Bryan Caporicci is an award-winning wedding and portrait photographer based out of Fonthill, Canada. Bryan specializes in creating natural, relaxed and fun imagery. Bryan believes that portraits are about spending time together with your loved ones and creating memories in an enjoyable atmosphere. He is a Fuji X Photographer as well as the one of the voices behind the Sprouting Photographer podcast. More recently, Bryan has launched Sprout Studio, a business workflow solution, which is a standalone product not based on WordPress. However, Bryan’s photography website is a completely custom WordPress design, and there is potential for WordPess integration with Sprout Studio.
WordPress/Photography Related News:
There hasn’t been any huge news in either the WordPress or photography industries that are worth sharing. So instead, we want to share a WordPress related New Year tip. Most WordPress themes include a copyright feature in the footer. Check your site and make sure your copyright date is up to date. This is the same principal that you would do for your camera, and import presets in Adobe Lightroom.
- Did You Update All of Your Copyright Notices?
- Update Your Footer
- Canada Photo Convention
- Wedding Photographer Conversion Kit
- Set it and forget it
- Gravity Forms
- Pretty Link
- Admin Menu Editor Pro
- Clean WP Admin Menu
Where to find Bryan:
- Sprout Studio
- Sprouting Photographer
- Sprouting Photographer Profit Calculators
- Redefine Busy Series
Scott: Welcome to Episode 6. My name is Scott Wyden Kivowitz and I'm joined by my co-host, Rachel from Fotoskribe.
Rachel: Hey, Scott. How are you?
Scott: Good. We’re recording this because days after Episode 5, which is a nice thing, and not much has happened in the WordPress space in the last couple of days, which is nice. I know that Imaging USA is going on now right now, I believe.
Rachel: Yeah, and then Mystic in Portland is later this week.
Scott: Nice. There’s a lot of cool stuff. Maybe something really fun will come out of imaging for us to talk about in the next episode if it’s related to our audience. Today, we have a really fun guest again like usual. I'm really excited about this one because when I'm on his Podcast, and I know Rachel you’ve been on his podcast.
Scott: It’s a techie, geeky, nerdy discussion a lot of times.
Rachel: Right up our alley.
Scott: Which is fun because typically the podcast is not techie, geeky, nerdy. It’s more just straight to the point business. It’s fun to break off of that. Anyway, let’s talk about who we’re speaking with. Bryan Caporicci is an award-winning wedding and portrait photograph based out of Fonthill, Canada. Bryan specializes in creating natural relax and fun imagery.
He believes that portraits about spending time together with your loved ones and creating memories and enjoyable atmosphere. He’s a Fuji ex-photographer as well one of the voices and really the main voice behind the Sprouting Photographer Podcast. More recently, Bryan has launched Sprout Studio, a business work flow solution, which is a standalone product not based on WordPress. However, Bryan’s photographer website is a completely custom WordPress design and there’s potential for WordPress integration with Sprout Studio, which maybe we’ll touch on a little bit during this call, this episode.
Rachel and I have both had the honor and pleasure of being guests on Bryan’s Podcast and when we do, the conversation is always geeky and nerdy which we love. Now Rachel and I are very excited to have Bryan on our podcast where we can breakdown some WordPress technical jargon, so it’s easier for photographers to understand. Welcome Bryan.
Bryan: Hey, thanks for having me. It’s fun to have the tables turned a little bit here.
Rachel: I know. I was just going to say how does it feel to be the interviewee?
Bryan: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it’s fun. I like it.
Scott: How’s everything up in Canada?
Bryan: It’s really cold today. It’s -10 outside and we had a sheet of ice on our driveway when I woke up this morning. You walk like if someone were to watch me walking out to my car, they’d probably be like, “What is wrong with that guy? He’s walking like a crazy person.” It’s because I didn’t feel like slipping or breaking my back or something. No, it’s good. Everything is good up here.
Rachel: Have you ever done the trick where you throw the hot coffee in the air and then freeze it?
Bryan: I have, I have.
Rachel: Does it work?
Bryan: Yeah, it totally works. Yeah, it totally works. Actually, it’s hot water. If you take a good kettle of boiling water and you go inside and you throw it up in the air, it turns into mist. It’s pretty amazing.
Rachel: That’s awesome.
Scott: That’s pretty cool.
Bryan: I recommend anyone that is in cold climates to give it a shot.
Rachel: Right, if you're going to be -10 degrees, might have as well fun with it.
Scott: The way we usually do this is we talk a little bit about WordPress photography related news and then we dig in to what’s going on in your world and then talk more about WordPress.
Rachel: That’s what we like to talk about.
Scott: There hasn’t been, like I mentioned, there hasn’t been any huge news in either WordPress or photography industries since our last episode, episode 5. Instead, I want to share a WordPress topic, news related to New Year’s. It’s 2016, both themes that are out there include a copyright feature in the footer. This is basically a public service announcement, be sure to check your site and make sure your copyright is up to date.
This is also the same principle you would do for importing from camera to light room or wherever you work on your photos. In the short notes, we’ll include two really cool links, one being from my friend Aaron Hockley at Photowebo, where he shares the three different ways that you should be updating your copyright being your website, your camera and Lightroom. Then also another one called update your footer which is basically a place where if your WordPress theme does not support a copyright date, you can actually add this script into a footer widget and it will automatically update your copyright each year.
