by Skip Cohen
We're ramping up to the peak in seasonality for the 2022 holiday season. So getting your name out in the community should be at the very top of your "to-do" list. It's an ongoing process, but even more critical this time of year.
You want top-of-mind awareness: whenever somebody thinks about photography, you want them to think of you. Now, combine that awareness with the increased importance of family that's a spinoff of the pandemic. I'm not sure there's ever been a time when family portraiture was more in demand or needed than today!
What good is working to create the finest images of your life if nobody knows who you are?
by Skip Cohen
We're coming up to the true seasonality of the year, and with all the challenges in the world, from the pandemic to natural disasters like last week's hurricane and then the politics we all deal with; NOW is the time to make sure your network is solid,
You need to pay attention to its care and feeding – just like a house plant that needs to be watered and fed now and then. Well, your network is no different.
Building relationships is your greatest marketing tool! And as Scott Stratten said years ago, in his book "UnMarketing," stop marketing and start engaging!
"Sound Advice" is about helping you build a more substantial business this holiday season. I've got one goal - let's make this one of your best years ever!
by Skip Cohen
Eight to nine years ago, Photofocus and Skip Cohen University launched the "Mind Your Own Business" podcast. That's over one hundred episodes with some of photography's most respected artists and educators.
In this last episode, my good friend and co-host, Chamira Young, and I wandered down Memory Lane and talked about some of our guests and the lessons we learned. Unfortunately, we couldn't cover everyone, but that doesn't change the appreciation for each guest who joined us on the podcast.
A BIG thanks to all our listeners and followers, Chamira for so often making me sound better than I deserved, and the team at Photofocus who made the podcast a reality. As for what I'm going to jump on next? No idea, but that's the fun of still not knowing what I want to be when I grow up.
What an incredible ride it's been!
by Skip Cohen
Throwback Thursday doesn't have to be exclusive to old photographs and memories. Sometimes they can tie into great concepts - things that never change but remind us how to run a better business.
The two images below are at least twenty years old and are thanks to Bambi Cantrell. With bridal fairs and wedding expos getting back into swing, many of you will be exhibiting in the months ahead. So, with the help of two very small low-res images, I want to remind you how to set up your booth.
The image on the left is a photographer in his booth at a bridal fair. The image on the right was Bambi's at the time. And while it looks expensive, those are painted cheap hollow wood doors with crown molding in the back. Put together with a few pieces of stylized furniture and fresh flowers, and you've got the perfect exhibit.
But there's more to think about:
And here's one more tip from my buddy Bryan Caporicci. I've shared this before, I don't know if he still does this, but I love the idea! Working bridal fairs, he'd hand a future bride a floppy disk and say, "Take this home and look at some of my work." Brides today have never even seen a floppy, let alone know what to do with it. He made it a point to talk about the importance of prints and the wedding album.
Michele Celentano took a similar position. You'll find her "I Believe" message just a click away. It's all about prints. I'm not saying to hold back those digital files from clients who want to share them in cyberspace - just don't forget the importance of printed work.
So, I'm celebrating Throwback Thursday with timeless advice from three well-respected artists and good friends. There is not expiration date on great marketing ideas!
Happy Throwback Thursday
by Skip Cohen
I started this series to remind you about all the different building blocks you need to help make 2022's seasonality the best ever! I'm keeping these short podcasts under ten minutes and as jam-packed with ideas as I can make them.
So, it's Marketing Monday and the perfect time to talk about your blog. Things might be changing in social media a lot, but a good blog is still an essential part of the foundation you want to have to keep building your brand and business.
Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. It's your opportunity to show how much you love the craft, be helpful and right now, give Mom ideas for this holiday season.
See you next episode!
by Skip Cohen
I started these short podcasts to help you with the building blocks you need to make this year's seasonality the best ever! And while I know that's a pretty tall order - it's possible for everybody, but you've got to be in the right frame of mind and be confident in your skills and marketing.
Today's topic is a little different for a Marketing Monday post, but so relevant these days. Let's get rid of all the negative people in your life. Let's keep those "Negators" on the sideline where they belong and simply shut them off. They're not allowed to interrupt your thoughts or your passion for the craft.
And if you're stuck and need a little support, or even a quick review of your website, I'm a great sounding board - you know where to find me and I'm happy to help.
by Skip Cohen
The whole idea behind Sound Advice is to give you ideas to build a more substantial business - so let's talk about fine-tuning your website with some easy-to-do fixes. In another couple of months, Internet traffic will explode as more people start doing their holiday shopping. In the same way, you have favorite stores you like to shop in; you want your website real estate to represent you with the best possible experience.
No single blog post could cover it all, but today's post will give a few ideas to at least keep people looking rather than moving on to another photographer.
by Skip Cohen
As I write today's post, I'm back in my hometown of Painesville, Ohio. While it will eventually tie into your business and marketing for the fourth quarter, time is the topic.
We're back for a high school reunion, but being here after being away for so many years, it's impossible not to get reflective. I remember as a kid, my grandmother talking about how fast her life had gone by. Well, here I am, now her age back then, and I'm trying to understand where the time went.
I continue to have an incredible life, so my reflections are more like Rip Van Winkle waking up to find the world changed than anything resembling regret. I simply can't believe how fast time has gone by.
But the physical proof, beyond aging and my memories, are the photographs Sheila and I have. Old friends from our childhood are really "old" friends at this point. And that tree my Dad planted at the old house is now thirty feet high and shading most of the backyard. Repeatedly one of us mumbles, "OMG," as we drive by some community landmark. All the while, we've got the photographs to prove that things were different back then.
And here's where marketing hits in today's post – because of the pandemic, there's a greater sense of family in the world that we haven't seen since I was a kid. That's what all those old photographs captured – a time when life was slower, less complicated, and the focus of life was more on family and friends.
Throwback Thursday posts you share of old photographs, remind your audience that today's photos are tomorrow's cherished memories, and you're the magician. You've got the ability to stop time. You've got the power to capture and create memories for your clients this holiday season that will live on for years to come.
Since time doesn't stand still, NOW is the time to lock in your planning. Stop procrastinating and burning the clock – think through your approach for the fourth quarter. Stop for a second and think of something you said you would do this year and still haven't completed. We all do it – and suddenly *poof* we're out of time. So let's end the mañana routine and start to build what you need.
And if you're stuck with putting together a game plan – I keep offering to be your sounding board, but rarely does anybody ask for help. I live vicariously through your entrepreneurial spirit – and you've got a free coach right here. But I can't help if I don't know what you want to do.
So, before you run out of time, let's see what we can do to make 2022 one of your biggest and best holiday seasons ever! Just IM me on Facebook.
by Skip Cohen
Sound Advice is an experiment using short sound bites with tips to help increase your brand's strength. I've got one goal – to help you make 2022 one of your best years ever!
It's Marketing Monday and a great time to hit a topic all of you worry about – getting your name out there. There are so many things you can be doing to make sure you have top-of-mind awareness with your target audience. It's an old concept, but "top-of-mind" is all about making sure that whenever somebody thinks about photography, your name is right up front.
What good is working hard to create the best images of your life if nobody knows who you are?
Click on any image above to link to this podcast!
by Skip Cohen
Lori Nordstrom joined Chamira and me on this new episode to talk about how business has changed and how to be proactive, taking full advantage of your clients' continued need for your help in capturing their memories. But besides great insight, there's another aspect to this podcast I appreciate.
Lori was one of the first guests when we started the podcast in 2014. Rich Harrington had a great idea, and I felt honored to be his sidekick when we launched this series, and still do. The fun of having Lori on, besides her being one of my favorite people in the industry, is there's no expiration date on Lori's passion for marketing.
Based in Iowa, when she's got a camera in her hands, it's focused on families, kids, babies, and seniors. She's a photographer, educator, and author. Her trademark is being accessible to anyone who needs a little help. She's a friend to so many of us in the industry.
As the pandemic shifted paradigms and business declined for so many artists, Lori's ability to stay relevant brought with it new ways to grow her business. In the podcast, she talks about her diverse target audience, now working with other companies in the community. She points out in the conversation - marketing is marketing, no matter what business you're in.
Lori should be on your radar. Check out her website, and you'll get to know her incredible skill set. Then follow her on her branding site. She's one of the best in helping photographers grow their business and brand awareness.
by Skip Cohen
On Fridays, I love when I can write a post that gives you something to think about over the weekend. This morning, I caught this post from Seth Resnick:
There is that old saying that says don't try this at home...Ansel Adams famously said, "A good photograph is knowing where to stand." Photography isn't always easy, and sometimes the best image can be dangerous to take. That said there is a certain adrenaline rush that pushes. I try never to cross my own line in determining risk but my line is very different from others. Curious to hear some of your stories about pushing the line. Photo credit for this awesome pic goes to a true dear lifelong friend Nancy Leigh.
Nancy Leigh's shot of Seth got me thinking about the headshots so many of you use on your website and in social media. Most of them could put a rock to sleep! They're boring and say nothing about who you are or your love for the craft.
I'm a big fan of environmental portraits for photographers. Whether shot as a true wide angle or just capturing an element about the subject, they tell a story. Here are a few of my favorites from my good buddy Terry Clark.
Here's my point - all of you know how to do portraits that tell a story, but like the old expression about "shoemaker's children always needing shoes," why aren't you telling a story with your own headshot on your website and in social media?
I shared Kay Eskridge's headshot on the right a few years back in a blog post. Just looking at the photograph, you know something more about her. A potential client immediately sees how much she loves the craft. And I love that it's black and white - pushing the point of diversity in her creativity a little more. Even better would be her shot combined with an image or two of her working with a client.
Here's why this is so important - many of you have terrible or irrelevant headshots on your websites and social media pages. From bad selfies to portraits looking like you handed one of your kids the camera, very few of them show your love for the craft. And almost none of them shiow you in action...as a PHOTOGRAPHER and ARTIST.
And that's what hit me with that shot of Seth that started all of this today. Let's eliminate all those bad shots of you and replace them this weekend with images that show your passion for the craft and say something more about you than just being another body on planet earth!
A big thanks to Seth for sharing that shot, but the appreciation also goes to Nancy Leigh, who captured his adventurer side, and that special aspect of creativity you see in his images! It's also a big reason why I get such a kick out of following him and living vicariously through his adventures and posts. He needs to be on your radar.
Wishing everybody a terrific weekend ahead!
“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together."
Old African Proverb
by Skip Cohen
Everyone is working hard to jumpstart their business after the impact of the pandemic. As things get back on track, stop thinking you have to do everything alone. Partnerships are a fantastic way to reduce your costs and increase your reach. No matter what your specialty, there are other vendors in your community to work with.
NOW is the time to start planning great promotions for the seasonality of the fourth quarter. It's essential to stand out from your competitors and offer products and services that are unique and exciting for your target audience. I'm hitting a lot of different ideas in today's podcast, all in minimal time.
Just remember, this is really about teamwork...
“Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we.”
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday and today's "Sound Advice" is about cleaning up your "About" page. For those of you wondering if your "About" page could be a little stronger - it's a 3 1/2 minute investment of your time to listen to today's short podcast.
Remember - There's that old line about how you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make visiting your website an experience, just like walking into your favorite bricks and mortar business. It's your storefront and you want each visitor to not only stay for awhile, but tell their friends about you and your work.
I continue to believe your galleries should be your fist tab, followed by your about page. Hook your clients on the quality of your images, and then let them know why you love being a photographer!
by Skip Cohen
Welcome to the first episode of Sound Advice!
Going back a few years ago, I included an introductory sound bite with each blog post. These days we're all flat out, so this is an experiment to get you solid information in a five-minute podcast. Let me know if it helps you.
Remember, your Internet presence today is the equivalent of a bricks-and-mortar business just a few years back. In the US alone, there are 120 million Internet active households. That makes your website your storefront. You've got to make each visit an experience. Like those stores you like to shop at most, your target audience also has choices.
