My Black Friday / Small Business Saturday true story. This started a social media rant triggered by a post that grew into my newest work on lessons that I learned in small business. I hope that it is insightful for some and resonates with others. And with that, let’s start the show.
I hate selling but I have to do it if I want to keep the lights and feed my family. Two years into starting my photography business, I have grown to disdain social media posts. around this time of the year that says, “What are you selling? Post your business!” I began scrolling past them; if you are on my social media friends list and you don’t know I am a small business owner after two years you either a) live under a rock or b) never really gave a damn anyway. Most post these for fake empathy or to boost analytics for their own sites.
The sad truth is no one really reads the comments once it gets past 20. By the time it gets to over 100, the last 5 comments are skimmed. Real buyers are not looking at your posts or your data unless it’s indexed in a search engine. Serious buyers of products via the internet typically search through Google and Yelp versus buying off social media posts absent of critical feedback.
I really despise selling. I refuse to conduct cold calls. If you reach out and are still shopping around, you will not hurt my feelings by telling me so. I get it. If you can’t afford my services, you are not hurting my feelings. Just don’t waste my time scheduling a consult if you have no intentions of speaking or answering the phone. It’s so rude.
I am going to do any readers that may be future clients a solid. My cheapest package is currently $1500. This is my lowest price package; not my average sales. If you think I am expensive, I am not offended. Other people have paid my rate and I realize my services aren’t for everyone. Judging by the other boudoir photographers in my industry, it’s becoming the standard price point. Number one question that is typically googled is “Why is Boudoir Photography so Expensive”. If you don’t want to proceed because it’s expensive, you are not hurting my feelings. I am not meant to be affordable to everyone. You get what you pay for. No one I know who has gone for the $350 Thumbtack experience found it enjoyable; clients are typically rushed, the work is subpar, and you do not have the same luxury experience (hair, makeup, locale, and help posing) that are the signature features of a session with me. You pay for what you find value in.
I will not harass you with multiple contacts; I have to write all of them myself and time is money, even with automated emails. I will call and text you twice; if no response, I will leave you alone. If you go cold, I will not bother you. If you don’t want to see any emails I send, feel free to hit unsubscribe — you are not hurting my feelings because I have to pay for the hosting after so many numbers. My email list is meant for those who truly support but are in a different space and can’t purchase or like my work but live too far away. Whatever the reason maybe, I am not offended. I am a slow consumer too typically build relationships before I commit. I normally take up to a year from initial interest to final commitment with my major purchases too. Trust me I am not offended.
I and other small business owners are not a trend to hop on — this is our life. We charge what we charge because of a multitude of expenses we pay for on top of feeding our families, keeping the lights on and making a living. We make up 60% of the economy and workforce, yet get little support from the government. When consumers stop spending we are the first to suffer the consequences of a stalled economy. Those grants that the federal government and big corporations give out in the name of philanthropy are all bullshit. I have applied to at least 50 in the last 6 months and got no feedback despite meeting all the requirements. Black corporations are the worst too. It’s all a Public Relations stunt. For the sake of not getting sued or having an injunction slapped on me I will not name some of these businesses, but I will give examples of how they are using Black Owned business for PR Clout. One couldn’t give out grants because his business sold insurance despite having an article published stating he’s handing out millions in grants to black owned businesses. Another had no persons of color as grant recipients. The third took several applications but made no public announcements of the winners. At best, these disillusion future applicants because of poor feedback; at worst, they pimp black small businesses and disenfranchise them from the American Dream.
There is a lot that goes into being a legitimate business; it’s not a fairy tale. We pay taxes, fees, ad costs, subscriptions to maintain email lists, processing transactions, order products and services to ensure the customer is getting the best experience. Many of us don’t even take a formal salary for the first formative years. All earnings made are used to pay off debts and reinvest back into the business. The pandemic and new federal requirements have taken a bigger bite out of the profits in order to stay compliant.
Black Friday feels like a rat race where sellers and owners are pumping hundreds of dollars into running digital ads for buyers looking for the best deals to “ooh pick me, pick me.” It’s an added layer of stress and anxiety in this journey to becoming a successful brand. Consumers don’t think about the stress and toll this takes and I understand many lump us in the same category as major corporations. Being a Black Owned business is even more stressful due to the country’s original sins of racial discrimination and slavery. So with that, please be thoughtful when engaging your black friends who are budding small business owners. They may not ask for it but will surely appreciate it.