You can even have it from start of the business to whatever the current year is. It’s pretty unique.
Rachel: I saw this tip and I was like, “Wow. This is just such good timing,” because you never think of it and it will be June. You're like, “Wait it’s not 2015 anymore.” This is the time to do it. Update your footers.
Scott: Bryan, what is going on in your world? Any speaking opportunities coming up? Did you just speak somewhere? What is going on?
Bryan: Oh, you just opened up a can of worms. I just got out of a meeting this morning actually talking about this. I don’t know if I'm going to go into all the detail. We’ve got WPPI coming up obviously that I am speaking at. I'll leave it at that. There may be a blog post or an article coming out that’s in more detail of that but I'm speaking WPPI. I've got Shutterfest that I'm speaking at or exhibiting at WPPI as well, which is going to fun.
It starts for the first year for us for Sprout to be doing anything like that. I'm getting into that space of like, “Wow. What’s it like to boost and shipping and coordinating and staff,” and all the things that go along with that. It’s a whole world. It’s pretty fascinating actually. Then we’re exhibiting at Canada Photo Convention coming up in Vancouver as well.
Rachel: Awesome. Can we break it down a little bit though? Right now, you are the voice of the Sprouting Photographer Podcast, which started about a year and a half ago now? What’s the timeline on that?
Bryan: The Sprouting Photographer Podcast, now it’s January. It was March of 2014. It’s been almost two years.
Rachel: That’s awesome. We recommend it because it's a great resource for photographers for business and you touched upon all types of topics. Then from that have started Sprout Studio. Do you want to talk a little bit about what that is?
Bryan: Yeah, totally. I've been a photographer myself for about 10 years now and I've been teaching photographers about business for about six of those years. I actually co-wrote a book back in 2009 called pricing for profit, teaching photographers all about how to price their photography because most of the time, photographers don’t like business.
It was through that teaching and I've spoken, given a lot of local workshops. I've done a lot of teaching and mentoring and coaching. Over the past two or three years, I found this need for really solid business education for photographers. That’s why we started Sproutingphotographer.com, which is where we write all about the business of photography and the Sprouting Photographer Podcast. Through that process, I also discovered. Being a techie myself, I think we all share that same passion for the nitty-gritty and the optimizing things that would [inaudible 00:07:34] us here.
I realized that I'm that way, yet still running a photography business and the infrastructure and the management, and the system of doing that, still seems to be pretty complicated for me. I was using a studio management software. I was using an album proofing software. I was using Paypal for payments. I was using a gallery software. I was using all these different things and I had to go in and log in to all a bunch of different places.
It was just complicated because my bookkeeper at the end of the year says, “Let’s see your statements. Let’s see everything,” and I'm like, “I have to login over here to get this. I have to login over here to get this and I've got to go over here and do this.” I teach a lot about the customer experience and even that was really complicated because they're going to get this from this website for this software, which will look a certain way and they're going to get their invoice over here from a different software which will look at a different way. It was all over the place.
That was our inspiration to create what is now Sprout Studio. We’ve been building it for about 2 years now. It’s basically the industry’s first all in one system that combines everything that you need to do to run a photography business, which is studio management and contracts and invoices and emails and online galleries and selling and pricing and album proofing. All these things that you can somewhat do right now in 10 different pieces. We do it all in one place.
That’s what Sprout Studio is.
Rachel: That’s a standalone app and then for Sprouting Photographer, you are on a WordPress platform, right?
Bryan: Yeah, so SproutingPhotographer.com which also includes the podcast is on WordPress. Our website for Sprout Studio, basically the information site for it that explains what Sprout Studio is, is all WordPress. Our support site, we actually moved from Help Scout, which is a support platform, over to WordPress and we custom developed our own WordPress platform for our support site, and then my own photography website is on WordPress. I manage four sites on WordPress.
Scott: No, you can go. Go ahead.
Rachel: What was the catalyst for WordPress? Why?
Bryan: You have a lot of flexibility in what you can do with WordPress. I love that it’s so open concept that you can get in there and really tinker around. For the geeks like me that like to get in there and tinker with things, that’s great. Also further to that, I necessarily don’t always advocate for photographers getting in and doing all that tinkering themselves but the community of developers and designers for WordPress is probably one of the biggest communities that’s out there.
If you need help with something, if you need something designed, if you need to plug and develop or even if you're looking for an existing plugin, there’s a huge support network for WordPress. For that reason, I love it and it’s ongoing. It’s always things coming out. It’s always new things that we can do. Also to that extent, two of our designers here, sorry three of our designers here on the team are all WordPress developers.
It was obviously a very natural fit for us to be developing all of our support and marketing sites through WordPress because then we have complete control of everything.
Scott: Let’s talk about something that I know that you have a very strong view on a very … you have your site structure down pat. It is a very clean, optimized, conversion optimized site structure, something that I've talked about on your show that I've bragged about to your face sort to speak. On the last episode that I was on your show, we talked about this. Let’s talk about your site structure and how you laid it out and then basically what you recommend for wedding photographers, whether to do it the same way or finding their own way, but let’s talk about your site structure.
