Now a lot of times we hear about people inquiring and then ghosting and so you just don’t hear anything back. Do you have any advice on someone maybe who’s dealing with getting a situation where they’re just not booking, even though they’re getting inquiries? 

[00:25:41] Fiona Margo I would say that for the vast majority of photographers I talked to in that specific scenario, it’s because they’re booking process is overly confusing. So if you think about like I went to Best Buy the other day to buy a card and the guy was telling me about these chips that people can put in their hands now and you just scan your hand over the card reader. It’s the chip that’s in your debit card and they implanted in your hand. So you have people paying like that and then you have us and we’re like, okay, what you need to do is go to seven links, fill out 400 forms. It’s just we made it too complicated. And so if you have a trustworthy brand and what that means is that you are able to produce a consistent portfolio of work so that if you have a client in front of your lens, you’re going to be able to produce a portfolio that looks like what you have on your site. That’s a trustworthy brand. You can make your booking process so much simpler. So I personally love online booking, and when I book my Black Friday sale, the people that book, many of those people I’ve never talked to before, they book in the site, but they’re still ideal because I’ve created so many resources on my website that someone can bounce all around within my brand and feel supported and empowered so that they are ready to book. But more than often, what it is that I see is like, Here’s a session and then I go to the website and it’s really confusing and then I have to fill out a really long and people are just not going to do that. So I would say definitely work on simplifying the booking process for sure. 

[00:27:08] Lisa DiGeso For me. There was a time when I did try to switch into like, what is it, session fee, and then do like packages and do prints. And I just found for my clients there was such confusion. And I think also I might have been confused. And I think as if if you don’t really believe in what you’re selling and how you’re selling it, it’s just not going to work. 

[00:27:28] Fiona Margo Totally. And I mean, my sessions are I mean, you don’t get any more complicated in terms of what you have to do for a session than like one of my mountain sessions. Right. But people are still feeling so supported by what’s on my website and the consistency they see in my portfolio that they’re like, okay, I will sign up for this where I’m going to drive on an unknown dirt road up in the mountains and possibly run into a bear, but like, let’s do it. And that’s before they ever even talk to me. So I do know that it’s possible. 

[00:27:53] Lisa DiGeso Completely. When I was on your website, I was like, Ooh, which of these locations do I book? I’m like, I don’t know, I think I would like… I wonder if she’s available, though. I was like, okay, I was trying to find questions for a podcast. And now I’m thinking about an especially great website. 

[00:28:12] Fiona Margo Thank you. Well, that means a lot. I work hard, but yeah, I mean, we have this story, we can draw people into it. I love when websites feel very handholding for clients so that as they’re if you think about anything you’ve bought, you know, your biggest fear is that you’re going to hire someone and the work that you get is not going to be the work that you’ve fallen in love with. So the more we can help them see it’s not going to be like that, the faster and easier they’re booked. 

[00:28:35] Lisa DiGeso Totally so true. So, so many of our photographers get really stuck serving clients that are not in alignment with what they want to do. And we’ve talked a little bit about this, too. What is your advice if they’re feeling stuck with who they’re serving and they’re not happy? 

[00:28:52] Fiona Margo I would just say what is needed there is better boundaries because any time that I have, you know, I have had a couple of clients this year where they’ve come in to my brand and I always know when they are sending me emails with a lot of questions. I know that truly they may be looking for something that they want me to provide that I’m not going to provide for them. Right? So I’ve had like the extended family I talked about that when someone like that comes in, I know I’m not going to serve them well, and sometimes they’ll try to convince me otherwise. And that’s when I’m like, Ooh, I got to be careful here because I could say yes and then feel resentment. And so I think the more you can know yourself as an artist, which comes with consistency and time and that word patience again, the more you can set the boundaries and then again start to attract people in, instead of trying to mold people into something that neither of you really wants. So if someone is really stuck with a clientele base that they don’t love, I would just encourage them to write down exactly what they don’t love about their current work, what they do want to do, and then slowly transition over to the other body of work. 

[00:29:58] Lisa DiGeso I think there’s a huge fear around like quote unquote, firing a client. I like to call it just releasing them with love. Just they can go on and find someone else who’s going to serve them a lot better than I will. But I think, like, there’s just such a fear, especially when we see with our students that even like because someone wants to pay you, you need to take their money regardless of how they’re going to treat you and how the experience is going to be. Can you talk a little bit on that and how you advise your students with that? 

[00:30:23] Fiona Margo So, I mean, I think it’s just about really, really clear communication and that confidence to know that this is how you can best serve them. Because like, for example, I had someone come in through online booking and they made this comment that was kind of a red flag for me. They said, Yeah, well, with our children, when we want them to look at the camera, we keep having to incorporate all these toys to get them to look at the camera. And I was like, Whoa, that sounds totally different about how to how I run my session. So I was like, Hey, just want to stop right there and explain my, you know, process is very play based that we’re not trying to get people to look at the camera. And she was like, Oh my gosh, I feel so much better because from every experience she’s had prior, that has been the the one goal is to get these kids to look at the camera. So there is an education piece there that needs to be done. And it’s okay to have a lot of front end education around your brand. And if you’re going to go on Instagram and you’re going to just post something, why not post something that’s hand-holding and helpful, especially if you’re in a transition spot. So if you’re like, Man, I keep getting these people that want these really stiffly posed sessions, you have to stop showing those. You just do. 

[00:31:29] Lisa DiGeso Preach it, girl.  

[00:31:30] Fiona Margo Yeah, because it’s confusing if I say, Well, what do you mean? I just saw ten of them on your Instagram. 

[00:31:36] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, it’s like I just needed something to post it. No, don’t do that. Don’t do that. Strategic. 

[00:31:44] Fiona Margo Strategic marketing of what you what you want to book in the next 6 weeks to three months is the way to go. 

[00:31:50] Lisa DiGeso So can we talk a little bit about the importance of photographers building an email list? And because I know that the Wild West days of just posting on Facebook and Instagram are completely gone. So what advice do you have for getting started with the email list? 

[00:32:04] Fiona Margo Well, first you need a better call to action than join my newsletter because nobody wants to join your newsletter, unfortunately. So the latest idea that I’ve been talking with my students about is kind of a series on being a local expert. So if you think about you are serving people in your community with kids, what if you came up with an email sequence that was like, you know, all the best things to do in your town for kids under ten? And that was the email sequence where parents could find out about that. And that whole email sequence was sponsored by your brand. That’s really easy for them to forward to friends, which spreads the word. You become seen as a local experts for family with kids, which is what you already are. So someone’s going to be much more likely to tune into that type of email sequence than just join a random newsletter. And every once in a while I’ll blast out my availability so you can build a local sequence about how you can help these families find the best things to do in the summer. Another idea we came up with was like date nights for mom and Dad. And you can even go to those businesses and say, Hey, I’m posting about your business. Here’s what I’m doing. In the beginning. It’s so much about just boots on the ground and figure out how to get your face in front of as many people. At the end of that email sequence, you can say, Hey, thanks so much for following along. By the way, here’s my summer availability. You’re going to get such a better response from that than just asking generically for people’s email addresses. So there does need to be, again, a little bit of strategy there. 

[00:33:30] Lisa DiGeso So smart. Love that. You’re a  local hero. I love it. Are you ready for our lightning round? 

[00:33:37] Fiona Margo Yes. 

[00:33:38] Lisa DiGeso Okay. Coffee or tea? 

[00:33:40] Fiona Margo Okay. Well, I just started drinking coffee this year, which, for a Seattle area person is so rare. So I have to say coffee now. But it used to be tea. 

[00:33:50] Lisa DiGeso Most luxurious vacation you’ve ever been on? 

[00:33:53] Fiona Margo We went to a Club Med in Cabo, which was amazing. It was really fun. 

[00:34:00] Lisa DiGeso Favorite TV show as a kid? 

[00:34:02] Fiona Margo As a kid? oh, my gosh. My parents didn’t let me watch TV when I was little, so I don’t even really have one. Probably, Arthur. 

[00:34:09] Lisa DiGeso Yeah, that’s funny. Last thing you did for yourself as an indulgence? 

[00:34:16] Fiona Margo Well, it’s not really an indulgence, but I spend a lot of time at the gym, and I never feel guilty about really, really long, hard workouts. So I never let anyone tell me I can’t do that. 

[00:34:28] Lisa DiGeso What did you want to be when you grew up? 

[00:34:30] Fiona Margo I wanted to be an interior designer. 

