This the third installment for my Indie Book Community, Shauna Kruse is a photographer interview that I did this week. The cover makes the book, it sales the book, and people do judge a book by its cover. So to get a perfect cover you need a talented photographer.
I have been following Shauna since I was writing in 2009. I love her photographs. My girl Jeannie and I used to look at them and get inspiration for our characters for a book we were writing together. Hopefully, one day we can finish it. But onto Shauna, she is an amazing photographer and the covers oh my…
When did you start your business, and why did you create it?
I officially started my business in 2009. I unexpectedly left my job I had worked for 8 years, and it was the perfect time to start my own. I worked as a professional photographer for 8 years before I started my own business, and have always loved taking photos, but didn’t want to work for someone else anymore.
How did you choose your business?
I have always loved taking photos. Growing up I was always that person with a camera wherever we went. A year after I was out of college, I got a job taking photos at Heavenly Ski resort, and absolutely loved it. It seemed like a natural progression to create own business after working as a professional photographer for that company for 8 years.
What do you like most about your business?
I absolutely love being able to capture a moment in time. To be able to get the emotions and beauty of the moment. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that my photos are on walls all over the world. I’ve also met some amazing people through my work as well that I stay in touch with. Being part of the book world is amazing. I’ve always loved reading, so to be able to have my photos on book covers is just amazing. Every time I get one of the books I am just as excited as the first time it happened.
What are your plans for the future with your business?
I want to continue to grow and expand it. I have some ideas that I need to sit down and figure out before sharing them. I’d love to branch out into non-exclusive stock photos for authors as well since not everyone can afford the exclusive ones. Just need to figure out pricing and get it up on my website.
What do you feel makes your audience/readers/or authors you work with special?
Getting to be part of the book world is pretty special. It’s this whole amazing group of people that most people don’t even realize exists. As a book cover photographer, it is a privilege to have my photos chosen for covers. I know authors pour their hearts and souls into their books, so it means a lot when they choose my image. Sometimes I even have authors write entire books just from being inspired from one of my photos. It’s pretty special. The readers are wonderful. The support they have given me and my work from the beginning is what has kept me going on the days where I struggle a little bit. It’s an honor to be part of the book world.
Has anything surprised you about starting a website?
Not really. I started my website ages ago to be able to show clients their photos. Fortunately the host I use makes it easy to set things up. It definitely takes a lot of time to get it looking like I want it to, and I still have a lot I need to figure out.
Did you do your site yourself website? Do you use WordPress?
I do my site myself, but I am on Zenfolio which is geared towards photographers.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business in the author world?
Make sure it’s something you are passionate about. A lot of people who start small businesses think it will be an easy way to make money. They don’t know how much work actually goes into owning a small business. It really is blood, sweat and tears, and some days it’s hard to keep going. But if it’s something you are passionate about, you will always come back to that love for what you do, that passion, and it’s what will keep you going on the hard days. I would also recommend making sure you really know what you’re doing before you try to start a business. I’ve seen people offer up photography, editing, or cover design who don’t actually know what they are doing. So it’s a sub par product, and in the long run the business won’t last. A lot of owning your business is about building trust, and if you don’t provide a quality, professional product, you will lose that trust. Stay professional on your social media, be kind, work your butt off, and treat others how you would want to be treated. I was raised in a small business household, so I already knew a lot about building a business from helping my parents with theirs, and it still hasn’t been easy. It’s taken a lot of hard work. I also have over 8 years of professional experience in my field before even starting my business.
If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?
Honestly I wouldn’t change a thing. My business has progressed exactly how it should have, and I’ve had so many incredible experiences because of it.
How fast did your audience grow? How many visitors/subscribers do you have?
If you’re talking about my facebook business page, it grew pretty fast. I remember hitting 10k followers pretty quickly, and it was such an amazing milestone. It was before facebook decided to change things to make it hard for businesses. For a while my interactions dropped, and I went from being able to get over 1000 interactions on posts to barely getting 100 likes. In the last year I’ve been working hard on building it back up, and thankfully interactions are up, and I have over 120,000 people following it, but I am not sure I am reaching authors with it which is a problem since they are my target audience. I need to figure out how to get more traffic to my website without going through social media since it is so hit or miss and at the mercy of what facebook wants to do.
Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?
This is my main job. I work part time at football and soccer games as a suite attendant. I was working this job when I started my business, and had just left my full time job, so I had some money saved up when I was getting started.
Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?
I don’t. I have been thinking about getting a newsletter going to try and reach more authors, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet.
How do you promote your site or business?
Mostly on facebook and instagram right now. I need to figure out how to reach people in other ways since social media isn’t always reliable, but I haven’t figure out how to do that yet.
Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? Did you intend to earn from it when you launched?
I haven’t set up my site with affiliate marketing yet. I would love to figure that out since I know people are able to earn residual income from that. It’s something that will take some time and patience and I just need to sit down at some point and figure it out. I obviously do advertise and sell my photography sessions and cover images on my site as well. For authors, I have password protected galleries of thousands of images that are available for exclusive book covers. They range from tattooed guys, to beautiful women, romantic and sexy couple shots, and themed photos like sports, cowboys etc. I also offer custom cover shoots where we shoot specifically for the authors cover or series.
I also offer different types of shoots on my site, everything from senior portraits, maternity photos, family photos to boudoir sessions and parties, and model sessions. I also offer author head shots since putting out a professional image for your website and book jackets is so important.
Who are your favorite authors right now?
- TS Joyce
- Mia Sheridan
- James Rollins
- Kendra Elliot
- Gail Tsukiyama
- Clive Cussler
Tell me 5 fun facts about you:
Hmmm I’m never good at these haha
1. I was a camp counselor at a Girl Scout Camp four five summers when I was younger. I was a windsurfing instructor and spent my entire summer outside. Best job I’ve ever had.
2. I am a water baby. I am happiest when I am on, by, or in the water. I will swim in almost anything, even if it’s cold. In the summer I swim almost every day in the lake nearby. It’s my happy place.
3. I have a bachelor’s degree in Environmentla Policy and Planning. I worked for an environmental non profit for a year straight out of college, it was an amazing job where I got to help pass laws, but barely paid, and was also super stressful.
4. I worked as a a photographer in Lake Tahoe. I worked on the mountain in the winter, taking photos of families in skis and snowboards with the Lake in the background. And in the summer I worked on the Tahoe Queen, we would take boarding photos then get to ride the ship and sell them on board. It was pretty amazing.
5, I am a hockey addict. I have had season tickets for the Seattle Thunderbirds for 12 years, and will be a season ticket holder for the newest NHL team, the Kraken. But I will watch any and all hockey, and love learning about the players and teams. I hve been all over Canada to watch my team, including places like Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon and Swift Current.
Links to find Shauna and her photography: