by Skip Cohen
This isn't a new topic for me to write about, but it's more relevant than ever TODAY!
With the world becoming a healthier place and IUSA in January, I want to plant a few seeds to get you thinking about how you can make the most of the trip! First, however, here's my big assumption - I'm hoping everyone recognizes the importance of the IUSA convention. It's not going to be a typical conference, but a celebration of the journey back to some level of normalcy! It's about helping you build a stronger skill set, networking, and getting back in touch with an industry you're an essential part of!
The bottom line? You need to be there, and PPA's done an outstanding job of reducing your costs to be a part of it, from the special hotel rate to the discounted registration of just $59 - they're out to help you make 2022 a year of not only healing your business but growing it! Anybody can survive - their goal is to help you thrive!
So, let's start planning your trip!
You've got a choice in how you want to kick off 2022 - you can either sit on the sidelines and watch the parade go by or you can be a part of it!
Hope to see you at IUSA!
Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
by Skip Cohen
I started this series a couple of months back to help you think through things you could be doing in advance to help make this one of your best holiday seasons on record. But there's one last component that's critical and trumps everything you do in terms of marketing, brand-building, and promotion - your ATTITUDE!
The last two years have been the toughest ever for every business, especially in the imaging world. Nevertheless, I'm hearing great stories from all over the industry about new business coming through, and several photographers are tracking to some of the best sales they've ever seen for the holidays.
When I was in junior high school, the basketball coach had a sign in his office, much like the Zig Ziglar quote above:
Winning is 80% motivation and only 20% skill!
Well, we're coming down to the wire, but there's still time to capture and create more business for 2021, and it all starts with your attitude. Here's a hit list of questions and suggestions to consider:
I'm not minimizing how tough it's been for so many of you this last year, but with the renewed sense of family coming out of the pandemic, there's an opportunity for you to finish the year strong! So don't let complacency drag you down.
Remember, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings, if your own heart isn't in it! And, if you're overwhelmed and just don't know what you can still do - then you know where to find me!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and today's post is as much a reminder for you as a consumer as it is for your business as a retailer and a product/service provider. So consider it a public service announcement!
Let's turn back the clock to this time last year. We were in the throws of the pandemic, and everything went upside down when it came to shipping. I remember a holiday gift we ordered for friends that took six weeks to get here through the USPS. Concerned, I wandered into my post office and was told by our local postmaster, "Sorry, nothing we can do - I've got gifts of my own I'm still waiting for!"
Then came the challenge of overseas shipments - often on their way, but with virtually no tracking information. Several times, I saw Platypod shipments look like they were still in NY when the same day, I'd get an email from the photographer overseas saying it had arrived.
So, here's the bottom line. As a consumer, shop early and ship early! Unless you're delivering locally or personally, as a business owner, encourage your clients to make their decisions now, so holiday gifts arrive on time.
Last week our fulfillment manager at Platypod sent out an email with the dates to the right for FedEx and USPS. It's up to you whether or not you believe them. Personally, I'd lean to adding a few days on, but follow the news - this is guaranteed to be a hot topic this season.
The challenge of shipping has already been in the news repeatedly. I caught this short piece in this week's copy of The Week. I know it might be hard to read, so click on it to enlarge in the SCU lightbox.
There's also a more in-depth article online at theSkimm.com about delays and price hikes through the USPS.
So, the expression, a good offense is the best defense is credited to George Washington!
“…offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only means of defense.”
George Washington, 1799
The bottom line is to build a good solid offense. Don't get caught short with your clients or your personal shipments this year. Shop early, help your clients as much as possible and get their orders out ahead of whatever you'd consider the regular schedule.
It's going to be a great holiday season for photographic products, and with the renewed sense of family in this country, you've got the skillset and products to meet the needs of your target audience!
Happy soon-to-be here holidays!
by Skip Cohen
This will probably be the last post in The Road to Seasonality series. I've done my best to cover so many different things you can be doing to help make this year's holiday season one of your most successful. Sadly though, there are still too many of you caught in analysis paralysis, trying to figure out what to do next.
STOP OVERTHINKING! First, you're only one person - even if you have a staff to help support your business, it still comes down to you. Second, you're better off doing something and being only moderately successful rather than being complacent and going into the holiday season without any marketing plans. Last but not least - remember the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
I wrote a post a few weeks back with a similar theme, but let's take it a step further. Here's a check-off list to work from, and it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you maintain a presence with your target audience and do something!
Here's the bottom line - the future of your business is in your hands! I'm not suggesting it's easy, but nothing in life is effortless these days. Just remember that relationship building is your strongest marketing tool. You've got to be out there and shed the chains of analysis paralysis.
It's November 1 - so what are you doing today to help secure business over the next two months?
by Skip Cohen
We're all used to seeing great sunset shots, and let's face it, just about any camera can handle the click of the shutter and produce stunning results when the sky is painted with color. Well, I'm always looking at the sunsets, but we were out for our walk this morning, earlier than usual. Right about 7:15, I grabbed the shot with my phone. I didn't have a "real" camera with me, and I didn't want to shoot neurochromes - so my phone was the next best thing.
This morning's early bird sunrise got me thinking about so many of you and your business this holiday season and rebuilding after the impact of the pandemic over the last year and a half. You've got to change your perspective. You've got to change how you reach your audience; what services and products you're offering.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If you keep doing the same old thing this holiday season, you're going to miss so many opportunities.
There's a renewed sense of family, new products from your lab, and so many ways to extend your reach to your target audience. From holiday cards to video messages to family portraiture - keep remembering what everybody missed most last year...FAMILY AND FRIENDS!
This isn't just any holiday season coming up - it's a celebration. And you've got the skills and relationships with your clients to exceed their expectations and turn 2021 into one of your best years ever!
by Skip cohen
Last week, I had a conversation with a photographer that left me feeling like it was time to bring back the story about the hot dog vendor. There's a lot of fun history in this story.
My good buddy, Jim Morton, found it years ago. We were both at Hasselblad then, and in a tough economy, our parent company was suggesting cutbacks to save money on things that were MAKING money. So there was an anecdotal story in circulation by the advertising community in the early '90s. Jim showed it to me, and while it might be thirty years old, it's still so valid.
It's the perfect reminder to help everyone stay focused on the big picture, pun intended! So here's the short version:
A very successful hot dog vendor is hitting record sales. He's advertising, cross-promoting, staying open longer each day, and business is fantastic. His son comes home from college for the summer and says, "Dad, don't you know we're in a recession? You need to watch your spending and be ready for business to slow down."
The father, concerned, stays awake all that night worrying about what his son has said. The following day he pulls down a lot of his signs and puts the money he would have spent on advertising and promoting in the bank. He ceased all the creativity he was putting into marketing. By the end of the month, business is terrible, and all he can say to himself is, "Wow, it's a good thing I listened to my son. There really is a recession."
The conversation that prompted the return this story was with a talented artist who felt there was nothing left to do to try and grow his business. He's caught in "analysis paralysis," and instead of doing more, he's doing nothing. He's been beaten down by Covid and the pandemic. Everything he used to do in marketing no longer works. Yet, "It always worked in the past!" Sound a little familiar?
Here's my point - the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. That just doesn't work anymore - all the paradigms have shifted, and most things we thought were normal are gone. How you market yourself, reach your target audience, and what you need to offer have all changed.
There's a renewed sense of family in this country, and they're looking to capture memory-making moments. So relationship building with your clients has never been more critical. Being active in your community should be at the very top of your list too. And the products you offer need to be new, exciting and memorable.
Sadly, too many of you forget one of your most significant resources, your lab! All it takes is a phone call with the question, "What's new?" Covid didn't slow down creativity or technology, and today's labs can print on just about anything. At the same time, don't underestimate the power of a canvas print - which is still relatively new to most consumers.
We're into the fourth quarter, and opportunities are everywhere for increasing revenue this holiday season. But, most important of all, keep the renewed sense of family in your mind. Think about what we all missed the most while hunkering down - family and friends!
When things are slow, it's a scary time to think about spending more money on marketing. But, you have to spend money to make money. Covid has hurt everyone in so many ways, but it didn't take away your skills, creativity, or passion for the craft!
"A person who stops marketing to save money is a person who stops his clock to save time!"