Bryan: Yeah, for sure. For business owners like Scott like you or Rachel, like you or like myself, we speak to and teach to and serve largely a community of other businesses. My clients for Sprout are other photographers. I still have my photography business, which is a consumer end client. Businesses like us and we’re involved in a few communities together and a few different groups. We obsess over things like copyrighting, conversion optimization, analytics, creating pipelines and those kinds of things.
We love those little nitty-gritty things where we can really get in and really be intentional about what we’re doing on the web and how we convert people. Oftentimes, photographers don’t put that same level of emphasis into or that same level of intentionality into what they're doing on the web. A lot of the times, that’s where I see photographers making mistakes on their websites is they basically say they take what is traditionally known as a website, which for many years was more or less a portfolio.
We use the web with that in mind. I think that’s a really flawed way to look at it because your website no longer is just your portfolio. I fact, I think your portfolio is like 10% of your website. Yet so many photographers, they just look at a website and they say, “Well I need to have galleries. I need to have an about page and I need to have a contact page.” That’s it. You're basically saying, “Come in and feel free to check out whatever you want. If you want if not maybe.”
No one ever clicks an about button. No one ever says, “I'd love to read the history of what this person is and how they got into photography.” No one ever does that. That’s my opinion is that I think that we need to be much more thoughtful about what we want to be doing on the web with our presence with what we’re putting up there to the world and what someone that’s coming to our website would want to see when they got there.
Scott: When you talk about funnel and as we talk about site structure, it basically always comes down to funnel, where you want people to start and end. Now, you did say if you have an about, a contact, the gallery, all that stuff, these are all great things to have but you could funnel it in your site structure in a more optimized way so that people get to where you want them to go so they contact you.
This is exactly what you did. You have basically a start here which is for you is a wedding, and I think you did engagements and business, if I recall correctly. Somebody could come into your site and they could just start with whatever their specific photography they're looking for and then you actually walk them through and about you, and galleries and contact specific to those niches in photography.
This is where I think a lot of photographers can really take the basic idea of those standard about, contact and gallery pages and enhance them because now you can add specific about content about weddings. Galleries, just weddings. Contact page with contact information about just weddings. Your accolades about just weddings. Your wedding client’s talking about you and even blog content only about weddings. There’s a lot of things you can do specifically targeting to those areas.
Bryan: I think I'm a big proponent of what’s called compartmentalizing, which is basically looking at the specific needs of who’s there on your website and trying to serve them very specifically. Obviously this could get really, really refined if you'd ask them a whole bunch of questions and then serve them just content based on their answers to their questions.
That’s a big ask to ask a new visitor to your website to say, “How are you feeling today? What is your maiden name?” There’s only so much you want to ask them. The simplest way to do that is to say, “Why are you here? Are you engaged? Looking for a wedding photographer? Did you just lose a bunch of weight and you want to get to our photos down? What is it? Tell me why you're here and then let me try and re-jig my content so that it is speaking directly to you and your needs.”
One of my pages where I talk about my style, I'm not talking about photojournalistic wedding photography to a client that’s here looking to get family portraits done. I'm now specifically to their needs.
Rachel: How do you do that within the site structure? If they come to a homepage and then they click on something and then you take them to a dedicated page because of that and that’s all done within WordPress?
Bryan: Yeah, exactly. The way that it is, is basically I have more or less a website within my own website that is designed for each compartment. My wedding website has all the pages, all the content, everything within WordPress in its own thing. The way that we set it up technically in WordPress is we have a parent page, so this level 1 page for wedding, good to our business portrait.
Then we have children pages that are all the content pages of that. Then we basically walk them through a tour that just serves up the next page within that child category.
Rachel: We should mention that’s actually pretty easy to do and if not, dependent on your theme. You can do that when you create a new page over/under the publish panel, there is a way to say, “Should this live underneath another parent?” Even as a photographer, listening to this and thinking like, “Wow that’s a lot of work to set up,” but if it converts more, then it’s definitely worth it. I could see where it would be overwhelming to just think about how to set that up.
Scott: Another thing that’s just related but not specific to this exact topic is if you have this compartmentalizing segregation set up and you have your domain.com/weddings, then you have /gallery, that is actually going to be a little bit of an SEO benefit specific to whatever the keyword you're targeting because chances you are going to look at each of those sub-URL, the /whatever, /whatever as keywords. If you optimize it correctly for search engines with content and the images and the all text, then that would be really beneficial for you search engine wise.
Bryan: That’s a great point and there’s a couple of other side benefits to doing it this way. Number one, if I'm talking with someone that I know is interested in wedding photography, I'll just send them to bcapphoto.com/weddings. I won't even send them to the domain site because I know that they already inquired to know about wedding photography. I'll send them right them.
Also that being said is it allows me to be much more specific. I know this gets away from WordPress but it gets maybe much more specific in retargeting. When I do Facebook retargeting for example, I'll retarget people that have only been to any URL that has /wedding in it and I know that is probably a bride or groom that was there looking for wedding photography and likewise for all the other categories.
As opposed to just having just a portfolio page that has different styles, I can now say, “Well anyone that went to /weddings, /anything was obviously interested in wedding photography,” so I can now serve them some specific apps.
Scott: That’s a great one too, the retargeting. Facebook ads are becoming more and more important these days, especially with how saturated the wedding market is. That’s a really nice benefit. Let’s go into a topic that I think is going to be really interesting. This came up and basically Word podcaster, you're a podcaster. I'm curious.
