Transcript: Ben Claremont Top 10 Tips for Building a Profitable VT Business13831
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|88-WGAN-TV: Ben Claremont's Top 10 Tips for Building a Profitable Virtual Tour Business | Wednesday, 16 December 2020
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Transcript: WGAN-TV | Ben Claremont Top 10 Tips for Building a Profitable Virtual Tour Business
Transcript below ...
Thanks to Ben Claremont for his 10 Tips for Building a Profitable Virtual Tour Business on WGAN-TV Live at 5 on Wednesday, 16 December 2020. (video above).
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2. need help with business develop
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Transcript (Video above)
- Hi all, I'm Dan Smigrod, Founder of the We Get Around Network Forum. Today is Wednesday, December 16, 2020. And you're watching WGAN-TV Live at 5.
We have an awesome show for you today. Our topic is Ben Claremont's Top 10 Tips for Building a Profitable Virtual Tour Business; and our guests today, Ben Claremont. Ben, good to see you.
- Hi Dan, likewise, always a pleasure to see your smiling face.
- Thank you, thank you for being on the show again. Ben is a Virtual Tour mentor, a 360 subject matter expert, and he is also the creator of Virtual Tour Pro.
Ben before we jump into your Top 10 Tips for Building a Profitable Virtual Tour Business, how about giving us a little highlights on Virtual Tour Pro?
- Yeah, so Virtual Tour Pro is what I like to think of as an encyclopedia of Virtual Tour photography and just the whole process; starting from an absolute beginner level with Virtual Tours. You might discover a 360 camera and you start realizing this has a practical application. You can start making tours and starting a business out of it.
And my goal with this my course, Virtual Tour Pro, was to create the encyclopedia, the step one, two, three, all the way to the end. From learning what to do, how it works to growing and scaling a profitable Virtual Tour business; which is now really ... the best time in history to do it. ...
The course covers everything you need to know about building a profitable Virtual Tour business from scratch.
- Awesome! I'm going to ask you more about that, Ben, but first let's jump into your Top 10 Tips for building a profitable Virtual Tour business building a profitable Virtual Tour business.
- All right, well, I'm excited because there's so many really valuable tips coming your way, so you definitely want to hang around until the end. ... I've noticed that right now that there is a massive opportunity to grow a successful Virtual Tour business.
And the reason is - now more than ever - because of COVID. Because the whole world is locked down and ... you can't go out and do the things that we could do in 2019 anymore. So the world is very much gone online and in many, many ways, and it's been really cool to see the whole Virtual Tour industry growing like crazy during this time.
This is no doubt been the best year for Virtual Tours and to be a Virtual Tour photographer. And Virtual Tours are becoming a very serious thing now as a result of that and will become an everyday thing going into the future.
So that's great. So we've got that, but there's still a problem. And that is that many people that might be starting out. So you might pick up your first 360 camera, but you don't really know how to start a business out of it and get money and get clients. ...
I would say there's also a misconception among all creative fields and communities, but with 360 Photography and Virtual Tours, one of the most common problems I see is people think it's all about taking pretty photos. It's not.
Unfortunately you need to know much more than how to take a pretty photo with whichever camera you have, because you can take the best photo in the world, but knowing how to run and scale a business is a completely different skill altogether.
And that's what's going to take these pretty photos and turn it into a successful business for you. ... In my presentation, I'm going to go over My Top 10 Tips for Building a Profitable Virtual Tour Business that goes beyond just the pretty photos. ...
My first tip is despite that ... my first tip is you need to understand the technical process. So starting at a beginner level here, I'm going to go from beginner to some more advanced techniques, but something that is so essential is you actually need to know what you're doing inside and out. You need to be confident.
You need to know that what you're delivering adds value to your client. You can't be going out selling a Virtual Tour and then figuring out what to do when you arrive on location. It doesn't work like that.
And, that's not how you're going to get happy clients and build and scale your business. So, you do need to take the time to understand the basic technical process. So this includes choosing a camera, lots and lots of cameras out there - Matterport cameras, 360 cameras, DSLRs and panoramic heads.
So spend your time, go find the best camera that is suitable for you and your skill level. Next, you got to learn the camera inside and out.
You've got to be confident with every last menu. Every setting you need to be confident with the workflow and how to get the best results with it.
The aim of the game is to deliver maximum value to your clients because that's how you're really going to thrive as a Virtual Tour photographer; not by delivering average work. The technical process is an important thing. It's not the only thing like I said before, but it is important. Next--
- I could imagine you don't want to show up for a shoot and all of a sudden, there's a lighting condition that's different than expected. And you're trying to figure out how to use your 360 camera under a scenario that you had not expected on the shoot.
- Yes. Absolutely and it's such a common mistake that so many of us have made. I know I've definitely made this mistake before and that's going into professional shoots before I was ready, before I was able to troubleshoot things like that. What if the lighting is terrible? What if the camera stops working? What if you can't get the result you want?
What you need to do first up is build a basic level of confidence and competence of what you're doing and the way you do that is you practice at home.
So you don't need to go out and get clients first. You need to just build a little bit of confidence and you can do that by making a sample Virtual Tour of anywhere. Of your house. Of your mother's house. Of your cousin's house. Of a business that one of your friends might own. That first sample is so important. And that doesn't--
- Excuse me Ben, I could imagine when you first started out, when you got your first 360 camera, that you probably studied every setting on that camera and then figured out with each of those settings, what it is that you could do so that you've taken into account every permutation of what might come up in a professional shoot.
- Yes. Exactly. You need to prepare for literally everything going wrong! Because, over the years, literally everything is going to go wrong. You need to know every part of the workflow; every setting in your camera and practice it a few times.
That said, you don't need to do it forever. You don't need to spend years practicing. You can do it in a week. You can do it in a few weeks. But, you still need to be confident enough in making that a really good sample Virtual Tour that you're happy with.
That's the important thing. Once you've made it to art that you're happy with, then you understand the technical process.
Then you know, you can go out and deliver that to a paid client. And that is essential! It's non-negotiable. You can't be going out making tours for clients when you're not confident in your own work and you don't see the value in your own work. So that is--
- Excuse me, the metaphor that comes to mind when you're describing this is as being an airplane pilot; 95% of the time you're on auto-pilot.
There's nothing, that's unusual, that's happening. You know how to use your camera, but you got to be prepared when there's an emergency and there's a problem or a challenge. And that's, I think I'm hearing that of your first Top 10 Tips.
- Yeah absolutely! That's it. I mean, something can always go wrong, but when you know the solutions to all the problems, then it's almost impossible for something to go wrong because you know what to do or you've got a backup. So that's a really important one.
And to understand the technical process. Have a basic understanding. It doesn't need to be expert level, but you just need to at least have produced one proper professional Virtual Tour that you're happy with.
And by professional, I mean, it doesn't have to be super high-end of the DSLR. It just needs to be good enough that you would be happy sharing it with the client.
- Awesome, number two.
- Tip number two for building a profitable Virtual Tour business. And this is a question that I get all the time and that is, do you need a website?
So, the first thing is the type of person that might be asking this question of, do you need a website is probably going to be a perfectionist. We're all guilty of it. Sometimes as artists, we want everything to be perfect. We need every last thing to be done to a really high standard in order to feel like we can go out and start doing something. But perfectionism is what leads to not getting stuff done.
And, eventually you just create so much work for yourself that you never actually get started because it wasn't perfect. So, when you're thinking about a website, it's actually not an essential thing at all for beginners. Later on, yes.
But if you're just getting started, then you don't need one. You got to keep it simple, as simple as possible.
At first you take one step and you take a second step. Then your third step. You don't take a hundred steps and then a hundred more. It's just one, one, one. And a website isn't in the first few steps of building a Virtual Tour business.
The first step is understanding the technical process. And the bigger thing is your outreach and your ability to communicate with new clients and sell them on Virtual Tours. So I see so many people out there that try to get too complicated, too quickly.
They start looking into things like Facebook ads, Google ads, and it's just too much too soon.
Like even I, even on my level, I still don't work with Facebook ads and Google ads because it's not necessarily because I've done other things with the steps before that.
They're actually giving me plenty of success. If I want to start thinking about a business, like growing a Virtual Tour business from a really like perfectionist standpoint, there's going to be so many things that will get in the way! If I'm running a business, do I need to go to business school? Do I need to take a course on accounting or finance?
Or do I need to go to university? No, no, no, no. Forget about all of that. Those are steps 101, 102, 103 and so on.
- If I could just amplify your point, I know that I've talked to Members of the, We Get Around Network Forum Community. Who've taken five weeks to get all their things in place before they've actually sent one email, made one call, attempted to ...
And it seems like your point two; business development, you got to get out there and start making sales.
- Yeah, you've just got to do it. Like stop being a perfectionist. Stop making it overly complicated. Just do what you can. Have a client tomorrow. If you want even with no experience. You could potentially get to that point.
Not that I'm saying you should go out that quickly, but you can. You don't need to take months and months to build a website and make things super complicated. So you feel like an expert before you even start pitching? No, no, no, no, no.
You'll be an expert in months if not years. So just deal with it for now. So if you're first out, you can still have success as a beginner or intermediate.
So don't let that stuff get in the way. While I do think that website is important, it's really not. When you're first getting started, work on your website later, once you've got your first few Virtual Tours shot, then you can start thinking about a really basic website, but you shouldn't even spend more than a day working on that to begin with, because that is not your priority. You just need something that's okay to begin with.
And then as time advances, you can start making it a bit fancier.
- Yeah and certainly there are a number of website platforms that make it super-easy to have a professional looking website with not a lot of effort. So get something up without being a perfectionist, but move on to business development.
- Yeah, that's right. We've all fallen into the perfectionist trap, but there are so many tools out there that make things easy. And that's only when you're ready to do it because, like I said, it's not going to be the first step or even in the first 10 steps to build a website.
So, don't overwhelm yourself with too many tasks upfront. All right, with that said, I'm going to move on to my third tip. And this is another extremely common question I get. And it's a bit unfortunate that I get it, but this question is, should you work for free? Should you ever work for free? Is there any merit in working for free? The answer is--
- Ben! "Should you work for free?"
- No, you should not work for free. Glad you asked. Well, and the reason is I've noticed a big problem among the Virtual Tour and real estate community in terms of photographers charging way too little and working for free to try and compete with the guy down the street on clients that yeah, have a budget.
And then not really in that position where they're looking for someone for free, but these photographers are going out and completely underselling themselves, bringing down the overall market rate! Especially, I've noticed within real estate.
And it's a dangerous trap to fall into because when you offer one tour for free, that turns into two, which turns into three, which turns into four, which turns into your first $100 shoot like a year from now. And that is not sustainable.
So the answer is no, you should not work for free, but, and there is a but here.
And that is when you're first getting started it is important to get your first professional tour done as quickly as you can. So this is going to be really helpful for you because when you can get that first tour done - and proven to yourself that you can actually do it - that suddenly builds your confidence immensely.
Going out, having that confidence of having done it and proven to yourself that you can actually do it in a professional context. And that's a massive barrier that people have.
- So I think I'm hearing two things there. First! It’s okay to do free when you're just starting out to create examples and you're learning and you may need a location to practice and to learn your craft. But don't make it a habit of pitching business by offering the tour free. Did I say that correctly?
- Exactly. What I would say is it's like a get out of jail free card. You can use it once and once only. And it's only there to build your confidence and to give ... or if you want to use it to get a really nice portfolio shoot. Let's say there's a business you plan on pitching a lot too in the future.
A certain business type and you need a good portfolio piece. It's okay to do it once and one time only, and this is only for beginners, if you're intermediate to advanced, forget about it, but if you can, no free shoots ever.
Because like I talked about before, it's a cycle. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that one free shoot turns into another, into another.
So I would even avoid that if you can, if you can shoot your friend's business. So you're helping out a friend, or like I said, just make one of your own house.
That's a better option than working for free. So I would say, no don't work for free unless you think it is a fantastic portfolio shoot. And one only. And that's it no more than one. Once you've done one that you'll get out of jail free card spent, you can not spend it again.
- Otherwise if you start out shooting for free, the next tour is going to be free in the next tour. And you're not going to have the self-confidence to actually ask for money.
- That's right, it just totally kills your confidence and undervalues what you're actually doing. And you know what, your time and services are valuable and they help businesses make money.
You're giving away a money-making tool completely for free. So that's something, it's just so important to understand as a Virtual Tour Professional, is you are helping them.
You are doing more for them than they are for you. Even when they're paying you, they are paying you for a money making tool. It's like you're giving away a money tree that produces money in income and interest for this business.
Would you give that away for free? Like if you actually had something that was like that, do you think there's value in giving it away for free?
Like the clients wouldn't even take it seriously if you gave them the money tree for free, but if you pay, if you make them pay for that money tree, they will understand the value and then they'll stop treating it seriously. They'll put it in a prominent place on their website.
And that's what it is. That's how all businesses think when they're looking to spend marketing dollars. How can us; spending this money, bring us that money back and then some.
That is a really important thing to think about. And you can't be giving that away for free. Don't give away the money trees for free. They're valuable, so you are giving value and you're helping businesses make money.
- Okay, if you need to do something for free and you're going to use that get out of jail free card, do it for a friend.
- Yes, if you can, absolutely.
- And I did one other category, do it for non-profit. So help do something pro-social while you are learning your craft.
- Yup. A hundred percent. That's it. And then your card is gone. You don't get it again. All right, so now moving on to number four, which brings me to pricing and packages. And another one, which is potentially the most common question I get with Virtual Tour, beginners, intermediate and even advanced people.
And that is, how much should you charge? This is such a topic of interest and there's so much debate and uncertainty around this topic. And yeah, you ask 10 different people and you get 10 different answers.
So, I'm going to answer that in this, by the way, I won't give you an ambiguous answer, but I'd start by saying, how much is your time worth? Is your time with nothing? No. Your time is worth money. No matter what you're doing, if you're doing it for something else, your time is worth money.
And again, when you're charging for your time and your services, your clients will actually get more value out of it than if you're doing it for free. If you do it for free, they won't take it seriously. And you're not treating your own time seriously. So your time is worth something.
So I'd start by saying, you need to figure out the absolute bare minimum your time is worth to begin with.
And I would suggest at the bare minimum, even for an hour of your time, maybe two for a really basic Virtual Tour, the minimum for your time would be at least $200 to go out to another business and give them something that will be an asset to them, helping them with their marketing, absolute minimum, $200 for your time.
I see too often, people going out there advertising their services as $50 a tour or $100 a tour and that includes 50 photos and so on. How are you making any money? Is your time worth $5 an hour? You can't even eat charging those kinds of numbers.
So what is your time worth? It needs to be worth like less than half a day of your time. What is that worth? Truly think about it because I can guarantee you your time is not worth nothing.
So let's start with $200 as the absolute minimum for a beginner, just starting out with a point and shoot 360 camera. That is what I would consider the starting point. When you go out for your very first paid client, whatever that number is for you, again, minimum is $200: that is the starting point and it grows and grows from there.
You go on your first professional shoot. You might charge that $200 just to build your confidence, to prove to yourself that you can do it. It's okay, the world isn't going to end, if you charge a client money for your work, and then you've proven it to yourself, then you can start scaling those prices up and offering more.
With pricing, it's hard for me to give exact numbers because the thing is, pricing is a very custom thing. There are hundreds of factors that are included with Virtual Tours that could make up any individual Virtual Tour. The amount of photos; the level of editing you put into them; the techniques; the gear that you are using; hosting.
There are so many things that go into pricing and it's a very custom experience. What I would say is, what you need to do is create ... you need to start by creating a package. So put together a package of something, you know, that you are competent and confident at delivering. What does that package involve? How many photos?
What type of photos? What type of camera are you using? Which software are you using to edit this photo? What is your overall turnaround time? Write all of these factors down because that's going to be your first package.
And, that is something you are going to put a number on. So if you're a beginner, it might be like five photos. I'm going to shoot with a basic 360 camera, like the Insta360 ONE X2. And I'm going to edit this in Kuula. And it's going to include basic hotspots and a link to the website of the business. And, maybe that's it for the basic one.
That is now a definite product, the offerings. Not ambiguous, you're not adding stuff later. These are the parameters of the product you're offering. Then you can assign that a price. You can't just keep it open and add stuff later and just being too variant on your prices, because that makes it really hard to price and deliver packages.
What I would suggest is putting some packages together, start with that first package. Once you've done it, and you've offered it to a client or maybe two clients, it's a good idea to offer levels of packages of Virtual Tours. So there's beginner, intermediate and advanced, which is what I teach my students to create. So you need three packages, essentially.
Once you're at, I would say an intermediate level, once you've done your first few shoots, that's when you need to start putting together packages, a pitch deck maybe, and just being really specific about what you're outlining, what you're delivering in each of those three packages. So that's when--
- What's an example of what's in package two and package three?
- Good question. That's when you're going to take these variables, like the photos, like the amount of editing, the techniques that you're using, you might have some Add Ons like Google Street View upload; could be in your medium to high-end packages. There are so many variables you can add, you can shoot with high-end equipment.
You can have more interactive hotspots that incorporate elements of the business more, informational hotspots, extra photos that go within the Virtual Tour.
There are so many things you can add, but what I'm going to do now is give you a rough ballpark figure of what I think rough prices would be for each of these three packages and roughly what would be in each of them, if that would be helpful to everyone watching.
So, okay, here's how I see it. Here are the ballpark figures for beginner, intermediate and advanced.
For beginner, let's say it's a five photo tour with an entry level 360 camera, really basic editing. You can use in-built HDR, if you want, if you're a beginner. The ballpark figure would be roughly $200 to $500 a tour for maybe five to 10 photos.
And again, this would depend on you and what you decide to offer. You can offer the high-end of the beginner level or the low end.
So that would depend on whether it's the lower end in being $200 or the higher end being $500. For intermediate; let's say we're putting this tour together ... this package together for ourselves now.
I'm going to say, it's going to be a 10 photo tour that we're going to offer. And it's going to do with a medium range, 360 camera. So maybe something like a Ricoh Theta Z1, or could be maybe an XPhase Pro S or maybe a QooCam 8K if you can get good results with it. And you're doing a little bit more with the editing.
You're using a slightly better platform, maybe you're offering Google Street View and maybe your interface looks a bit more professional with your end result.
