by Skip Cohen
The pandemic has changed just about everything in business today, especially in imaging. But it's also opened up some new revenue streams, thanks to technology (Bay Photo), and new products.
I just recently hung the two 30x30 Performance EXT Metal prints outside on the back of the house. The other print had been out in the bright sun and rain for three years, and while it might have shown fading under the microscope, to the naked eye, it was still stunning. (Note: It's been recently replaced. It survived everything but the power wash guy who not only knocked it off the wall, but later rolled over it with his equipment.) The two additional prints, captured by Jonny Yoshinaga with a drone when he and Suzette Allen were here last year, are special reminders of a great friendship.
Performance EXT Metal is specially engineered for extended life in the elements! Perfect for use as outdoor art, photography, signage, and display, Performance EXT Metal will last 2-3 years in direct sunlight without noticeable fading.
Think about your client base and how many people would appreciate prints outside their home. Everyone is hunkered down with limited travel but maximum time at home - looking at the same walls! Now take the concept of photographs outdoors one step further - how many restaurants have outdoor seating, but nothing on display?
There's an entirely new revenue stream waiting to be tapped into. In each of your communities, you've got subjects to feature in photographs, whether it's scenes around the community, the restaurant's favorite dishes, or the staff - the list goes on and on. And, we're entering the seasonality of the fourth quarter. The need for creativity in gift-giving this year is going to be at an all time high.
by Skip Cohen
Every month for the last six years, "Mind Your Own Business" has shared a new podcast featuring leading artists in the imaging industry. In March of 2017, Chamira joined me as co-host, and what an incredible trip it continues to be. Her style and interviewing skills are part of what make these podcasts so much fun to do.
Rosh Sillars joined us on this podcast just a couple of months back. He shared a lot of terrific insight into the challenges of building his business and a career in photography. As a photographer, Rosh focuses mostly on people, food, and architecture. But as a leader in the industry, he's all about inspiration and helping us think beyond the skill set to capture and produce beautiful images.
Rosh's blog is jam-packed with excellent content to help photographers stand out from the crowd. The pandemic has changed everything in business today. It's also created opportunities for entrepreneurs to separate themselves from their competitors and display a unique service level and support to build stronger brand awareness in the community.
Rosh needs to be on your radar. Click on the banner below to visit his blog and the gateway to the world of Rosh! And a BIG thanks to the Photofocus.com team who's helped make "Mind Your Own Business" a great podcast, month after month for all these years.
All images copyright Rosh Sillars. All rights reserved.
This is very important - to take leisure time. Pace is the essence.
Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you're gonna lose everything...great pauses between highs, where you do nothing at all.
You just lay on a bed and stare at the ceiling.
This is very, very important...just to do nothing at all.
by Skip Cohen
Even being hunkered down for the last six months, it's hard for me to believe it's Labor Day weekend. The last six months have been tough on everybody, and I'm going to make a suggestion that will be considered by some to be a waste of a blog post...take the weekend off!
Most of you have seen a dramatic drop in business, with an almost constant level of stress trying to think of how to rebuild and get things back on track. My suggestion is - take a break from it all. Use the next three days to clear your head; spend time with your family; chill - in other words - make it a slug weekend!
Sheila introduced me to the concept years ago, and it works. Sometimes you need to walk away from everything and simply relax - be a slug. The pandemic challenges aren't going away, but you need to be fresh to find the creativity necessary to get back on track.
Two nights ago, I needed a break. I had forgotten about the crystal focus ball I bought a year ago. So, I headed to the beach with a LUMIX G9, the 14-140mm lens, and a Platypod. Lying on the beach and watching the sun go down, I realized just how much I needed to step away from work.
Take this weekend to wipe the slate clean. Spend as much time as you can finding things to laugh about, and come back on Tuesday ready to fire up ideas for the fall seasonality and the holidays. The pandemic isn't going away as quickly as any of us would like, but that doesn't change the importance of clients who still have memories to capture, kids growing up, and families in need of a new portrait.
Chill over the weekend - join Sheila and me for a slug weekend and come back fired up on Tuesday morning. This is a time when wasting time couldn't be more valuable to help you get your head back in the game and energize.
Wishing everybody a safe and healthy Labor Day weekend!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Sadly, that image above is the equivalent of the attention too many photographers put into the final packaging of the products they deliver to their clients. Okay, maybe it's a little extreme, but it hopefully will help make my point!
It's Marketing Monday, although EVERY day in your business should be about marketing. And, while the pandemic has changed many things in our lives, the need to continue to market yourself has never slowed down.
Yesterday I did a run to "Total Wine" - we were low on two pandemic survival necessities, tequila, and vodka! (Actually, neither of us are big drinkers, but we were out of both.) I was blown away by the packaging of one of our favorites, Milagro.
The color combination of black and silver suggests high perceived value with both men and women. Black and gold, also repeatedly score high in packaging tests. The package itself, along with the bottle design, is eye-catching and contemporary. And the story about Milagro is printed on both sides of the box.
That got me thinking about professional packaging in photography, which I've written a lot about over the years. Even though business for most of you is down, the importance of your final presentation hasn't diminished. It's probably more important and noticeable than ever before.
Whether you're giving a client access to images online or physically delivering an album or prints - don't underestimate the value of professional packaging!
A few years back, I found the post below in Marathon's blog archives, and the timing couldn't be better to share it again. We're coming up to the fourth quarter, which will still represent the busiest time in seasonality for photography...even with the pandemic.
As you start to send out orders for the 2020 holiday season, remember the impact professional packaging can have on each shipment's perceived value. And don't think of packaging as just for your hard products, but the artwork involved in online deliveries as well.
Every order is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your professionalism. Use professional packaging and elevate the perceived quality of your products. If you don't send them out with an elevated level of respect, nobody else will do it for you!
How important is the packaging in which you deliver portraits and other photographic products to your clients? When you consider the majority of photographic purchases are either initiated or entirely controlled by women clients, then the answer is clear: Packaging plays a huge role in enhancing your studio’s brand! Smart marketers know that women are influenced by packaging that pays attention to these key elements:
Research shows that color palette preferences of women are decidedly different from those of men, and the psychology of color—how it influences moods and feelings—is something that every marketer should take into consideration when developing key branding pieces such as business cards, websites, brochures, marketing cards, and packaging.
Women are known to be attracted to packaging that has appealing physical profiles, such as shape and size. These two elements are sometimes key to the functionality of the packaging, which has a definite impact on women consumers; women typically are concerned about how products can be safely and easily transported.
Who doesn’t like to unwrap a package? Women certainly do, so when packaging has pleasingly interactive qualities, such as luxurious ribbon, artfully designed bellybands, deluxe tissue, and eye-catching stickers, each item adds a layer of anticipation to the process of receiving the photographic product.
The fact that attention to detail is important to women, the addition of decorative bag tags, bellybands, ribbons, and even charms, elevates product value in the mind of sophisticated consumers.
Whenever a transaction results in an emotionally satisfying experience for the client, he or she becomes more likely to return for additional sessions and to refer clients to your business. Personalized packaging, such as the addition of a session image used as a bellyband closure or to adorn a shopping bag, is just the kind of gesture that creates a positive emotion which adds significantly to the success of the client’s experience with you.
Artfully coordinated packaging materials support the kind of positive image building that defines and adds meaning to your business brand. Extending your innate creativity to creating packaging that attracts you ideal consumer is well worth your time.
As the holidays approach, there’s no better season to create imaginative packaging. By advertising that “all gift portraits include custom gift wrapping,” you’ll be adding value to your product, and you’ll be all set to conclude future sessions with style!
"The greatest technology in the world hasn't replaced the ultimate relationship building tool
between a customer and a business...the human touch!"
by Skip Cohen
There was a long window of time when talking on the phone seemed to be on its way to extinction. Everyone was texting and emailing. And as a consumer, if we called any major company, we were put through a barrage of defaults, often in menus that made little or no sense. You know the drill, "Please listen closely because your menu has changed. If you're calling about ______ press 1, and I always wanted to hear, "If you'd like to talk to somebody who cares, call another company!"
