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!
People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care!
by Skip Cohen
Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. And part of what should be in your heart is reminding people what you do for a living. This is your opportunity to be helpful while at the same time build your reputation as an imaging artist.
I wanted to do a brain dump of ideas for blog content, and here it is today. So whether you're doing a formal blog regularly or using your Facebook page with posts relevant to your readership, here are a few dozen ideas for content, including Community Profiles. Profile stories are one of my favorites and a great way to get your community involved in your blog.
The whole idea behind "Sound Advice" is to help you focus on making 2022's seasonality the best ever! There are so many opportunities this year to increase revenue - but it all starts with you getting the message out to the community and your readers.
Remember, you snooze you lose. Stop procrastinating and take advantage of all the opportunities available to get your target audience thinking about your skill set this holiday season!
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
Captured by Lisa Langell
by Skip Cohen
Whether you're an outdoor/wildlife artist or not, there's a lot to learn from Tamron's videos. To start, they're making some of the finest glass in imaging, and their new 50-400 is pretty outstanding - a "next-level ultra-telephoto zoom." But technology is only part of the story. When you visit the product page, Tamron's sharing images from well-respected photographers to help demonstrate the versatility of the lens. I grabbed three of my favorites to share in today's post.
I also like how they share the exposure triad, the focal length, and the gear used. They're not just announcing a new lens but adding an educational element about the image itself.
Now take things a step further and pay attention to how they tell the story of the new lens in the one-minute video below. Forget that it's a lens and take the same storyboard and apply it to how you might tell your own story in a marketing video about who you are and the services you offer.
Regardless of what you shoot with, check out Tamron's YouTube page - it's loaded with great videos and elements to help you raise the bar on your skill set. There are 390 videos currently in the collection, with almost 26,000 subscribers...and it's just a click away.
Captured by Takahiro Bessho
Captured by Masaki Kadono
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
With the renewed sense of family in the world this holiday season, family portraiture needs to be in your mix of offerings, but let's take it one step further...establishing a Legacy Program. All of you have the ability to do video and help clients tell stories about their life for future generations. Nobody's getting any younger! In the same way, you help clients capture incredible memories in portraiture; this is simply an extension of that talent. It's perfect to add to your mix for this year's seasonality.
I've packed a lot into under three minutes in today's "Sound Advice," but you're the one who can make it work and help enhance everything you're offering this holiday season. I've got one goal - to help you with ideas to make 2022 one of your best years ever!
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
It's Throwback Thursday, and the only person in the shot above I recognize is my grandfather, the second one on the left. He was born in 1899, so this photo would be around 1920 - just over a hundred years ago. But there's a more significant point to make with this morning's Throwback.
First, it's a postcard, printed on heavier stock but printed with a mailing template on the back. It's old school, but in a completely digital world, I love the concept. Second, my grandfather passed away almost forty years ago - there's nobody alive anymore to tell me who these guys were or why they were together. But, it's obvious there was a friendship. It's also an excellent argument for establishing a Legacy program for your clients.
Earlier this week, I started a new series, "Sound Advice." The concept is based on what I hope is the benefit of giving you audio marketing snippets to help you build a more substantial business. I've got one goal - to help make 2022 your best year yet! Today's topic is about using Throwback Thursday as a marketing tool.
by Skip Cohen
It's Tamron Tuesday, but I'm sharing the video below for several reasons. First, this is pretty exciting news for those of you shooting FUJIFILM gear. Tamron's expanded the 17-70mm F/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD Lens for FUJIFILM X-mount. Second, Tamron's FLASH Sale includes the 17-70mm for Sony.
But third, is why I like to share these videos, and it's definitely about thinking outside the box! Pay attention to the story they've packed into just over one minute. Watch the video, and as you watch it, what if you told your story the same way? Great images, minimal text, good music - all in a marketing piece that becomes the lead-in feature on your website. Think about the storyboard as you put it together, showing you working with a couple of clients, the process, and the results.
And when you hit the Tamron page for the 17-70mm lens for Sony, you've got a selection of videos, all product related, but each slightly different in its approach. Again, short ideas relevant to how you might tell your story while at the same time putting great optics through their paces!
Meanwhile - the clock is ticking, and there are only a few days left to take advantage of the 14 lenses on the FLASH Sale. Just click on the banner to the right.
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!
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and while this might seem a little off the topic, from my perspective, it's right on target. Anybody can market well enough to get their first client - the challenge is getting that client to keep coming back, as well as telling all their friends to check you out.
That boils down to creating images that leave people in awe of your skills. Sure, it's about creating an experience and being fun to work with - but in the end, you have to create images beyond expectations.
I've recently shared a few of Seth Resnick's posts from Facebook because he's writing outstanding content. He's posting information to make you a better artist, regardless of your specialty. I loved this post because it hits one aspect of adding POWER to an image.
I've written a lot about your galleries as past Marketing Monday posts. Every image in your gallery should be a "Wow" photograph. It needs to be so powerful that you'd only need to show that one image to get hired, or have a picture editor want to look at more of your work.
When was the last time you cleaned up your galleries? Is there work there that anybody's Uncle Harry could shoot? Are you sharing too many images and not showing your very best?
Seth needs to be on your radar. He's regularly sharing great information covering a wide variety of topics on his Facebook page. And he's only a click away.
by Seth Resnick
The silhouette from yesterday reminded me of the concept of balancing technical knowledge and aesthetics. There are photographers like the great “god” Jay Maisel who could care less about a lot of technicals and there are photographers who are so technical that they place the technical merits over the aesthetics.
The answer for me is almost like a right brain, left brain combination or rather meshing together both aesthetics and technicals.
All of this comes to mind as I think back to the days of Shadowland and the beginning of Lightroom. I remember some of the lead engineers thinking how to process a raw file and looking at all files as if they were the same only caring about technicals. Along comes my dear friend Greg Gorman and the engineers are blown away that the blacks in some of his images have no detail. They question whether this is correct and Greg explains how he intentionally slammed the blacks. For all the rules it is critical to understand that the first rule is that there are no rules that are always 100%.
Crushing blacks is the process of taking relatively dark areas typically shadow areas and making them even darker by increasing contrast in those areas. It removes any areas of light within those dark areas.
For photographers who grew up with darkrooms we talked about toes and shoulders where the highlights block off to white and the shadows block off to black on a given tonality curve so to speak. The toe would be the bottom part of any curve and the shoulder the top part. I remember discussing with the engineers what we were going to call curves in Lightroom. When we raised Toe, and Shoulder we got "huh" because while some of the engineers knew a ton about programing and pixels they weren’t necessarily photographers.
In fact one camera manufacturer automatically did this intentionally in their processor because it minimized seeing noise in the shadows.
I remember when I worked at the Syracuse Newspapers that we would have to fight like mad with the executive editors when we shot a silhouette because the art department was instructed to airbrush and open up shadows. The idea being quite literally that silhouettes don’t exist because shadows need detail.
Anyhow, my point is silhouettes can make very powerful images and the crushed blacks do not need to be opened up……..
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.
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.