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
In doing website reviews recently, I stumbled on a common occurrence with too many photographers: When they described their products/services, what they wrote could put a rock to sleep!
I'm convinced the problem goes back years with too many of them cutting English class on the day they talked about adjectives and creative writing!
For example, you're not selling a wedding album, but the first family heirloom of a new family. A wedding album isn't full of pages, but memories of intangible moments to be cherished for a lifetime. And for those of you who just rolled your eyes thinking, that's a little over the top - think about the products you buy and ads/commercials you've watched.
When it comes to pricing on various services, once again, most descriptions are like a can of soda that's been left open all night...they've got color, flavor but no fizz! Add words to describe your packages that tell people more than good, better, and best.
Years ago, I had a section in my marketing program about better descriptions. While it's a little dated in content, it still makes a point about wedding coverage.
In the first section, I wanted to hit the assurance that the photographer worked quickly. One of the top "urban myths" with brides at the time was missing part of the wedding because they were tied up with the photographer. Every bride seemed to know someone it happened to, even though I'm betting it was rare.
And the close of "deluxe first edition prints" were just the proofs. While most photographers today don't do proofs, there are a few who have kept them in the lineup. Again, it's about creating value, and today could just as easily be a "stunning custom-designed web page."
I get that you didn't sign up to be a writer, but if you don't make your own business sound exciting, nobody else will! Two suggestions to help: Use grammarly.com to raise the bar on the quality of what you write and to get more into improving your writing skills; and wandering through cyberspace, I found this article on the wordstream.com site.
You've got to put your heart into your business, as well as everything you write about. You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't totally committed! And the same goes for describing everything you sell.
"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader - not the fact that it is raining,
but the feeling of being rained upon."
Backstory on The Rocks of Oceanside: Right after WPPI last February, Charles and Jennifer Maring headed to southern California for a mini-vacation. Never without a LUMIX camera, they hit the coastline. Shooting with a LUMIX GH5 and Leica 45mm f1.2 macro lens, he captured some of my most favorite images. Here's the link to their website, 'Together in Style." Meanwhile, while photos are beautiful, rocks aren't your target audience! You still need those adjectives to spice up your services, products, and about page.
by Skip Cohen
While parts of this post are out of the SCU archives from many years back, with the challenges created by the pandemic, it's even more relevant today!
There must be a hundred quotes we've all read related to determination. Most of them talk about falling down and how quickly you get back up or some facsimile. The more you read the more trite they become. For whatever reason, this one really hit me hard:
"How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win."
Let's call "losing" what we're all feeling with today's challenges and everything outside our control. Although I'm hearing some excellent stories about things coming back, business pretty much disappeared for the last few months.
All of us went into the new year with the usual optimism, anticipating a year of growth for the business, new friendships, and opportunities to expand our networks. WPPI in February was the last live conference any of us would attend for a long time. Like deer caught in your headlights, we simply didn't know what to do!
Here's the critical issue - it's entirely appropriate to be frustrated over everything that's happened. It's been a constant emotional energy drain, but what's wrong is giving up. It's mid-September, and we're about to go into the seasonality of the fourth quarter. You don't have time to be gun shy in today's environment.
Here's are some ideas to start thinking about:
Last but not least, do what you need to feed your own heart and soul. Take this weekend and be a slug, if that's what you need. Build up a little energy to tackle a more positive attitude. Pick up the phone and call a good buddy. Get involved in your favorite forum on Facebook with other photographers. Look for partnerships to promote multiple products, like a photographer and florist working together this holiday season.
I'm not suggesting it's going to be easy, and this isn't about me being one of the industry cheerleaders. Business will come back, and as long as it might take, people are still in need of your help in capturing memories and sharing them!
Good things come to those who believe.
Better things come to those who are patient,
and the best things come to those who don't give up.
by Skip Cohen
Not to suggest my usual throwbacks aren't qualified, but there's a difference when you're turning back the clock in your life versus 150 years ago!
This print is from some time around 1870. It's my wife's great grandparents. Sheila's grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee, and I shared her portrait in a blog post several years ago. What's interesting about this image is what was printed on the back:
"Milton Baker & Indian wife - Martha Tredway father."
