Heidi and Shaun Guerrard are a husband and wife team. Not only do they run an incredibly successful photography business, but they have taken entrepreneurship to a whole new level.
A little over 10 years ago, Heidi was an art and photography teacher and Shaun was working for Bank of America doing commercial banking and lending. After the birth of their first child, Heidi decided to take some time off. She felt driven to create her own art, and that was missing in the classroom setting. She didn’t feel like she was impacting people in the way she wanted.
During her time off, she started offering portrait photography to bring in some money for the family. Heidi dedicated herself to marketing her business, improving her SEO rankings, and developing her brand. In the beginning, Heidi would travel to client’s homes, but within a short amount of time, inquiries were coming in frequently and the business was growing so quickly that a studio space was needed and secured.
It wasn’t long before Shaun left his job in finance to help Heidi run the business. Nearly 10 years later, in addition to the photography business, the duo also have created Heidi Hope Backdrops, they mentor and teach photography workshops, provide one on one business consulting for creative business owners, run Photographer Rising (an endeavor that provides boutique portrait studio business resources), and are preparing to launch Heidi Hope Design Partners, a membership directory of sorts. All in all, a very impressive entrepreneurial couple.
So how do they manage all of it? They keep responsibilities divided based on their strengths. Shaun uses Iris Works to manage client communication, sessions, invoices and contracts. And Heidi is somewhat ‘the face’ of the company. She handles the creative aspects and the marketing and branding.
Shaun says, “Nothing prepares you to run a small business.” When they first began, there weren’t many tools to help budding entrepreneurs run a small business, especially a photography business. Heidi explained, “You have to be an excellent marketer. You have to build a strong brand, be able to communicate, have great customer service skills, and you need to be timely and follow up with things. It’s overwhelming the amount of things you have to do, and the time it takes to do them.”
Marketing and branding are clearly where Heidi & Shaun have excelled. Two key ingredients, according to the couple, have helped in their success. Authenticity – knowing your ‘why’; and diversifying marketing efforts.
Heidi says, “It takes time. Even if it’s just journaling or something simple, you need to craft what your story and your voice is that you’re going to put out there in the world. It’s more than just your pictures. Your brand is not just your photography. It’s your client communication, the voice you use, the way you treat customers, how you represent yourself online.” Both Heidi and Shaun highly recommend the book, Start with Why – Simon Sinek.
You must diversify your efforts. Heidi points out that things are constantly changing, and you must make sure that whatever you’re putting out there are put on multiple platforms. It won’t be seen everywhere you post, so it’s important to use multiple avenues and to drive traffic among different platforms.
The couple isn’t slowing down. Launching May 14, 2018 is Heidi Hope Design Partners. Photographers can apply for membership (starting at $195/month). The membership includes access to their hand-painted backgrounds, digital backdrops and a seasonal custom set designed by Heidi. In addition to the custom set design, photographers will also be taught how to use this custom set in studio or on location. Most valuable, however, is a full marketing campaign for each seasonal set. All of the content, stock photography and step-by-step instructions on how to implement the marketing campaign will be available.