by Skip Cohen
It's Fast Food Friday, and here's the perfect blue plate special from the SCU Diner - Tips to help you look better on camera.
The pandemic has changed the way all of us do business these days. For the moment, live meetings in person are few and far between, but on Zoom and Skype, for example, they're taking place every day.
But at the risk of sounding like this is a rant - I'm tired of nostril shots, backlit subjects, and talking to people whose heads are at the very bottom of the screen - not to mention horrible quality in their sound! So, let's clean things up, and when you're talking to a client or participating in a meeting, how about looking the part of a professional photographer?
I sit on several different Boards, and Zoom has become a necessary evil for communicating. The truth is, it's only evil if you don't use it wisely. It has some real advantages – mostly in the logistics of getting people together. An excellent online meeting gives everyone a chance to attend and be a part of the discussions. It's also become a much more efficient use of time.
I don't claim to be an expert, but there are some basics I want to share, and let's upgrade the way we communicate! We're going to continue meeting online, even after the pandemic – so you might as well look your best! And for those of you who think I'm being too basic, you'd be surprised how many outstanding artists I've worked with lately didn't bother to pay attention to the simplest fixes!
And last but certainly not least, Larry Becker's new book will help you a lot. If you're going to be on camera on a regular basis it's loaded with advice from one of the industry's very best. It's not just time with online meetings, and conversations with clients, but also for that personal marketing video you should all be working on for your revised about page. Larry's tips are perfect to build a stronger impression and establish more trust with your clients.
Larry started working on this book long before the word pandemic was ever in our vocabulary. You'll find it really helpful for building a stronger relationship with your camera! You're used to being behind it all the time - now it's time work on what you're doing in front of it!
I started Fast Food Friday to remind you of things you need to do to make your business stronger, market yourself better, and build your brand. Just like fast food consumed during those on the run lunch breaks we took for granted before the pandemic, they're just filling enough to get you through the day, but not meant to be your ONLY source of nourishment!
Today's blue-plate special in the SCU diner is diversity. The key buzzword lately is "pivot," and while we're all tired of hearing about its importance, it doesn't change the significance of having some backup skills to pivot to. The pandemic has changed everything in the demands typically put on photographers, and if you're a one-trick pony, you're in trouble.
So, let's change that! I don't know where I heard the line about growth and your comfort zone, but it's so true. And right now, as an artist, most of you are struggling with business, leaving you no choice but to diversify, and step into new skills and specialties in imaging.
Here's the cool thing about this industry - we have a history of watching each other's backs and helping each other get through the challenges. But, it all starts with your willingness to expand your vision and with it your skills.
Here are some suggestions:
Remember, even in the pandemic, what you show is what you want to sell. Shakespeare said it best,
"To thine own self be true!"
Stay true to your love for photography and imaging and start to show more diversity on your website in logically connected specialties. And you know where to find me if I can help!
by Skip Cohen
I started the Food Friday Series over two years ago, hoping a weekly short post covering one aspect of marketing would help many of you stay focused on the importance of building a more substantial business. From the SCU Diner, with help from an occasional guest "chef," we shared a lot of great ideas.
Well, nine months into the pandemic, with many areas of the country going back into lockdown, it's time to bring a few of the critical topics back to the table!
Here's my point: Social media has become your number one vehicle to keep in touch with your target audience. That means your blog is more important than ever. It's your best way to maintain brand awareness, but it needs to be done right!
You've got something you've never had before, too - TIME!
I'm sharing tips from my experience as well as my good buddy, Scott Bourne's. Obviously, you need to stay healthy and safe, but there's simply no excuse for hunkering down from your business!
In today's post, including five tips from Scott Bourne below, you've got 13 ideas with a minimal overlap. Your blog has never been more important than today when live interaction is so limited with your clients and target audience.
Can you survive without a blog? Maybe, but here's why it's so important. Your website is about what you sell. Your blog is about what's in your heart. The two work together, just like publicity and advertising to help you establish a stronger brand.
Building Traffic for Your Blog - Five Primary Tips
by Scott Bourne
If you're attempting to become (or already are) a professional photographer, in my opinion you need a blog. But not just any blog will do. Your blog needs to be an extension of you. It needs to show off your work for sure, but it also needs to show off your personality.
Once you build a blog, it won't do you much good if people coming to it don't stick around, because you aren't giving them a reason. So here are five ways to increase your blog's audience.
1. Avoid too many ads, too much sales talk, too many banners and too many commercials on your blog. Make sure there is a nice content to marketing ratio. Read your blog as if you were someone else and ask yourself, would I find this blog to contain enough helpful, valuable information to put up with "X" amount of marketing.
2. Publish your blog on a dependable and regular schedule. While publishing new posts every single day will get you a bigger audience faster, it's not a requirement. What is important however, is publishing with consistent frequency. Publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for instance and let your audience know the schedule. Whatever day(s) you promise to publish, stick with it so people know there's a reason to come back and more importantly, so they don't forget your message.
3. Tell stories. Be engaging. Talk more about your subject expertise or your clients than yourself. Make sure your content solves a problem for someone else, not for you. Narrative is a powerful form of communication. Use it.
4. Be yourself. You can't make a blog work unless it's honest, transparent and truthful. It has to be written from your very own true perspective, NOT the perspective you THINK people want to hear. It's way too hard to be someone else and to keep it going. Just be yourself. Not everyone will like what you do. Don't worry about that. There's a big world out there. You only need to reach the people who DO like what you do - the rest can head on down the road to find someone or something else. Life goes on.
5. Be helpful. Make sure every blog post provides the possibility of help to your audience. Your content has to be useful, or nobody will care about it. The more targeted, and niche oriented, the better. The more problem solving the better.
Blogging isn't about publishing as much as you can.
It's about publishing as smart as you can!
by Skip Cohen
I've written so many posts lately that start out the same - the pandemic has changed so much in our lives...
Here's something the pandemic has changed for the better - it's given you time, the one element in your life you've NEVER had enough of. And if you're not taking full advantage of the time to clean up some essential elements of your business, then it's a you-snooze-you-lose scenario.
Almost three years ago, I started the Fast Food Friday series: Ideas to help you build a better business and all served each week at the SCU Diner. Well, It's time to bring a few of them back and tie them to the importance of reaching an even bigger target audience today!
I'm convinced photographic gifts will top the list of great ideas this holiday season, which means more potential traffic to your website. Your galleries should be your first tab, but once you've hooked a visitor on the quality of your work, then comes the second tab, your "About" page.
Yesterday I shared a post about the importance of a better headshot with your "About" page. While a handful of photographers missed my point, nothing beats an environmental portrait of you as an artist to help reinforce your brand. But your headshot is only one of the key ingredients - the other part is what you write about yourself.
Today your Internet presence is the equivalent of a bricks and mortar business just a few years ago. And because of the pandemic, it's even stronger than a physical location! Your website is your storefront and it's essential to make each visit a memorable experience.
Creating a Better About Page on Your Website
When I shared this idea a few years back, a photographer argued with me because he and his wife had put together a humorous bio that clearly showed their personalities, and how much fun they'd be to work with. It was outstanding, and I was wrong. But being funny is an art form. If you've got the writing skill to be creative, funny and still make your point about your love for the craft, then create that kind of bio. However, if you're concerned about your message, then go with the basics above.
One more idea for you to think about, and you've got the time: Thanks to technology, ALL of you have the ability to create a high impact marketing video combining still images, video, and great music for your about page. Nobody can tell your story as well as you, and it's another way to get the message to "Mom."
This year will go down in history as the most difficult for any small-business owner, especially photographers. But I'm hearing stories from artists all over the country of business picking up a little, new ideas for services and products and even an increase in small events.
Hunkering down is about your health, NOT your business!
by Skip Cohen
I was saving this topic for "Fast Food Friday" tomorrow, but it's too good not to share today. And in all honesty, ideas to help you raise the bar on your marketing should be happening EVERY day, not just on Fridays.
Earlier this week, Kay Eskridge shared her headshot and these comments:
Years ago my Mom gave me the ultimate compliment ... she said I am good at what I do because I use my heart before I see with my eyes. I KNOW!! Way to go Mom!
I also think that the older I get I also use my soul somewhere in the mix... I guess that's why I'm always smiling when I'm behind the camera. Thx Howard...this is one of my favs!
Here's why this is so important - so many of you have terrible or irrelevant headshots on your websites and social media pages. From bad selfies to portraits that suggest you handed one of your kids the camera and even stunning portraits of you staring down the lens barrel - very few of them show your love for the craft, or at the very least, you in action...as a PHOTOGRAPHER and ARTIST.
My suggestion has always been a side shot of you with a camera in your hands and in the background just beyond the depth of field, your subject. Use your headshot to convey a great message of what you do for a living. Even great portraits don't demonstrate what you do for a living.
This image of Kay's might not have her subject in view, but what a kick for a client to see how much she loves the craft. And personally, I love the fact that it's black and white - pushing the point of diversity in her creativity a little more.
Now, think about your bio page - your target audience doesn't care what awards you've won, what gear you shoot with, or even how long you studied to be a photographer. They want to know WHY you love being a photographer, and for "Mom," she's looking to see if you can be trusted to capture images of her family the way she sees them. It doesn't matter how many awards you've gotten in print competition through WPPI or PPA - most of you clients don't know what those associations are!
So, stop writing long boring bios about your awards, how many cameras you own, or how you got started in this business - cut to the chase and talk about your love for photography and helping clients capture great memories. Then, back it all up with a headshot like Kay's, and you can even add an image of two of you working with a client!
(Also on the list to include is a self-promotional video about you - but we'll save that for another post.)
And to Howard Rosenberg who captured Kay - nicely done! You definitely caught her love for the craft and that signature Eskridge smile. What a kick!
by Skip Cohen
For over a year, I shared a series of business and marketing tips called "Fast Food Friday." The concept started as short, easy to implement ideas, and grew into some great building blocks for success as a photographer and small business owner.
Well, as much as the pandemic has changed so many things in our lives, the key ingredients to building brand awareness haven't changed. You still need to get your name out there, and even more important, we're into fourth-quarter seasonality, and people still need help capturing and sharing their memories!
Remember why I started this series - to give you ideas to build a stronger business, no matter what the challenges were! Most of you are right-brain creative types with too little focus on growing your business. Many of you don't think of yourselves as small business owners. Even if you're working for another studio, imaging is a career choice that lends itself to freelance assignments, and you're ALWAYS building your brand.
With or without Covid - it's not who YOU know, but WHO knows you! Here's a list to help you keep your name out there in the spotlight. Your goal is top-of-mind awareness so anytime somebody is thinking about photography, your name comes up first.
Too many of you think there's nothing you can do to build your brand until the pandemic is history. It's not going away tomorrow, but the new norm doesn't need to leave you helpless. Relationship building is your most vital marketing tool - so, set up a time every week to be building your foundation of awareness - beyond your skill set.
Tony Corbell, one of the most recognized photographers in the industry, once told a story about when he first got started. "I might not have been the best photographer in town, but I was determined to be the nicest!" Tony's never strayed from that practice!
And where's Tony today? Because travel for all of us is limited, he's online and spending just as much time teaching and supporting his audience as he always has - but in cyberspace!
by Skip Cohen
When my buddy Rick Friedman shared the image above on the Platypod blog last week, it got me thinking about the changing seasons in business, not just the beauty of foliage in New England. The pandemic has changed so much in our lives, but it didn't stop Mother Nature's seasonality any more than it's going to halt the seasonality in business over the upcoming holidays.
In fact, with everyone being restricted with physical distancing and health concerns, I'm convinced photography will play a more significant role than in previous years with consumers this holiday season. Think about it: Is there a more perfect gift for grandma this year than a portrait or video of her family? And for holiday cards for your clients and your business, what could be better than to share one of your images and a message reminding people you're still around?
Every week for over a year, I ran a series called Fast Food Friday. Each weekly topic was a reminder about a different aspect of marketing for photographers.
There is so much you should be doing RIGHT NOW. Make sure the seasonality of the holidays doesn't slip by because of your frustrations and complacency that's become typical during the pandemic. As I've written numerous times, hunkering down is about your health, NOT about your business!
Welcome back to the SCU Diner and Fast Food Friday!
1. Holiday Cards: There are still too many of you who miss the opportunity to send out a holiday card featuring your photography. There's still time!
There are two different audiences to consider. First is your personal card to friends, clients, and associates. This is one of the easiest marketing opportunities in business - one of your photographs on the front, a message from you on the inside and on the back, your logo and contact information.
Second is holiday cards for your clients. The pandemic has dramatically limited personal contact. That makes this year an especially popular year for photography. And helping to make it more affordable, Marathon has their annual BOGO program going on right now. But nothing happens if you don't plant the seeds of ideas with your audience.
2. Gifts for Key Vendors and Clients: Think about who's helped you the most over the past year. Now is the time to recognize that wedding planner, florist, etc. who sent you some great referrals. It doesn't matter if the event was postponed or even cancelled. A simple basket of goodies or bottle of wine to acknowledge your appreciation might be just the thing to say "Thanks!" Again, the pandemic has limited so many areas of interaction, but it's not going to last forever.
3. Is it time for your own marketing video? January kicks off a new year, and with it should be some new ways to reach more clients. I'm a big fan of marketing videos that show a photographer's work with images and short video clips put to music and shared on your website along with your about page. In between the holidays is a great time to put it together.
4. New Products for Your Audience: All it takes is a call to your lab and one question, "What's new?" The pandemic hasn't slowed down technology, and I've repeatedly written about Bay Photo's Performance EXT Metal Prints for outdoor display. Also, just because products like canvas prints are old to us doesn't mean a beautiful canvas print isn't going to be cherished by a client. Then there's everything else your lab can do today with new materials, and your target audience knows very little about what's available!
5. Partnerships: Every business is dealing with the same challenges, but a photographer teaming up with a florist and an excellent restaurant doing carry-out, means your cost to promote your business is reduced to a third of what it would be if you flew solo. Another great thing about partnerships is how each partner becomes an ambassador for the other companies involved. Look for ways to share the cost of delivering a message and, at the same time, cross-promote products within the partnership.
6. Content for Your Blog: Use the current downtime to build content. And make that content about gift ideas using photography this holiday season. Plus, this is a great time to build your stash. Everything you share doesn't have to be in relative real-time.
If you're not posting at least twice a week on your blog, then shut it down! It's not doing enough to help you build a consistent awareness with your readership. Build a stash of posts you can use for content over the months ahead - short 200-300 word posts that help your readers become better photographers, for example.
7. Community Involvement: Community events are limited, but they exist, and here's another opportunity for you to be involved. You're looking for your community to be good to you...well, you've got to be good to your community. Look for ways to help spread the word for events in your community. Everyone needs all the help they can get, and your blog is just the vehicle to provide additional support.
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! This is not going to be a year where thousands of people camp out overnight at Walmart waiting for the doors to open. There's an opportunity for a strong finish to the year and more revenue for your business, but getting the word out is all up to you.
You snooze, you lose!
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!
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it!"
I've missed a few of the last Fast Food Friday posts, but the "kitchen" of the SCU Diner is up and running today with a unique entree!
I started the series to help you with quick ideas to fine-tune your business. The goal was pretty simple, easy things you could do to sustain and grow your business, implement stronger branding, marketing, revenue, and even content.
The majority of you are right-brain creative types, which means you tend to ignore the operational side of the business but love the challenge of creativity. That's great, but you can't ignore what it takes to run and build the biz!
Today's Fast Food Friday is all about finding your "why." Even the artwork I chose up top is symbolic of the challenge. Notice how most of the question marks are the same? They represent all the other photographers out there - but the one that's different is you. You've got to make yourself stand out. You've got to make yourself different from your competitors.
You've Got to Find Your Why
This past week at a Board meeting of the Sarasota's Senior Friendship Centers, the CEO shared a video with us. The SFC is a multi-million dollar nonprofit here in Sarasota. We provide two-hundred thousand meals a year, health services, adult day-care, places to socialize, primarily for senior citizens.
As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think about my own business and in turn, yours. If you haven't read Simon Sinek's book, click on the link to the right. In the meantime - think about your why. All of you know what you do for a living. You also know how you do it. But have you ever thought about why? Are you sharing that message with your target audience?
For example, dozens of times in the past few years, I've talked about the message on your about pages. I've written about people not caring what awards you've won, how long you've been in business, or what gear you shoot with - "Mom" wants to know why you're a photographer. She wants to see if you can be trusted to capture photographs of the people most important to her. Your about page is one small step towards sharing your why.
Please take the time to watch this video, and trust me - it'll start you on a life-changing journey, or at the very least, business changing!
by Skip Cohen
For over a year and a half, I've shared a Fast Food Friday tip, almost every week. In fact, there are seventy-five different articles; each one focused on a specific aspect of your business. Most of them are short, but they hit on topics ranging from marketing to expanding your skillset and even a few on how to keep your sanity as a small-business owner. Well, it's time to raise the bar a little, and here's a great place to start, diversity, and growing your business.