And I've offered this before - if you're stuck and need a fresh pair of eyes and a sounding board - you know where to find me!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and as we kick off the seasonality of the fourth quarter, I'm not sure how much more I can write about the goldmine sitting on your doorstep!
While the pandemic hurt us all in so many different ways, it brought with it a renewed sense of family. At the height of the pandemic, everyone was hunkered down, two words that I'd rarely used before Covid! Families protected themselves and especially their senior members. We all connected via the phone, Skype, Facetime, and Zoom, to name a few.
Early on, I remember posts from friends on Facebook with stories about bringing back family game night, stories about Facetime calls with grandparents who couldn't be physically visited, and family projects ranging from the kids joining in meal preparations to interior decorating. And when it came to family pets, thousands of people added a new furry critter to the family.
Put all the events of the last year and a half together, and there's a whole lot of business sitting on your front porch right now. From family portraiture to children and pets to capturing memories - we're cherishing time. And there it is - the magic word that defines your ability as an artist.
As a photographer and/or videographer, you're able to stop time and take those intangible memories and turn them into moments your clients can appreciate forever!
So, what are you doing to offer your target audience this holiday season? Each of the ideas below is perfect for a theme in a blog post too!
The list easily goes on and on in terms of your style and materials used in the items above. And while canvas prints are old to most of us - they're not necessarily old to your target audience, especially if you're a full-service photographer and include framing and helping each client with the final placement of the work in their home or office.
Most important of all, remember this quote by Seth Godin:
People rarely buy what they need; they buy buy what they want!
That means you have to plant the seeds for unique gift ideas this holiday season with your blog, Facebook posts, Instagram shots, Pinterest, etc. And with a renewed sense of family in the world, what grandma has missed most has been her kids!
by Skip Cohen
I don't mean this to sound like a rant, but there are still too many of you treating getting your business back on track with the speed of a snail! Seasonality is officially on your doorstep, but if you don't answer the door, you're going to lose out on what might be one of your best years yet!
And it's NOT rocket science - but it does take focus. Well, you know how to hold focus with a camera in your hands - now it's time for your wallet!
We recently did a podcast with Alison Tyler Jones, who talked about 2021 as one of her best years in business to date! Think about that statement for second - coming off of one of the worst years in history for imaging artists; she's never let up on staying focused on her clients and their needs. Note: Her "Mind Your Own Business" podcast will air on October 14 and is so worth listening to.
So, here's my point, below are the links to nine different posts I've done, all under the banner of "The Road to Seasonality." And there are at least 2-3 more coming in the next two weeks - each one has ideas to help you capitalize on the renewed sense of family coming out of the pandemic, the excitement of the holidays, and the opportunity you have to increase revenue and build a stronger brand!
by Skip Cohen
I've written about this dozens of times over the years, but holiday cards are one of the best ways to promote your business and your skillset. Plus, the timing couldn't be better for you to be putting your card together right now.
Let's start with the obvious - it's holiday time and your chance to remind your target audience what you do for a living. And since a picture's worth a thousand words, a holiday card with one of your photographs speaks volumes!
Next, let's talk about holiday cards you can offer your clients! It's another revenue stream this time of year, giving you the chance to take full advantage of December seasonality. But it has to start with you planting the seed for the idea. Remember, here's a twist to what you can add on to family portrait sessions. It's also a perfect topic for blog content! So start reminding your readers NOW!
And yes, this is a mini-infomercial, but with so much impact on your profitability - Marathon launched a BOGO on holiday cards three days ago! They're essentially cutting your costs by 50%. Just click the banner below for more information.
Now, let's talk about your personal card and what you choose for an image: You've got two choices, one of your most beautiful images or a photo of you and your family. Both have a significant impact because, again, you're reminding people what you do for a living.
When it comes to the best of the best - Alison and Bleu Cotton have turned their holiday card into a seasonal project, and I've saved every card for years. It's become part of the holiday season.
Here's the bottom line - NO PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER SHOULD EVER USE A STORE-BOUGHT HOLIDAY CARD! Take the time to show your skillset and remind your target audience that you walk the talk.
Second - take this same creativity and tie it into your relationships with your clients. Help them create a holiday card that captures their spirit through the holidays. And remember, as Beverly and Tim Walden always remind us, it's not just about a great finished product, but the experience of working with you!
As I've written so many times before, the fun of this industry is about the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. And now and then, there are a few fun surprises that come out of those relationships.
In a blog post in August, I featured Andrew Michaels, who I met at ClickCon. He photographed Chicago Transit Authority workers during the pandemic. Proud of being a Chicagoan, he wanted to recognize the unsung heroes behind the scene who kept Chicago moving!
A few weeks after the blog post, my co-host, Chamira Young, and I had some fun with Andrew as a guest on the Mind Your Own Business podcast. A talented artist, he shared so much great insight into his love for photography, networking, and the importance of building relationships. Just click on the banner to the right to listen to the podcast.
Well, Andrew shared the following in a post on the ClickCon page on Facebook two weeks ago:
Shortly after Skip's podcast, my friend Jacob Harrison shared it on Reddit, and days later I was contacted by Anthony Ponce of Fox 32 news to do a follow-up segment...12 Hours after airing, the VP of Communications for CTA emailed me, we are going to work on getting a large print out so the public can see the work in person!
And a few days after the piece on the news, Andrew wrote to me: Within 12 hours of airing this we have a local print shop inquiring about helping, and the CTA has also reached out to say they will help get this printed!
So, here's my point...In his book UnMarketing, Scott Stratten's subtitle is, Stop Marketing and Start Engaging. Yes, I helped Andrew get the word out about his project, but in all honesty, I did very little. He had a great project I wanted to share with SCU's readers, which was all about giving back to your community. But Andrew and I wouldn't have met had he not attended ClickCon and, in his first year as a full-time photographer, taken the steps to get involved in this industry.
His closing comment on his Facebook post says it all:
Moral of the story, push and have faith in whatever you're working towards, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and I'm not sure there's a better specialty to talk about this time of year than family marketing.
One of the unique things the pandemic brought to us is a renewed sense of family. Combine the increased importance of family with this year's seasonality, and you've got a perfect ingredient to help build a more substantial business and brand awareness.
Obviously, you need the skillset, which goes deeper than just knowing when to click the shutter. You need to understand composition, lighting, and most importantly, you need to make working with you an experience. Beverly and Tim Walden have talked a lot about creating the experience in their workshops over the years. While the finished product is essential - it's about the subjects having fun working with you. It's about the relationship you build with the client. And remember, you're not selling a photograph but a new heirloom and a memory-maker for a unique family.
So, how are you going to reach your target audience? If you haven't checked out Marathon's Family Marketing program, now is the time. In fact, it couldn't be better to help you create awareness and increase your family portrait business...NOW!
Here's what I love about Marathon's program:
Don't let this year's holiday season pass you by because you missed the opportunity to plant those marketing seeds with your target audience. The fourth quarter isn't just a time for direct sales, but it also sets the stage for the "slow season," and help's you create sales right into the new year.
Click on any of the illustrations in today's post to link to Marathon's Family Marketing Program, or call (800) 228.0629 to reserve your marketing area today.
by Skip Cohen
There are parts of this post I've hit numerous times in other posts, but that doesn't make my point any less relevant!
The clock is ticking, and the remarkable seasonality of the fourth quarter is almost here. Yet, so many of you are still acting like a deer in the headlights, and not taking action. It's never too late to start establishing yourself as the expert in imaging in your community!
With or without Covid - it's not who YOU know, but WHO knows you! So here's a list to help you keep your name out there in the spotlight. Your goal is top-of-mind awareness, so your name comes up first, anytime somebody is thinking about photography.
Here's my point - I'm hearing great stories, from photographers around the country whose businesses are strong and even a couple who told me they're tracking to their biggest year ever! So, stop standing at the airport waiting for your ship to come in!
Don't miss so many solid opportunities to get your business back on track this holiday season. And if you're stuck trying to figure out what to do next - you know where to fine me!
If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks!
by Skip Cohen
This is the seventh post in this series, each one written in the hopes of helping you take action to capture more sales in the upcoming holiday season. The reality is there isn't any single key to success. But there is a winning combination of publicity, products, and promotion.
There's only so much content you can put in a blog post. So, today, it's just getting you to think about building awareness. What good is working so hard to create the best images of your life if nobody knows who you are? Too many of you think of publicity as awareness outside your control. So, let's kill the myth - thanks to social media and communication technology - EVERY business can control and contribute to their own awareness.
The definition of publicity from Google is:
In marketing, publicity is the public visibility or awareness for any product, service, or organization. It may also refer to the movement of information from its source to the general public, often via the media.
Stop waiting for that knock at your door from a reporter who wants to do a feature profile story about you and your business. Those opportunities will come, but you have to build your own awareness first!
The bottom line is simple: "use more hooks!"
by Skip Cohen
I created this series to help you start thinking about things you need to consider to make this one of your best holiday seasons to date. This is the sixth in the series, and all it requires you to do is genuinely listen to your clients and change the way you respond!
While I'd like to take credit for the foundation of today's post, it's thanks to my good buddy, Doug Box. I first heard him talk about this concept with his bakery demonstration years ago. So while I've written about it before, most of you need the reminder with the holiday season coming up!
Paraphrased from Doug's presentation: Pretend you're a baker, and somebody calls and asks you, "How much are your cakes?" For most of us, we'd ask a series of qualifiers: How many people do you want it to serve? Sheet cake, layer cake, or ice cream cake? What flavors would you like? Anything to be written on the top? Any allergies we need to know about? When do you need it? Will it need to be delivered? And the list goes on and on.
Why, when none of us own a bakery, do we know what we'd need to ask, but as artists, most of you ask almost nothing? For example, a potential client calls and asks, "How much are your 8x10s?" and most of you would answer with a price. That's it - nothing more to clarify what the customer needed, and no effort made to upsell with ideas of other products you offer, package pricing, cross-promotions with other vendors, holiday specials etc.
Holiday seasonality is right around the corner. While the pandemic has created so many complex challenges in business today, it's also brought with it a renewed sense of family. With that new focus on family there's an increased demand for portraiture and creating/capturing new memories. Just ask yourself, what's Grandma missed the most over the last year? Her family!
Take a minute and think about everything you have to offer a client. From holiday cards to prints to capturing memory-making events - when you're contacted, don't just answer their question. Instead, take things one step further and give them something to think about that ties back to your skillset and everything you have the potential to offer.
Another good buddy, Tony Corbell, has used Disney as an example over the years. If you ask a Disney staff member when is the Electric Light Parade, they'll answer you, but then include, "And you know where there's a great place to watch it?" They'll then give you a suggestion on where to be in the park to enjoy it the most. They never just answer your question.
The bottom line is simple - we've been experiencing it with every fast food order we've ever made..."You want fries with that?"
by Skip Cohen
Although this podcast got great reviews on Photofocus.com and iTunes, I've been behind getting caught up here on the SCU Blog. So, over this next week, if you haven't heard the podcasts already, you'll meet some of the most talented and respected artists in professional photography.
Meet a great friend to so many of us in photography, Kristen Jensen. In this podcast, she shares so much great insight into her journey - from a Ford model to actress to moving behind the camera and more.
We first met when we were both working with Panasonic, Kristen as an Ambassador, and me in support of their social media building. And while we're not directly involved as much these days, that doesn't change the love we share for imaging, especially marketing/branding.
"Everybody becomes a celebrity when they take charge of their brand."
I wanted to share her promotional video from her website. It's all about branding, and is the perfect sidekick to the podcast above.
As I've written so many times before, the fun of this industry has little to do with imaging but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Sheila and I have caught up to Kristen and Tom each time they've been in the area.
A BIG thanks to Kristen for joining Chamira and me on the podcast. Click on any of the images below to see more of Kristen's work, as well as gain a better understanding of branding. She's one of the most diverse artists in imaging.
And one more BIG thanks to Photofocus.com and their support of the Mind Your Own Business podcast. It all started with Rich Harrington having an idea, Sheila giving us a suggestion for what to call it, and in 2014 we kicked off the first podcast in the series and haven't missed a month since!
A goal is just a dream with a deadline!
by Skip Cohen
The one thing we can never change is time. We can't slow it down. We can't speed it up. We never have enough of it - but right now, when it comes to preparing for the seasonality of the fourth quarter of 2021 - you DO have the time.
Most of us fly by the seat of our pants. We're reactionary and respond accordingly to whatever good ideas and, too often, bad ones come our way. Then when an idea doesn't produce the results we hoped for, we withdraw until we regain the confidence to try again.
Okay, enough of the philosophical side of trying to run a business at a time when the world is upside down! Let's go straight to the "brass tacks" of whatever it's going to take to make you smile about your business at the end of the year! I'm assuming everybody wants to regain a firmer footing in their business during the next few months - so, there's the goal and that dream with a deadline. Start with thinking through what you want to offer to your clients.
Here's my point - last year's holiday season was one of the toughest ever. We were all dealing with the unknown and the challenges created by the pandemic. And while we're still faced with so many challenges, there's never been a greater sense of family.
As a photographer, videographer, and artist you've got the skillset to offer your clients great ideas tying in your skills with their families and friends. It all starts with you, and while I hate the expression, "you snooze you lose."
And if you're stuck for ideas, you know where to find me and I'm serious, I'm happy to try and help.
You can't be the kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it.
You have to go down the chute!
by Skip Cohen
Tina Fey's quote isn't new to SCU - I've probably used it as an intro to at least two posts previously. However, it seems incredibly timely for today's Marketing Monday post. Over the last two weeks, I've shared three previous posts on ideas to help you ramp up for the upcoming holiday season.
Well, there are still too many of you sitting on the sidelines watching the parade go by instead of being in it! So, here are a few things I know about this year's seasonality.
The $100 billion pet industry is poised to nearly triple to $275 billion by 2030, creating potential tailwinds for pet-friendly stocks...The pandemic has upended the lives of humans, but for pets, it's been a bonanza: Their owners have been home all day, showering them with attention and treats...Morgan Stanley's housing strategists estimate that the growth trend of US pet ownership more than tripled during the pandemic.
Years ago, I worked for a company whose owner loved to ponder every significant decision. In the end, he pondered himself and the company right out of so many great opportunities. There's no such thing as a "sure thing" these days - so that means you have to take risks. But the great thing about imaging and business is that nothing has to be forever. Take risks, stop pondering at the top of the waterslide. Stop overthinking what you're going to do next.
Like the Nike tagline...Just do it!
by Skip Cohen
The title is a modified quote from "Life's Little Instruction Book Volume II", and it's one of my favorites. Unfortunately, with all the insanity in the world, there are too many artists who are letting the weeds take over their dreams.
While part of this post is from the SCU archives - it's time to bring the topic up to date and deal with today's challenges. I'm not minimizing anything you're dealing with, but having been in this industry my entire life, I've learned that whatever you're frustrated with today, somebody out there found a solution yesterday!
Weed 1: It's time to shut off the negative information in your life. I've written before about the importance of listening to your heart, but we're surrounded by negativity these days, and it's hard not to let it into your head. For Sheila and I, we've stopped watching the news. It's frustrating not to know who to believe, so we follow a couple of online news sources, listen to our family doctors and follow people we trust.
And the next time you're sharing an image in an online forum and a troll out there decides to shred your work, remember my buddy Dean Collins' line, "Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
Weed 2: Stop thinking you're alone in your frustrations as a photographer and small business owner. Here's where getting involved in a local guild or PPA chapter is going to help. You need to be involved in the local network, not just know about it. Join whatever/whoever is in your community and start getting to know other photographers, as well as them getting to know you.
Get involved in the local business groups, both live and online. Host your own networking luncheon and invite people who target the same audience you're after. Start thinking how you can pool your resources.
Weed 3: Stop thinking you can't afford to promote your business! I just wrote a post earlier this week about partnerships. If there's a holiday promotion you want to get off the ground and you're worried about the ROI, then work together with at least two other partners. Sharing the costs is only one benefit. There's also the ability to expand your reach into the community and increase the value of what each partner is offering.
Weed 4: Take some time to think through your definition of success. Most of you are halfway there, but since you've only defined success in monetary terms, you have no idea how much you've accomplished just by being happy. And while I know just being happy doesn't put food on the table - stop thinking the pandemic got in the way of your climb up the ladder. You haven't lost your skillset, your creativity, or your passion for the craft!
Weed 5: Get out from behind your computer...often! I get that we've all been forced to be slaves to the Internet - after all, it's safe and provides an ability to communicate without any health risks. We're all experts in Zoom, Facetime, and Skype these days, but that doesn't mean you can't still meet with a client and maintain physical distancing. And nothing should hold you back from owning your zip code! It's time to get out and pound the pavement, meet other business owners in your community, and talk about ways you can work together. Your business will be built on relationships, and you won't get to know the people who can help you the most if you're at the computer all day.
Weed 6: Stop worrying about having the right gear. Do the best you can with what you've got. If there is something you desperately need to help raise the bar on your images, but you can't afford it, then find a good rental house. Years ago, Vincent Laforet spoke at Skip's Summer School. He was very open about the minimal gear he had when he first started and asked the audience, "You know what you do when you don't have a lens long enough?" "You move in closer!"
Weed 7: Don't be afraid to ask for help! One of the things I loved about the recent ClickCon conference was how attendees worked together and shared ideas about the solutions to their challenges. There are so many resources available to help you grow and rebuild your business. And don't forget a call to your lab - all you have to do is call and ask, "What's new?"
Weed 8: Stop talking and listen. There's that old saying about having two ears and only one mouth, so you've got to listen twice as much as you talk. All the answers are out there, if you just listen!
You've got so much to be proud of, but take it one day at a time, keep procrastination to a minimum and keep working to build a stronger skill set. And if you're stuck - you know where to fine me. Some times you just need another set of ears or eyes on the challenge!
Wishing everybody a terrific weekend. Get control of those weeds!
"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
by Skip Cohen
I'm so tired of hearing how much the pandemic took away from business. I don't want you to think I'm minimizing the pain of the challenge, but Covid didn't take away your creativity, or your skillset. It also created great opportunities to demonstrate a leadership role in your community by working together with other businesses to generate some promotional excitement this holiday season.
Here's a shortlist of potential partners for five different specialties in the portrait/social category:
And this is only a partial list. For example, years ago, while doing a Hasselblad University program in the Cleveland area, a portrait photographer told me how a landscaper approached him to do a landscaped scene behind his studio for family portraiture, complete with a small pond and walkover bridge. It was like a mini Hollywood set, and at no cost to the photographer if he'd just promote the landscaper's business. Why? Because the landscaper knew, for this artist, there was a high correlation between the families he photographed and homeownership!
In terms of designing an effective promotion, you can do anything from cross-promote each other's products and services to planning a mailing together to an open house, gallery-like event to introduce the community to your businesses.
Last but not least - think about partnerships like this - each member of the group becomes an ambassador for each partner's business. Working together reduces costs and increases cash flow. But if you do it all alone - 100% of the cost is on your shoulders and wallet!
“Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we.”
You don't have to be a solo act. Stop thinking you've got to do everything alone!
by Skip Cohen
Most of us have seen the artwork done by StoryPeople in various shops and galleries over the years. For Sheila and me, we've always found their messages mostly related to us personally or about love and relationships.
Well, I'm on their email list, and I get a new one every few days. But the minute I thought about the message in this week's artwork, my mind went immediately to business.
Right now, most of you are doing everything you can to get your business back on track. You're fighting to rebuild, be creative, and figure out how to best enjoy the upcoming holiday seasonality.
It doesn't matter whether you believe in angels, and you don't need one drop of spirituality to appreciate the message. Here's my point:
It's your imagination and creativity that will carry you through this year's holiday season and, in turn, sales. Coming out of the pandemic, even though we're struggling with politics and fighting to not get sucked back into a second wave - the world really is in the palm of your hand.
There's a new sense of family and just for a second, think about what everybody, especially "Grandma," has missed most - her kids! So, when it comes to the challenge of what to get Grandma this year, I'm not sure there's a better gift than a new family portrait. And if you're not a portrait artist, think about wall art. We've all spent more time at home with limited travel, looking at the same artwork on our walls. It's time to redecorate, and you've got the skillset to meet the needs of your clients.
But nothing happens without your imagination and creativity! Use your blog to plant the seeds of ideas. Talk to the vendors in your network, especially your lab, about unique products. The reality is - angel or not; your community is in the palm of your hand!
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.