That's when you can start charging more. So for intermediate, you could charge anywhere from $300 to $1,200 a tour depending on how many of those things you want to offer.
Again, it depends what you want to offer yourself. If you want to keep it super-simple; if it's only a couple of photos and basic basic editing, and you're at intermediate level, I'd charge closer to $300, but if you want to go above and beyond, offer all those extra things, like all those hotspots, 10 photos, Google Street View, go closer towards $1,200 a tour. Finally, there's--
- I could imagine that it will also depend on what category, what niche you're shooting for, because if you're a residential real estate and your expectation is $500 for the tour, there may already be a going rate for perhaps an over-saturated space like residential real estate.
- Absolutely! And that is going to be coming up in my next point as well. And my next tip is going to cover real estate and pricing around real estate.
So I would a hundred percent agree with you there. So for these prices, assume I'm not talking about real estate; for now. It's going to be for other types of businesses. There are lots of other types of businesses, which I will also go through. I'll give you a lot of info about the other kinds of businesses you can pitch to.
So yeah, thanks for the correction by the way, because yes, I would agree that these prices are a bit high for real estate, but they're spot on for basically every other type of business. And there are lots of them. Finally, there's advanced.
Let's say we're going to offer anywhere between a five and a 15 photo Virtual Tour with a high-end camera or a DSLR and a panoramic head. That's when you would start charging more. So around $500 to $2,000 a tour.
And yes this is when you're working with high-end clients, big multi-million dollar car brands and hotels that have money like this to spend on anything like they've got a lot more budget for media, for advertising and for content on their website.
And $500 to $2,000 is not a lot of money to them. But you're still offering a premium level Virtual Tour. If you're shooting with a DSLR and a panoramic head, you’re editing in a high-end Virtual Tour software like 3D Vista Virtual Tour Pro, like KRPano like Pano2VR, and you're offering some advanced things within your edits.
Again Google Street View is always a really good value add, but you can also add 360 videos and anything else you feel confident in delivering that would really take that production up a notch, the next level to make it integrate nicely within the Hilton Hotels website or the Ferrari website.
That is obviously something that's going to be a massive value to big businesses like that. And I've got to say, I know that a lot of your audience, Dan, are real estate focused, I just want to share with you guys that people in niches outside of real estate are doing this.
They're charging this amount and more, there would be some Virtual Tour photographers that would laugh at me for the prices I just quoted because it's too low. So there are 100 percent people out there charging these numbers for other niches.
So don't think that there's not, don't think that the average market rate is $200 for a tour because it's not, it's just real estate. There's definitely--
- I think even that's a great tip that may be a bonus tip 11. Which is if you're shooting residential real estate and you're finding a race-to-the-bottom on pricing, then you might consider looking at some other niches where photographers are getting more than what you're getting shooting residential real estate.
- Yes, 100 percent. Yep and that is coming up in 60 seconds in my next point. Just to wrap up how much should you charge question? I'd also add that within my Virtual Tour Pro course, I do have a pricing calculator. If you want to know the exact numbers, we literally created it from the ground up where you put in all of your variables.
You put in the amount of photos. You put in your technique. You put in the kind of gear you're using and the price of that. The software you're using. There are so many variables ... it'll basically spit out the exact number you should charge for each of your packages. If you're interested in that, it comes in the middle of the Virtual Tour Pro package.
The final thing I'd add on pricing and packages is that they should grow over time. You don't want to be charging the exact same amount for 20 years. You need to go up and up. This is the only way to scale your business. You need to be offering more for more financial value. Don't want to--
- I'm sorry, Ben, if I could just do a follow up on that is, you've mentioned kind of a small, medium and large package. What about doing it as an Add On to one package?
And say, here's my package, but if you would like an Add On of this, that, or the other. Do you recommend doing packages that are all inclusive or do you recommend offering Add Ons as well?
- Yeah, that's a great question. And I think you can do it both ways. So what you're referring to is an up-sell. So you might sell them on package one, and then there's an upsell of Google Street View upload for an extra $100. That is definitely a great thing to think about. Something else to think about is keeping your pricing simple and easy to understand.
And I found from my experience, three options is the magic number. Three is just the right amount of things to choose between.
You don't want four, five, 10, 20. It's like, imagine if you're going to a restaurant, I don't know if you've ever been to a place where they've just got about 200 things on the menu. And, you could probably have 200 things like, you're feeling pretty open-minded and you can't make a decision.
So you just feel so overwhelmed and eventually you find something, but it may or may not be what you wanted, or maybe you just go to the restaurant next door; because they've only got three options that look good to you. It's the same with pricing of anything really.
You've got to make it simple and super-clear what you're getting. I found three as the magic number, and you can always include those up-sells within those packages.
I found that to be the best when you, when you go over that full outline of things you're going to include in each package. Include those up-sells, especially in your middle to high-end packages. Okay, so this moves me on to tip number five for growing a profitable Virtual Tour business. And that is which niches should you target?
And I'm glad we're on the same page on this one. So there's obviously real estate, and I know a lot of you guys out there shooting real estate, and yes, it is very saturated. And you're always going to feel that sense of competition and that desire to undercharge for your work, for the hope that you'll actually win the job.
And that is not really a sustainable business model. I'm afraid to say also, Realtors aren't often working with massive budgets.
Like if you want to make money with your business, you want to go to places and people that have budget: a proper budget that is worth your time. I think real estate is really something that drives the overall asking price for a tour and your overall rates down. Anyone in real estate feels that … need to compete.
I'm going to ask you guys to be open-minded and consider some other niches for the rest of this talk. And hopefully for yourself in the immediate future, I would really be happy if you considered some other niches outside of real estate, because there are a lot of other businesses that you can be targeting for Virtual Tours.
- Before you describe those others, I would say for our Community, because you would say, if it's a race-to-the-bottom, why do our photographers in our Community do residential real estate?
The answer is that professional real estate photographers are making a living from photography and aerial and video. And Virtual Tours is an Add On. And, an Add On may only be 15% or 20% of their income. They're not solely doing Virtual Tours. It's really, "I'm a residential real estate ... "I'm a professional residential real estate photographer.
My clients are asking for Virtual Tours." So I offer it as an Add On. And, if I can get a couple of hundred dollars while I'm already there on a shoot, I'm happy.
But, if you are just starting out and you target residential real estate and you think, "Oh, I'm going to be shooting Virtual Tours and that's all I'm going to be doing for residential real estate agents."
There'll be a pretty big awakening to find out, "Oh my gosh! They're willing to pay so much less than any other niche that I can't make a sustainable Virtual Tour business solely doing Virtual Tours for residential real estate."
And I think that's the kind of the differentiator. Are you a professional real estate photographer and you want to add Virtual Tours or are you planning a Virtual Tour business and it's completely in a different niche.
- Yeah, that's a great point. Definitely and yeah, say that's absolutely a good way of describing it and yeah, I would agree that real estate Virtual Tours are definitely a great Add On, or almost an up-sell when you're offering other services.
So yeah, that's a really good thing definitely. So yeah, with that said, I'd definitely ask you guys to consider these individual Virtual Tour shoots that can demand a higher price to justify doing just that.
So if you could have your real estate day in your week, and then you have another niche that is going to be much more profitable for you and you can do just a Virtual Tour of that. So a good way of going about this ...
So thinking about other niches, a good way of thinking about it is, is this business doing well? How are they making money? Is this the kind of niche where they've got marketing budget? Normally these kinds of businesses are making a significant amount of money. I would say the best ones are making probably around $1 million plus a year.
If possible, unless you're a complete beginner, you'd want to avoid the local corner shop. Or, the local takeaway place, because they're not going to have a $1,000 for a Virtual Tour.
Think about anywhere that would be making $1 million a year plus, especially if you're on the intermediate to advanced level. ...
I'm going to go through a big long list of great niches to pitch a Virtual Tours now. So I would strongly suggest getting a pen and paper or get out your notepad on your computer because there we go, very good. So we've got lots of them coming.
All right, so my top niches outside of real estate are: hotels and boutique hotels; bed and breakfasts; holiday houses; or any other type of accommodation based business.
Dan, you're not going to have enough fingers. I'm afraid - you'd have to get out your toes as well. Middle to high-end restaurants; fine dining; high-end dining; bars; clubs and cafes; shopping malls; and retail stores; ideally where the stock doesn't change too frequently.
Car showrooms; sales showrooms; museums; art galleries; historic buildings; theaters; cinemas; and music venues. Anywhere you go to shop ... or go maybe go for a good time and you want to see the venue first. So this also includes sports facilities.
The sports of any kind, there are lots of sports out there; gyms; health clubs; or any kind of recreational based venue.
Next would be medical facilities like dentists; doctors; surgeries; chiropractor and old age facilities; because in situations like that, instilling trust and comfort with those types of locations is actually really important. So a Virtual Tour can definitely help with that.
- Ben, these niches are obviously affected by COVID. so if you're a gym and you're closed or a restaurant and you can't serve meals, certainly I would say, I would imagine you're in Sydney. You're in Australia. You're way ahead of doing a great job on COVID. Whereas I'm in Atlanta. I'm in the United States.
I think we're the leaders in doing everything incorrectly in terms of controlling COVID. So, we do have a lot of businesses that are closed.
