Client Love: An Interview with documentary photographer Sandra Stokmans

This photographer has an income for the first time in her 10 year-long career

What was your life like before you started coaching with Yvonne and started Studio Sessions?

I was experiencing physical and mental stress that burdened and exhausted me. Working long and lots of hours, in the evenings and the weekends trying to do everything I thought I had to do, and feeling the pressure of not bringing in the money for my family. I told Yvonne “2020 Is the year for me, it’s a make or break year for me.”.

 

What struggles did you face most in the business sense?

The struggles I had were finding and booking enough clients. Clients that fit ME. That value ME. I wanted/needed to generate more money of my photography business. I am a fulltime photographer.

Being a project manager, I expected myself to have the overview, to have structure and focus … but I was always feeling like I was behind (still do, but I’m slowly getting there). Payed work needs to come first. Then the marketing, the social media, the website, the blogs … it is just too much to do (alone). I wanted all those things to be going smoothly, perfectly.

I needed grip on workable time and relaxation. I needed help. I really wanted someone on my level to mastermind with.

 

How has Studio Sessions helped you with these business problems?

So, before I started with Yvonne I had already done an awesome trajectory where I had made my own magazine, and I had already started to finetuning my websites in light of this. A lot of the subjects, therefore, passing through Yvonne’s Studio Sessions were not new to me, and I had done my research and already had a lot of the answers. The big thing however was putting all of this into practice. Really starting to use it. To make a coherent ‘picture’ for my business and feeling it from within, if you get what I’m saying. 

My first call with Yvonne it was like she understood very well where I was coming from, and she made me feel heard and made me feel like she could and would help me. The 1-on-1 coaching was a lot of money so I had to really ask myself and be willing to take the chance and risk of doing it. And I really wanted the 1-on1 because I am much more a 1-on-1 person than a group person in these learning experiences. I decided, in consultation with my love, to go for it. 

At first it was sensing for me, if it’s the right match. I am quite critical and really want to feel that there is someone who knows more than me on the field I need coaching in, and who can really help me forward. 

I really enjoyed our working sessions together. I think the hard part, also for Yvonne, is that I have two websites, my business website (www.sandrastokmans.nl) and my family documentary website (www.documentairefamiliephotography.nl). So, in fact I needed to do the coaching and the programme times 2. Sometimes I think, aren’t I making it a bit too hard for and on myself, hahaha. 

She helped me really streamline my business by setting up a marketing- and lead generations system - a beautiful sales funnel on both my websites; working on my pricing, the structuring of my packages and setting up my sales system. Getting me to use the infallible tool, SproutStudio (and all the other tips and tricks!), which helps me in the automation of workflows and communication with my clients. It helps me keep my focus on what I have to do. When I need to communicate with my clients. It keeps me somewhat sane and saves me quite some time!

 

Now, you are quite busy. How did you find the time to follow the lessons and implement your knowledge?

My everlasting determination, work ethics and perseverance! And I really need and want this to work out!

 

At what time did you earn back your investment in coaching?

Well, I find this a difficult question because what do you consider and what do you leave out of the equation. And what would I have earned anyway without the coaching. But what did I earn extra because of the coaching. I can tell you this. I have had more inquiries regarding branding photography – real life branding photography – and I booked 3 of them during the first half year. With the invoices of those three I earned my investment in coaching back. And what I love is that I can see in SproutStudio that I have about a 50% booking rate, even in this corona year – a couple of potential assignments were cancelled because of that. So, who knows what it could have been like without this crisis.

 

What is your life like now at the end of the program?

Who knew 2020 would turn out the way it did. So maybe it didn’t turn out quite the way I expected, especially on the family photography side of things, but there is nothing I can do about that. It’s the way things are right now in the world. 

I want documentary family photography, the Day in the Life approach to be more known to the general public here in the Netherlands. I hope hospitals and other caregivers will take to healthcare sessions, because I have found that this is what really makes my heart burst. It is just so beautiful to do. 

The biggest benefit for me so far, is the personal feedback on everything. And a major benefit is that my work process / my business has been streamlined. I still have some -catch up- work to do, because there is still so much I can share what I have done J - but I’m getting there! 

My biggest compliment was that a potential branding client, a communication manager, told me during our introductory meeting “You really feel like a brand!” And that the branding clients that have booked me really resonated with my (documentary family) photographs and my motto “Real is more fun than Perfect. Real is Perfect!”, and that is why they booked me.

Last month I was able to provide our household with €2.000, for the first time since I started working as a fulltime photographer (2016). But it is still far from my goal - but I’m trying to be hopeful and have the confidence I will get there with a sane heart and mind so I can finally get a grip on workable time and relaxation!

 

For whom is the Studio Sessions program most suitable in your eyes?

For the person who doesn’t earn any money from his / her photography, or hardly makes any money with whatever money does come in. To those who feel really overwhelmed. For those that take their business and themselves seriously: “You’re in the right place!”. I got to know Yvonne as an open, empathetic, direct, no-nonsense business coach, who really shares everything. And with a passion to help and improve you as an entrepreneur. She also visibly enjoys your successes. Really nice when some cheers you on and is "in your corner". 

Her Studio Sessions program is very well put together, she has good guest trainers and is very active in the program herself. Her 3 month 1-on-1 coaching conversations are also efficient, to-the-point, no unnecessary fussing which is wonderful, and also when you have questions or feedback questions - which of course you have because you also get homework - she is there for you. I could have continued with her for a while!

Note from Photographers Coach: Sandra has now enrolled for an extra year in the online group program Studio Sessions https://www.photographers.coach/studio-sessions/ and is a happy member of our online membership community, the Photographers Coach Academy: https://www.photographers.coach/photographerscoachacademy/

The team is so proud to have you in our Photographers Coach Crew, Sandra! Keep up the positive vibes!

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