I'm in contact with dozens of photographers every day. While many of them are new to the business, lately, there's a trend of more seasoned artists trying to figure out how to mix up their game and go in a different direction. It's the Darwin theory of survival of the fittest.
You can use the survival of the fittest to refer to a situation in which only the strongest people or things continue to live or be successful, while the others die or fail. (From Google and Wikipedia)
Here's the first new installment in this Fast Food Friday series - growing your business outside your core specialty.
Stepping Into the Senior Market
Over the last decade, the senior market has become one of the fastest and most diverse specialties in professional photography. Done right; each session is based on relationship building, being fun to work with, and fine-tuning your listening skills. Remember, these are young adults, and as an artist, you'll often be the first professional photographer they've ever worked with. Your relationship should become an investment in future business with them as well as their parents.
But the challenge becomes where to start. Remember, this is the first in a multi-part series, and we're going to start at the very beginning of the marketing process.
Before you roll your eyes about my endorsement of an SCU partner, if you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, then you know I don't endorse any company who doesn't have something to offer you when it comes to growing your business.
Chamira Young and I have worked with the PhotoTexting.com team since last February. I love what they're doing to help photographers raise the bar on how they communicate, react, and respond to their audience.
With the senior market, we're talking about an audience with demographics that scream "early adopters." Seniors are mobile and text-focused all day long. Knowing the usage rate for teens is high, I had some fun on Google searching to see what the stats suggest:
More than half of teens (54%) say they spend too much time on their cellphones, and 41% say they overdo it on social media. According to Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of nine hours a day online...
Now, take that information and think about your younger clients - teens, as well as their parents. There's a lot of useful data for a starting point on growing your business and taking full advantage of mobile solutions.
Don't be thrown by the video below being called a "webinar." It's under four minutes and perfect to watch while enjoying that morning cup of coffee.
This is the first installment in a new series about growing your business. And while we're starting next week and be more focused on marketing to Seniors, the video above applies to so many different aspects of your business! Communication technology is not going to slow down, and mobile technology especially is here to stay - embrace it the right way, and you're going to have the tools not only grow your business but close sales faster, expand your reach and increase revenue!
In keeping with the Fast Food Friday theme, we're going to take it one step at a time. Next Friday, we'll hit getting started in marketing to Seniors, and we'll keep building from there!
by Skip Cohen
The purpose of Fast Food Friday posts is to give you ideas to build a stronger business and thrive rather than just survive. Just when I think we've run out of suggestions, another one pops up.
One of your biggest challenges as a professional photographer is planting seeds of ideas with your clients. It's not easy setting yourself apart from the competition these days, but not because it's difficult. The challenge comes with so many opportunities, and many of you fall into "analysis paralysis." You're not sure where to start, and procrastination takes over, and you wind up doing very little.
Your greatest marketing tool is in relationship building with your clients. That's a big umbrella and covers so many different aspects of building a successful business. Here's one that's so easy to put out there, and it falls into the category of just being helpful.
Throwback Thursday - Planting Idea "Seeds"
These days we're all tuned into Throwback Thursday and sharing old images. You've seen me share industry stories and photographs we can all relate to. You're my readers, and you're all seriously invested in photography, but what about your readership and "Mom?"
For most of you, "Mom" is your target audience. Remember, 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories are made by women, and Mom is almost always involved. Well, Throwback images allow you to get Mom thinking about an updated family portrait. We're headed into the holiday crunch, and it's the perfect time to remind your audience that it's time for an updated family portrait.
What I love most about this approach is that it's so soft-sell, it's hard-sell without being in anybody's face. Plus, it works on just about any image, even a headshot campaign. Have fun with the old photos you share. Use them to show your sense of humor and how much fun you are to work with.
When you can make fun of yourself, it makes you that much more approachable and becomes a relationship builder. Plus, you're reminding "Mom" the kids are growing up, and her family is changing. While we can't stop time - as a professional photographer, you have the ability to take time and turn it into a tangible memory and perfect gift this holiday season!
If work isn't fun, you're not playing on the right team!
by Skip Cohen
The Fast Food Friday series is all about tips to help you build a stronger business. The posts are meant to be short ideas - sort of quick tips to fine-tune your skillset, but as a business owner. This morning I'm going a little off track on business but not on your career.
