by Skip Cohen
It's the slow season - made even more frustrating because of the pandemic. But "slow" is only about revenue and clients coming through the front door! There's no reason it should be slow for you. I'm continuing my quest to give you ideas to build a more substantial business in 2020. Everybody, at the very least, needs a jumpstart.
Today and tomorrow's focus - YOUR BLOG!
Your website is about what you sell.
Your blog is about what's in your heart!
Put on your seatbelt - It's about to be a fast ride as I do a brain-dump and share ideas to help you build a better blog - including topics.
"But Skip, there's nothing worth writing about!"
And for those of you who insist there's nothing worth blogging about in your community or your life - here's a sampling of ideas with another BIG batch coming tomorrow:
Become the Imaging Expert: As a photographer, you do things every day you take for granted. Let's help Mom, Dad, and the kids become better artists. They're not going to open up down the street and compete with you. So, whether they use a real camera or a cell phone - let's help them raise the bar on their images.
Here's the fun and advantage of the ideas above - each one allows you to share some of your images as examples of the right and wrong way to capture their memories. You're establishing yourself as the expert in imaging.
And to take it a step further, some of you have the skills and ability to hold physical classes and photowalks to help your audience capture better memories. As their skills grow and you become more established as the expert in your community, you're opening the door for more advanced techniques. And at the same time you're developing top-of-mind awareness when they need a professional photographer.
Coming up tomorrow - more blog topics for your stash! Combined with things going on in your life and the community around you, I'm going to make sure you don't run out of topics for 2021!
"It always seems impossible, until it's done!"
by Skip Cohen
While we've all shared many of the same frustrations over the last year, what things you need to do to get back on track is unique to each business owner. Too many of you are flying by the seat of your pants, being reactionary, with no planning or strategy for the new year. You wouldn't get in your car for a trip across the country without a little planning, including the route, cities you wanted to visit, accommodations, etc., Yet, you're attacking the new year without a roadmap.
Social media has NEVER played a more significant role in our lives than right now! With physical distancing still an issue, social media and the phone are your two best sources of communication, followed by direct mail.
So, I went searching in Google to see how many people, worldwide, are anticipated to be online in 2021. It's expected there will be 2.14 billion buyers online this year. Here's the complete article from Statista.com.
That means, your website and blog have never been more critical - or had more potential to create sales/revenue. You have the reach that just a few years ago, a small newspaper or magazine might have had. Your website is your storefront, and your blog should be the gateway via your heart to the products and services you offer.
I've shared dozens of posts in the past about your website and blog, so I'm just going to give you a limited check-off list. If you want more detail, read all the Fast Food Fridays I've shared.
This is just the first post in a series this week. If I wrote about everything you should be doing in one post, it would take you too long to read it!
We're in a "you snooze - you lose" scenario. Things are getting better, and while the pandemic is hardly over, people are focused on trying to get back to some level of normalcy. There's an opportunity for you to be a leader in your community.
Most important of all, imaging through the pandemic has never been more important. Families and friends have been hunkered down for months without contact, but you're the magician with the power to help them stay together with photography.
We might be in the slow season, but Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduation are all around the corner. For example, there are few presents better suited for Grandma this year than a new family portrait. Now is the time to start planning!
Tomorrow we're going to zoom in on your blog and topic ideas, as well as how to get it all done if you hate to write!
by Skip Cohen
Business pretty much disappeared for so many artists and educators this year, but not their love for the craft. So many of you have taken classes at various conventions with one of the industry's favorite couples, Bobbi Lane and Lee Varis...or you've joined them on one of their photo adventures.
While it doesn't compare to their tentatively planned Iceland trip in September of 2021 and Venice, Italy in 2022, their backyard is New England with no shortage of clickable moments. I pulled three of my favorites from their "New England 2021 - Bobbi and Lee's Photo Adventures at Home" calendar.
I wanted to share the images in a post for three reasons:
The fun of this industry is all about the friendships we share, as well as our love for photography. The sunflowers and cranberry harvesst were captured by Bobbi, while the fall reflection in the river was Lee's.
But the wish for all of us to stay healthy and refocus for a great year in 2021 is from both of them!
Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!
by Skip Cohen
It's my first business post of the new year, and I've been thinking a lot about it. On all sides, the imaging industry, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and artists were hit hard by the pandemic. Restrictions and fear resulting from Corona have limited income for most photographers since March. As Sherry Hagerman, founder of ClickCon, wrote recently:
The new year will be a recovery year for most photographers and videographers and a time to catch up on accumulated debt from the 2020 losses.
Fully believing 2021 is a year to rebuild and jumpstart your business, let's start at the very beginning.
It's the first business day of the new year. Even with the optimism of the vaccine, the pandemic will not suddenly flip a switch and put us back into a state of normalcy. However, what it does mean is with a little hope on the horizon and positive actions, you've got an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in your craft and community.
Let's start right out of the blocks with your attitude and believing in yourself. Corona didn't destroy your dreams, just the roads you needed to travel to get there! And as simplistic as it all sounds, let's start by getting rid of the negative people in your life! Sound extreme? Damn right it is - you haven't got time to convince them you're on the right path. All your energy has to start with believing in yourself.
Next, let's shut down the "Negative Committee" in your head. Monica Sweeney, in her book, "Zen as F*CK" wrote,
For every negative thought you have in your head about yourself, there's a positive one scrambling behind it vying for a chance to speak. Give those positive thoughts a f**king megaphone. What are they trying to tell you?"
But just wishing you were a better artist or marketing manager isn't enough.
Over the next couple of weeks, we're going to break your business down goal by goal and piece by piece. It all starts with you taking the first giant step - committing to not letting anything stand in the way of getting your business back on track in 2021.
Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.
by Skip Cohen
It's the last Marketing Monday post of 2020, and what a challenging year it's been...okay, let's call it like it is - horrible, frustrating, depressing, complicated, confusing, and lonely. And while "lonely" isn't a word typically used in business and marketing, we're all in some form of isolation. "Lonely" is the word that best describes those times when contact with other photographers and business owners was precisely what you needed most but didn't have.
However, there are plenty of other words describing the past year - inspirational, creative, ground-breaking, and support building. I've shared so many posts with ideas of things you can be doing. Worldwide artists are working to recapture some of the lost business over the past nine months.
Here are a dozen of my favorites. They're all active links and a click away!
From podcasts to guest posts to YouTube and original posts, there are thousands of tips in the SCU archives. Each one is a building block to more success and steps to getting business back on track. Click on Fast Food Friday, for example, and you'll find dozens of ideas to work on establishing a more substantial presence!
But here's my suggestion for the next week...kick back and stop worrying about business. Note: I said to stop worrying about it - not stop thinking about it or strategizing. The pandemic changed everything, and very few artists took the time to change paths and recognize what overnight became the new normal. And while it's not over yet, there is hope, faith, and a trend of people adapting. Photography and memories haven't been lost over the last nine months, just more challenging to capture and express.
So, take the next week and use it to clear your head. Think through how you want to kick off the "slow season," and recognize there's help out here if you need it. Don't think outside the box - think like there is no box.
And if you're stuck and need help - you know where to find me!
Welcome to the 2020 Circus
"Stay positive, Test Negative"
Ali, Bleu and Fisher
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, Christmas Eve, and a year we'd all like to forget is quickly coming to a close. So, I'm covering all bases with today's post, starting with my annual favorite holiday card for at least the last decade! Ali, Bleu, and Fisher Cotton do it up big every year.
I've shared so many of their past holiday extravaganzas! It wouldn't feel like the holidays without their creativity!
This is one part Throwback with a few of their past cards and another part, a marketing reminder. Doing your own holiday card is one of the best marketing tools you have. It doesn't matter if it's one of your images or a staged family portrait like the Cottons do every year! And if you missed this season, then think about something to send out to clients and friends in the first quarter - you'll stand out even more!
Next on my "Borgasmord" of content is to wish all of you a terrific holiday season. Whatever you celebrate, be it Christmas tomorrow, Chanukah, which ended on the 17th, Kwanzaa on Saturday, or any other holiday, Sheila and I want to wish you the very best. It's been a tough year and an especially difficult holiday season as family and friends are more than six feet out of reach. But, the year is almost to a close, and there are certainly more positives than negatives in the air right now for 2021.
We couldn't get our act together to do a family card this year. It's the first time we've missed it in a whole lot of years. However, that doesn't change our appreciation for all of you, the fact that we feel blessed to be together, and how grateful we are for your support and friendship.
And last on the list because it really is Throwback Thursday, and there aren't enough of you who remember the Underwood commercial with Mason Reese from the '70s or my use of the word "Borgasmord."
On that note, and hopefully a smile on your face, I'm wrapping up today's post. Happy Holidays and thank you for all your support, feedback and encouragement over the toughest year any of us will hopefully ever face! It's really true - "I get by with a little help from my friends!"
by Skip Cohen
This could just as easily fit on Throwback Thursday since it goes back to WPPI 2011, but it's Marketing Monday, and Scott Bourne's wisdom in this "Photographers Ignite" video is perfect for the challenges we're all facing these days.
Kevin Kubota's series was the annual opening program for a few years in a row at WPPI, with at least five hundred people in the audience each time. Kevin's idea set a new standard, yet to be repeated, for great presentations and sharing information.
Here's the concept: Each speaker had twenty slides to show in five minutes, and they automatically changed every 15 seconds. The challenge was to get your message out there, and Scott did a terrific job. He's sharing five minutes of pure inspiration.
It's been one of my favorite presentations for years because there's so much in it. I find myself hitting the pause button repeatedly and thinking about the point Scott's making at the time. And these days, with the pandemic's challenges and the need for so many photographers to rebuild and jumpstart their businesses, Scott's sharing the building blocks for success in every slide!
Grab a cup of coffee and take five minutes...oh, and in the intro, Kevin mentions Scott's 90,000 followers on Twitter - that's 209,000 today.
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it!"
by Skip Cohen
Two more great podcasts in the pipeline, thanks to Platypod and Photofocus. And both are with guests who offer outstanding insight to help you through the challenges you're dealing with right now. Take the time to click on the two banners below, grab a cup of coffee and then just kick back and listen!
Shep Hyken: I share a quote every morning on Twitter. Several years back, I quoted NYTimes best-selling author Shep Hyken about Customer Service. Well, Shep replied, and it's so rare I get a response directly from the author. Since then, he's joined us on podcasts, I've been a guest on his show, and SCU has even shared a few links to his website.
Shep's specialty is Customer Service, and you'll notice I always capitalize those two words. Why? Because they're the most critical component of any business! And Shep's an expert, lecturing worldwide and helping companies focus on creating the very best level of service.
In this new podcast, we covered a lot of ground. It's so relevant, especially with today's challenges created by the pandemic. Here are just a few of our discussion points:
And With Levi Sim...
Levi Sim: In 2009 I launched a summer program called Skip's Summer School. Levi Sim was one of the attendees and was just getting started in his career. Over the years, he's become one of the most recognized personalities in photography. He's an ambassador of goodwill and support for the professional photographic community. Over the last ten years, he's the guy with the bow tie and brown fedora at any convention. He's a photographer, writer, educator, podcaster and has spent most of his career in imaging, asking other photographers and manufacturers, "How can I help?"
A few months ago, Levi made a considerable change in his career - staying with his love for imaging, he joined Utah State University as their lead photographer. So working for a full-time employee is a significant change from freelance. In this new podcast, Levi shared a lot of great insight into the challenges and benefits of giving up being a freelance artist and moving into the academic world.
Here are few of the topics we talked about in this podcast:
Click on any of Levi's images above to listen to the podcast!
The Beyond Technique podcast is brought to you thanks to Platypod. They've got some incredible savings going on right now, but only while supplies last. For example, there are only twenty of the Ultra Essentials Kits left for holiday savings. Click on any of the holiday bundles below for more information.
A BIG thanks to the team at Photofocus.com for their never-ending support of the photographic community. Check out all of their podcasts and an incredible archive of great content growing more and more every day! Just click on the banner below and check out one of the very best resources for photographic information!
by Skip Cohen
A few weeks back, I shared a post about the importance of having a great headshot on your bio page. And as is so typical lately, a few people needed to argue with me about my suggestions. They missed my point. So, I'm making it again!
Meet Bev Walden - I've been friends with Bev and Tim Walden for easily twenty years, catching up at various industry events, but these days it's once a week with Bev's email blast of Tuesday Tidbits. She's a remarkable photographer and artist, and when I got one of her recent business/marketing emails, I noticed the headshot above, and grabbed a screenshot.
It's the perfect environmental portrait of an artist. And like the headshot I shared of Kay Eskridge that started this topic, it captures Bev's love for the craft. It's inviting and put together with the work she shares on the Walden's Photography website; it delivers a message of passion for the craft, trust, and expertise.
As photographers and artists, all of you have something you've never had before - an excess of TIME! Use the downtime to update your bio and, along with it, your headshot. Let's get rid of cheesy selfies and portraits that look like you asked one of your kids to capture the image!
by Skip Cohen
I started the Food Friday Series over two years ago, hoping a weekly short post covering one aspect of marketing would help many of you stay focused on the importance of building a more substantial business. From the SCU Diner, with help from an occasional guest "chef," we shared a lot of great ideas.