Okay, maybe it wasn't always that bad, but the pandemic came along, and today, excellent communication skills are more critical than ever. We're a word of mouth industry, and personal contact with clients will be restricted for some time. That puts how you handle yourself over the phone at the top of the list of critical marketing tools.
I remember when the phone company, "Ma Bell," used to do classes for business clients on phone etiquette. As I look back on it today, those classes were really about how to have a conversation - so, the same way you carry yourself with somebody face to face or (mask to mask today), is a foundation for how you communicate on the phone.
And it's all just as much about Customer Service as it is verbal communication. NOW is the perfect time to strengthen your communication skills with the phone.
The phone is one of your very best marketing tools. How you communicate is all under the umbrella of great Customer Service. Being a great communicator is just as important to build your business as meeting client expectations with the quality of your images!
Click on the above banners to understand what makes ClickCon and ClickCon Nation so unique!
by Skip Cohen
Last year ClickCon in Chicago kicked off its first conference and became the most successful launch of a new convention in the industry. Many factors were contributing to it being a great show, from the class selections, quality of the speakers, quality and enthusiasm of models and stylists to the involvement of the "Heart of ClickCon," the people involved in the planning.
This year we were all excited for the second show in their history when the pandemic hit. But nothing stops the Heart of ClickCon, and this weekend, ClickCon Nation kicks off a nine-month series of monthly classes and support for imaging artists.
The next ClickCon LIVE Conference is scheduled for August of 2021, but here's the best part - as part of your registration, you've got nine months of online educational programs from which to choose. Click on the thumbnail below to check out this Sunday's programming.
Everyone has different needs these days, but there are several common denominators - the need to share ideas, grow our skill sets and understand how to deal with the new norm. ClickCon Nation has five different levels of involvement - each one designed to help artists get the support they need most.
Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to catching up with many of you in cyberspace and then LIVE in Chicago next August. Registration is just a click away on the banner below!
by Skip Cohen
When Chamira Young and I relaunched Beyond Technique last year, we wanted to focus on more than just capturing great images, or running a successful business in photography. Each guest has shared a lot of great insight, but the pandemic created a new challenge - artists have had to ramp up their usual marketing skills and find better ways to reach out to their communities.
Cindy Harter Sims joined us in this episode, and she's all about inspiration and especially relationship building. She's no stranger to the SCU spotlight and has repeatedly shared great content and the ideas she's implemented to secure her business. But with the pandemic, she did something unique - she reached out to her community and asked for help.
Relationship building over the years has been a significant building block to Cindy's business and her role within the industry. In fact, it's how I met her many years ago at a Skip's Summer School conference. Cindy doesn't collect business cards - she directly participates with and supports the people in her growing network.
Please take the time to listen to this podcast. Cindy held nothing back as she discussed her quest to keep her business alive and, at the same time, continue to give back to her community. She's busy, even doing newborn and infant photography, all while staying true to the rules of physical distancing and safety.
And click on any of the favorite images I grabbed from Cindy's website to visit her galleries!
Beyond Technique is brought to you by:
Programs like Beyond Technique can't happen without great industry support. Platypod believes in education and helping artists find new perspectives, not only with their cameras but their overall skill sets in marketing and business too.
If you haven't visited the Platypod website, take a scroll through the blog and Instagram pages. Artists from around the world are sharing their creativity every day.
And if you're stuck with ideas to expand your own creativity, wander into the Platypod store. You'll find some unique kits like the new Ultra Essentials Kit, now on sale.
A big thanks to Photofocus for always sharing great content to help photographers grow their technology, marketing, and business skills. Photofocus also hosts some of the very best podcasts in photography! They're just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
I first shared this post as part of my Fast Food Friday series last year, but it's even more relevant today. The pandemic and social distancing have changed everything in business today. Now, more than ever, your website and blog are critical components of your business. Sadly, too many of you have websites that could put a rock to sleep!
I've done a lot of website reviews over the years, and so many of you miss an opportunity to make a great first expression. A visit to your website needs to be a great experience. Like shopping at Macy's vs. Nordstroms - you've got a choice to make in the experience you give visitors to your website!
In reviewing websites, photographers will often say to me, "I know it's out of date. I need to fix those images." Well, the days of procrastinating are over, and it's genuinely a you-snooze-you-lose scenario. Here are some ideas, most of them easy fixes and things you can do NOW!
While somebody will challenge me on this, you can't be in business today without a website. I also feel a blog is essential. Why? Because your site is about what you sell, and your blog is about what's in your heart. Both work together, much like advertising and publicity. Together a great website and blog can open doors, build trust, and help establish your reputation as a professional photographer.
But just like discussions on Facebook forums about what photographers wear when shooting a wedding, you've got to dress the part. You've got to dress for success! Your website is the equivalent of a bricks and mortar store - make a visit, starting with your audience walking through the front door, that's memorable and a fun place to "shop."
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
by Skip Cohen
There isn't a professional photographer on the planet who isn't struggling with what's become the new normal! Quarantines, social distancing, sheltering in place have all become a way of life, but out of chaos and the pandemic crisis have come some remarkable new extensions for business.
A month ago, I shared a short video of JP Elario at his computer doing FaceTime portraits. Channel 13 in Albany, NY, picked up the story, and I have to share it here. I wish there was a way to make every artist watch this short clip.
JP's part of a father/son business and Joe, his Dad, and I go back to my early Hasselblad days. They're both remarkable artists specializing in wedding and portraiture, and exceptional service is part of their signature. Keeping in line with their never-ending quest to meet their clients' needs, JP starting doing online headshots.
These are challenging times, but who knows what other new ideas will come out of the pandemic crisis?
"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friend."
by Skip Cohen
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, especially the way we communicate. On a fairly regular basis, many of you are appearing live on Zoom, Skype, and the list goes on and on. But, just like the rules in creating a great image for print competition, there are some definite rules you need to follow when meeting in cyberspace. Your goal is to be just as professional in an online meeting as you would be in person at a conference or workshop.
And for those of you rolling your eyes, because you already know this stuff, just consider it a reminder. Like meeting with a new client, you've got a minimal amount of time to make a great impression. I'm not an expert in any of this stuff, but thanks to some great friends, I'm work in progress and there are a lot of you who could use a little help.
Let's start with the obvious - lighting. You don't need much. Ironically, none of you would light a basic headshot with a flashlight, but when it comes to your online presence, you do nothing. Yet, all of you understand lighting - so put a little light on the subject - YOU! While I've got a couple of softboxes in my office, my preference is thanks to Litra. I've got two LitraTorch 2.0s on goosenecks on either side of my laptop, which has become my leading computer when I've got to be on camera. When I'm on the iMac, I use the softboxes.
Here are a few more suggestions to consider:
1. Get a location without backlighting. When you've got something bright behind you, it fools the computer or your phone into thinking the scene is brighter than it really is. I have to remember myself to close the blinds in my office behind me.
2. Remove distractions: We don't all have the advantage of a movie set background. Often, I've forgotten turn the ceiling fan off in my office and have had people bothered by the distraction over my head.
3. Camera and your face on the same plane: Get your camera (computer or phone) on about the same plane as your face. Not only does it cut out chin and nostril shots, but it gives the audience your eye contact and more facial expression. When I'm using my phone, I have a Square Jellyfish adapter on a ball head with a Platypod Ultra. While there are plenty of phone holders out there, this little adapter gives my Platypod Ultra another useful application.
4. Make eye contact. Remember when talking, if you want to make eye contact, looking at your screen won't do it...you've got to look at the camera.
5. Cut down on the background noise. Mute your microphone when not talking. It's especially bad in a group of more than 3-4 people.
6. Earbuds or a headset cut down on feedback.
7. Consider a better microphone! The impact of the pandemic is here to stay for a long time. While we all wish there was a switch that could be flipped to end the crisis, it's not going to happen overnight. That means we're all going to be communicating differently for some time. My personal favorite is a Rode Podcast mic, but I also have a Yeti. Both are good, but the Rode seems to give my voice more clarity.
8. Smile more! It's a great tip from a photographer, author, and my good buddy, Larry Becker. He recently joined Chamira Young and me in a Mind Your Own Business podcast, which is now online. And check out his new book: Great on Camera. Written before the pandemic when we had no idea we were going to be on camera a lot more, Larry's approach couldn't be easier to follow, with great tips to raise the bar on your skill set as a podcaster, presenter and participant online.
And that brings me full circle to where I started. We're dealing with a new normal. While we all hope the good old days of just three months ago will come back, that doesn't change the need for looking good and professional online NOW.
From meetings with clients to edu-type presentations to meet-ups with other photographers, you're part of the imaging community. That means the expression "looking good" has a lot more meaning in cyberspace these days because it's often going to be all you have to start.
P.S. And if I missed any tips feel free to let me know and we'll do a post of add-ons!
by Skip Cohen
Like most of you, I'm tired of dealing with the pandemic. It's the topic everywhere. Even commercials on TV have changed to a social distancing theme. One company after another wants to assure us we're all in this together...but the reality not everybody is!
All of us as an industry might be in it together, but the number of stupid people on the planet seems to be growing. I had some fun this morning and Googled "stupid things done during the pandemic." I found a treasure chest of gems at buzzfeed.com.
They shared 19 stupid things people have done or said. Here are two more of my favorites:
I'm putting a few of my favorites below:
With Father's Day and graduation still in the timeline, there are so many opportunities to start getting back a small piece of your business as a photographer. There's no question it won't be easy, and business has changed, but many of you just need an encouraging first step to getting back on track...and this is where we are, all in it together.
by Skip Cohen
Every imaging artist is feeling the same pain right now - business disappeared with the flip of a switch, and now you're struggling with what to do. Sound familiar?
This is an industry where we all watch each other's backs. It's never been more evident than right now! Just like that lifebuoy being thrown above - you've got access to so many different places for help.
There's no need for me to write a lot of text today - but I am going to give you the links to six great resources available with a click of your mouse - RIGHT NOW. There's a long list of great programming, and it covers everything from expanding your skillset to changing your marketing strategy!
This is only the beginning - I'll be sharing more places you can find help as I hear/read about them!
I know it's hard to see downtime as an asset when it feels like a monstrous liability. Take advantage of this time to build a stronger brand, skillset and relationships!
And if you've got questions or need help you sure know where to find me!
by Skip Cohen
This is going to be a strange year for members of the class of 2020. With graduation typically just 7-10 weeks away, there's a good chance very little will be happening in terms of significant events wrapping up their high school education.
That means those of you who are senior photographers have a huge responsibility to help the class of 2020 enhance the celebration as much as possible. While this post is an infomercial for Marathon's BOGO program on grad cards, it's got a much higher purpose - to help build your brand for future grads and, at the same time, help parents find other ways to celebrate and share their pride.
I'm a big fan of grad cards and how they can be used to celebrate, spread the news and, despite the current pandemic, recognize the accomplishments of today's seniors. It all starts with your grad card sales kits, giving you everything you need to help this year's class and their parents design a unique announcement.
The design options are infinite, with 50 different basic designs, five foil options, color combinations, paper choices, and the list goes on and on. And, to help you through the process, Marathon's staff is there to help. They're open and in production.
At a time when everyone is looking for ways to maintain some level of normalcy in business, grad cards represent one of the best tools you have to help families celebrate and appreciate images you captured and created before Covid-19 changed their lives.
Think back to the pride you had in the quality of the senior portraits you captured initially. Now it's time to put them to the very best use and create more ways to share the memories!
Click on any image in this post to link to Marathon's Grad Card promotion, and don't forget BOGO pricing helps your profitability, giving you more flexibility in what you offer your clients.
by Skip Cohen
This is one of those posts I wish I could get EVERY small business owner to read. So many of you underestimate the power of exceptional service, not just to build a more substantial business but to sustain it as well. This is a short post this morning and focused on one of the very best tools you have to make 2020 your best year yet - customer service.