[00:34:35] Lisa DiGeso Ohh. Favorite movie? 

[00:34:37] Fiona Margo Legends of the Fall. 

[00:34:39] Lisa DiGeso Oh, good one. Yeah. Vintage Brad. 

[00:34:43] Fiona Margo I love him. 

[00:34:46] Lisa DiGeso What’s for dinner tonight? 

[00:34:47] Fiona Margo Taco salad. 

[00:34:49] Lisa DiGeso Oh, nice. This is probably an easy one, but oceans or mountains, and why? 

[00:34:54] Fiona Margo Oh, it has to be mountains. I just love being up high and seeing so many different things from up there that have to be the answer. 

[00:35:02] Lisa DiGeso I love that. Which it’s funny because I just had an interview with a girl before you who is from Florida and she’s like oceans all the way, and she like, does all ocean photography. So I just love I mean, that’s cool. What is something you’ve accomplished as an adult that your younger self would be proud of?

[00:35:19] Fiona Margo Raising really confident young girls. That was always my goal as a mom. And so I’m really proud of their confidence and kindness. 

[00:35:28] Lisa DiGeso I love that. When do you feel most authentically yourself? 

[00:35:33] Fiona Margo Probably just hanging out with my kids in the backyard, watching my husband mow the lawn. I’m glad I don’t have to do it. I’m so glad he’s doing it. We’re just chilling. That’s probably my favorite. 

[00:35:48] Lisa DiGeso What’s been the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given? 

[00:35:52] Fiona Margo Probably just not comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle. 

[00:35:57] Lisa DiGeso It’s a good one. What advice do you have for someone just starting out? 

[00:36:02] Fiona Margo Put boundaries up right away. And probably with your family. 

[00:36:06] Lisa DiGeso Yeah. If there’s a family event, don’t bring your camera. Exactly. Where can our listeners learn more from you? 

[00:36:15] Fiona Margo Well, mostly just on my Instagram. I spend a lot of time there. So it’s @fionamargo and I post about my sessions there and then I have actually just started the little Instagram subscription, which has been really fun. So I have mini marketing school and we talk about all the things I talk about in my podcast. So yeah, that’s the main place I am these days. 

[00:36:36] Lisa DiGeso I love that we don’t have that in Canada yet. Oh, it’s fun. Subscription. Yes. I know. Well, I love to end my interviews just with this last question. And it is what are you currently curious about or artistically curious about? 

[00:36:49] Fiona Margo Well, I am like one third of the way through a book I’m writing, so I’m really trying to focus this year on getting halfway through. I’m like a sloth, but I’m like, I’m going to get there eventually. So that’s what I, any time I have a little bit of free time, I actually like to voice memo it to myself in the car. So it’s been really fun to see that story come together. 

[00:37:11] Lisa DiGeso I love it. Is that nonfiction? Fiction? 

[00:37:14] Fiona Margo It’s like a post-apocalyptic story, of course, from the point of view of an eight year old little girl. So it’s been really, really fun too. It’s based in the Pacific Northwest. And yeah, it’s just a little dream I’ve always had of doing that. And so we’ll see what happens. But yeah, it’s been fun. 

[00:37:29] Lisa DiGeso I love it. That’s so exciting. I can’t wait to read it. Well, Fiona, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.  

[00:37:42] Fiona Margo You too. Thank you so much for having me. I had so much fun. 

[00:37:45] Lisa DiGeso Oh my beautiful friends. I hope you have loved this conversation just as much as I have. And I’m sending you so much of my light and my love today and every single day. We will see you next time. Thank you so much for listening to the Art and Soul show. If you’re the kind of person that likes helping others, please share this podcast with your photographer friends. Sharing is caring, and it’s our mission to help as many photographers create a business and life they are truly passionate about. I’m here to support you on your journey, and if you have any questions, topics, or guests you would love to hear from, please shoot me a note at lisa@themilkyway.ca and we may even feature your question in an upcoming episode. 

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  1. Xiao on August 16, 2023 at 5:22 pm

    thank you for sharing, I really learn a lot from this interview!

    • Erin on August 17, 2023 at 6:29 am

      This makes me so happy to read. I loved this chat as well especially the part about how she uses resentment to measure her pricing packages. It makes so much sense! Thanks for tuning in and sharing 🙂 – Lisa

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