I started the series in the hopes these short reminders would help you develop your own blueprint for success. Photographers are artists and artists are typically right-brain creative types. That means you can't help it if you hate the operational side of the business - the less creative structured side. Just about every Friday for the past year I've shared another suggestion to help you do more than just survive - I want you to thrive!
Today's Fast Food Friday special is seasoned with a little sarcasm but still prepared with the same dedication of a chef in your favorite restaurant. There's even a special free side order of the backstory behind the image below!
Procrastination is NOT a Skill Set
Well, the only elf around to help you isn't Will Ferrell but the face you see in the mirror each morning. The good news is you've still got time to reinforce the foundation of your business for 2019 before things start to pick up. But, if you're not ready then it's going to be a you-snooze-you-lose scenario.
You know how to focus your camera - now it's time to focus your business and career and yes, for a few of you it's time to pull your head out of your ass!
- What do you want 2019 to look like? The best thing about this industry is how fluid things can be and often easily changed. But you have to think about your goals for the year ahead. If you honestly haven't given it enough thought, dedicate the time you need to think it through.
- Who's your primary target audience? So many of you have websites that are confusing, especially with your galleries. For example, you're sharing galleries that have no connection to each other. As an example, you might be mixing wildlife and landscape with wedding or portraiture. Having different interests outside your core specialty is essential, but don't confuse visitors to your website. You've got to take the time to think through who your target audience is and see the world through their eyes.
- Do you have the skill set you need? Right now, most of you are answering "Yes," because you think I'm referring to your technical skills in photography, but what about writing, marketing, and relationship building? For example, if you hate to write, but you're trying to maintain a blog, then find help who likes to write.
- Do you need new gear? Take the time to analyze what's missing in your equipment. With the upcoming trade shows and conventions, it's going to be a perfect time to talk with the various manufacturers. But...this isn't about new gear fever, but what you actually need to capture better images!
- Are you proud of your website? Be honest with yourself. When you visit your site, do you like what you see? Is it easy to navigate? Does it engage a viewer or scare them away?
- How recent was your last blog post? You should be posting at least twice a week. If you're only posting once every full moon, then you're hurting your business more than helping it. Remember, your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. Building readership never slows down, but you've got to give them content that's relevant and helpful.
- Do you own your own zip code? It's one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard my buddy Scott Bourne share with a group of photographers! It might seem old-fashion, but at a time where success is based on relationship building, pounding the pavement has never been more valuable. You need to know every business in your community and even more important they need to know you.
No one blog post could ever cover everything you need to build a solid foundation for the year ahead. Every business is different, and if the seven ideas I just shared don't apply to you, take the time to be honest with yourself about what you're missing. This is one of the most competitive markets in the history of photography, and you've got to develop the ingredients to make yourself and your business different and better than your competitors.
As I've written so many times before, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it! There are no "focus fairies." You've got to take the time to focus on your business for 2019 - you're the only one who knows what it's going to take to exceed client expectations and make yourself habit-forming!
And, last but not least, you know where to find me if you're stuck and need some help!
There's nothing you can't find through Google and the company owning the copyright is Davidson & Company out of Atlanta. It took a little explaining to one of their staff, who started out having no idea what I was talking about. Think about it how it sounded answering the phone and hearing, "I'm trying to track down the company who owns the right to the shot of a guy with his head up his butt. Are you the Davidson & Company who owns it?"
A few minutes later I was on the phone with Ken Davidson and not only did he give me the okay to use it today, but he shared a little of the backstory which adds to my appreciation for the journey so many of us have been on in this industry. The image was a conventional image, shot on film and manipulated with conventional retouching. It was created for a commercial client in the late 80's!
Click on the link below to check out more of Davidson & Company's work. You'll see some stunning work, but on their about page you'll see a number of testimonial quotes, all with a few common denominators of "extraordinary service," "Trust," "Customer Service," "Quality," "Consistency," and the list goes on and on. They're a company who's stayed on course with what must have been their original goal - establish a reputation for being one of the very best!
A BIG thanks to Ken for allowing me to use the image, which he described as one of the most ripped off shots in photography!