Last year while searching the Internet for reliable statistics to share in one of my ClickCon presentations, I wandered into groovehq.com. It was jam-packed with statistics supported the importance of customer service. And the way it was presented made so much sense - unlike statistical sites that could put a rock to sleep.
For example, I pulled three key points from their information:
Everyone is always in search of new databases to grow their business. Too often, you forget about the goldmine you've got right at your fingertips with your past clients.
And that brings me full circle to my point. There is NO substitute for excellent service and nothing will build your brand better. It's not just about great products and on-time deliveries, but the entire customer experience. It starts and ends with you!
Click on the banner below to visit Groove. You'll be surprised at the impact excellent service can have on so many different aspects of your business!
by Skip Cohen
Everyone knows what a rip tide is, but just in case you're so far from the ocean you missed the experience, here's Google's definition:
A strong current caused by tidal flow in confined areas such as inlets and presenting a hazard to swimmers and boaters.
That's in the ocean, but if you're a wedding or portrait photographer, I'm betting at some point you've been caught in one with your blog and clients. Here's the scenario - you couldn't think of a topic for a post and started sharing images from engagement sessions or portrait sittings. One photograph led to another, and before you knew it, you had a full-blown popularity contest going. Now you can't break the cycle because clients might be hurt if their images aren't good enough to make the cut and be featured on your blog or website.
In an effort to build content, you've done nothing more than extend your galleries to another location. Let's talk about breaking the cycle and getting out of the rip tide.
But rip tide marketing doesn't just happen in your galleries - it happens too often with many promotions. Sure, a great promotion drives traffic the first couple of times, but doing the same thing over and again creates a concept that sooner or later collapses. You've got to mix up what you're promoting.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
November 13, 2019
It's not always easy to break the cycle, but there are some great resources to help you:
I know it can seem risky making changes in your business, but this is why I'm always reminding you to go to every convention, conference, and workshop you can attend. It's at events like this, you can share your ideas and frustrations with other attendees. When a good conference is over you're headed home full of new ideas and friends to add to your network.
Speaking of conventions- sorry this is a mini-infomercial for an event I so believe in - there are three days left to take advantage of the 50% promotion form for ClickCon in Chicago. I shared a post a couple of days ago about it, and it's going to be amazing! Click on the banner below for more information.
by Skip Cohen
One of the biggest challenges these days is figuring out where to spend your time and money to get the most out of education. There are a lot of great programs to choose from, but there's nothing like ClickCon. Last year was their first show in Chicago, and it was an overwhelming success as 1300+ people joined in a quest to raise the bar on their skillset.
Here's the backstory on today's post.
I'm helping the ClickCon team with some of their programming, and I'm not sure I could be more excited about the show. However, in the last few weeks, I've been incredibly busy and just missed this exclusive offer. So, first thing today, I called Sherry Hagerman and requested an extension until midnight on Friday of this week, giving me a chance to help get the word out to my readers.
Here are just a couple of things that make ClickCon such a great show:
I can't deny for a second I get especially excited about any conference when I'm a speaker, but I'm doing three unique programs this year, starting with the first-day kick-off. I'm going to be doing a full brain dump on everything you need to do over the event to get the most out of the conference, maximize use of your time, build your business and get plenty of bang for your buck!
And it all starts with taking advantage of the 1/2 off promotion going on until midnight Friday, February 21! You snooze you lose - hope you can join us.
What a kick! See you in Chicago.
When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you!
Every day starts out the same when you have puppies - there's this silent rush to get them outside, preceded by a small squeal of joy if their bed's dry! It's that feeling of progress and knowing the routine is finally working that sets the tone for the start of the day.
Then comes my business routine, and it's become my standard - the first stop is my in-box, followed by Facebook notifications. The tweet stream is next, then a quick look at my calendar for the day, a stop at my Platypod mailbox, and then I'm ready to start the day, usually with a post.
