Yesterday I answered several emails from struggling real estate photographers complaining about how tough it was out there and how hard it was to compete and answered some blog post comments that suggested that what I was preaching was totally unrealistic. It takes more than that to get me off message, but I was starting to have doubts. An then came this golden email from Cal Mitchener:
Just wanted to thank you for all the knowledge & experience you disseminate via your invaluable site. I am going to gross upper 5 figures this year from my real estate photography business & I owe it primarily to you. I am making much more than I thought possible & can see the light of 6 figures in the not so distant future. I have loved photography since I was a teenager, but the idea of making a decent living with my favorite pastime seemed like a pipe dream until now. I can't thank you enough Larry, you are the best!
Thanks Cal you made my day! I'm spending more and more time helping real estate photographers get started and have developed a real passion for it so I live for successes like Cal's.
Here's the story on Cal's business:
I asked Cal what he thought was the key to his success. Here is his answer:
My goal was to be the best in class, in my market. I built relationships with all the top producing realtors and they now view me as an integral part of their marketing strategy. I bend over backwards to make them shine and the clients are usually blown away by the imagery. This in turn makes agents look great. I tell owners whenever possible how lucky they are to have an agent that understands the power of great photography. I had relationships with many realtors when I started that were willing to take free shoots to show what I could do. I now deal with over 100 agents. Built strong business with builders (I charge them more and decorators. I am soon planning to go after commercial brokers. All these need great imagery, even if they don't know it yet. My key to success: Total dedication to producing top notch work, better than competition; persistence, stressing team relationships with agents. I want to help them sell houses, the more they sell the more I shoot! I coach them on staging and help them do it. Once relationship there, they are mine.
I asked him what his biggest challenge was and here is his answer:
My biggest problem was competing with long entrenched Tour Factory photographers that had an inferior product. I had to educate agents on the power of higher quality, at higher cost. They now use me as a tool to get listings. I have taken most of the Tour Factory's cream clients and hope to get more.
I want to make a few comments about Cals success: