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The Money Tree (Week 1)

The sales funnel is a complicated beast, but it goes without saying that the more places that your customers can enter the funnel the better off you’re going to be. The money tree has a root system, and that’s what we’re going to focus on here in this lesson. The deeper and more widespread your root system, the more fruit your money tree will bear.

  • put your writing cap on
  • your website message
  • your website page structure
  • being different


When I decided I was going to be a photographer, I had a very naive idea about what my average day was going to look like. I anticipated spending half of my day shooting and half of my day editing. In my defense, I was charging $100 for a session and at that price point, I figured I’d need to do 4-5 shoots a day to make my nut. Today I shoot about 10 people a week and spend one day on location at an office shooting the staff. That equates to about 16hrs a week actually photographing people. I spend 16 hours a week using my camera. I’ll be the first to tell you that I work about 60hrs a week, so what do I spend the rest of my time doing? I edit a little, but I contract most of that out. I send out billing, and proposals and various administrative tasks, but I spend the majority of my time marketing. Over the last 10 years, the more effort I put into my marketing, the more money I made.

In the lesson description, I referenced the root system of a tree. Roots need water to grow, and in this world, the most effective way to water those roots is to be a writer. Here’s a list of some of the places I’m regularly writing.

  • Home Page Content
  • Landing Pages for Ads
  • Bio
  • Website Content (supporting pages)
  • Guest Blog Posts
  • LinkedIn Articles
  • Blog/Forum Comments
  • Facebook Posts

These are just the first places that jump into my head regarding places that I write. We’ll tackle on page search engine optimization later, but did you know that 97% of the top ranking pages of the internet contain more than 1500 words? If you’re not a writer, that’s quite a lot.

I think you should have two bios. One short form version (50 words) and one long form version (150-250 words). I also think you should update it regularly. Supporting pages on your website are the pages that go into subjects in more detail. Maybe you have separate pages for Corporate and Actor Headshots. Maybe you have a page about headshot tips or an FAQ. Any page you put on your website with the intent of being found organically should have a substantial amount of content. How much is substantial? It depends on competition, but I think 500 words is a good place to start. If you’re struggling to get a page to rank, consider adding more words. There are a lot of things that go into organic ranking and we’ll get to that, but all other things being equal, Google will favor the page with more words.

So let’s circle back to that having two bios thing from earlier. I like to keep a short bio on my homepage and I use the extended bio for external uses like guest blogging or setting up profiles on forums for the purpose of gaining a backlink. Your website visitors don’t care about your bio. They’re not going to read it. It’s a distraction. You don’t want anything getting in the way of your website visitor and your call to action button.

  1. Short Bio: Keep it to surface stuff. What is it about you that’s going to be beneficial to them? The more you can make your website about them, the better off you’re going to be.
  2. Extended Bio: Your bio shouldn’t read like a list of accomplishments, it should read like an adventure. You’re an interesting person and you’ve done interesting things, and all of those things in some way have made a contribution to the person that you are today. You didn’t start your business in 2014. You followed your heart and took a leap of faith in 2014. You didn’t get married after college, you woke up one day and realized that you were in love with the person that you were destined to spend the rest of your life with. If someone is taking the time to read about who you are, do them the courtesy of making it entertaining. Now would be a great time to update the bio in your Money Folder if you’re not happy with your current bio.

Practice your writing. Your abilities as a writer will have a profound impact on your success as a photographer. Whether you’re a good writer or a bad writer I recommend you check out this book.

I think my biggest takeaway from the book is that when we write for our websites we need to write for our readers. What I mean by that is most of us do a horrible job of writing for our audience. We usually write about ourselves. What we do, who we are, why they should hire us. Instead, we should be writing about who they are and how their lives will improve because they chose to hire us. Do you see the difference?


I’m going to start by saying that I do not want you to make any big changes to your website until you finish this course. Why you ask? I’m going to keep dropping bombs on you as we go, and I don’t want you to have to do anything twice. That’s the point of this whole right? You’re here because you want to jump the learning curve. I’m here to help you, but you need all of the info first, and that’s going to take a few more weeks.

Your website isn’t really part of the root system as much as it is the trunk of the tree. Everything should funnel into your website. Sure there are going to be people that circumvent the funnel and pick up the phone to call you before going to the website. I usually take the call and funnel them back to the website to collect their data. Your website has to be the best solution to the needs of the visitor. Here’s your objective: Please repeat after me:

“My goal is to create an idiot-proof experience for my website visitors.”

Say it with me again for emphasis:

“My goal is to create an idiot-proof experience for my website visitors.”

My formula for doing this is as follows:

  • Create an immediate bond with the visitor
  • Offer them an emotional solution to their practical problem
  • Provide proof you’re their best chance at solving their problem
  • Give them an easy to understand plan or path to success
  • Paint the picture of success
  • Ask for the sale over and over

It all starts with a tagline. Over the next four weeks, I want you to develop a tagline. You’re not going to nail it on the first try, but this like your logo and your headshot speak to your branding. When properly developed it will separate you from your competition. It will also be used in various marketing efforts from AdWords campaigns to retargeted Facebook campaigns.

In order to write and effective tagline you need to understand your audience. Who are they? I’m not talking in the abstract here. I want to know who the hell you expect to fork over their hard earned money. Have you ever made a mind map? You probably had to create one at some point in school. Grab a blank sheet of paper and write down the word customer. Draw a circle around it. Now start drawing spokes. Write adjectives down at the end of the spokes and circle them. Keep going and see where it takes you. The more you understand your audience, the better equipped you’ll be to understand their problems and write convincing website copy.

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Next, I want you to think about what their problem is. To offer someone a solution you need to understand their problem. If you’re thinking that they’re hiring a headshot photographer because they need a headshot, you’re thinking way too small. That’s not emotional. What you need to do is make this an emotional buying decision. If you can tap into the emotional state of someone you can double your asking price. Create a list of problems that can be solved with a better headshot.

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I’m not kidding about this at all. Have you heard of a company called Peloton? No joke, a friend of mine and member of this program, posted about how buying this exercise bike changed his life.

I was never in the market for an exercise bike but I was curious about what could possibly be so unique about an exercise bike to qualify as a life-changing experience. I placed that link there so that you’d trigger their pixel and get tossed into their funnel. Their marketing is incredible. 8 Weeks later I found myself in one of their stores. They created a storyline with their advertising that placed me, the buyer, in a position where there were only two options. I could purchase this and change my life and live forever, or I could die young. Seriously, trigger their pixel and follow their advertising. What they’re offering is clear. Their branding is clean and polished. They’ve got social proof. It’s not a matter of if I need this, it’s when. That’s what you want to do with your website visitors. You need to transition the problem from “I need a headshot” to:

  • I need a better job
  •  I need to advance in my career
  •  I deserve a raise
  •  I deserve a better life

Do you see what I did there? I made it emotional. Copy and paste this next part into a text editor and fill it out. Answer the questions and I’ll help you dig through this to find what your message should be.

  1. Are you I or we?
  2. What is the tagline for your business? (create 5 options)
  3. What makes you different from everyone else?
  4. Describe your target customer?
  5. What do they desire? (What are their goals/dreams)
  6. What is their problem? What’s holding them back for fulfilling their desires?
  7. How will you solve their problem?
  8. What are you offering?
  9. How does it work?
  10. Who are you?
  11. How will their life be different after the session?
  12. What are the consequences of not working with you?

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One of the key principles of SEO is to analyze your competition. During that process, I noticed that my main competitor had 100’s of pages of content on her site and I set out to do the same. In hindsight, that wasn’t a great idea. The way I see it, you have two good options for your website. Anything outside of this goes against the golden rule.

“My goal is to create an idiot-proof experience for my website visitors.”


  • Home Page
  • Rates/Booking Page
  • Contact Page
  • Thank You Page


  • Home Page
  • Service/Booking Page 1
  • Service/Booking Page 2
  • Service/Booking Page 3
  • Contact Page
  • Thank You Page

Now you’re probably wondering about all of your other pages. Your series of assorted galleries. Your dedicated about page. Your FAQ and your about the session page. They don’t matter. Your home page has two purposes. Your home page should get Google’s attention and it should convince people to click on your booking page. Your booking page should get people to schedule or contact you. It’s that simple. Everything else is a distraction and should be treated as such.

Did I oversimplify that? Maybe a little. You might want to force people to opt-in for pricing. You might put your contact form on your rates page. There are variations, but that other shit… It’s about you not them. I’m not saying they’re not valuable pages. I just think that most people use them incorrectly. By the way that goes for your blog too. More on that one later. I want you to build your FAQ into your homepage. Use the short version of your bio on your homepage. The about the session can be broken up into a 3 step process on your homepage. I think you get the gist here. What does this do? It leaves your navigation clear of clutter. It draws attention to the pages that convert visitors into clients. Nobody is going to read your page about what to wear to their headshot session and book you. They should be sent a link to that page after they’ve booked you. I studied years of my own data on this and the path of people who convert into customers goes Homepage > Rates Page > Contact Page. If that’s the winning path, why not force everyone into it? Again, you can have all of those other pages, but keep them away from the header and navigation. Save them for email drip campaigns, retargeted Facebook campaigns, or if you still think they’re super important, place them in a secondary navigation in the footer.

The image below is a basic framework of how your website homepage should look. H1, H2, and H3 are header tags. We’ll get into more of that next week, this is more of a visual aid. CTA stands for calls to action. You’re going to become very familiar with all of the terms over the next few weeks, but as you’re creating your website, I want you to refer back to this. This framework is both visually interesting and functional. A hybrid of SEO and user experience. The further you deviate from this, the less effective your website will be.

In these next videos I discuss some of the elements I expect to see incorporate into your websites. This doesn’t mean that I want you to copy these sites, but there are undeniably valuable elements here that your website are going to require if you want to be successful.


I believe that I’ve given you a lot to think about and I know that I have strong opinions. I’m what my wife refers to as an acquired taste. I’ll bet in this first week I’ve told you a bunch of things that go against everything you’ve been taught. That can only mean one of two things. I’m wrong, or everyone else is wrong. That’s not entirely true. There’s a lot of information out there, much of it is dated, but more importantly, much of it pertains to industry practices that don’t apply to us as headshot photographers. Let’s take blogging for example. I don’t really want to rank for the keyword phrase headshot makeup. I chose that one because I happen to rank for that term and it has over a 90% bounce rate. That’s right, over 90% of people that land on that page of my website bounce and I can’t think of a good reason to go after content like that. I don’t care if someone in Seattle finds my page about headshot tips. They’re not going to book me no matter how convincing I am. So it’s not that the other information you’ve heard in the past is wrong. It’s that we’re in a super niche area, and these methods you’re learning are the key to exploiting that niche.

As you’re working through this content you may notice it’s formulaic. You might even say something like “I don’t want the same website everyone else has.” My method is formulaic for a reason. The formula works. The more you deviate from it, the less I can help you, and honestly if there was a better way to do this, I’d be doing it myself. I’m constantly testing new things to improve conversion and dial in my messaging. I get a lot of traffic so it’s easy to collect data quickly.

As for the bit about wanting your website to be different… I’m providing you with an actionable plan. It’s a blueprint. They’re your pictures, it’s your logo, and it’s your copy. It’s not going to be like mine or Mike’s or anybody else’s. It’s yours and I feel like this video embodies that concept and I feel like it’s a fun way to end your first week.

Rounding out your first week

  1.  Make a decision about your website structure. Do you want to separate your services (corporate vs headshot) or let them choose from the same set of packages?
  2. Really put some thought into who your clients are or who you want them to be. If you’re attracting the wrong clients then you’re putting the wrong vibe out there. Is it your branding? Is it your message? Do the mind map and fill out the questions from the Website Message lesson.
  3. Work on your Bio. Actually work on both of them. There’s nothing easier than writing about yourself. You know yourself better than anyone.  It’s good practice.
  4. Start reading or listening to Building a Storybrand. Thank me later.