Suzette Allen and Jon Yoshinaga have been here for the last couple of days, taking a break from the Bubble Trailer Light Tour I've written about so many times in the previous six weeks. As they leave today, I head to Latrobe, PA, for my buddy Terry Deglau's memorial service. Stay with me, because there's a great connection.
While my mind has been flooded with stories I want to share tomorrow about Terry, it occurred to me how much fun we had together over the years. Well, that brought me to this very minute, hanging out with Suzette and Jonny. They were here for a couple of days, and we did nothing except relax, talk, and enjoy the time we were able to have together.
And there's my point - having fun in what you're doing is as important as your skillset as a photographer. In fact, it's at the very core. But fun doesn't just happen - it takes work! You've got to take the time to have fun. You've got to recognize burnout. You've got to use those who-wants-to-be-a-millionaire lifelines and phone a friend.
During his years at Kodak, Terry and I simply had fun, but we worked hard to make it happen. We often tagged on extra days to several conventions - including driving Ansel Adams' Cadillac into Yosemite for three days with a trunk loaded with Hasselblad gear and Kodak film after PhotoWest many years ago.
And, as always, we had a blast with Suzette and Jonny this week as they hit day forty on the road for the tour. In the process of laughing and enjoying each other's company, new ideas bubbled to the surface, even a short conversation about the definition of success. It's not really about fame, money, or your skills, but about being happy in whatever you're doing, especially when it's just for you.
Here are some easy suggestions:
Work to put "FUN" into your business life. And, don't let your business interrupt the time you need to have with family and friends.
Have fun, work hard and money will come. Don't waste time - grab your chances.
Have a positive outlook on life. When it's not fun move on.
by Skip Cohen
Well, it finally happened. I ran out of things to write about and missed the last few Fridays. However, I'm back. Thanks to many of you, I'm loaded with more ideas to help you create a stronger business model and thrive, not just survive!
Remember, I started this series in much the same way a farmer plants his crops...they're seeds of ideas to help you be more effective. It's your choice to nurture the ideas and let them grow into something bigger. So many of you are right-brain creative types, and you're often so involved in the process of capturing and creating the ultimate image, you miss the operational side of the business.
As I've written before, what good is creating the greatest images of your life if nobody knows who you are?
With the seasonality of the fourth quarter about to go into full swing, I was thinking about your websites and blogs. So many of you have them because you were told they were what you needed, but there's no personality showing in either venue.
Too much Internet real estate is just plain flat. I've been on too many websites that are like a can of soda left open overnight. It's got color, flavor but no bubbles - no fizz!
Is Your Website an Experience or Could it Put a Rock to Sleep?
Remember the old ban deodorant commercial? The tagline was, "You never get a second chance to make a first expression. Never let them see you sweat!"
I've been doing a lot of website reviews lately, and so many of you are missing an opportunity to make a great first expression. A visit to your website needs to be a great experience. Just like shopping at Macy's vs. Nordstroms - you've got a choice to make in the experience you give visitors to your website!
Here are some ideas, most of them easy fixes and things you can do NOW before business hits the holiday peak!
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! These days, 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."
Photo Credits: © bnenin , © dima_sidelnikov
This might be one of our shortest and easiest recipes from the SCU Diner. And, it's not really exclusive to professional photographers, although that's the direction we're most focused on.
One of the top complaints of new couples after the wedding is the photographer didn't meet their mindset with the finished photographs, video, and album. And the reason most often relates to listening skills. So, here are a few suggestions:
Your strongest marketing tool, which I've written about before is in building a relationship and trust. It applies to every specialty within photography, including commercial, boudoir, family, children, maternity, and the list goes on and on!
"Do not listen with the intent to reply, but with the intent to understand."
Sometimes there's a very thin line between a "Fast Food Friday" post and a complete rant! Today is one of those days!
Remember why I started this series:
Most of you are right-brain creatives and hate having to deal with left-brain tasks like the operational components of running your business. I started writing about specific topics like website tips, blogging, and customer service, to name a few. Over the last several months, I've expanded into so many different areas, not just business but ideas to help you find balance in your life, share information, and build your network.
From conventions/workshops I've attended to phone calls and even emails and posts, there's been a decline in the quality of the communication. Today's post is a composite of several different topics, and based on things I've witnessed recently, it's sorely needed...RANT ALERT!
Are You a Professional?