Hotels that are at less occupancy; restaurants that are not open; gyms that are not open. Is it a good time to still approach them because the business is empty and you have an opportunity to shoot a space that would normally be hard to shoot?
Or, do you have to kind of modify this niche discussion to say, well, if it's COVID put these 10 aside for the moment and focus on these 10 that are doing particularly well or particularly challenged during COVID?
- Yeah, good question. So this is obviously going to depend on wherever you live in the world and whether these places are actually open and looking to do business, but I can say pretty confidently, most businesses still want to be in business right now, and they're going to be hurting big time because people are reluctant to come out and visit, which is why a Virtual Tour is actually one of the most valuable things they can have because it allows for an online visitation of their premises.
I would say absolutely all of these niches still apply and it would be easier to shoot because you're going to have less people in the actual physical location.
Of course take care of, be sensible. If the advice is not to go outside, then don't go outside. It just depends where you are in the world and what the rules are.
But I would say, absolutely, this is the best time to be shooting Virtual Tours because these businesses are all hurting and they need that solution to share their business somehow with the people that are in lockdown and can't visit the place in real life. I just think Virtual Tours have proven to be a really good solution to that problem. ... Continuing on with my list, pet grooming and--
- Oh, I'm sorry, please continue.
- Yeah, okay no worries. Pet grooming, vet and any kind of animal-based businesses are great candidates for a Virtual Tour, lots of pet and vet Virtual Tours out there I've noticed.
Wedding venues; corporate venues; or one-off location rentals like photo and video studios and offices; universities and colleges; aviation; luxury planes and high-end vehicles with it where the tour is focused on creating an excellent 360 experience inside the vehicle.
And yet there are hundreds or there are heaps and heaps of other niches outside the list I just gave you that are also being shot.
But the ones I just outlined there are probably the most popular ones right now for Virtual Tours, especially over the past year. And so if you're thinking about any new niches to expand into, I would go over that list again, because it's heaps and heaps of great businesses there. That would definitely be open.
- Yeah, I see that this is a great thought starter, particularly for We Get Around Network Forum Community that are pretty obsessed with real estate to say, hey, okay, your bread and butter is shooting residential real estate, but you have the extra time, if you could be shooting for the same amount of time and earning three or four times the amount of money, maybe it's good to get started in an additional niche.
Is there any recommendation within those niches in terms of focusing on how one should choose, which niche might be appropriate for them?
- That is a great question. So you need to think about firstly, what kind of niches you would enjoy working with. You shouldn't necessarily go out and target everything.
But what I would do is start writing down the ones that you are most interested in shooting for and the ones they're most likely to have a budget.
So, and look this also depends on the area you live and how many businesses there are around. If you live in a big city, there is no shortage of great Virtual Tour candidates out there. If you're in a small town, you're probably going to have to expand that to all the niches in town. If there's just one street in your area, then you're probably going to have to include all of them.
But if you're in a city, which I think most of us would be, you should start by choosing a few of them. I would say, start with just one. Expand into one other niche. It doesn't have to be a massive task to begin with again, we're just breaking things down step by step. We're going to start with one step of expanding into one niche. So let's say we want to start pitching car showrooms, that's a fantastic niche for Virtual Tours.
Big demand for Virtual Tours of car showrooms right now. So you'd start pitching to just that niche. And then maybe you want to expand into one more. So maybe it's boutique hotels. That's another excellent niche for Virtual Tours.
And you can expand into that and I can tell you - I know you would be similar in many cities around the world, but in Sydney, the city I live, there are hundreds and hundreds of car showrooms and boutique hotels. And that was to have about 30 things I just listed. And there's obviously a lot more business types, but yeah, one,
I would advise going one at a time, choose the niches that most appeal to you and the ones you think are in your area the most and start from there. But absolutely I agree with you on the price issue as well, because there's no question. These types of businesses are going to have much more budget than real estate, anywhere two to 10 times, the amount of budget for a Virtual Tour than a real estate Virtual Tour.
So would that not be worth spending a day of your time outreaching to just one single niche with your Virtual Tour services?
I think it would be. So, that's the end of tip number five about niches. And again, I go into a lot more detail in my Virtual Tour Pro course about great niches to choose.
Next, we're going to move on to how to find these new Virtual Tour leads in these niches and one of the best and free methods for doing this and winning and pitching new Virtual Tour clients is through Google, more specifically Google Maps.
This is such an easy thing to do. It's completely free. You can do it on any device, do it in your own time. But, it really is as simple as going onto Google. And so let's say we've chosen a niche.
So it's car showrooms. What we do is go to Google. Type in car showrooms in: insert your city. So mine, Sydney. Car showrooms in Sydney, and then you go over to the Google Maps tab and you see all of the local businesses that show up as car showrooms in Sydney.
And I know for a fact that I've got about 10 of them within my eye line of my apartment here, I'm on the 12th floor of my apartment. I can actually see them from my apartment.
So there's lots of them around Sydney. What I do is go through Google Maps, almost like I'm walking down the streets. I'll start with the first one. I'll go, I'll click into their website, look for a point of contact, record that, and then move on to the next one. Then I might get maybe 20 leads there and--
- Best point of contact.
- Yeah and I'm going to talk about the best point of contact in a moment as well, but yeah, Google. Google finding the best point of contact through those niches, going through them one at a time, walk down the street, slowly expand your area that you're searching in, trying to get a solid amount of leads. So let's say at least 10, maybe 50 or a hundred if you're feeling ambitious.
It's actually really easy type, honestly, go to Google type in boutique hotels in Los Angeles. You will have hundreds and hundreds of results.
There will be no shortage of great leads to contact. So wherever you are in the world, just change those two variables of business type and city. And there are so many different combinations of these things that you will have no shortage of businesses, but Google is the best way to do this, to find great niches and to find great leads in those niches.
So that's definitely what I would suggest doing. Point number seven, we're onto now. And that is who should you talk to and who is the best point of contact? So you're clearly reading my mind, Dan. So yeah, so this is an important one. So who is the best point of contact?
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And often when you outreach to a business, the first person you reach is not going to be the best point of contact. It is probably going to be the receptionist or the generic email that all the emails end up at that gets sent to that business. It's important to recognize this, that there is almost like a barrier to the important people.
You have to actively go and find the important person that makes the decisions. And often that is going to be the marketing manager, the owner, or maybe the manager of that business; depending on the business, how big it is and so on.
Your goal ideally should be finding the marketing manager of that business because often they're the ones that make the decisions; and they're the ones that have the money and the budget for the Virtual Tour.
You've got to get to them because you can pitch the receptionist all day long, but they're the receptionist and they don't make those decisions.
When you get through to a receptionist, you might want to ask, can I speak to the marketing manager or email, could you please forward this onto marketing and so on? So yeah, that's just really important that you find the right person.
Otherwise you're going to waste a lot of time talking to the wrong people. This also brings me to another point I want to talk about in terms of communicating with clients for the first time or a potential client. And that is, "how do you do it?"
So there are three ways, three main ways that I know of anyway, that you can do this. So there's email; there's call; and there's showing up in person. And I know all of them get used a lot, but I'm going to make the point here.
And this is my opinion. And it seems to be the way we're going right now, feel free to disagree.
But, what I've noticed is that the most effective way of pitching a client is through email, not through showing up, cold showing up at a business or cold calling a business.
And there's many reasons for this. So yeah, why I think email is the best and I think cold calling or cold showing up can actually waste a lot of your time.
No question, it's a really good way to waste your time. It's just showing up randomly at businesses. So some of the reasons I think those aren't the best approach is that when you cold call or show up, it's not targeted.
So you're just showing up to any random business in town. And like what are the odds of you going down your local street and to any random business and trying to convince them on a Virtual Tour, it's not really targeted at all.
It's just like, you're a random person showing up with a random service that they probably don't even need. It's not targeted. And when you're outreaching the clients, you need to be targeting with a lot of specificity.
And if you're going out and spending your time on calling or showing up, it's a much more random approach. And it's going to waste your time a lot more than a more targeted approach of using email. I also say that businesses are busy. Like if you call any business or shop at any business, they're probably busy doing something and they don't always have the time to listen to your pitch. Like any businesses that's running now, especially in the times of COVID, they're going to have problems on their hands.
They'll be busy dealing with inventory and management, and they're not always open to someone randomly showing up and giving them a sales pitch. They want to read your pitch or receive your pitch in their own time. And email is the only one that lets them do that. Often, if you call it a random time, it's a time that's good for you, but it's not good for them. And what's more important is that the time is good for them; not good for you.
So an email is a much less intrusive form of reaching out and letting these people read it and respond in their own time, as opposed to forcing them to respond when they're not ready to really receive your pitch. I think email is definitely a really good reason, a good way to pitch ... They're likely to dismiss you, especially if you're not super-confident at sales as well.
So I mean - we all receive hundreds of phone calls throughout the average year of someone trying to sell something we don't need.
And very frustrating, you just want to hang up on them straight away. But I think we all just have this level of, it's like a security barrier. It's like if someone calls, we assume the worst, we assume they're trying to scam us or spam or something.
And it takes a lot of convincing otherwise that they're not going to do that. And I just think it's really hard and you've got to be a really good salesperson to be able to do that and get past that barrier of not coming across as a spammer--
- On the email, could you comment on where does LinkedIn fit in on that discussion and then maybe a broader conversation with social media?