Well, nine months into the pandemic, with many areas of the country going back into lockdown, it's time to bring a few of the critical topics back to the table!
Here's my point: Social media has become your number one vehicle to keep in touch with your target audience. That means your blog is more important than ever. It's your best way to maintain brand awareness, but it needs to be done right!
You've got something you've never had before, too - TIME!
I'm sharing tips from my experience as well as my good buddy, Scott Bourne's. Obviously, you need to stay healthy and safe, but there's simply no excuse for hunkering down from your business!
In today's post, including five tips from Scott Bourne below, you've got 13 ideas with a minimal overlap. Your blog has never been more important than today when live interaction is so limited with your clients and target audience.
Can you survive without a blog? Maybe, but here's why it's so important. Your website is about what you sell. Your blog is about what's in your heart. The two work together, just like publicity and advertising to help you establish a stronger brand.
Building Traffic for Your Blog - Five Primary Tips
by Scott Bourne
If you're attempting to become (or already are) a professional photographer, in my opinion you need a blog. But not just any blog will do. Your blog needs to be an extension of you. It needs to show off your work for sure, but it also needs to show off your personality.
Once you build a blog, it won't do you much good if people coming to it don't stick around, because you aren't giving them a reason. So here are five ways to increase your blog's audience.
1. Avoid too many ads, too much sales talk, too many banners and too many commercials on your blog. Make sure there is a nice content to marketing ratio. Read your blog as if you were someone else and ask yourself, would I find this blog to contain enough helpful, valuable information to put up with "X" amount of marketing.
2. Publish your blog on a dependable and regular schedule. While publishing new posts every single day will get you a bigger audience faster, it's not a requirement. What is important however, is publishing with consistent frequency. Publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for instance and let your audience know the schedule. Whatever day(s) you promise to publish, stick with it so people know there's a reason to come back and more importantly, so they don't forget your message.
3. Tell stories. Be engaging. Talk more about your subject expertise or your clients than yourself. Make sure your content solves a problem for someone else, not for you. Narrative is a powerful form of communication. Use it.
4. Be yourself. You can't make a blog work unless it's honest, transparent and truthful. It has to be written from your very own true perspective, NOT the perspective you THINK people want to hear. It's way too hard to be someone else and to keep it going. Just be yourself. Not everyone will like what you do. Don't worry about that. There's a big world out there. You only need to reach the people who DO like what you do - the rest can head on down the road to find someone or something else. Life goes on.
5. Be helpful. Make sure every blog post provides the possibility of help to your audience. Your content has to be useful, or nobody will care about it. The more targeted, and niche oriented, the better. The more problem solving the better.
Blogging isn't about publishing as much as you can.
It's about publishing as smart as you can!
by Skip Cohen
Everyone is familiar with the 7:1 ratio when comparing a dog's life to a human's. Well, I'm starting to think something similar applies to "pandemic months." So, while this group shot was from July 2015 and only 5 1/2 years ago, it feels like twenty!
Here's the short backstory - for many years, Marathon did their MAP Getaway, a three-day program for members of the Marathon Advantage Program. It was one of the best workshops I've ever attended with a fundamental concept for its foundation - sharing new ideas in marketing, business, and even technical skills.
It was a great program and one of those events where everyone left with new friends and ideas on attacking the challenges in running a stronger business. While the MAP Getaway is no longer an annual event, Marathon's support is still available.
"Along with discounted prices, you have the ability to get your marketing help when you need it. You can ask any of our knowledgeable staff basic marketing questions and if you need a little extra help, our experienced Marketing Advantage Program Director and Educator is available via email and appointment."
Here's one of the most significant benefits: Most of you are small business owners. You don't have a big staff or a lot of depth in the support you need to keep growing your business. Even in the pandemic, there are so many things you can be doing to maintain a strong presence in your community. Marathon has the ability to expand your marketing presence.
Need a little more information? Just click on the MAP thumbnail.
And whether you decide to learn more about the program or not - it's Throwback Thursday! Take the time to find some of those old photographs from great times in the past. At the very least, they'll make you smile.
by Skip Cohen
Many of you are going to feel it's too late for this idea to have an impact on sales this holiday season. Well, hear me out - because it's NOT!
Here's the background - going back to my Polaroid days, when the Spectra was introduced, the buzz words were continuity marketing. The Spectra was the first Polaroid to be introduced with a full line of accessories. And, just like the gear you own today, each piece of equipment you've added over the years has enhanced your loyalty and feelings about the brand you chose.
Well, here's an idea to build continuity marketing into your business - an 8x10 print box. It's over twenty years since Bambi Cantrell started the concept of an Image Box, then an Art Leather product. She'd use it to enhance a wedding album by taking blank mattes with her and having select members of the bride and groom's families and friends write something on them. She'd add the photographs later, making the collection of photographs incredibly special.
The idea hasn't lost its effectiveness and today has even more potential. Here are a couple of examples: First, I went to make an appointment for the annual shots for our two pups. My vet didn't have any appointments until January. "Because of the pandemic, everybody's getting new pets, and we're booked solid!"
Remember, the hierarchy of why people hire a professional photographer - brides, babies, and pets are the top three, and with so many weddings being postponed, I'm betting pets might be in the number one spot! Puppies and kittens grow up and, right from the beginning, are a vital part of their family. Perfect for filling a print box.
Second, what's the one thing that Grandma misses most this holiday season? HER FAMILY! The pandemic has kept everyone apart for almost nine months! Putting together a print box of images, both old and new, makes this one of those gifts that becomes a treasure. Looking through your list of past clients and new ones, a print box becomes a truly unique gift this holiday season.
Here are more ideas about adding a print box to your product line with blank mattes included in the box:
Here's my point to today's Marketing Monday post - the pandemic has created opportunities for so many of you to be leaders in your marketing. This is a holiday season where we're all looking back as well as to the future. Those memories you're capturing for clients now and from the past are more valuable than ever before!
Note: The images above are thanks to Queensberry: The Queensberry Matted Print Boxes are designed to be different. As well as the range of print options, you have over 40 cover materials to choose from. It's simple to customize the mats with the easy to use software, to suit each photograph and create unique designs. Queensberry will deliver to your studio for free, or direct to your clients with our free drop-shipping service!
For more information, just click on any of the images above.
by Skip Cohen
I've written so many posts lately that start out the same - the pandemic has changed so much in our lives...
Here's something the pandemic has changed for the better - it's given you time, the one element in your life you've NEVER had enough of. And if you're not taking full advantage of the time to clean up some essential elements of your business, then it's a you-snooze-you-lose scenario.
Almost three years ago, I started the Fast Food Friday series: Ideas to help you build a better business and all served each week at the SCU Diner. Well, It's time to bring a few of them back and tie them to the importance of reaching an even bigger target audience today!
I'm convinced photographic gifts will top the list of great ideas this holiday season, which means more potential traffic to your website. Your galleries should be your first tab, but once you've hooked a visitor on the quality of your work, then comes the second tab, your "About" page.
Yesterday I shared a post about the importance of a better headshot with your "About" page. While a handful of photographers missed my point, nothing beats an environmental portrait of you as an artist to help reinforce your brand. But your headshot is only one of the key ingredients - the other part is what you write about yourself.
Today your Internet presence is the equivalent of a bricks and mortar business just a few years ago. And because of the pandemic, it's even stronger than a physical location! Your website is your storefront and it's essential to make each visit a memorable experience.
Creating a Better About Page on Your Website
When I shared this idea a few years back, a photographer argued with me because he and his wife had put together a humorous bio that clearly showed their personalities, and how much fun they'd be to work with. It was outstanding, and I was wrong. But being funny is an art form. If you've got the writing skill to be creative, funny and still make your point about your love for the craft, then create that kind of bio. However, if you're concerned about your message, then go with the basics above.
One more idea for you to think about, and you've got the time: Thanks to technology, ALL of you have the ability to create a high impact marketing video combining still images, video, and great music for your about page. Nobody can tell your story as well as you, and it's another way to get the message to "Mom."
This year will go down in history as the most difficult for any small-business owner, especially photographers. But I'm hearing stories from artists all over the country of business picking up a little, new ideas for services and products and even an increase in small events.
Hunkering down is about your health, NOT your business!
by Skip Cohen
I was saving this topic for "Fast Food Friday" tomorrow, but it's too good not to share today. And in all honesty, ideas to help you raise the bar on your marketing should be happening EVERY day, not just on Fridays.
Earlier this week, Kay Eskridge shared her headshot and these comments:
Years ago my Mom gave me the ultimate compliment ... she said I am good at what I do because I use my heart before I see with my eyes. I KNOW!! Way to go Mom!
I also think that the older I get I also use my soul somewhere in the mix... I guess that's why I'm always smiling when I'm behind the camera. Thx Howard...this is one of my favs!