The Indian wife's name was Kitty Gentry, and Martha Tredway was her daughter and Sheila's grandmother. Whoever wrote on the back of the print chose not to even mention Kitty's name! But there's more to the backstory. In later years, there was a fight between family members over how to spell "Tredway" or "Treadway." As the story goes, "Supposedly Grandma Martha has no headstone because the family couldn't agree on spelling their last name. But I'm guessing it was because they were too cheap!"
The print we have is about two inches square and was probably copied from the original, but technology is a kick. The scan came out exceptionally good with a minor tweak for sharpness in Luminar.
I've always been a fan of Throwback Thursday, but these days, looking at old photographs has become even more important to me because of the pandemic. Old photos underscore the importance of telling stories and being able to appreciate that occasional look in your rearview mirror.
It also hits hard on the responsibility you have to your clients to never compromise on an image's quality. Think about your work today and how it's going to be shared years after you're gone, or for that matter, the subject you photographed is gone. For example, Tim and Beverly Walden don't just create stunning portraits, but family heirlooms that right from the beginning are meant to be so outstanding that they're handed down from generation to generation.
Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it.
It's what a customer gets out of it.
Take the time today and wander through your old photographs. Then share them on your blog. They're the perfect marketing tool to remind your audience that it's time for a new family portrait! Just because they're hunkered down, doesn't mean the kids have stopped growing!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
by Skip Cohen
I shared the bottom half of this post two years ago before any of us had ever used the word "pandemic."
SARCASM ALERT: This post is dedicated to those who seem to make a hobby out of losing clients and then blame the trend on everything and everybody except the face in the mirror, here's an updated list.
Wandering through the Internet several years ago I came across Desk.com and a list of "Five Annoying Customer Quotes" written by Allyson Stone. Today the site is called Salesforce.com and it's loaded with a lot of good content. Reading her five quotes, I wanted to put them into perspective for the business of photography.
Here's the thing about excellent Customer Service - it's about your attitude. It's not a department that's part of a large corporation. It's meant to be the foundation of everything you believe in business and about your customers. Excellent Customer Service is about making yourself habit-forming and exceeding customer expectations. Every client needs to feel like they're your most important customer.
We're still very much dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, but so is your target audience. Want to make some great in-roads in building your brand? Remember...
"Your customer doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care!"
Now's the time to show how much you care!
by Skip Cohen
One of my readers recently asked me to make a video or write a post about the challenges of building a photography business. Her husband doesn't understand so many of the things she does that don't directly bring in revenue:
I would absolutely love to have something that I can sit down and watch with my husband, that will help explain to him what is really involved in building a photography business...So, perhaps you will consider putting together something aimed at the significant others that those of us in the industry are in love with, and don't want to strangle."
Over the years, I've heard a lot of comments mostly from husbands or wives that they can't get their spouses to understand what it takes to build a business as a photographer; equipment purchases when revenue is limited; experimenting with different techniques and the list goes on and on. And the same questions come up often from parents of photography students who proclaim, "Oh my God, my kid wants to be an artist!"
So, I'm going to take a shot at the request, and you guys can tell me how I did.
Here's the bottom line: Being a great photographer is about passion, but not just for the artistic side of pre and post-processing, but people. There are no compromises when it comes to the responsibility to each client, and the goal is always to exceed expectations. It takes years to learn all the skills, and it's never-ending.
Having spent my entire career in the photographic industry, there's no other field like imaging. Except for modern medicine, no career field has given the world more! Think about what a newspaper or wedding album would look like if it weren't for photographers. Every day they capture memories and turn them into tangible moments for their clients, but there's one last ingredient ideal for great artists...support.
Whether it's from your spouse, parents, or partner - support helps build confidence, and confidence is one of the key ingredients in building a business!
by Skip Cohen
One of the best things about this industry is the diversity of the friendships that have all come out of our mutual love for the craft. From photographers to vendors, just calling it a diverse group would be a dramatic understatement.
Brian Campbell and I first met at WPPI 2009, my last show in my role as president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. He's the president of PhotoFlashDrive, and their products are outstanding. (And I want to clarify my position on his company too - they do not pay me, and they're not an SCU partner.) They just have GREAT products to help you exceed client expectations.
Right now they've got a monster outlet sale going on and here's why you need to take a look.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, especially in the business of imaging. More than ever before, your presentations to clients are in the spotlight. And PhotoFlashDrive manufactures hundreds of products to help you raise the bar on whatever you're delivering as a photographer.
From flash drives to wine and print boxes to branding material and everything in between, Brian has spent his life listening to what photographers need most. Don't take my word for it - take a look for yourself. You have a unique opportunity to deliver your products in a way that dramatically elevates the quality and perceived value!
Click on any image in this post to check out how PhotoFlashDrive can help you elevate your image and your brand!
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!
Always remember, your focus determines your reality.
by Skip Cohen
With all the challenges in our lives these days, it's often tough to stay positive. From the pandemic to politics, there seems to be something new every day, adding to the struggle to stay focused and on track. Even the most confident of us feel the pressure to second guess everything, from maintaining our health to rebuilding business. The result is most often a little damage to our self-confidence.
It's Marketing Monday, and this is going to seem simplistic, but maybe it's time we developed a check-off list of things to do to help stay focused. You know how to focus your camera, but do you know how to hold the focus on the passion for your career?
This is only a partial list, and I know there are a lot more things you can do that I haven't included here. So, feel free to let me know what I've missed. Most important of all, if you're feeling discouraged or frustrated, there are a lot of us willing to help.
Don't get sidetracked by people who are not on track!
Intro by Skip Cohen
For years I've written, the best thing about our industry is the friendships that grow out of everyone's mutual love for the craft. Since the start of the pandemic and being quarantined, the importance of those friendships has grown even faster and become more cherished.
Meet Erik Cooper. We've only been friends a few months, but thanks to Facebook and the phone, we've spent a lot of time talking. This morning we caught up on a great phone call, and he told me about a project he launched at the beginning of the pandemic.
Every week I've been sharing at least one post about something professional imaging artists are doing to make the most out of downtime. There are two aspects of Erik's project that I appreciate the most. First, he's bringing a group of people together who share a mutual love and respect for imaging. They've all helped each other raise the bar on their skill sets. Second, Erik chose to stand out from the crowd and implement a way to be a leader in education, but even more critical during these tough times, help everyone stay positive and focused. The Beatles' line of getting by with a little help from my friends couldn't be more accurate.
A big THANKS to Erik for writing something up about the project and especially to all the artists/models involved in the images in this post. The pandemic isn't slowing down, but for this group, neither is their positive attitude!
by Erik Cooper
We make choices everyday that determine just how positive we can remain during adversity. In March and April of 2020 our country moved into quarantine in order to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was indeed a trying time for the US as well as other countries involved around the globe. Being located in Colorado, one of the first states to deal with the virus, our new agency, ECP Talent, decided to stick to a positive outlook in dealing with the shutdown.
Most of our model and talent team were locked up in their houses and looking for a new spin on time with their families or by themselves. As a photographer, I thought it a good idea to teach them lighting principles they could use for their postings.
We had six instructions on side, flare, butterfly, clamshell, low level and GOBO lighting. All of this with the design of staying positive during the lockdown. The response was amazing from the team as well as the public when we would post the resulting collages. The members were then able to apply these principles to future posts and the impact on their pages was notable.
I receive requests often to continue in this effort from the team. Staying positive is so important.
Note: Check out more of Erik's work with a visit to ECP Talent on Facebook, Erik Cooper Photography on Facebook and on Instagram, ECP Models on Instagram
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
It's Marketing Monday, and here's a perfect way to build a content-rich post for your readers.
Last week, my good pal Suzette Allen wrote a blog post, which she also shared on Facebook about International Friendship Day. In all honesty, I didn't know there was such a day, but being self-quarantined for almost five months, I started thinking about it. Through the pandemic, most of us are missing people the most, especially social time with good friends.
That got me thinking about International Friendship Day - first, it doesn't have to be one day a year, and second, why not share images of clients and friends more regularly? It's what we miss the most, and for those of you who are professional photographers, it's a great way to keep connecting with clients and friends in your community. Even better, it highlights your brand as a photographer.
Maybe best of all, I set out this morning going through my archives, thinking about conventions and trade shows. I miss the contact and time to socialize with so many friends over the years. The hunt for old images became fun. "Fun" is a difficult word to find these days, but it's not lost.
For you, as a professional photographer, the collection of photographs becomes a great way to remind your readers what you do best - capture and share memories!