While we're all guilty at times of something slipping through the cracks, many of you are turning missed opportunities into an art form! Every time you're in public, whether physically or in cyberspace, there's a chance to show your skillset, not just as an artist, but a business owner.
And, one last area to talk about - the Internet. Remember, there are no erasers on the Internet. Stay out of battles that aren't yours on Facebook. When you are expressing your opinion, do it professionally. Don't write anything you wouldn't want the world to read. You'll never win taking on a troll or acting like one!
by Skip Cohen
It's a new Fast Food Friday, and the "chefs" in the SCU Diner have whipped up another tremendous blue-plate special this week. Each week we've been presenting ideas to help you become a better business owner. Today's special is a little different. It plays on your abilities as an artist more than developing your business/operational skills.
This is one of those posts that's deeply anchored in me "shoulding" on myself. So, I'm suggesting you learn from a mistake I made so you can create new ones of your own!
Here's the backstory: My Dad passed away almost four years ago and my Mom, two years before that. My grandparents died many years before that. At this point in my life, there's nobody left who knows any of our family history. I have lots of stories over the years, but what I don't have is a video collection of my folks telling us about their lives, both as a couple and individually. I wish I had those stories, and my grandparents' too.
Ancestry.com can trace my roots, but that's not what I want. I want video coverage of me just sitting with my folks and talking about our family and their lives. I want all the stories.
I've referenced the Senior Friendship Centers here in Sarasota in several past posts. They're a nonprofit and each year deliver 200,000+ meals to hungry elders, provide health care to over 10,000 patients through their medical and dental clinics, provide adult daycare, and the list goes on and on. I couldn't more proud to be on their Board and support the way they give back to the community.
One of the programs they've been doing for the last few years, much more on the communication side, is called "My Journey." It's a recorded interview giving seniors the chance to talk about their lives and create a legacy recording for their children and grandchildren.
I love the concept, but to take it a step further, ALL of you can do something similar. And, you have the gear and the skills to do this in more depth than a recording. You've got the ability to create a family video with virtually whatever level of sophistication you want.
This has so much potential to capture memories, starting with your own family. Don't wait until everybody is gone to say, "I should have taken the time!" Plus, there's an outstanding side product here as something for your client base.
A year or two before my Dad passed away, Bambi Cantrell spent some time doing a short video of Dad taking a look back. It's a great service/product idea to pitch your clients as something new for the holidays. Take advantage of all the family time coming up. Use your blog to write about it and share, obviously with permission, some of those stories.
This is especially important If you've got grandparents or great grandparents alive. Make it a point to get time with them and capture those stories. Ask them questions about their childhood and growing up. Have fun with questions about the kind of kids they were; things they did in school; specific friends, pets, and places they visited. The list of information it would be fun to have and share is virtually unlimited.
Don't make the mistake I did - Take the time to become your family's historian. You never want to be looking back and wishing you'd captured/created a video about your roots!
by Skip Cohen
In February last year, I had an idea - a weekly series to help you fine-tune your business and marketing skills. I chose to write them fresh each week to give you content that was based on things I had noticed during the previous week. Well, here we are eighteen months later, and I think I've only missed two to three Fridays in the series.
There's a never-ending flow of topics all thanks to interactions I have with so many of you throughout the week via the Internet, phone and here and there in person. Each post in the series has hit on a topic most of you need to pay more attention to.
As I've written many times in the past, as right-brain artists, so many of you ignore the operational and marketing side of the business. Well, there are no Success Fairies who are going to come into your business in the middle of the night and boost sales, clients, or revenue. It's strictly up to you! Take a scroll through all the past "blue-plate" specials from the SCU Diner, and you'll find ideas to help you thrive in 2019 and not just survive!
The chefs in the kitchen today have put together an incredibly filling lunch special, critical to your success - the care and feeding of your network!
I hate quoting politicians, but Hillary Clinton gets credit for the "It takes a village" line. Your network is one of your most valuable tools for success. Sadly, too many of you meet somebody, talk for a few minutes, exchange business cards or transmit data to each other and then *poof* you do nothing to keep in touch!
The Care and Feeding of Your Network
I know it sounds hokey, but the analogy here is no different than a plant in your home. It needs water, light, fertilizer, and a pot big enough so it can grow. Your network is no different. There are so many ways to keep in touch and invest the necessary time to build relationships.
Building relationships is your greatest marketing tool! And as Scott Stratten says in his book "UnMarketing," stop marketing and start engaging!
Now let's hit a few ideas to help you care for your network!
A strong network needs to be more than just a fully loaded roll-a-dex. (I admit it - I'm an old fart and proud of it! Right about now there are too many of you who don't know what a roll-a-dex is/was. Before cell phones and email addresses, it's how we kept track of everybody in our networks!)
I'm right back to where I started this post, "It takes a village!" So, give your village the support it needs and be there to help people in your network because they're going to your best resource when you need help!
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.
Every time we think we're out of new "blue-plate" specials in the SCU kitchen, another topic comes along. This one is all thanks to questions that came up at ClickCon earlier this month from new professional photographers. It starts with developing your skillset, but then comes the biggest challenge of all - building brand awareness, or quite simply getting your name out there!
Remember why I started this series - to give you ideas to build a stronger business! Most of you are right-brain creative types with too little focus on growing your business. Many of you don't think of yourselves as small business owners. Even if you're working for another studio, imaging is a career choice that lends itself to freelance assignments, and you're ALWAYS building your brand.
These days, it's not who YOU know, but WHO knows you! So, I've put together a list of ideas to help you get recognized.
Twelve Tips to Getting Your Name Out There!
Too many of you think there's nothing you can do to build your brand until you're open for business. Relationship building is your strongest marketing tool - so, set up time every week to be building your foundation of awareness - beyond your skill set.
Tony Corbell, one of the most recognized photographers in the industry once told a story about when he first got started. "I might not have been the best photographer in town, but I was determined to be the nicest!" Tony's never strayed from that practice!
by Skip Cohen
I started this series to remind you about things you need to do to build a stronger business. Today, I want to use the SCU Diner for a Fast Food Friday post that's directly related to the investment many of you are making in ClickCon, which kicks off on Monday morning.
But here's the fun of a "blue-plate" special like this - just about everything applies to any conference or workshop you attend. Time is your most valuable commodity, and you'll never have enough of it! Don't waste it by flying by the seat of your pants without a game plan.
In scuba, there's a great expression - "Plan your dive. Dive your plan." While things on any schedule can change, the more prepared you are for each convention/workshop you attend, the more you're going to get out of it!
Most important of all, conventions and workshops fall under the description of work hard - play hard! If you're not having fun with your education, networking, and growing as an artist, then you're doing something wrong.
So, for those of you joining some of the best manufacturers and vendors in imaging, the ClickCon team, the sixty-three additional instructors and me next week - safe travels and see you in Chicago. Have fun - What a kick this is going to be!
Twelve More Tips to Get the Most Out of a Conference
Two weeks ago, I shared tips about ClickCon and getting ready for a conference. Many of you will be heading to Chicago on Sunday. So, it seems to make sense to hit the list again, but I've added twelve more suggestions to get the most out of each class and workshop. And while ClickCon is the focus, almost everything on the list applies to any conference or workshop you attend.
PRO TALK BOOTH SCHEDULE
SCU Flashback: Reprinted from the July 19 post:
This is indeed "fast food" today, but that doesn't make it any less relevant.
I started the series to give you quick ideas on how to fine-tune your business. Some topics have been more complicated than others, but each one has been relevant to some aspect of building your reputation, brand awareness and efficiency.
Today's "blue-plate" special ties to your business, your clients, and for some of you your personal life and other relationships. So many of you have lost the art of communicating. I'm not talking about the talking side of the equation as much as learning to listen. And when I use the word "listen," I'm also talking about paying attention to what you read as well, especially in the volley of comments back and forth in Facebook forums.
Here's the point today - you've got two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk.
Five Tips to Help You Be a Better Communicator
I added this book to my library recently, and while it was published in 2012, there's nothing dated in author Jim Smith's approach.
One section that caught my eye was about developing your listening skills, and I want to share a few of my favorites, which so many of you ignore:
They're five simple tips that all fall under the umbrella of learning to shut up. And from my own style and personality, at times I'm guilty of all of them. However, I'm work in progress and honestly trying to raise the bar on my listening skills.
What I find I do too often, along with so many of you, is immediately jump in and start talking. And, while it's not rude, the process absolutely is. Instead of listening to whoever was talking to me, I've tuned them out to formulate my answer the minute they're done.
So, the next time you're having a conversation with somebody, think of those five points above. You might find what I have, in our rush to respond; we've lost a big part of the true art of communicating.
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.