Bryan: I am?
Scott: You are. I'm curious and I think a lot of listeners might find this really interesting is what your opinion is and on wedding photographers or really any photographer doing podcasting for clients. It’s fairly simple to make a podcast these days, especially with WordPress. These plugins make it so simple and if you want to know how, listen to episode 1.
Rachel: Yeah, we talked all about it there.
Scott: There’s multiple ways you can do podcast. What do you think about potential positives, potential negatives to podcasting for clients?
Bryan: The three of us were very familiar with something like a smartpassiveincome.com, right? You have one or something like a John Lee Dumas or some of these entrepreneurs or these online marketers that create products, create services, create courses that teach sub-entrepreneurs how to create courses, create products to sell to their clients.
There’s this huge eco-system of entrepreneurs that create things to teach other entrepreneurs how to create things. It’s this weird self-fulfilling thing but at the end of the day, that top entrepreneur. I'm not very familiar with this space to selling to consumers, which is what we are in as photographers most of the time. There’s a bit of a disconnect. That’s why when I see the education out there or the podcast topics that are like, “Photographers you should be doing podcast for your brides and grooms.”
It’s like, “That works for guys like us and girls like us.” Well not girls like me but girls like Rachel.
Rachel: Thank you.
Bryan: That works for entrepreneurs like us that have an audience that is other business owners because I think largely podcasting is still very much a B to B space. I think that there has been a lot of breakthrough in the past little while of getting out of that B to B space with shows like “This American Life” and “Serial” and those kinds of shows. A company called Gimlet Media which is probably one of my favorite podcasts of all time startup.
Rachel: Yes, oh me too.
Bryan: Is an amazing show but they have quite a few shows actually that is now breaking out of the B to B space. They’ve got a show called Mystery …
Rachel: The Mystery Show.
Bryan: The Mystery Show or something which is like a modern day Sherlock Holmes. The podcast I just walked through how they solved these cool mysteries. It’s really fascinating. You don’t have to be a business owner to listen to that. I think there’s a lot of space being broken in there but I still think very largely if you were to ask and maybe this is just the exercise.
This is my opinion. I would recommend photographers test it themselves. If I were to ask my brides and grooms, “Hey would you listen to a podcast, a 10 episode podcast that I made on how to hire a wedding photographer, would you do that?”
Scott: Maybe not how to hire a wedding photographer but just …
Bryan: How to plan a wedding.
Scott: Or stories from photographer perspective stories from weddings. Educate on that end.
Bryan: Totally. I think 80% of them would probably say what’s a podcast because it still quite hasn’t broken into the mainstream of mainstream. It’s like the early adopters right now I think.
Bryan: You'd have maybe 10% of them that are like, “Oh yeah, I've heard of podcasts but I don’t really do much about them.” Maybe 5% of them would be like, “Oh yeah I listen to this super mainstream podcast.” Those are the techie ones, the business ones. Maybe you'd get a percent of them that would say, “Yeah I would listen to that,” or “I'd listen to one of the episodes.”
I guess I'd just look at it and I say, “If I were to ask the same question, if I were to create a course online or an email drip that showed you the same thing, the exact same thing I would put in a podcast, would you subscribe to that?” I'll bet 50-75% of my clients would say, “Yeah, I'd totally get on board with that because I know email. I'm familiar with email as a medium.” I guess because of that, and again that’s my client. My client base. Maybe if you're in Los Angeles where you’ve got a lot of tech startups and a lot of your clients are techie people, business people, maybe that’s different.
I just don’t think that podcasting as a medium is mainstream enough for the consumer market for it to be worth our effort in time.
Rachel: It’s so interesting. I think it does definitely differ with your target client, your target audience. Then I think the content. You were talking a lot about how to plan a wedding or what tips and tricks. I think that medium is in the other content marketing spaces that you recommended but I see a podcast like if you interview your local wedding venue, if you're in a small enough market, I think there’s a local need for it. Then you broadcast that. Podcast, you can broadcast it anywhere.
It’s an interesting discussion. My follow up question is what is your favorite content marketing that you recommend for photographers beyond podcasting?
Bryan: Right. I was just going to say that. As a comment to that too is about five years ago, I did this as video blogs and all that stuff was hitting the market, I did something very similar to that.
I actually set up this local networking/relationship building thing where I'd actually go out, meet with a bridal salon or a venue or an efficient or a limo company and I would go on camera and I would interview them just being like, “Hey welcome. Here we are. Welcome back. We’re sitting here with Reverend blah, blah. We’re going to ask him questions and all this.”
It was cool. I put it out there. I got them to share it. I got to share it and back then I would say that I was probably only getting 8-9% of traffic to that in comparison to what I was on my website.
Bryan: Even that, which is like Youtube. It’s huge. It’s where it lived. It lived on Youtube. Youtube is a pretty mainstream thing and even that wasn’t pulling the numbers out. I would want to get something like that.
Rachel: That’s interesting.
Bryan: Of course that could how I was executing it, how I was marketing it, whatever it was. I guess as a medium, as a platform, which was me taking the idea of doing the podcast stories, interviews, that kind of thing in a more mainstream or a channel of Youtube. It still didn’t convert, or it still didn’t get the traffic that I would want it to. If feel podcast would get even less than that.
Scott: What’s your favorite or what’s your most effective that you found content marketing wise that for your wedding clients specifically.
Bryan: I think email campaigns can work well when planned out properly. Sorry, go on.
Scott: Let’s talk a little bit about email campaign. You're talking about some freebie thing that these leads would get, right? You would have a freebie of some sort, and you would get them to this landing page where they can enter a name, email address maybe or just an email address, whatever, however, you plan. Remember, less is more when it comes to conversion rate and contact forms.
If you do a name, an email address, you potentially convert less than you will if you just do an email address. It’s all about testing. Then they give you an email address. You send them this freebie and then what happens?
Bryan: For me, the way that I've structured is I go for quality versus quantity, and that’s because my business model is a higher price, lower volume business model as a wedding photographer. I have a little sign-up thing on one of the pages of my site for weddings that I know only those that are interested are going to get to that page.
It’s not like it’s on the first page or it’s not like it’s a pop-up when they get there that everyone sees this but I make sure that those that are there are there because they're showing interest. They're showing that they want to dig deeper.
Rachel: Do you do that through WordPress? How do you do that?
Bryan: Yeah, I do it through WordPress. We use on our WordPress sites; we use an infrastructure called foundation. It’s the same thing as a Twitter bootstrap. For those that are more familiar with that, again it’s a techie thing but it comes built in with a lot of different things, and we use something. I think it’s called … what do they call it? It’s a modal that you could have popup. I think it’s called reveal modal.
Basically I just have a little link on that page that says a click here to get our tips to hire a wedding photographer. When they click it, it just pops up a popup box on top of it. I guess now that I think about it, you could use anything. You could use an opt-in monster. You could use an IceCream which is one of my picks I'll talk about later. You could use anything like that, that would just basically open up a little prompt. They put in their email address. That subscribes them to an automatic drip campaign and then they’ll get the emails over the next five weeks automatically.
Rachel: You have to create, and we should say that do you have a recommended email platform that you use outside of WordPress once you collect the email addresses?
Bryan: We use MailChimp for everything that we do. It’s great. You can set up an automation campaign that right as they subscribe, send out this email. Four days afterward, send out this email. Four days after that, if they’ve opened the previous email, then send this email.
If you can do this advanced funnel, or you could just do simple and say, “As soon as they subscribe, send this one email.” You can go as simple or as complex as you want to but again it’s looking at it again with intentionality to say what is the best way to do it? What makes sense for me? Try a few things out and go from there.
Scott: I want to talk about two products. I've got to make sure I include this in the show notes that are related to this exact topic. One being a product that I created, partnering with color bell actions called the Wedding Photographer conversion kit, which is basically talking about this exact idea like in a freebie and the whole MailChimp campaign. It gives you templates and video tutorials on how to do it all. Check that out. I'll link to that in the show notes and also Molly from Booty Shorts. Create it, set it and forget it.
Rachel: Yes, which is great.
Scott: Similar concept, and it’s an e-book that has a lot of this, a lot of sample text in it and plugins that are useful and things like that. I'm going to make sure I include those in show notes.
Rachel: I love Colorvale too. Those are both great resources and knowledgeable people in the photography space.
Scott: Let’s move on to the guest recommended WordPress. Plugins or themes? Give me your favorite plugin that you say if you had a hundred websites, you'd use these on all of them.
Bryan: There's one and it’s actually funny because I had mentioned earlier that on the team, we’ve got three different WordPress developers and designers. They all make fun of me for it because it’s something that’s I guess non-WordPress people like a lot but I already like it personally.
It’s called Admin Menu Editor Pro. Basically what it lets me do is it lets me re-arrange, hide, show whatever the sidebar and the backend of WordPress. For me for example on our Sprouts Studios Support page. The way that we’ve designed it, we actually don’t use pages because we created a new custom post type for support documents. For me to see pages at the very top on the left hand side all the time is annoying.
Using Admin Menu Editor Pro, I can actually just say, “Well I don’t ever want to see that. Just hide it for me.” You can rearrange things. You can customize them. you can rename them. You can add new icons if you want to them. It’s a really cool way to just pretty up the backend of WordPress and make it much more customized to how you use WordPress.
Scott: You could work potentially for photographers who will never use the tools section in under settings, you can just hide, and you'll never see it unless you show it again.
Scott: That’s a cool idea.
Rachel: Do you worry about that with forgetting that it’s there, in case you need it for a future or something? I know in your case per se because you're up on this stuff but my concern about recommending that to a photography business person would be that it would get lost in translation in future releases.
Bryan: I would just say that if you're looking for something in the future that you don’t see, just go and you could turn it on within Admin Editor Pro. You can basically just go back into it and then just say, “Oh yeah, I've got this hidden. Just click here and then unhide it.” It’s like for the 99% of the time that you're not, you can look for something that you don’t need, it’s nice and clean and much simpler to look at and much easier to find what you need to find. Then for that 1% of the time, you need to get in there and go find that tool section because there’s an update you have to do something with, you can hide it and use it and hide it.
Rachel: This is why I love WordPress. You can do whatever you want, and the tools are out there, and you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel.