Suzette shared a stellar piece of advice at the close of her post that applies to all of us these days:
Celebrate your friends this day (which is almost over) this weekend, this week, this month. Make sure you tell your friends how much you love them. Make it weird. LOL !! Seriously, we all need a reminder of how much we are loved!
If ours is truly an apocalyptic time, it may promise a new beginning rather than an end. We could not go on living with stale ideas. Certainly, we are faced with an extreme psychological test. The way to pass it is to accept the idea that life has rebelled and plunged us into such uncertainty because we have too long humiliated it. A season of change does not collapse civilization.
(Probably written at least 30 years ago.)
by Skip Cohen
Stay with me on this, because it's a short post and might help you think differently about today's challenges in your business.
I live in one of the stupid states, Florida. Like most of you, Sheila and I have been self-quarantined for almost five months. And while we're still taking turns riding the emotional roller coaster of anxiety and frustration, we've adjusted. We miss friends and so many freedoms we took for granted, but at the same time, life has become more precious.
This industry, which I love dearly, has thrown all of us off balance. And while I'm regularly criticized for being the industry cheerleader, the reality is that we all have to deal with a new norm. It will be years before life gets back to what it was a few months ago, but that doesn't mean we can't grow our skills, and become stronger marketers than before the pandemic.
I'm hearing some great stories of artists becoming more diverse in their skill set, communicating with their clients more, and providing new products/services that fall within physical distancing guidelines and safety. Yesterday, Norma Grieve, a friend and photographer from the UK, shared the following comment about building relationships, after creating something new for their clients:
My business partner and daughter designed a page specifically to help eloping couples. It includes profiles of a number of other vendors. She contacted all the vendors to check on them and ask what services they would be offering as some restrictions ease. She had a phenomenal and heartwarming response from everyone with an unanticipated, reciprocally positive reaction to our business.
When I asked Norma for permission to share the idea above she wrote back: Skip. This really has put us into the minds of the vendors and raised our business in their eyes - that was not even considered by my daughter. She simply wanted to reach out and to keep our Let’s Elope page up-to-date-helpful.
Here's my point - if you let today's business challenges grind you down, they will. But, if you look for new ways to keep creating and fulfill the passion for the craft you had before the pandemic, you might be surprised at your ability to start gaining traction on rebuilding your business!
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
An overloaded corner of a Koi pond is great to watch at feeding time. The Koi are beautiful to look at, but that's as far as it goes. They're decorative carp, bottom feeders who simply fight over food, but the photograph makes a point because that's what so many of you are doing.
The pandemic has created some unique opportunities for artists brave enough to think outside the box. The big question is, how are you going to make yourself and your work different?
Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
George Washington Carver
So, how about you stop making excuses? Stop blaming the pandemic for the drop in business, even though it's true. It's time to start looking at ways to make yourself stand out in the community.
The bottom line, this Marketing Monday, is straightforward: STOP MAKING EXCUSES! I'm not minimizing how difficult it is to rebuild business now, but doing nothing will get you just that - nothing! However, there's been a giant paradigm shift in so many things that previously built your business's foundation. Along with your target audience's needs, the rules have all changed.
But nothing happens if you don't get yourself out there and stop being content with being a beautiful Koi!
Obstacles don't have to stop you.
If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.
Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
by Skip Cohen
We're all dealing with a giant obstacle right now - the pandemic. I'm not talking about the fear of Covid-19, but the challenges in dealing with everyone's opinion. Suddenly we're buried in medical experts, with so many people in social media recently getting their junior medical degree. I put up two posts on Facebook over the last couple of weeks, only to take them down in less than 24 hours, as they became platforms for people to share their "truth," politics, racism, and even religion. If there was a way to get off track, they did it.
I see the most significant obstacle as being analysis paralysis as too many business owners are looking like a deer in your headlights! None of us know what to believe anymore regarding the virus. However, the one common denominator is every artist questioning the best ways to start getting business back on track.
This isn't meant to be a long, drawn-out "how-to" post this morning, just plant a few seeds to get you to start taking action:
Here's the bottom line - you're the only one who can impact rebuilding your business, but it takes focus. You know how to hold focus with your camera, and now it's time to take an intense look at your business. Everything has changed because of the pandemic, but that doesn't mean business isn't out there!
by Skip Cohen
Long before the pandemic, the word rebuild was in our vocabulary. From hurricanes to devastating fires to floods, we've seen communities work to reestablish their presence. In business, we've seen companies rebuild repeatedly, and in our personal lives, we've restored everything from personal relationships to old cars to challenges in dentistry.