This morning when I hit Facebook, which starts with "Notifications," I had a couple of complaints from members of two forums where I'm an administrator. If you're not an Admin on Facebook, what we get is a notification that says, "_________ reported 1 post in _________." Then, if you have time, you research what the complaint is about. Ninety percent of the time, it's the result of people being too sensitive. So, as an administrator, you decide to keep the post or kill it, comment to the person reporting the post and finally get on with your life.
Well, one of the reports this morning had absolutely no foundation to complain about. One photographer didn't like the tone of what another artist wrote and decided to call in the "big guns." I kept the post, ignored the report, and chose not to respond to anybody. However, I did go looking for a quote this morning, and when I found the one up top, I knew it needed to be shared.
It might be the "slow season," but that doesn't mean it's slow for you to build your business. So, focus on what's vital in the building blocks to make 2020 your best year ever and stop bitching, moaning, and complaining about things that don't matter! Stop being so sensitive. Give your peers the benefit of the doubt, remembering that the toughest way to express yourself is through the printed word!
If you don't like what somebody said in a thread, unless it's going to have an impact on some aspect of your business, your family, or your life, let it go! Start singing Taylor Swift's "Shake it off," and just move on. And if somebody doesn't like one of your images, listen to their suggestions and then do whatever you think is right, always remembering what my good buddy Dean Collins used to say,
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
With just eleven days left in the year, this is one of those Fast Food Friday posts to remind you of things you might have missed along the way in building your business and wrapping up the year. Most of you are right-brain creative types with a focus on your images and clients, rather than running your business.
That's the reason I started this series in the first place - to remind you of little things you could do to establish a stronger presence. Most of the entrees in the SCU Diner have all been quick, easy ideas to raise the bar on how you're perceived in the community, along with tips to make your business more successful.
This morning is simply the equivalent of a buffet or a big salad bar!
The year may be quickly coming to a close, but you still have time for a positive impact on your business in the home stretch!
Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell!
Over the last few years, I've written this at least a dozen times - Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. It's the fundamental difference between these two pieces of "real estate," and done right, your website and blog should work together.
The stories you tell start with your about page and talking about why you love being a photographer. For most of you, "Mom" is your target audience, and she doesn't care about what gear you work with, what awards you've won, or how you got started. She wants to know if she can trust you to capture the kinds of images she wants. She wants to see if you love being an artist or you're just in it for the business.
Next up is the importance of the products/services you sell. Your blog can position the importance of capturing memories, while your website can share ideas on how to preserve and present them. For example, a wedding album isn't a book of pictures - it's the first family heirloom of a new family. As my buddy, Denis Reggie, used to say, and I'm paraphrasing a little, "The flowers will die, the food's been eaten, the gown will never be worn again, but the album is priceless and will last forever."
Talk about the importance of prints. Share ideas on displaying images. Consider an idea like Justin and Mary Marantz do when they "Shoot for the silver frame." It's that one spectacular image that becomes the signature memory maker of the wedding. While every artist does their best to capture nothing but great photos, there's always one that's a show-stopper.
And, if you're having trouble getting clients to understand the importance of printed images, Michele Celentano has made it easy for you. She's permitted you to plagiarize her "I Believe" statement. Here's the link to the first time I shared it on the SCU blog.
Ironically, photographers are the world's greatest storytellers, yet when it comes to selling their services, so many do an underwhelming job of telling their own story!
by Skip Cohen
Regardless of what holiday you celebrate in December, there are some great gift ideas this year for the photographer in your life...or just for yourself.
I won't deny for a second the products/services below are all from SCU partners, but they're here because they believe in education, and helping you build a stronger business. So, as somebody who believes in truth in advertising, these companies live up to their reputation for quality and support for the industry. And I've worked with many of them for a considerable part of my career.
So, whether you're stuck for gift ideas or not, here are some of my favorite show-stoppers for this holiday season:
Platypod - The Perfect Gift
While Platypod is relatively new to SCU, it's a product line and company that's grown near and dear to me. They're more than just an SCU partner, I'm personally active in the company helping them with their marketing, but I also love their product line. I'm having fun with it myself. Nothing is going to break the bank when it comes to the cost, and best of all is the new perspective Platypod will add to your creativity.