Let's start by cleaning up those dusty corners of your galleries, which you've probably ignored for far too long. You should be sharing only your very best work. So, if any image in your gallery looks like something anybody's Uncle Harry got, it's time to take it down.
There are more suggestions in today's sound bite! My goal is to give you ideas to help make 2022 one of your best years ever!
Happy Marketing Monday!
Remember that stress doesn't come from what's going on in your life.
It comes from your thoughts about what's going on in your life.
by Skip Cohen
I've lived in Florida for almost eleven years, and we're all used to the same thing in the rainy season. The day typically starts sunny and beautiful. Then, a few clouds roll in around noon, and usually, after 3-4:00 PM, there's a full-blown thunderstorm. After that, humidity usually skyrockets - but through the whole process, everyone knows it's coming. Boaters make it a point to follow the weather report, and if it's going to be bad - they plan accordingly.
Even with our pups, Belle is totally neurotic and flips out with the first rumble of thunder. So out comes her "Thunder Shirt." If it's a really bad storm, we've got CBD chews for her, and it only takes a 1/4 inch size tab to get her back to being mellow.
So, why can't we as business owners learn to recognize the same signs when things are stormy with our work? I get that I'm a work in progress, but you'd think I could see burnout coming just like the weatherman can predict and forecast an upcoming storm.
This week was particularly tough - full-moon-tough. Logic for so many people wasn't in the cards, and my ability to keep things in perspective disappeared in the process. Stressed, angry, short-tempered - all the signs of somebody about to crash and burn were knocking at the door.
This is a short post today with one goal - we all have to deal with a long list of daily challenges. So when the trolls take over, whether they're real or not, learn to step away. Don't respond or react. Instead, step away from the business and do something relaxing. Phone a friend; put some music on; take a walk - whatever it takes, just like when you were a kid - go to recess!
You can find anything on the Internet:
1. Dance it out
2. Go for a walk
3. Talk about it
5. Go to bed earlier
6. Focus on what you can control
7. Reminisce about good times
8. Ask for a hug
It's Friday afternoon - wishing everybody a terrific stress-free weekend!
Your customers don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care!
by Skip Cohen
This will be a rant, but I'm letting off steam with a purpose - If you want to build your brand and strengthen your business, pay attention to your customers. Answer their questions quickly; give them equitable solutions when there's a problem, and be accessible. You've got two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk...or write.
There's no single issue that got me going today. I'm just tired of being abused!
And these are just the tip of the iceberg!
Ironically, the best service I've ever had was from Comcast! Who knew? We switched from Frontier's death grip, and the Comcast tech showed up on time and finished in ninety minutes. When I asked how he did the new installation so fast, he mentioned he was independent and simply wants to work. He got the job done and went on to the next customer. It was the best installment we've ever had from any carrier over the years.
Here's my point:
If you want to stand out today, exceed expectations. I know the pandemic started this fiasco, and everyone is short on staff, but there's still a point where we've earned the right as consumers to feel the love! It's about respect and feeling like our business matters.
I'm not sure there's ever been a time as a consumer where companies have the opportunity to be leaders in marketing and business. Best of all, it's not rocket science - just common sense. As a small business owner you've got more power than you've ever had before!
Looking for help on how more ways to make your brand stand out and become known for great service? Shep Hyken is a NY Times best selling author, speaker and a friend.
Customer service is the experience we deliver to our customer. It's the promise we keep to the customer.
It's how we follow through for the customer.
It's how we make them feel when they do business with us.
Shep's website is jam-packed with great content. Everything he shares is about building a reputation for outstanding customer service...and it's all just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and while Spring seasonality is behind us, the potential for new business and getting back on track is still incredible. I'm hearing stories from photographers all over the country about business once again going in the direction of growth!
The pandemic took the wind out of everybody's sails, but the definition of failure is not getting back up after being knocked down. To get the attention of your target audience, you've got to make yourself stand out. It's time to get up!
