The Best Client Experience with Cloudspot Founder Gavin Wade

Gavin and his wife Erin started their photography business just 3 months into dating one another. A year later, after just returning from their honeymoon, they took a leap of faith and turned their shared passion into a full-time profession! Shooting between 30 and 50 weddings a year, they very quickly learned that there were never enough hours in the day. Gavin saw a huge hole in their workflow and their clients' experience when it came to delivering photos. From there, CloudSpot was born!

Here's my interview with Gavin:

Natalie: You're a former wedding photographer that saw a huge need in your own workflow, and you and your wife developed Cloudspot. That's sort of like the super truncated version of what we're going to talk about today, but maybe bring us back to kind of the early days of just diving into photography.

Gavin: I hear you. Yeah. And you know, our story is a unique one. If we can do it, anyone can do it type of deal.

And there is no formula to it. It's really just a matter of showing up every single day and making small, incremental advancements in your learning.

My wife and I met on E harmony way back in the day. Back when online dating was kind of like still have a bit of a stigma to it.

But we kind of joined it on a dare from our friends and didn't really think anything would come of it. And lo and behold, like after a week and a half, we got matched up and I was like, “Hey, this is pretty cool. I like her.” So a couple of weeks later we ended up meeting up or gonna go on our first date…right when we were setting up our first date and we realized we were over a hundred miles away from each other.

It was a disaster. Not in the sense that we didn't connect, but her car broke down on the way and it got totaled and like it had to be junked. So then I had to drive and she ended up spending the night at my parent's house that first night that we went on our first date, and then I had to drive her back home the next day, met her parents the second day. Anyways, it was just like this condensed relationship, even from the get go.

Why I mentioned it is because it's not dissimilar from how we started our photo business. So we were three months into dating at that point. We were sitting at the table over dinner talking about our jobs and she owned her own business. And I had my own business in fitness consulting. Invariably the question that popped up was, “if you could do it all over again, what, what would you do?”

And our answer ended up being the same thing: it was photography.

And we looked at each other and we're just kinda like, “well, do you want to give it a go?

I mean, we were in our early twenties, you know, we were still living at home. Like we could afford to make a couple more dumb mistakes in our lives, even if it just didn't work out.

Right. So we said, “okay, well, sure. Let's give it a shot.” Right? Well, wasn't the entrepreneurship bug. And so we invested our life savings that next day into camera gear. You know, I always joke, it sounds way more glamorous than it actually is. It means we were able to get one camera and one lens each.

It's sort of like, “okay, I guess we're photographers now. Like, so what do we do? How do we get started?”

episode 303 the best client experience with cloudspot founder gavin wade part 2

And so what we just knew, “Hey, just like we invested into our education, we need to invest in our education for photography. This is no different. And so we just don't have first and we went to a photo conference, literally two weeks later, we ended up shooting our first wedding six weeks later, and like, talk about not sleeping the night before a photo shoot. Talk about nerve wracking of all nerve-wracking experiences.

We ended up losing money on the first wedding driving like eight hours each way just to capture it like, so there's tons of just things that you do that doesn't scale, just so you can get familiar, get experienced.”

Natalie: One of the things that I think is super fun to talk to people like yourself about is just how much things have changed.

Gavin: Yeah. It's, you know, you're totally right. There weren't as many resources then, which is fine. You know, I think there are pros and cons to how things are today as well. I need a totally different tool set.

The fundamentals are essentially the same in terms of when you're building your business, at least in my opinion. What you put into it in terms of your desire to learn, to soak things up as a sponge, just kind of taking every opportunity that you can to hone your craft, to build your brand and to figure out what niche you're going to carve out for yourself and your area and your type of photography, and just lean hard into it.

And like I said before, just consistently show up every day, knowing that you're gonna make mistakes, but three steps forward, two steps back, it's okay.

Natalie: One of the things I say at the end of most of these shows is in everything you want to achieve, consistency is key.

So fast forward five years. I'm so grateful that, my wife is into editing and designing. We'd have a double header one weekend and she would have both weddings done and ready to go before a double header the next weekend. I think everyone's green with envy on that because I hated editing and she loved it, and she's just like this type A, right? She just got down to business and did it. And it was a key to our success for sure in the sense of just being able to handle that.

But I was the techie guy. So I was the one who was responsible for delivering everything to our clients for creating that online experience for our website.

When it came time to deliver our images to our clients, I was the stop gap in terms of like, “how are we going to get this to everyone?” All the solutions out there at the time just did not feel like an organic extension of our brand.

Like we worked really hard to create this experience, to create this brand, this identity, and this persona that our clients fall in love with and say, “Hey, look, we want to trust you for our wedding.” But when it came time to deliver the images, I felt like that was just a total let down in terms of that experience, it was almost like “here's your Dropbox link. Have a nice life.” It had this third party look and feel.

the greenhouse membership

Cloudspot came about as a means to scratch an itch in our own business. Like the bottleneck that happened for us in our business in terms of delivering things, the lackluster experience that our clients were receiving, just in the name of us being able to stay productive and not just be completely bogged down by our workflow.