Scott: I actually saw a plugin. I have to see if I can find it. It’s a similar plugin. It’s a new one that just came out. I saw it in one of the WordPress groups on Facebook where instead of you literally hiding it, you rearrange the order of your menu and then there’s a cutoff point. There’s a line. Then when you save and you look at your admin again, it’s actually going to show hide, like a button, and then it will just show. It’s like Gmail. I can show hide, different label, that exact same concept but in your WordPress, it’s admin.
Bryan: That’s very cool.
Scott: I'll have to see if I can find that again.
Bryan: Cool. One of my other picks that I think is a really, really useful plugin for photographers is called Pretty Link. Basically what Pretty Link let’s you do is it let’s you take any URL that you'd ever want to send somebody to. Maybe it’s a blog post. Maybe it’s a page you’ve designed. Maybe it’s a contact form. Whatever it is, maybe it’s something that lives outside of WordPress. Any URL and then you can just basically create a new short code for it.
You can say, “Your website URL/whatever you want it to be,” we’ll then redirect to this other site. A great way to use this is let’s say you're at a wedding show and you’ve written a blog post about the top 10 tips for getting married at venue x. You want to tell brides and grooms at the wedding show about this. Instead of telling them, “Hey go to my blog, search for this blogpost. Do this, do this.” They may not find that and you could just, “Hey go to bcapphoto.com/show,” and it will redirect over to that blog post that I wrote.
You could use it to quickly direct people to certain URLs that may not be as easy to find if you didn’t have that.
Scott: Does it tell you how many times that URL’s been used?
Bryan: It does, and it’ll track it. You knew the answer to that.
Rachel: I know. It sounds very similar to that, the bit.ly service but it lives within WordPress which is like when everything is all self-contained.
Bryan: Yeah, it lives within WordPress, and it’s still branded for me. It’s always going to be bcapphoto.com/ whatever I put. It looked like it’s nice and refined and branded for me. Then as Scott mentioned, it will show you how many times people have gone there and that thing for analytics, which is useful.
Scott: What we really need is if you really wanted to get into the nitty-gritty and really track that and you are at a wedding show. You could make a mental note of, “Okay I've told six people about this.” The next day, go and check and see how many people actually did it.
Bryan: Right, exactly.
Scott: It gets into the nitty-gritty. What else?
Rachel: More than six and they’ve told other people which is easier.
Bryan: Right. Then you could even just as a quick conversion discussion continuing that thread, you could say, “Well I had 20 people visit this URL but I only had three that signed up for the list once I got there,” or something like that. You could say obviously there’s something wrong with the conversion on the page or you could say, “I converted every single person so obviously it was converting well.” You could do a lot of analytics with that. I think it’s really useful for that.
Another one that I'll say and I mentioned it just a few minutes, it’s called IceCream. It’s basically a plugin, a really easy to use plugin that let’s you create popup boxes or banners at the top of your page or little badges that show up in different places on your website. You could have it used for different purposes.
Let’s say that you were, like I said earlier, having some email drip campaign. If you wanted to do that but you didn’t want to have to get in to trying to custom code something, you could just create a new campaign, an IceCream right within WordPress and say, “Twenty seconds after someone gets to my wedding page, pop out this little popup that will then ask them to put in their email address.”
If you had a winter special happening or a Valentine’s Day special happening, you could say, “Two minutes after they’ve been on my Boudoir page, show this little banner that slides down on the top of my website that says, “Hey did you know about this little special? Click here to find out more.”
Rachel: How is it for customizing? Can you add your images within the plugin?
Scott: Yeah, yeah totally. It’s got a whole bunch of templates but then you can go and customize colors and text and images and all different kinds of things like that. Whether we use it, we use it on sproutingphotographer.com. If anyone wants to see it, depending on whether it gets released but we've got it going for our New Year’s promo for Sprout Studio right now. We actually got in and customized the HTML on that and completely redid it for our own styling. They’ve got a lot of really great pre-baked styles and themes and different things you can do with that, and it’s free, which is really nice.
Rachel: That is nice.
Bryan: In the past, I've used something called OptinMonster, but that’s a paging service and also I find IceCream much easier to work with because with OptinMonster, you have to create the campaign on OptinMonster’s website, and then that just holds it in WordPress through their plugin. With IceCream, you just build and do it all right in WordPress, which again for WordPress podcast, we love WordPress, right?
Scott: It’s funny, OptinMonster used to be that way and they went to the sass route to hook to themselves, which resolved a bunch of roadblocks that they ran into. I personally use OptinMonster and I found compared to the others, has been … I haven't IceCream but compared to all the others I tried, it's been far superior. I'll have to take a look at IceCream. Any others?
Bryan: I do, yes. The other one and again I don’t know if this one’s been mentioned before and on the show or if not, I'm sure that it’s one that will get mentioned because it is a pretty popular one on photography forums. Basically it lets you, I guess in its simplest form, it lets you create a contact form with all kinds of fields and details and data and you can customize what fields are on there and you could phone numbers or let them upload photos. You could do whatever you want. Really, that’s just the surface.
Rachel: Tip of the Iceberg.
Bryan: What you can do with Gravity Forms is just remarkable. If you really want to get in and dig in, and it’s very developer friendly. It’s very easy to extend upon and to take in and go further. I actually remember about four years ago, I helped build the website for professional photographers of Ontario and we built an entire image competition submission workflow through Gravity Forms, just Gravity Forms. We had all kinds of conditional logic and uploading and downloading. It’s amazing what you can do with Gravity Forms.
Rachel: It’s my favorite plugin. Photoscribe is built on form input to be able to turn what the photographer say into blogs because Photoscribe is a blogging service. When I first started it, I had such a clear idea of what I wanted and Gravity Forms allowed me to do all of that without needing a developer to customize really it.
I think Gravity Forms is, if you're looking for paid services within WordPress, it is the number one that I always recommend. It’s the first time we’re talking about it on this podcast. We’ve talked about Yoast a bajillion times. I think Gravity Plugin is just as robust and depending on what you need it for, it does everything.
Scott: It’s funny. Rocketgenius, a company who makes Gravity Forms, they're one of the largest WordPress companies because of Gravity Forms and how widely used it is. They make one product right now. They have a bunch of add-ons but really it’s all based on the one product. Really that goes to show you how good Gravity Forms is and how flexible and useful it is because it’s clearly used by some the largest companies in the world.
Bryan: As a quick side note, just another use case it of it and I guess this also a useful tool as well. If you go to Sproutingphotographer.com, in the top right corner, we’ve got a button that says “Profit Calculators”. If you click any of those, which is basically we've created these free calculators that help a photographer calculate what they should be charging for different products and different services.
If you go and use any of those, obviously you could then use that information that you get from it to help you price yourself more profitably. All those calculators were built on Gravity Forms without any custom development. That’s all the built in, the Wiziwig, the editor, the visual designer are using Gravity Forms.
Rachel: That’s a great example.
Scott: Just Gravity Forms has a calculator, basically a calculator module built into it, it’s fantastic.
Bryan: It’s very cool.
Rachel: For photographers, you can make your contracts with Gravity Forms too. A lot of photographers have mock forms, which is a separate PHP installation. Gravity Forms, there’s a signature add-on. There’s a lot of functionality even for photographers who are marketing to clients.
Scott: Before we get into final thoughts, I want to talk about one more thing. Sprout Studio launched, it’s doing very well, and it’s very pretty and very functional. It’s not WordPress based.
Scott: We know that I used to think that it was but which actually goes to, that’s a compliment to the designers because they made it that pretty. WordPress has been around now for 10 over years and it’s pretty because it’s been there for so long and they’ve figured it out what needs to be. That’s a really good compliment.
The form function, the lead gathering form can be embedded. There’s potential and we’ve talked about this offline and I even pitched this to the imaging team about us developing it. There’s potential to make a Sprout Studio plugin for WordPress which either might happen from our side or it might from your side. I don’t know. Whoever does it first. There’s potential for not only integration with Gravity Forms but also integration with Contact Form 7 which is the most popular form plugin that’s free.
Then another form plugin that’s doing very well, which I can't remember the name of it but I'm in the process of testing it on a test site. There’s potential for integration with WordPress for Sprout Studios. For anybody who is interested in Sprout Studio and using WordPress, be on lookout. For now, just use the embed which would work.
Bryan: There're lots that we could do. WordPress, I'm a huge advocate for WordPress. Whenever I do coach for photographers or whenever I write or speak to photographers about the web or selling or anything like that, I wouldn’t recommend but WordPress.
Knowing that it’s so big and knowing that it performs a certain function for photographers, that we don’t perform through Sprout Studio. Sprout Studio is the studio management and the backend and the galleries and all that but I see there being so much potential for integration with what you would need a website to do for you. Again if you look at a website and say, “Well it’s a portfolio.” It’s information about you. It’s a contact form. It’s a lead magnet. It’s all these different things.
It would make so much sense to have that somehow tied into Sprout Studio which is the thing that manages your entire business. That’s a huge priority for us, and that’s something that we have our eye on to say, “Where can we bring that? What could we do?” I won't tease anything because I think my developers will probably shoot me if I tease anything. Before we get any further into it but it’s a priority for us and definitely, right now, integrating. We have an API.
On my website on bcapphoto.com, my contact form is built through Gravity Forms. Yet when you submitted it, it submits to Sprout Studio. Through a typical API, which is what any techie photographer would understand that. You could get in and tie in Gravity Forms currently to Sprout Studio or you could just embed the Sprout Studio lead form onto your own website, which is super easy to do through WordPress. Then we’d even give you a code if you want to customize some of the styling on it. You just embed that with it and you can tweak some of the styling.
We do have a light integration right now.
Rachel: Maybe we’re looking at the future. We’ll have WordPress for your front and website customer facing, and then Sprout Studio do everything on the backend.
Bryan: On the backend, yeah. The bottom is in between them because if you think about what you could automate between those two pieces, there’s a lot that you do manually that you probably waste a lot of time doing right now.
Rachel: Then think of the photographer, the work that they don’t have to do, like you said, logging into all of these different places.
Scott: I just had a thought that is way out of the range of the podcast. We’ll have to talk after we stop. I just had a cool idea. Anyway, you're going to be at WPPI.
Scott: I'll see you there.
Rachel: That’s March.
Scott: That’s March. Can't wait to see your booth too because that’s going to be fun. It’s going to be at CPC Canada Photo Convention in Vancouver, right?