From an instant macro/closeup setup like we've shared in posts from Shiv Verma, Don Komarechka, and Larry Becker to simply using the Litra Torch 2.0 lights behind my laptop for better lighting on video podcasts and chats, there's been no shortage of creativity. I love the diversity. And, for travel and hiking, the Ultra with the Benro ball head is perfect.
Wander over to the Platypod website and check out the full product line and while supplies last, this year's holiday specials.
PhotoTexting - Helping to Grow Your Business
Senior photography isn't for every artist, but diversity is! Everyone is looking for ways to grow their business, and PhotoTexting recently launched its new Senior Rep Program. They've made it easy to get started and then build brand awareness based on your best marketing tool - relationship building with seniors and their parents.
As a gift idea, it's a classic and another no-brainer. PhotoTexting is standing behind their products with a great promotional getting started offer - the price of a cup of coffee! Plus, there are dozens of videos to take you through each step of the process.
If you're a portrait artist, growing your senior business can be an incredible experience, not to mention pushing your creativity to the max. Gone are the days of boring headshots! A senior session today is about capturing the personality of the subject and establishing the first step in a new relationship. Done right, that senior will be coming back for other events. Seniors become brides and grooms; brides and grooms start families, and the opportunities go on and on.
Marathon Press - From Marketing to Bella Art Prints
As the industry's leader in support for photographers printed needs, Marathon's grown to be the "new sheriff in town" when it comes to stunning print quality and albums with their Bella line. Going back to when I first came into the professional side of the industry, they were best known for all their support in printed business material - from business cards to brochures to direct mail pieces.
TODAY - it's everything from marketing support with the benefits of MAP, to bulk order holiday cards for your clients; family marketing campaigns, stationery, beautiful prints and albums, and the list goes on and on. They're an amazing company. They never slow down helping photographers with the tools they need to grow their business, and at the same time, create products with incredible consumer appeal. Their BOGO program is going on right now on holiday cards for your own use, or as a finished product for your clients.
Click the banner below and start doing a little shopping to help grow your business.
LUMIX - "Changing Photography"
Four years ago, I started shooting mirrorless with Panasonic's LUMIX line. Yes, they're an SCU partner, but remember my background - twelve years as president of Hasselblad USA. While I don't make a living a professional photographer, I know more than I let on. And it takes a lot to impress me. LUMIX totally recharged my love for having a camera in my hands.
But it's not just how easy Panasonic has made expanding my creativity and helping me grow - it's the durability and features built into every camera. It's the low-light ability it gives me to capture tack sharp images and control the variables in every scene.
Don't take my word for it - wander into your LUMIX retailer and check out the line for yourself. Look at everything - I currently shoot with the G9 with the 14-140mm lens and love it. And if you're looking for full-frame, check out the new S series!
Tamron - Expanding the Creative Tools in Your Camera Bag
Over the years, Tamron has grown to become one of the most respected manufacturers in the world in optics and great glass! Over and again, their lenses have won awards, but of greater significance are the outstanding artists who we've featured in SCU blog posts and podcasts. Again and again, we've shared stunning images captured thanks to Tamron products.
Tamron has an outstanding savings program going on right now, and it's a click away to check out. Then, wander into your Tamron retailer for your own test drive! You'll never be disappointed in the quality Tamron's brought to the industry or the diversity of the lens selection you have to choose from.
ClickCon - Expanding Every Artist's Skill Set
Last year ClickCon launched it's first show in Chicago. It was an overwhelming success with one innovative educational idea after another. With a busy trade show and jam-packed educational platform, close to 1500 photographers took part in establishing this incredible boutique conference as a venue to help artists grow their skill set in capture, post-processing, business and marketing.
There's a special early bird registration going on right now. It's a unique gift for the photographer in your life, or again, just a present you need to give yourself. Plus, it's in August and gives you a chance to recharge your battery before the seasonality of the year kicks in.
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.