The only thing that's never needed to be rebuilt is our resilience as a culture. We're taught early on the biggest failure in life is not getting up after you've fallen! The pandemic has knocked us all down and made it necessary to rebuild. We can't let Covid-19 win. And as trite and hokey as that sounds, it couldn't be more true right now.
I've shared a lot of different ideas to grow your business and start rebuilding over the last couple of months. They're all thanks to some exceptional artists who refuse to lay down and have encouraged us to step outside our comfort zones!
At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, here are some ideas thanks to Marathon Press. Yes, they're an SCU partner, and they're also some of my closest personal friends, but the friendships came out of respect for what they do, and their complete product line. They've never closed through the pandemic and now offer some of the greatest tools to help you rebuild your business and establish a stronger presence.
There's a reason why their booth was so busy the last conventions any of us attended! I pulled a few of my favorites below - just click on the banners for more information. And even if you're not a family portrait or senior photographer, remember you're rebuilding. The pandemic has, as JP Elario said, "...extended the slow season."
You have a choice of when to start working to reverse the slow season, and right now, family values haven't been this strong since the 60s. Families are hunkered down together, creating and capturing new memories are so important - and you have the skill set. Plus, it can all be done within the parameters of physical distancing and safety.
And take a long look at Bella Art Prints and Albums...Marathon never slows down on great products. The combination of colors, cover materials, pages, paper choices and styles has grown the line to become one of the largest collections of presentation products in imaging.
The pandemic has stopped many things, but not the kids from growing or the need for capturing the bond between family members and their need to cherish important memories!
In the end...we only regret the chances we didn't take, the relationships we were afraid to have,
and the decisions we waited too long to make.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and here's another idea to help you rebuild your business, but it goes beyond your clients and is just as important for you and your family!
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, but it's also created some unique opportunities here and there. Photographs of family and friends have never been more valuable. As the pandemic cuts down on our ability to physically be with family and friends, people are looking in the rearview mirror more and thinking back to the good old days. And if your parents are elderly, it's even more difficult to be close to them.
"My Journey" - I've referenced the Senior Friendship Centers in posts many times over the years. Besides classes, adult day care, meals on wheels, and health services, one of the programs they offer 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 it's audio-only, and you can take it a step further. ALL of you have the gear and the skills to do this in more depth than a recording. You can create a family video with virtually any level of sophistication. You can also maintain social distancing, offering clients a video recording as they share stories about their lives for younger family members and friends.
Old Images - Whether in your files or helping clients restore and repurpose old photographs, here's another opportunity to be a storyteller. Everyone has hundreds of images, usually not stored properly, but all waiting for a new chance to be shared.
Again, as the photographer, it puts you in the driver's seat as an expert in imaging and presentation quality products.
Note: That's me on the lap of my great grandmother with my mother and grandmother on either side. Four generations, but there are no stories and all three of them have long since passed away.
Your Own Family - This has so much potential to capture memories and should start with your own family. Don't wait until everybody is gone to say, "I should have taken the time!"
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 you're now offering. You don't need to wait for an excuse for the December holidays. Take advantage of all the family time you have now. Use your blog to write about it and share some of those stories, obviously, with permission.
And if you've got grandparents or great grandparents still alive, don't let time get the best of you. Make it a point to talk 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, 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! And as a new revenue stream for your business - take the time to lay out a plan. You might even want to pick a particular client to be your first project and permit you to share parts of the concept on your blog.
Don't let the pandemic win when it comes to your business.
by Skip Cohen
One of the changes in our lives due to the pandemic has become the limitations of how we communicate. Limited face to face contact, physical distancing, and face masks have put everyone's written skills in the spotlight. And communicating via the printed word is one of the toughest ways to "talk" to somebody.
Sadly, too many of you cut English class on the days grammar was the topic. Today, as business owners who might have been able to wear their heart on their sleeve, you're often stuck trying to express yourself in what you write. Whether it's a short personal email to a client, a brochure, post, or a section on your website here are some things to consider:
And remember - there are no erasers on the Internet! Never publish anything you don't want the whole world to read!
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.