Scott: You're also going to be in Toronto, which we’re both speaking at.
Rachel: When is that?
Scott: Toronto is on October. It’s right before Photo Plus Expo. That’s going to be a lot of fun. I've never been at Canada Photo Convention. I'm looking forward to that one. It would be great to be able to speak alongside you.
Bryan: It’s a great conference. I think it’s really great. I love the big shows. Imaging USA is actually happening as we’re speaking right now. WPPI is obviously a really big show. The other one, I'm speaking at Shutterfest coming April. That’s one that’s run by Sal Cincotta and that’s getting to be a pretty big show. At least a couple thousand.
Rachel: Yeah, I've heard amazing things about it.
Bryan: It’s really great. It’s between the boutique show and the big shows. I think what’s really cool is that we've got these great big shows that are really just you go there and there’s so much choice on what you can do. We’ve also got all these really small shows are what I call the boutique show like Canada Photo Convention or Inspire Photo Retreats which I think is happening even as we’re speaking right now.
Rachel: No, Inspire is in February. Right before and then Mystic is the other one that is in Portland.
Bryan: Mystic is the other one, yeah.
Rachel: The big ones for me are tough because there’s a lot of people but I love the boutique ones because you get a connection and a one on one with the other photographers and people and business struggles. If you're [inaudible 00:47:54] like me, there are other options.
Bryan: That’s what I was going to say is there’s an option. No matter what photographer you are, no matter what kind of learner you are, what kind of environment or community or social setting you prefer, there’s lots of options. I would just say get out there and educate yourself.
Get out there and get involved and start to go to these things because if you sit in your own … what we do as photographers often is sitting behind a computer by ourselves. It can become very lonely. It can become challenging because we’re always trying to solve our own problems. As much as things like Facebook Groups and forums and these online communities that’s great, nothing replaces face to face networking and face to face relationships.
It’s funny there’s this new thing. I guess it’s not really new but it’s called if you know someone through online channels and you see them in person, you're like, “Oh it’s great to meet you IRL.” Oh my gosh, really? There’s a distinction but either way, I just think it’s so important to get out there and to seek people. That’s our entire business is based on people. It’s most of us are wedding and portrait photographers.
Get out there and put yourself in front of other photographers. There’s lots of conferences and workshops to go to for that.
Rachel: Know there are options because I have the same thing. The thought of WPPI and I work closely with Jared Bauman who was a guest on Episode 4. He’s like, “Come.” It was very overwhelming whereas Inspire, which you had mentioned, which takes part here in New England and this year it’s in Newport, Rhode Island, there’s only 200 people. They cap it. You get to know and even 200 people, you only get to know maybe 40 of them but you get to know them really well because you're at that environment where they facilitate that networking one on one. There are options.
Scott: That was a really good final thought closing type of thing. Bryan, you have anything you want to add on top of that?
Bryan: The only thing I'll mention and I won't go too deep into it but one of the things that I'm really super passionate about right now is this concept of … this is the new year, right? We’re in January 11th as we record this and oftentimes the New Year is seen with a fresh start, resolutions. We got all these things that we’re doing and we want to look at the coming year and see what we can make better versus what we just left in the year that was behind us.
One of the things that I think a lot of photographers struggle with is the idea of having balance in their life and having some more margin. I'm not going to get into too big of this as a conversation but we use the word busy or we use this concept of feeling over work and stressed out and overwhelmed as an excuse and as a means of justification for why we don’t do the things that we really want to be doing with our lives.
I think at the end of the day, if you were really to look at why did you get into business for yourself, why did you get into being a photographer, most of the time I would bet that it’s not because you wanted be sitting behind your computer by yourself 80 hours a week and not feel like you have any balance in your life.
Often that’s what I hear so many photographers going through. I see posts on Facebook at 2:00 in the morning saying, “Oh gosh, still editing this wedding.” It’s like, “Are you kidding right now? You should be with your family or your kids or your wife or your friends.”
Rachel: Just sleeping.
Bryan: Sleeping, right? Come on. I'm really in the space of trying to help photographer regain that control back in their lives. If not for anything more than just to listen to listen to these words right now and to say that you are not justified, and you are not measured by how busy you are.
Let’s throw that idea out and stop using that as a status symbol. If you want to dig deeper into this concept, we've started this movement called “Redefine Busy” and it’s a series of blog posts or articles that I've written over on sproutingphotographer.com that really gets into the nitty-gritty both the mindset changes but also the tactical ideas as to how you can implement changes in your life to get more done in less time so you can get balance back.
If anyone’s interested in that, you can visit redefinebusy.com, and we’ve got a whole series of articles over there about that.
Rachel: Yeah, I highly recommend that especially as a mother, and I know you guys both have kids as well. Working parents, you don’t even have to be working parents to be busy and to be overwhelmed. I highly recommend all of those articles. It’s like a mind shift change when you think about it.
Scott: That’s very well said. Totally agree. I know you speak a lot about the lie of busy. Though it’s a great topic for everybody to learn more about. Thank you, Bryan, for joining us today.
Bryan: Thank you for having me.
Scott: Thank you, Rachel, for being an awesome co-host.
Rachel: Thank you, Scott.
Scott: You can find the show notes from today’s episode at imagely.com/podcast/6. Until next time.