- Absolutely and I think that's a great point as well. So here's the deal I think, showing up and calling are communication methods of the past. That's what we've done over the past many, many years, but we're in 2020.
As much as we don't want to be right now, we're in 2020. And a lot has changed over the years. And technology is such a big thing and it's so integral to the way we're communicating. And the way we communicate now is through email, through social media, through LinkedIn; and various other platforms.
So this is how you reach people and have a conversation in the least intrusive way possible. Showing up and calling are intrusive. Social media, leaving a comment in someone's inbox or sending them a LinkedIn message or sending them an email is a non-intrusive way. And, it's how we communicate in 2020 and 2021. Absolutely!
I would say you will definitely get a higher response, right? If you use these communication tools that everyone is using in 2021, because a lot of businesses don't even have phones anymore. They just got a mobile phone. I don't know about you, Dan, but I haven't had a landline in probably like 10 years. I've just got this thing here.
- What's a landline? ;-)
- It's like an old school thing with a swear league cord. Yeah, I think our family had one when I was about 10-years-old, but then we stopped when mobile phones came out.
We don't really have landlines anymore. I genuinely think phone calls are becoming a thing of the past. Not entirely, I mean, we still got mobile phones obviously, but, there are many ways to communicate now.
And I think Dms; and especially email is going to be probably a number one outreach for Virtual Tours for the reasons I mentioned above.
I'm not saying that you can't still show up at a business and you still can't call. There are many factors that need to line up for you to be able to do that and have success. Like you need to be a good sales person.
You need to be great on the phone and know exactly what to say, what sequence you need to call them at a time that is convenient for them. They need to be in the frame of mind where they're actually open to receiving your pitch.
But it's unlikely that all those things are going to line up.
The stars will align and all of those things will happen and you'll call them at the exact perfect time that they're ready to receive your pitch because most of the time we're all focused on doing what we're doing each day and often that's not receiving other people's pitches. So if we can get back to them in our own time, then we'd be more open to actually responding and wanting to know more.
- I think that messages; email are also scalable; as well. It's hard to scale going out, especially during COVID. It's going to take a lot of your time knocking on doors.
- It never even occurred to me to actually go door-to-door or to use the phone. Do people do that?
- Yeah they do. They definitely do. I know it's an old fashioned approach, but there are hundreds of Virtual Tour photographers out there who are going out, just knocking on doors, asking, hey, do you want a Virtual Tour?
And then the person closes the door on them. "Like, no, like don't annoy me. I'm busy doing something." So yeah, believe it or not. There are still people that are using those old fashioned communication tools.
- I mean, I obviously get phone calls, people soliciting me and I find that amazing. I don't mind giving out my phone number, 404-303-7311 Extension 1, 404-303-7311 Extension 1. And the reason is; I don't answer the phone.
The call will be transcribed. I say, please speak slowly and carefully. And it transcribes the message. And I get an email because I personally like email and I've used that process really to screen out people who are soliciting me for unrelated stuff.
- Yeah, exactly.
- And I just can't imagine, like why somebody would want to pick up the phone and call me to try and solicit business. I don't know you. Who are you? Why are you calling me?
- Exactly! It's so invasive. And there are so many people trying to get in touch with all of us every day that we've just permanently got these filters are trying to filter out these annoying people that hit here to sell stuff to us, or that are only calling with that best interest in mind, not ours.
They're just trying to sell us some random product that we don't even need. So, yeah, I think that's probably something everyone can relate to.
It's like, we all get these calls and these pitches that we don't want; we're not interested in. And we have to, like our subconscious mind has told us, filter these people out. They are here to waste our time and take advantage of us. So businesses--
- Let me respond; when I'm a prospect, when it's good for me, it's like you called me and told me, even if you had an armored car filled with $1 million and you wanted to deliver the loading dock, sometimes it's not the best time to get that phone call.
- Yeah, no, I'm feeding my cat right now. Call me back in 10 minutes. Yeah okay, so that brings me to tip number eight for building profitable Virtual Tour business. And that is, what to actually say to these new clients. We found our niches. We've found the contact for them. We found the best person to talk to
- which is going to be the marketing manager - and the person making the decisions. We know how we're going to talk to them. Ideally, email, and look, you can use phone and in-person, but I think that that would be step two and three.
So once you've gotten ... Once you've received interest from the email, then you can start talking to them on the phone and shop in-person. But then in terms of the sales pitch, the next step is what do you actually say once you've got them on the wall by email, or maybe eventually by phone, what do you actually say to gain their interest?
So, like we just said, nobody likes a sales pitch where the salesman is really only trying to sell them a product for their own benefit. Even if it's a product they don't need. So it's important to have that in the back of your mind. How it's a Virtual Tour actually going to help this person.
The goal isn't to sell as many Virtual Tours as possible. The goal is to add value to this business. That's it! Can a Virtual Tour add value? Yes? No? If it doesn't, then don't pitch the Virtual Tour to the business. It's so important that you make your outreach and your pitch email about the value you're going to give to them.
That's it, that should be your primary focus. You need to make it about them. It's not about you. You don't need to go and start telling them about yourself and your work; your portfolio, all of those amazing tours you've made; all of the awards you've won.
They don't care about that! Because they're not even in the frame of mind of wanting a Virtual Tour at this point. It's all useless. Like they just don't care if you're the world's best Virtual Tour photographer, they don't care if they don't even need a Virtual Tour. What they want is their problem to be solved.
We all have problems. And there are solutions to those problems. That is what they're more interested in. And that's what all of us, as human beings are interested in. We want our problems being solved. You need to reverse engineer what their problem might be.
If you're reaching out to a business for the first time, think about it. What problems are they facing? What kind of marketing or advertising challenges or sales goals might they have that might not be fulfilled right now? And start speaking to those. Be specific and really try your best to identify the types of problems those businesses might have and how a Virtual Tour is a solution to those problems.
Because if you start speaking to them like that, instead of, hey, I'm an amazing Virtual Tour photographer and my packages are this much and blah, blah, blah. That is how you win them, because you're saying, hey, do you have a problem?
I can solve it. Here's a solution. Do you want to know more? If so, let me know, because I've got a great solution for you.
Don't even need to talk about prices in the first email, because you've not even qualified them as a good candidate yet. And they haven't responded as someone that has the problem that you've got the solution to.
So it's so important, think about like, you're talking to a friend, you wouldn't be so overtly one way minded with a friend, you'd be more open-minded like, "Hey, how's everything going?" "Good, everything okay?" "Anything you want to talk about?"
It needs to be a real human conversation like that because businesses are going to be hurting. They're going to have problems, especially around COVID and Virtual Tours are a solution, but you need to talk to them about the problem that it's solving first.
You can't be saying here's my Virtual Tour. ... without any context whatsoever to begin with, because it will just come across, like someone's calling you on the phone, trying to sell you a new mobile phone deal when you don't need one.
- Ben, excuse me, I'd like to amplify what you described because I get a lot of inbound requests for Virtual Tours, not surprisingly.
And even though I'm in Atlanta, I continue to shelter in place. So I refer those to other Virtual Tour photographers, but because of the nature that We Get Around Network Forum, I do get inbound inquiries all across the United States.
And I do typically ask some questions about what their needs are with what problem they're trying to solve. And then I make an introduction to a Member in our Community.
And I typically will say, "Kindly REPLY ALL so that I know that you've connected." Anyway, that's a long way of saying, I see a lot of emails from; I'm doing a trusted introduction and someone is running through their resume of I've done this many tours. I have this expertise.
I use this kind of gear. This is how I charge. And all they really needed to do was to say, "Hey Dan, thanks for the introduction. Ben, how may I help you?"
- Yes, that's it! 100% great phrasing! "How may I help you?" That's it, that's what you need to be communicating when you're outreaching the businesses, "how may I help you?" Not, "how may you help me?"
- Yes. And in that case of the referral, they've already self-identified that they actually do want a Virtual Tour, but still ask the question because it's absolutely amazing if you ask the question, "How may I help you?" ...
That's open-ended question to begin a conversation. ... You may get so many notes where people have told you essentially how to help them buy your services.
- Yes, yeah, absolutely. And like, yes, spot on. It's all about having an authentic conversation. That's it and not having a copy paste type email exchange where you--
- Thank you because that's what I get, when I see the CC that the photographer has copied me on … it can often be a very long, and sometimes I think they even shoot themselves in the foot because the client is in the niche of this.
And the photographer has responded with a boiler plate on a niche that's unrelated. And all of a sudden, there's this disconnect about, "Why are you telling me all this information?" And then it's, "Oh, it's not what I need."
So anyway, I just want to amplify what you're saying as have it all be about the prospect and what it is that they need, what problem they have that likely you can help them solve.
- Yes, absolutely and that's why authentic communication is so important. Don't copy paste, that copy paste it just screamed spam email. Like "dear business owner" "To whom it may concern" like these very generic words, they don't make it past the first filter level where we filter out the spam is the scammers.
They don't make it past there. You've got to get past that first level. Because there are a couple of levels you're going to get through and people can smell a copy paste email a mile away. So don't ever copy paste. Honestly it really is worth spending the extra five minutes to ...
Even if you're working with a template, spend the extra five minutes to tailor specifically to that business because that's going to increase your chances of conversion significantly because they feel like you're actually talking to them and to their problems, not just you trying to get business for your own sake. So it is really important.
And it's especially important when you're first sending the email, that within the first one to two lines, you have something that shows that you've researched the business and you know who they are. That's going to take a bit of time.
You'll going to have to do that yourself. So go online, see what they're doing. Maybe go to their Instagram, say and make a personalized comment. "Oh! Hey, I see you've got a new feature wall, your place looks great." "And I've noticed that you didn't have a Virtual Tour on your website."
And then you can keep the email going from there. It's so important that you open that conversation, like it's actually addressed to them. And it's not just a copy paste sales pitch because no one ever responds to a copy paste, sales pitch. It’s extremely rare. Maybe one in a thousand people will. Whereas the success rate will be much higher, like closer to one in 10, when it's a personalized message like that. So that is so important personalizing--
- And keep it short.
- Yup. Keep it short and sweet.
- Yeah we all like short communication, we're all busy people. Keeping it short and specific is the way to go. And that's how you're going to get the attention of new businesses. And at the end of the email, I always like to put myself in their shoes.
I pretend that I am the business owner or the marketing manager, reading the email, so I'll go back to the top and I'll put my marketing manager hat on and I'll make sure every line sounds good. It's like, "Oh! Wow! Would I buy this myself?" If not, okay, I'll just change a few words here.
Maybe I'll cut out some unnecessary information. Always put yourself in their shoes before you send it. Because sometimes we can get a bit over excited when we write emails and write things that actually don't come across that well when read back.
So it's really important that you stress the value on them, make it all about them and not about you. You can talk about yourself later when you're getting into pricing and packages and whatnot, but you don't need to have the pricing conversation in the very first email. It's not necessary. Again, it's too much information too soon.
- That's like a bonus tip, unless that's nine or 10.
- Or there's just an endless amount of bonus tips.
- That's a bonus tip, don't talk about money.
- Yes, yeah not yet! Because if they're not interested, they don't care about the prices yet. They want to know that your service is going to solve their problem. That's more important. It's a more important conversation than money, especially in the first few bits of conversation.
You need to make sure that you're actually serving them and that a Virtual Tour would genuinely bring value to that business. Tip number nine for growing a Virtual Tour, a profitable Virtual Tour business. And that is show them samples of what a Virtual Tour actually is.
We can try describing a Virtual Tour all day long. They are likely not going to know what it is or have any idea what you're talking about.
They probably say, "Oh! Yeah. It's like that three day thing with your phone, right?" "That's what iPhones do." No, no, it's not 3D It's a 360 Virtual Tour. This is another challenge of phone calls. You can't visualize what you're actually talking about and you can try describing all day long, but you're never going to be able to 100% accurately describe what a Virtual Tour is and how cool it is and how much value it can bring to a business.
So a sample is so important and it's going to be one of your best assets in winning new business, because it saves you all that time explaining.
You just say, click the link to see what I'm talking about. It really makes it crystal clear because I'm sure they may have seen a Virtual Tour before, they may have navigated Google Street View, but they may not have seen it within this context of actually helping their business before.
Even if you're the best salesman in the world, you still can't describe what that actually looks like and what the end result is with 100% accuracy. It's so important that you include some kind of sample to show them what you're talking about.
- I can imagine also, if you specialized in a particular niche, it'd be a little bit easier to reach out to a car dealer with another car dealer's Virtual Tour.
- Absolutely, definitely and yeah, look, this can be something that comes from your own portfolio. Again, it depends how much experience you've got in certain niches, but it doesn't even have to be from your own portfolio.
You can find Virtual Tours in every niche out there that are already online, that can be found in so many places like Facebook Groups, Google, and even a lot of the Virtual Tour platforms. So let's say Kuula or 3D Vista Virtual Tour Pro.
They have samples on their websites in many different niches that you can use the samples. You don't need your own samples if you don't have them.
But, you need to make sure you can actually deliver on that as well. So don't go sharing an amazing high-end DSLR Virtual Tour when you're starting out with a one-shot 360 camera and you can't produce results to that level.
So make sure it's on the same level that you can deliver, but, it doesn't necessarily have to be something in your portfolio because there are so many niches out there and you may not have a tour in a certain niche. It's totally fine to go and find other people's work to share just as a reference, because it's such a vital selling tool.
- And again amplify: at your level. So important not to over promise something that you can't deliver.
- Exactly! The goal is to under promise and over deliver, not the other way around, but, at the very least you need to be able to deliver on what you're promised.
That's the minimum to deliver what you promised. Make sure it's all on your level, but yeah, there are heaps of samples and it's such a good selling tool, showing them what it is.
It just makes it instantly makes sense to them when they've got it there in front of them. It's in your best interest to get a sample Virtual Tour in front of them as quickly as you possibly can so they can understand what you're actually talking about.
And, ideally I'd include this in your first outreach to them so they can know that it is what you're describing. It's not an iPhone trick. It's not 3D. You don't need 3D glasses to do it. It's something that can be viewed on a computer or a mobile device and is very easy to navigate. So important that you find a good sample.
Okay, so this brings me to tip number 10 and tip number 10 is about scaling. How do you scale your Virtual Tour business into your full-time job and beyond. How can you take things to the next level in many different ways, because scaling isn't just a one-size-fits-all thing. There are so many ways you can scale a business.
In fact, I'm going to give you 10 tips. No, I've already given you 10. I'm going to give you 10 tips, just on scaling. 10 ways you can scale your Virtual Tour a business. Yep, get your, get your pen ready. So 10 ways I'll just brush over them quickly, but they're all very important. And they're all excellent ways of scaling your business.
Once you've developed a certain competence in what you're doing and confidence in your ability to deliver. You want to scale as quickly as you can. There's no reason for you not to be scaling. Here are 10 ways you can scale your Virtual Tour business.
The first way is with a website. At the very start of this talk, I said, you don't need a website. So the first way you can scale is building a website and this can be done extremely cheaply and easily with platforms like Squarespace, Wix or Weebly.
Put one together really cheap, really easy. There are so many beautiful templates you can use it to look very professional. Or, if you already have a website, make your website better, you can always improve your website, improve the design.
You can work on your SEO, your Google rankings. There are so many ways you can improve your website because that's going to be a really good tool for you as you scale. Another one is having more tours on your website or your portfolio. So as you naturally go out, find more clients, you're going to have more to put in your portfolio.
It's in your best interest to include your best tours in the niches you think are the ones you want to pitch to in the future. So you want to expand your portfolio on your website as well. That's going to be a really helpful thing. Next is improving your work.
So focus on producing better work, get really good at using your camera and make your end result better and better each time.
I know personally, every time I go out shooting, I will always try and be 0.01% better. Every time, even though I feel like I'm at a really good level, I'm always trying to get just a little bit better each time. And that's something you should be aiming to do with every shoot you're going out on, whether it's professional or just for fun.
You always need to be working on delivering better results and shooting better photos. Another way to scale is through offering bigger and better Virtual Tours. So this comes into your packages and your offerings.
So you can offer more photos and you can offer more effects hotspots Add Ons within your Virtual Tour and more value. And that you're including, let's say in your software, you're adding better graphics or the logo is in a really nice place. Like it's well positioned, the call-to-actions within the Virtual Tour are better, you can always make your actual presentation of the Virtual Tour better and bigger and more impressive. Another way to scale, scale your gear, buy yourself more gear, upgrade from a beginner camera to an intermediate camera, to an advanced camera.
Scale your software from a beginner to intermediate, to advanced and so on. Your monopods, tripods, everything you're doing.
Your softwares you're using, scale that. All those things can be scaled. I always make a habit of reinvesting every dollar I earn into making me $2 tomorrow and $4 the day after that. And $8 a day after that, and no, I'm not talking literally about $2 and $4. I'm talking about $400, $800 and so on. Like it's infinite.
The more you invest, the more you will make back. It's really important that you're always upgrading your kit and that includes software as well. Another way to scale is expanding your search into a wider and wider area.
If you live in a big city, you might start within a two kilometer or maybe two mile bubble, and then you can expand it to five and then 10 and 20 and 50 and so on. Another way to scale is you can outreach to new niches.
I went over heaps and heaps of good niches there. So start with one, go to two a second one, then a third, fourth, fifth, until you've either found one that you love, that you're really happy with doing, that you're getting regular clients with, or a bunch of niches that deliver you enough regular work, and that have been proven to you as niches, that there is a demand for Virtual Tours and that you can continually get Virtual Tours in that niche.
And if certain niches aren't working for you based on your physical location, try another one. There's always going to be another niche.
They're ready to go for you. Another way to scale up your business is offering either up-sells or bigger packages. While I talked about putting packages together initially ... It's always a good idea to reevaluate your packages.
Offer more things and maybe you're not confident with doing Google Street View first up, it can be a bit confusing at first.
Maybe that's something you want to add later down the line, or maybe there's other things you want to start offering, more advanced things like the ability to track e-commerce or offer sales, the e-commerce ability within your Virtual Tours.
That's something that would be of higher value that you could include in your bigger packages. So anything you don't currently have in your middle to bigger packages, start thinking about that.
How can you just add that extra 10% value into your higher package, which will of course demand a higher price.
The next widest scale is combining Virtual Tours with your other offerings and maybe you're also working as a photographer, videographer, drone pilot. You can scale by tailoring your packages to include those things together.
So maybe in the past, you've only offered Virtual Tours, or you've only offered real estate photography. It's time to start thinking about combining those into two things.
So you're selling two things to a business instead of one, that's a great way to scale because naturally you'll be able to up-sell one with the other because it's a similar kind of service, but different kind of value. And you're already there shooting for them on the same day at the same location.
So that's a really good way to scale-up your production and your offerings, the final way to scale your business. And this is the most important one, and that is raise your prices.
And this is something that you need to be doing on a regular basis once a year, minimum. You should be focusing on the other nine things I just mentioned, which will all naturally lead to you, raising your prices because you're producing a much better result, higher production, quality, and more value, which naturally demands a higher price.
That's really important that you're always charging according to the value you're delivering. Always, I would say minimum once a year, reevaluate your prices. And again, I've got a pricing calculator inside my costs, Virtual Tour Pro, and that shows you the exact prices.
And you can keep calculating as your skills go up as your offerings go up, you can keep recalculating higher and higher prices, but it really is important. We all need to eat. We need to pay the rent. We need to put food on the table and get Christmas presents for our family.
You need to think about scaling your business. So you can keep doing that and you can keep doing that stuff to greater levels, because that's why we're all doing it at the end of the day.
So we can start our own businesses, have success, be happy with what we're doing and make it sustainable. And within sustainability comes money, comes finances. You need to have that bit sorted. You can't survive on $200 a tour, one tour a week for the rest of your life. That is not going to be enough for anyone anywhere, really.
That's really important that you think about the long-term sustainability of your business and ultimately it comes down to your prices.
It's just so important that you orient your business and the growth of your business towards the goal of raising your prices slowly over time to the point that you start working with high-end clients and you can charge premium prices, $2,000 plus. $2,000 to $10,000 is actually a common thing for advanced Virtual Tour photographers.
I know it might sound like a lot, but there are some people where $2,000 is the low-end just for like one or two photos and that's it. And it's a real thing. Ideally, you would hopefully want to get to that point, because it means you can, you can produce the best value possible, the highest-end work, and it takes the least amount of your time to do it as well. It really is a win-win and you can obviously charge premium prices.
That's it. Those are my top 10 tips. Hope you walked away from that with enough knowledge to know exactly what to do next. I know I did cover a lot. There were probably about a thousand points in this, so I apologize for going beyond the initial 10, but yeah, there's just so many things.
So many things I see popping up for Virtual Tour photographers because we're a close community online and I see the problems Virtual Tour photographers are facing every day, very much in tune with that. And there are so many things like small little tweaks here and there that make the world of difference.
And I think a lot of this stuff I talked about are those small tweaks that will hopefully lead you to success. Now that you know all this, that's awesome!
But now you've got to go out and actually execute. Don't say, "Oh! Yeah. That was nice. He said, I need to charge more. ''Maybe I'll think about it." No! No! No! Just do it. Just try it.
That's your homework from this talk. I would strongly suggest; go ahead and try it, go do something about, don't just think about it, go and do it because all of this stuff is possible. It is possible to grow a profitable Virtual Tour business.
And if you're struggling right now and you keep doing everything you're doing and you don't change anything, the bad news is I'm afraid you're going to keep getting the results you've always gotten.
Please do use any or all of the tips you've learned here. If you did enjoy what you heard then, like Dan mentioned at the start of the presentation, this is really, it's just the tip of the iceberg compared to what I've got inside my Virtual Tour Pro course, because yeah--
- And I'm going to ask you about the Virtual Tour Pro course, but before I do, there was one theme that was going through a lot of your answers, which was regarding being an artist. Maybe even without saying it being a business person.
So could you comment a little bit more on this idea of whether you're an artist or a business person and perfectionism versus, or do I need to be the best before I actually go out and shoot my first tour?
- Yeah that's really such an important point that you bring up because I'm sure all of us, or most of us are coming from backgrounds as artists, as photographers, videographers, artists, creatives, and we all have high standards for our work; which is a really good thing and a really bad thing because it turns us into perfectionists and turns us into starving artists as a result because we're so obsessed with our art, that that's all that matters.
And the business side of things doesn't matter. And I know we don't consciously think about these things, but unconsciously, we think no, no, we've got to be perfect before we can feel confident enough to go on charging for our work.
And that is the biggest downfall of all photographers and Virtual Tour photographers out there is that they become too obsessed with the photography side and they don't learn the business side of Virtual Tours.
And that's actually the more important side. It's not actually that hard to make a Virtual Tour. News flash! You can actually learn it in a week. Yes. You will need to practice and you'll need to learn from people that know what they're doing, but you can get those lessons. You can get all that information so quickly. We're living in the age of information where you can learn a highly complex thing within a week. You can actually do it.
That is all you need. You just need the basics. You need the basics down pat! You need to be confident that you can deliver the value, but that's it. You don't need to be expert level. You don't need to have done it for 10 years to start charging for your work.
You can start charging for your work quite quickly. So it's important not to be a perfectionist here to understand it from a business point of view. You are offering a tool, the businesses to help them own money.
That's it, it doesn't need to be the most perfect thing ever made. It needs to be good enough that it can achieve that objective.
And if it can, you need to go out and start doing it now and stop trying to be a perfectionist because we've all fallen into the trap of being a perfectionist. Unfortunately, it's a trap that leads us all to being starving artists. If you identify with that, I would employ you to stop and just go out and do it, try it. If it all goes wrong, that's okay.
You can try again next week or tomorrow or next year or whenever, but it's not going to go wrong. Especially if you've taken a very common sense approach to it, by getting the basic knowledge of how to do it first, going out and doing it for a small client, proving to yourself, you can do it and slowly scaling up from there.
- Ben, this has been SO AWESOME! Is there anything that's actually left in the Virtual Tour Pro course?
- No, no, that's it. You've given so much value here of what else could there possibly be?
- Yeah, well, good question. We've been chatting for close to 80 minutes or so. Virtual Tour Pro course is 15 hours long at this point.
And, it's growing and growing almost every single week. So I'm continually adding lessons to it on all of the topics we've talked about and more, it definitely gets a lot more technical. It shows you how to create professional results.
How to get great photos; great Virtual Tours; and step-by-step. How to build that profitable business from scratch. It's something I'm continually adding to.
So over the next year, it's going to get much bigger yet again, and as technology evolves and as demands from businesses evolve and as Virtual Tours as a whole evolve, so does the Virtual Tour Pro course, so it's a continual thing. It's not a once-off one-off purchase and that's it, it keeps growing.
We've got a great Community attached to our course and it really is something that is going to be around for a long time. And it fills in everything, all the blanks you might have about Virtual Tours. So if you're struggling with anything in particular, it's probably covered inside Virtual Tour Pro.
- Who is the best candidate for Virtual Tour Pro? is it a beginner? Is it an expert?
- Yeah, good question. So we actually do have people from all skill levels that have picked up Virtual Tour Pro, and there is something for all of them with that in mind. I definitely did make it with the intention of taking a beginner who might be discovering Virtual Tours for the first time and taking them almost jump-starting them through the process of becoming an intermediate than an advanced Virtual Tour Professional by really covering every last step of the journey from beginner photography techniques, to advanced photography and ending techniques.
We covered a lot of the major Virtual Tour platforms and how to use those really, really well and produce a professional result for your clients.
There's a massive business section in the course as well. And that's something I think a lot of the professionals out there aren't doing too well - with all due respect.
That's something that is a bit, has been a massive value-add from my experience, Virtual Tour Pros out there are that they're great photographers, but then they don't understand business. They've got no idea what to do or how to get paying clients. Absolutely!
- This is part of that focus on sometimes ... We as photographers can obsess on lenses and camera bodies and gear and accessories and tripods and monopods and I think to your point, all that can be taught of what gear do you need?
What are the platform options? What are the camera options? And it's likely that the most valuable thing in your course is probably helping with business development.
- Yeah, that's right. Honestly, I would consider business to be 51% of the battle of the journey of being a Virtual Tour Pro. I mean, yes, nice photos are nice, but if you're the world's best Virtual Tour photographer with no clients, are you really the world's best Virtual Tour photographer or the most successful. So it really is important.
You need both of them to be successful? But you don't need to get to that super-advanced expert level to justify charging for your work. Absolutely. I think business is just so important and your business techniques and strategies should be considered almost more so than your photographic techniques.
Like I said, you need the basics down part, you need to be able to deliver on what you're promising, but, you also need clients to deliver those promises too, to begin with. So, yeah, absolutely. I just think business is such an important element of being a Virtual Tour photographer.
- I've probably completed about 60% plus of the course. I think when you and I talked the last time you were doing the show and WGAN-TV Live at 5, "Which 360 cameras should you buy? Your top 8 features for Virtual Tours; the top 10 tips for starting a Virtual Tour business." Back then, I think that was about a year ago. And we did this show, I think I told you that I was about 70%.
- Dan it's 60%.
- How can I be going backwards? And you've been adding so much content, relevant content that my percent of completion has actually decreased, even though I keep watching sections of the course.
- Yes, sorry about that.
- It's okay I would like to suggest three things: 1. If you're just starting out and Virtual Tours is something that has caught your attention, you can succeed so much faster by getting Virtual Tour Pro. It's a gimme that if you're just starting out and I find that even in the We Get Around Network Forum Community, there's so many people that find us that are trying to figure this all out.
And I just think, "Wow! If they would just invest in a Virtual Tour Pro course they'd be so much farther along in succeeding faster." If when I started my Virtual Tour journey, Virtual Tour Pro was around, I would probably be years ahead of where I am / I was because I would have had the benefit of your course.
- So would I honestly, and that's why I made it because honestly for us creatives, photographers, videographers, Virtual Tour creators, we spend years and years learning stuff on our own. It's not an instant thing.
We have to go out and fail a thousand times before we learn exactly how to do things perfectly. So my goal was Virtual Tour Pro was to give all the best lessons, all of the shortcuts to my students instantly! You don't have to go out and make all the mistakes in the book like I did. Everything is laid out step by step of what to do.
And more importantly, what not to do, because there are so many things we assume are the right thing, but really aren't. And they lead to, to things going wrong and us feeling discouraged. Like we're not good enough.
And it just becomes a self fulfilling prophecy of putting it off and not pursuing this as a full-time job. When everything's laid out for you, like it is in the course, I really do consider it to be at the encyclopedia of Virtual Tours.
Well, that's my goal for it anyway. It really fills in all the gaps that you might be having with the whole Virtual Tours process from beginning to end in starting and scaling a Virtual Tours business.
- Well, I mentioned that there were three things that I wanted to talk about in terms of audiences. So first obviously, if you're a newbie to this whole space, run! Don't walk! Get Virtual Tour Pro course. 2. What may not be as obvious is that if you've been doing Virtual Tours for quite some time, you have so many level-two courses in how to use different platforms and tools.
If you want to succeed faster, going from a basic platform to a more advanced platform, or how to, I mean you could, your Topaz, your Lightroom, Photoshop, all the different tools that you give these advanced courses in ... that you don't have to be a newbie. You can be someone who's already successful with Virtual Tours and get Virtual Tour Pro to take it to the next level.
- Yeah, absolutely, there are so many new things, new gadgets, new software's at our disposal now, and they're coming out and getting better and better every single year. And there's always something else that can improve someone's workflow.
Take a beginner or an advanced person - There's probably going to be something that's going to totally revolutionize the way you do things, whether it's business or the way you shoot and edit and upload your Virtual Tours. There are new technologies coming out all the time. Almost every single day. There is something new and cool that comes out.
- So which is great for those that are already in the business, that Virtual Tour Pro can just help you just get there that much faster.
And the third category I would say is you can be a successful Virtual Tour photographer and still hugely benefit from Virtual Tour Pro from all the business development skills that you are teaching that are specifically along with your colleagues. I want to say Peter and Alex that are helping related to business development so that if you're successful, you can be that much more successful or maybe you've mastered the technical skills of Virtual Tour photography, but you're not succeeding from a business standpoint.
So I think the third audience that I think about for Virtual Tour Pro is those that specifically need help with the business aspect of developing business for Virtual Tours. So even if you've already decided on which platform you like and which camera you're using and what your technology workflow, you still may not be developing as much business that you have potential ... ...
I guess that's me wanting to say our viewers is ... Virtual Tour Pro course by Ben Claremont is AWESOME! Whether you're just starting out, whether you're an experienced Virtual Tour photographer, or you just need help with business development, you will succeed faster with Virtual Tour Pro.
- And I would add to that, there's always something you can be doing better, even in my successful people out there, they're doing 99 things great.
But there's always one thing that could be a little bit better, just a small tweak or a small change here and there that makes the world of difference, myself included.
So even the most advanced Virtual Tour photographers and business people out there are missing key little things that can really shift their business model or their direction towards more success or doing business better or collecting more lasers, always these small shifts here and there that really make the world of difference.
And especially if you're someone that's interested in business, like I said earlier on, you've got to invest money to make money. If you could invest $400 to make $800 tomorrow and then $1,600 next week and so on, would you not do that?
You've got to always think like that as an entrepreneur, as a business owner need to be spending money to make money. And I'm not just saying to break even, I'm saying you spend a dollar to make $2. So that is my goal with Virtual Tour Pro.
And that's what, how you need to think of it is this is going to be a tool that will bring you back easily, the amount you pay for it, but then you get to keep all the tools, all the knowledge forever, and just keep building and growing and scaling a business for hopefully lifetime profit and growth of your Virtual Tour business and your business mind in the long-term, which I know for me, it benefits me every single day, having a really strong, solid business mindset.
- Ben, please take a moment and speak about your Community. That seems like a really essential piece of the Virtual Tour Pro.
- We've also got a dedicated Facebook Group for the Virtual Tour Pro community, which is filled with like-minds. So everyone else is on a very similar journey to many other Virtual Tour Pros that are enrolling in the course. It's a great community to ask questions, share your work. I've also got exclusive feedback videos that I share in there, and it's just a really friendly and collaborative environment for people to ask questions and solve problems and share our frustrations and workflows.
And just getting through all of the barriers that you would normally have to figure out on your own, and you don't have help.
And having a great online community that you can go to anytime you've got an issue or a hurdle you need to overcome is such a valuable asset and such a great resource to really make this a long-term thing for you. So that's something that we offer for free with all three packages of Virtual Tour Pro you get unlimited lifetime access to our Virtual Tour Pro members only Facebook Group.
- Awesome! Ben has been kind enough to extend to the We Get Around Network Forum Community, a savings of 15% on Virtual Tour Pro.
We Get Around Network, we're going to add to that ... 12-months free WGAN-TV Training Academy Membership, when you buy Virtual Tour Pro using our special affiliate link that Ben has provided us and our WGAN coupon code. So the, the link WGAN.INFO/wganvtp
So once again, WGAN.INFO/wganvtp is our special affiliate link when used in combination with the coupon code, WGANVTP for Virtual Tour Pro. That you will save 15% on Virtual Tour Pro whichever version of it. And not surprisingly, they come in three different choices, as well as a free 12-months WGAN-TV Training Academy Membership. Ben, I just had one last question for you.
- Yes go for it.
- Why couldn't you have picked a topic that you felt passionate about?
- You know, I just don't don't really believe in being passionate. I just like talking about boring stuff all day long. Yeah, definitely, take your point. I just love Virtual Tours so much and I love what I do. Like that's one of the things I'm most proud of. Is I get to wake up every day, do something I love, I get to start my own business, make money off my own back. And yeah, it's just such a satisfying thing and it just makes me happy every day. So, yeah, I've just can't help but being passionate, especially about 360 cameras, as you may have seen on my YouTube channel, it's just, I can't help it.
Like I actually can't be boring also. Hi, everybody today, we'll be talking about 360 cameras, like, nah, it's too exciting! It awakens the child within me.
- Yes, awesome! Ben mentioned his YouTube Channel, 106,000 followers on YouTube, 36,000 followers on Instagram. Obviously Ben is super-passionate about Virtual Tours.
He is the go-to Virtual Tour mentor; 360 subject matter expert; creator Virtual Tour Pro course. Ben, thanks so much for being on WGAN-TV Live at 5.
- My pleasure, thank you so much for having me.
- We've been visiting with Ben Claremont from Sydney, Australia. I'm Dan Smigrod founder of the We Get Around Network Forum in Atlanta and you've been watching WGAN-TV Live at 5.
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Save 15 percent on Virtual Tour Pro course by Ben Claremont AND 12 months free WGAN-TV Training Academy Membership with the WGAN Coupon Code WGANVTP using this WGAN Affiliate Link for Virtual Tour Pro Course by Ben Claremont.
Special WGAN Offers
Save 15 percent on Virtual Tour Pro course by Ben Claremont AND 12 months free WGAN-TV Training Academy Membership with the WGAN Coupon Code WGANVTP using this WGAN Affiliate Link Virtual Tour Pro.
Video: WHO is Ben Claremont and WHY does he shoot 360?! | Video courtesy of Ben Claremont YouTube Channel (8 October 2019)
What inside Virtual Tour Pro Course by Ben Claremont?
In this course, we cover everything from the very basics of what gear to buy and how to use it, to advanced 360 photography techniques, my full post production workflow (for both photo editing & virtual tour creation), and the steps I take to land clients! The curriculum currently consists of over 100+ training videos (15+ hours) and I add new videos every month to keep the learning relevant and up-to-date.
Source: Virtual Tour Pro
Save 15 percent on Virtual Tour Pro Course by Ben Claremont AND 12 months free WGAN-TV Training Academy Membership with the WGAN Coupon Code WGANVTP using this WGAN Affiliate Link Virtual Tour Pro.
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|"I'm in the United States. I think we're the leaders in doing everything incorrectly in terms of controlling COVID."
You mean not welding people in their homes, like China, until they starve to death? "Excuse me, Officer. I'm a RE photographer. Before you do that, could I just take a quick 360 for the agent? I'll only be a minute, thanks. Okay, all done! Thanks for... Hey! Hey! What are you doing? I'm still in here! HEY!!!" Residents: "Looks like we have a house guest for a couple of weeks. Do we have enough pillow feathers to serve everyone?"
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