Out of frustration it was just like “Ah, like there's nothing out there that can help serve our clients in this way, help us in our business workflow in this way and help us market our images to our vendors to the people who would be referring us work over and over and over again.”

And we were just completely neglecting that aspect of our business because we just didn't have time.

And so in the absence of you providing that for them in a way that allows them to quickly get it and promote you, that's a huge opportunity that's lost in terms of how your business can be sustainable over the years versus you feeling like every season you have to be on that hamster wheel of trying to find new clients.

So cloud spot really came about as a means to help market your work to vendors and an easy way for the photographer's workflow to do that, and also to create an amazing experience for your clients, whether you want to give them a gallery so they can share with everyone and they can buy prints and products through there, without you having to do all the legwork, or even if it's just sending them a direct download. Just giving them a grandma proof way to download those photos without them having to jump through a million hoops. It's still that ability for your clients to get exactly what you want them to have in that very first email. Nothing else right now out there exists just to streamline that whole process.

I think photographers don't realize how much time is spent on tech support. It sucks time out of your business. It sucks times out of your ability to even just step away from the computer. That's why Cloudspot started over dinner, scribbling on the back of a napkin.

Natalie: I'd love to hear a little bit about what you love the most about the functionality and the workflow of Cloudspot.

Gavin: On the cost side of things, what we hear a lot of photographers love the most is the ability for that gallery to represent their business. No third party. Nobody injecting themselves trying to be the hero of that part of their client's experience. It is their business name, their logo, their colors. Everything that has their voice. We are behind the scenes, helping our photographers look like rock stars.

And that is our goal. Our mission is to empower photographers, to be successful one client gallery at a time.

Every decision we make, everything that we build is looked through that lens in terms of “how we can help a photographer deliver amazing results to their clients, time and time again.”

Another aspect is the ability to sell prints and products through those galleries, without them having to do a ton of work. We want photographers not just to have this be something that costs their business money, like most services do, but something that allows them to make more money than actually what it costs. And so, you know, we want it to be a net positive for their business.

episode 303 the best client experience with cloudspot founder gavin wade part 2

We're connected with labs all over the country that allow photographers to sell albums, to sell custom holiday cards, greeting cards. We have a designer built in there and they can just price everything on their own. Our labs will take care of it for them and they keep a hundred percent of their markup. So we don't take a fee. We literally just pass all of those profits straight to the photographer.

Natalie: That's awesome. That's really cool. What is a piece of advice that you have for new wedding photographers.

Gavin: Give yourself some grace, like first and foremost, like you are going to screw up. You're going to make mistakes. Some are going to cost a lot. Some are going to cost a little.

Some your clients will see some of your clients will not see.

Pump the brakes a little bit, give yourself some grace and realize that this is your journey, not someone else's journey. To thine own self, be true– on everything that you make decisions wise.

If you feel like you're forcing a square peg into a round hole in terms of this like external pressure that you're feeling, you've got to put things on mute, turn off notifications and focus on what makes you happy. A huge aspect of any business is recognizing what your strengths are and where your weaknesses are.

Natalie: I think that's such good advice for a lot of reasons, but I do think that wedding photography in particular is, has a high potential for burnout, especially if you're not, as you say, doing what you love in the business.

And I think it's important. And I really glad again, that you brought this up to point out that we aren't all going to love the same things about photography.

Gavin: If you're feeling overwhelmed, you're lacking clarity. Most businesses die via indigestion, not starvation.

And it's something that you need to realize as an entrepreneur at whatever stage of your business. So if you're feeling that indigestion, if you're lacking that clarity, take a step back, go up to 10,000 foot view and figure out, okay, what are the priorities that are going to help my business be successful. And so oftentimes it's saying “no” to way more things than you say yes to, and that focuses that clarity

Natalie: Well, clarity is my favorite word. So thank you for bringing that up. I totally agree that it's such a, it's such a huge, huge part of business procrastination and overwhelm. Thank you again for being here.

Gavin: This was so fun. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat wedding photography with me.

About Gavin:

Gavin and his wife Erin started their photography business just 3 months into dating one another. A year later, after just returning from their honeymoon, they took a leap of faith and turned their shared passion into a full-time profession! Shooting between 30 and 50 weddings a year, they very quickly learned that there were never enough hours in the day. Gavin saw a huge hole in their workflow and their clients' experience when it came to delivering photos. From there, CloudSpot was born!

Fast forward several years (and a couple kiddos) later and CloudSpot has become known for being the fastest, easiest, and most customizable way for photographers to deliver and sell their work online! Gavin has a heart for helping fellow photographers be successful in their businesses and creating solutions that give them more time to be doing what they love most!



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