Those of you who follow me regularly can guess where I'm going. Here are six areas to focus on NOW! It's the end of the first half, but there's plenty of time to make this one of your best years in business!
What are you doing to make yourself different from your competitors?
Here's the bottom line: Leadership opportunities abound for small-business owners these days. And the best thing is, it's not rocket science. You just need to make the effort and get yourself out there. This is about establishing a stronger presence in your community and the six areas above are the tip of the iceberg!
And if you're stuck for ideas - ask for help. I'm hear along with so many other people willing to give you a hand. You know how to find me!
The standard for excellence has never changed - over-deliver and exceed expectations!
"The business of life is the acquisition of memories."
Downton Abbey - "Mr. Carson"
by Skip Cohen
If you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, then you already know me well enough to understand I could never let a quote like that go by without connecting it to imaging. It ties directly to your business as an imaging artist, helping people capture memories.
Business is definitely back, and it's exploding over virtually every specialty...but there's still one key challenge, making the community aware of your skillset and establishing top-of-mind awareness whenever they think about photography.
One great way is to do an exhibit of your work in your community. One of the best guest posts I've ever shared is thanks to my good buddy, Kevin Gilligan. While it was first shared in 2015, this isn't like the expiration on a carton of milk! There's nothing in here that "spoils," In fact, with social media today, it's gotten even better with age. Your ability to get the word out in your community today is even stronger!
Kevin shared so much information I had to run it in three parts. Click on the buttons below for parts 1 and 2; the third section is below. I also added short podcasts to the material - nothing beats hearing from the artist directly on a topic like this.
This will sound sappy, but I'm a pretty sentimental guy. I couldn't be more proud to consider Kevin a buddy or Tamron as a supporter of not only SCU but our industry. While Kevin is not a Tamron Image Master today, he's still very active with Tamron and often teaches on their behalf.
Every day Tamron is helping thousands of photographers raise the bar on the quality of their images and, in turn, their business or hobby. Both Kevin and Tamron have a very special common denominator; they always work to exceed our expectations!
Are You Ready for Your Own Exhibition? Part 3
by Kevin A. Gilligan
Tip #11 Test Prints
This will be obvious to some, but test prints are critical. You need to know how your image will look on the particular medium that you are using. Half of my images were printed on metal for this show. I ordered several metal prints (dye fused on metal) from several print labs before the show. I experimented with several different finishes on the metal as well i.e. glossy, matte, etc. The paper prints were even more complicated. Each paper has a different print quality, price and displays the ink differently. “HELP”….my head was spinning. I spent many hours working with a printer to get each shot right. Finding the right framer, at the right price, can also be challenging. Your network can be invaluable here.
Tip #12 Installation/Hanging Your Images
Hanging images can be very challenging. Honestly, I hate doing it. Give yourself enough time. At least a day. If you have done your model (tip #10), then this will be much easier, you already know which images go together as a group, and where specifically each will go. Ask for help, bring a friend who has done this already if you can. Keep in mind that some galleries will hang images with wires and some galleries only want “D” rings. You should ask the gallery how they want the images before you frame them, assuming the gallery is going to help you hang the images.
Tip #13 Create a Catalog
Create a catalog of your work for the show. Include your artist statement, pictures of the images, the size of the images, the medium, and the price. I made 250 copies of the catalog, and it was well worth it. Hand it out at the show and let people take it home. This will help with your follow-up sales.
Tip #14 Sign-In Book
Purchase a nice leather bound book for the show and have people sign in and provide their name and email address so you can thank them for coming and invite them to future events.
Tip #15 Follow-Up
Follow up with your prospective purchasers after the show. Thank those who came to the show and especially those who purchased an image.
Tip #16 Hire a Photographer
Hire a photographer for the day, so you get images (with you in them for a change) and you can relax. You’ll be happy to have the images of your friends and for use in future marketing and social media efforts.
Having a solo exhibition is a landmark in your professional photography career. It says you are serious about your photography and willing to put in much more time and effort than the average photographer. Give yourself lots of time, six-nine months and enjoy the learning process.
Nearly 250 people attended my exhibit, I sold a third of my images during the show, and even more after the show. I met collectors and I'm building my mailing list. It was an exhilarating and somewhat exhausting experience. I couldn’t be happier I did it. I hope you do it too.
Email me at: email@example.com and tell me about your exhibit. You can see my work on my site: www.photosbykag.com.
by Skip Cohen
Meet our two "kids," Lucy and Belle. They've been together every day since we got them at four months. But, most importantly, they joined our family just months before the pandemic in November 2019. Through all those months of hunkering down, they made us laugh and, more importantly, helped us keep our sanity!
Every time Sheila goes out, the pups sit by the front door, waiting for her return.
If you're a pet owner, you completely understand how these two own our hearts. What surprises me is how many of you are doing nothing to help meet the demand for pet photography.
In the hierarchy of why consumers hire a professional photographer, the top three are brides, babies, and pets. This is from a survey Kodak did at least thirty years ago, and I don't believe it's changed. During the pandemic, weddings were down, along with photographing babies and maternity. So the order might have shifted, but here's my point.
Seventy percent of U.S. households, or about 90.5 million families, own a pet, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
For just a second, think about those numbers. Seven out of ten families have at least one pet, and the average per household is estimated at 1.6 -1.8. Like our house, many families have two fur-balls. So, the big question is, are you including pet photography in your business?
Need a little help?
Kay Eskridge has created a remarkable reputation by expanding her brand awareness for pet photography with "ReBARKable Pet Portraits." Her images are outstanding, and she exceeds customer expectations every time! Click on the banner to listen to a podcast we did with Kay on "Mind Your Own Business" near the end of last year.
If Kay's teaching/speaking at an upcoming convention or workshop - RUN. Don't walk to grab a seat. I promise you'll never be disappointed!
Still, looking for other resources? Check out Hair of the Dog Academy with Nicole Bagley. Nicole is always sharing great information to help build stronger skills in working with pets. Four years ago, she held a hands-on workshop here in the Sarasota area, and watching her in action was remarkable.
Regardless of your specialty, there are logical spin-offs that make sense with your target audience. For example, a wedding photographer with excellent skills could logically expand into portraiture with babies, children, and family portraiture. Then you can drill down into boudoir, maternity, headshots, and legacy stories. The list goes on and on with every specialty.
If we learned nothing else through the decline in business brought about by the pandemic, it's the benefits of NOT being a one-trick pony. I'm not suggesting pet photography should be everyone's core business, but it's one aspect of diversity to help you maintain more vital brand awareness. It never hurts to have a few backup plans/skills...especially when it's all aimed at the same target audience.
by Skip Cohen
Now and then Melody Beattie knocks one out of the park. This was yesterday's reading from her book "Journey to the Heart." It's the perfect reminder to take time off, BEFORE you crash and burn!
The book may have been published in 1996, but there's no expiration date on anything she shares. Sheila introduced me to her books years ago, and at this point I think, between the two of us, we've got just about everything she's written.
"Recharge your Battery
Rest when you're tired. Take a break when life stales. Take time to recharge your battery.
Energy isn't something you have - it's something you are. To give and give and give, to put out without taking in, deplete your battery. It drains you, runs you down. Running on a low battery is no longer necessary, because now we know how to live differently.
Taking time to rest, renew, and refresh yourself isn't wasted time. Recharge. Choose what energized you. Nature. A song. The voice of a friend. A nap. A hot bath. A cup of tea. A favorite program. A movie that makes you laugh or cry. A walk. A run. A poem. A prayer. A book that speaks to your soul.
Actions that emerge from an energized source are easier, go further, accomplish more. Let your work and love come from a vital spirit."
The only thing I'd add to her list of things to do would be imaging related. Get to a workshop. Attend a conference. Put the names of your favorite imaging icons into the search box on YouTube. Take your camera out for an hour or two and be your own client. The list goes on and on...but it's about doing things that remind you why you got into this business in the first place.
As I've written before, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings, if your own heart isn't in it. Sometimes all you need is a short break and time to recharge!
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.