by Skip Cohen
Social media and the Internet just keep making the world a smaller place. Customers today have access to thousands of choices with just a click of their mouse. In fact, it's estimated there will be over two hundred million people shopping on line, just in the United States alone in 2015. (Statista,2015).
At no time in history has it been more important for you to make your brand, work and skill set stand out from the competition. Along with the challenge of making your work stand out, comes profitability and everyone's goal to go beyond having to eat macaroni and cheese every night. The art world has enough "starving artists" without photography contributing!
I couldn't be more excited to share an excerpt from a new book by my good buddy, SPTV co-host and industry educator, Lori Nordstrom.
Maximizing Profits : A Practical Guide for Portrait Photographers is published and now available. Just click the cover on the left to read more on Amazon.
Throughout the book Lori shares steps to becoming a profitable portrait photographer. In today's market, everybody thinks they can be a photographer. Being a professional entrepreneur in any business takes dedication, hard work and creativity, but it takes even more to be able to earn a living doing something you love.
Nobody teaches and writes about what it takes to be a professional photographer better than Lori. Here's an excerpt about marketing from Lori's new book:
What Sets You Apart?
"When everyone else zigs, ZAG"
Marty Neumeier, Zag
What makes you special? What can you do to set your business apart and get people talking? To be "remarkable" means having something to remark on. What will people remark about after working with you? You should be able to tell me right away what you do differently than every other photographer in your area. If you don't know, how will your clients?
[Lori shares several ideas on setting your business apart, but I thought the following to be an interesting twist on In-Person Sales, which I believe to be so important to high-end selling]
Full Day Service: It seems to be customary in our industry for clients to wait 1 - 2 weeks to see their portraits after their session. Since in-person sales are important to me, this means setting up two appointments for my clients, the session and then the order appointment.
A few years ago we started getting complaints about clients having to make the drive back to my tiny town that is typically 45 minutes to an hour away, so we started offering our "same day service". This is offered to almost all of our clients now and I much prefer it, because of how it has cut down my workflow.
I offer to photograph a morning session and then send our clients to the park with a picnic lunch, or to a restaurant if that is more appropriate for the age of the child, or the season. After lunch we bring them back in and show them their images so they can make their selections right away. We know that it is more valuable for the studio, and for our clients, to see the images in person, and this lets them do that without making two trips.
I also do this when I photograph at peoples homes. I will do the session and then ask mom to get the kids settled (change clothes, get a snack, start a movie) while I download my card and do a very quick run-through of the images, deleting any obvious "no's". Then mom and I will sit together and look at the images and I will help her place her order at that time.
Whatever we have to do to make it easy and comfortable for them, we will do. If we are in the studio and I need a babysitter so that both mom and dad can view and choose their images, I'll do that for them. This kind of service is unbeatable and moms tell me (and tell others!) how easy it all was to get it done in one day.
[I love this perspective on not making excuses or finding objections to in-person sales, but instead making it a win-win for your clients and your business! This is one of the things that Lori strives for - a "yes" for the client is a priority, but it must be a "yes" for her business and family first.]
WHAT SETS YOU APART?
Make a list of the things that set your business apart from others in your marketplace. What services, products or features do you offer that will add to your clients perception of the value that they will receive when choosing your business?
Lori's knocked it out of the park with this new book. It's one thing to be a great artist, another to be a good educator, but it takes even more focus and dedication to write your own book!
Congrats Lori - you've got a winner! Also, check out SproutingPhotographer.com and their podcasts. Lori and I just recorded an episode of Weekend Wisdom, scheduled to air on April 11.
Images by Lori Nordstrom. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's another one of those great stories about networking, but this one combines a non-stop passion for photographic education, Chicago and the art of landscape photography.
Meet Chris Smith. I first met Chris when he attended one of the Summer School sessions in Chicago a few years ago. His passion for the craft is unstoppable, as is his love for his favorite city, Chicago. His image below, pretty much demonstrates a small part of his skill set.
Well, here's another love in his life - Chris has a dream...he's started a workshop series focusing strictly on landscape photography and you guessed it - in Chicago. Last year was his maiden voyage with approximately 175 people taking part in the program. This year he's ramped up the series and already has exceeded last year's attendance in pre-program registration. If you've got an interest, I know from talking with both Levi Sim and Bob Coates, it's a great workshop.
Join Chris for the second annual Out of Chicago Photography Conference where you'll photograph this great city with some of the world's best photographers. You'll have a chance to learn from Bryan Peterson, Elia Locardi, Thomas Leuthard, Valerie Jardin, Juan Pons, Levi Sim, and 27 other instructors. The venue is a combination of classroom and hands-on shooting right out on the streets in the heart of it all.
Circle the dates - June 26-28 in Chicago. Just click on the link below for more information.
by Chris Smith
Chicago is one of the world's most photogenic cities. It's the modern architecture capital of the world. It has breathtaking views of the city from the top of the tallest buildings in North America. And the views are just as dramatic from the bottom of these urban canyons.
The people of Chicago make it a street photographer's dream. My favorite time to photograph Chicago is on a warm summer night when the city comes alive. The glow of traffic and the city lights turns a mundane intersection into your next photographic backdrop.
I've written a lot about making the most of your time, especially when you're on the road. Time is your most valuable commodity and you'll never have enough of it.
Meet my good friend, Sherry Hagerman of Allusion Photography, just outside Chicago. I first met Sherry when she was in my live audience at Creative Live several years ago. We've kept in touch, catching up typically a couple times a year at some of the major conventions.
Sherry's an artist and simply loves to shoot and I look at a number of her images as what I call "Signature Moments". A Signature Moment is an image that demonstrates quality, art, passion for the craft and most important of all, it's an image that will make a client go "WOW"!
At this year's WPPI, since Sherry was on the road already and in a different part of the country, she made arrangements for models and went out and shot for the day. The results are all Signature Moments along with a great example of making the most out of being away from the office.
Even cropped to something a little unusual, the image still has strong impact.
Spending the day shooting in places that only Nevada can create, Sherry simply had fun, while at the same time experimenting with different styles and results. It's all about fine-tuning and sharpening her skill set. A trip through Sherry's galleries shows she doesn't compromise on quality. She's received "Best of the Knot" eight years in a row and is in the Knot's Hall of Fame.
I've written before about the three components to success as a photographer with the first third of the journey being developing your skill set. There's never time to just rest on your laurels and Sherry's a perfect example of never sitting still. She's a perpetual student, taking every class she can find the time for and constantly experimenting.
The second part of the journey to success is about your presentation and the quality you put into the products for your client. The last part is about marketing, which includes customer service, your reputation and building a strong brand through relationships, consistency and always quality.
Sherry stays focused on every aspect of her business. Put together with time management, when she's on the road at a convention, and she continues to produce solid results. If you're headed to ShutterFest, make it a point to meet Sherry. She's a great artist to have in your network.
...and on her website, that same signature style is consistent for every client to view.
Images copyright Sherry Hagerman. All rights reserved.