In this Career Advice from the Pros interview, we hear from computer expert Lucas Roberts about how he added photo organizing to his Mac tech support business.
Lucas Roberts is passionate about Apple computers – proven by the Apple logo tattoo on his back. His background is in computer sales and tech support, specializing in Mac computers. In addition, he shares his passion on his YouTube Channel. In one of his early videos, he shared some information about how to organize your photos which led to an outpouring of interest in his services from around the world. In this interview, Lucas shares more about how he became a professional photo manager in addition to his tech services.
What advice would you give to somebody starting just out?
One of the things that helped me and helped my business the most was joining a business networking structure, where every week you show up to this networking meeting, you have to be there or you have consequences, you get a strike and if you get the strike then it’s bad because you can get kicked out of the group. BNI for me was fantastic because at every meeting you have to do a 60-second pitch. That was huge for me because I had to walk up to people, and it put me in an environment where it was worse to just stand there awkwardly in the corner. Your only option is to walk up to somebody, share their hand, and introduce yourself. Especially now, post-COVID, I’d tell people just starting out to look for meetups and try to get in front of people.
I would also say it takes time. I’m now I’m 15 years into Macinhome, and it’s only in the last three or four years that I feel comfortable in by business. I’m making a good rate, I’m profitable, we have a good group, I’m able to focus on the work that I like. So be kind to yourself, and be patient, it’s not quick.
Starting a business is like learning how to drive a stick shift. You’re going to stall 100 times. So get those stalls out of the way as quickly as possible, then it will be easier after that. So do networking events, get help, and as much accountability structure as you can get.
How do you find your clients?
My process for finding clients now, versus when I started by business is very different. Now, I only get new clients from my YouTube videos. I haven’t done any networking in probably about five years. But in the beginning, the way I got new clients was by going all the way to make the client super happy. Often that meant understanding the gap between what I viewed as a perfect computer setup and what they could understand and use. Whenever I would do something that a client wasn’t fully happy with, I would do the fixes, no charge. What that turned into was a whole bunch of word-of-mouth referrals.
I also got a lot of clients from networking with BNI and from cold calling, which I probably would not ahve done had it not been for a goals and self-development group I was in. We had an accountability structure where I would commit to doing two cold calls a day. Having consequences if I didn’t do it worked. Cold Calls are hard. But I got good at it. And I got kind of an internal bulletproof quality, just from screwing it up all the different ways that you can possibly screw it up. Over time, it became easier to just be genuinely curious about what people need or don’t need.
What do you love most about your job?
I grew up as an only child and my mom was a self-proclaimed New Age hippie. She’s currently a music therapist. And so I grew up with the language in the house of empathy, compassion, kindness, and all of that stuff. Some of my favorite work that I do with clients, is reassuring them that the chaos in their system is normal. Everybody has a total shitshow of file organization structure, every single person I work with has that. And every single person I work with feels bad about that. I don’t care if you have 700,000 photos, I just want you to be able to choose your favorites with the heart and then you’ve got the favorites. Getting all the photos into one place and then teaching people how to do that- the people, the places, the albums, the favorites. I love that.
What aspects of your work do you like the least?
The thing I dislike the most right now the thing I have the most trouble with is my desire to be the hero. I want to be the guy who solves all the problems. But then you asked me about stuff that I hate doing. I hate printers so much. If I could just say Macinhome will do everything for you, except printers and Microsoft Exchange. I hate that. But I feel compelled to do it because I have the sort of need to be a helpful computer Hero Guy. So that internal struggle is hard for me. Probably what it would require is just having I just needed to outsource the printers.
Also, it’s still hard for me to charge what I’m worth, I have a whole bunch of clients that are long ago, Lucas-only clients that I’ve helped forever, that are at $165 an hour, and our current rate is $195 an hour. It’s uncomfortable to raise the rates, and I’m afraid of losing them as a client. So basically anything where I might potentially lose the client or lose the relationship if I charged our current going rate, I find hard.
What skills from your past work experience or life experiences have helped you in being a business owner?
To this day, people ask me, “Which new Mac should I get?” And I’m still drawing on my experience from Mac Station selling computers. At the hosting company that I was at doing domain names and email stuff, there were server and service-type problems at that company. And so a lot of my job was damage control, pissed off customers. Part of my job there was to field damage control requests. And so now, the problems that we get in my company, I’m like, this is a cute little nothing problem, compared to what I was dealing with at Mac Station and Host Way. At those companies, we also dealt with 20 email requests per day, or I get text messages, it’s just not a thing. It’s just the norm for me. Going back further, I got into fixing Macs when I had my first Mac, and we would all carry our computers to an office and we played video games against each other. But my Mac was always the one that was having trouble joining the network, I could never get into the games, because I was always tinkering with my computer. So I got really good and really quick at fixing my Mac because I was so motivated to play games. And I definitely my upbringing. My mom has really high EQ, and that upbringing has really been a superpower for me in this work, just being able to speak the language of emotion. I really understand and empathize with people’s fear of the cloud and their fear of losing data.
How has being a member of The Photo Managers been helpful to you?
It’s been awesome. Already, in only one year, the membership fee has paid for itself. I had three clients through referrals who have paid four times my membership. But I think the biggest thing for me is the culture and community of knowledge that I didn’t even know existed. It’s awesome to have that group, that structure. Most of my interactions are with the photo managers group is the members-only Facebook group and the Canadian Zoom calls. And I’m just I’m learning a ton. I’ve done a bunch of photo management videos since joining The Photo Managers and those videos are better because of what I’m seeing, the questions that I’m seeing, and the answers from other members. So it’s really an amazing hive-mind community culture with smart people.
Watch the full video to hear Lucas answer questions from the audience about how he works with his clients to manage their photos within the Mac ecosystem.