Here's why this is so important - so many of you have terrible or irrelevant headshots on your websites and social media pages. From bad selfies to portraits that suggest you handed one of your kids the camera and even stunning portraits of you staring down the lens barrel - very few of them show your love for the craft, or at the very least, you in action...as a PHOTOGRAPHER and ARTIST.
My suggestion has always been a side shot of you with a camera in your hands and in the background just beyond the depth of field, your subject. Use your headshot to convey a great message of what you do for a living. Even great portraits don't demonstrate what you do for a living.
This image of Kay's might not have her subject in view, but what a kick for a client to see how much she loves the craft. And personally, I love the fact that it's black and white - pushing the point of diversity in her creativity a little more.
Now, think about your bio page - your target audience doesn't care what awards you've won, what gear you shoot with, or even how long you studied to be a photographer. They want to know WHY you love being a photographer, and for "Mom," she's looking to see if you can be trusted to capture images of her family the way she sees them. It doesn't matter how many awards you've gotten in print competition through WPPI or PPA - most of you clients don't know what those associations are!
So, stop writing long boring bios about your awards, how many cameras you own, or how you got started in this business - cut to the chase and talk about your love for photography and helping clients capture great memories. Then, back it all up with a headshot like Kay's, and you can even add an image of two of you working with a client!
(Also on the list to include is a self-promotional video about you - but we'll save that for another post.)
And to Howard Rosenberg who captured Kay - nicely done! You definitely caught her love for the craft and that signature Eskridge smile. What a kick!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I'm definitely not in my usual mode of being off the topic of photography.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives and not for the better. But it's also created some unique leadership opportunities in creativity and support to your clients and community. I know it's been an ugly year for virtually every business, but I also know there are ideas out there to help you get back on track and jumpstart your business.
ClickCon Nation kicks off today with an all-star cast, but more important than the educators/speakers is the timing and the topics. For example, I'm doing a program at 10:15 CST called "My Business Has Disappeared, Now What?" In one hour, I'm going to pack in 2-3 hours of material - one after another of things photographers can be doing RIGHT NOW to capture the seasonality in business.
And check out the company I'm with below.
The program is FREE - all you have to do is download the ClickCon Nation app, and you're in. I know this doesn't apply to everybody, but there are too many of you who have been crying the blues over the decline in business and not doing anything about it.
Remember that line of "God helps those who help themselves?" Well, regardless of what you believe spiritually, there's so much help in this industry. But you've got to make the first move - open your mind and join us!
Wishing everybody a day filled with ideas and opportunities to be a leader in creativity and business. The year isn't over yet. As I've written so many times in the last nine months - hunkering down is about your health - NOT about your business.
by Skip Cohen
For over a year, I shared a series of business and marketing tips called "Fast Food Friday." The concept started as short, easy to implement ideas, and grew into some great building blocks for success as a photographer and small business owner.
Well, as much as the pandemic has changed so many things in our lives, the key ingredients to building brand awareness haven't changed. You still need to get your name out there, and even more important, we're into fourth-quarter seasonality, and people still need help capturing and sharing their memories!
Remember why I started this series - to give you ideas to build a stronger business, no matter what the challenges were! Most of you are right-brain creative types with too little focus on growing your business. Many of you don't think of yourselves as small business owners. Even if you're working for another studio, imaging is a career choice that lends itself to freelance assignments, and you're ALWAYS building your brand.
With or without Covid - it's not who YOU know, but WHO knows you! Here's a list to help you keep your name out there in the spotlight. Your goal is top-of-mind awareness so anytime somebody is thinking about photography, your name comes up first.
Too many of you think there's nothing you can do to build your brand until the pandemic is history. It's not going away tomorrow, but the new norm doesn't need to leave you helpless. Relationship building is your most vital marketing tool - so, set up a time every week to be building your foundation of awareness - beyond your skill set.
Tony Corbell, one of the most recognized photographers in the industry, once told a story about when he first got started. "I might not have been the best photographer in town, but I was determined to be the nicest!" Tony's never strayed from that practice!
And where's Tony today? Because travel for all of us is limited, he's online and spending just as much time teaching and supporting his audience as he always has - but in cyberspace!
“Don’t think outside the box – think like there is no box!”
by Skip Cohen
In all my years in this industry, I've never seen a more difficult time for photographers to maintain a business. At the same time, I've never seen/heard so many remarkable stories about artists taking a leadership role in their communities. These are business owners, fighting to rebuild what the pandemic has taken away.
This Sunday, five of us share ideas and ways to expand your skill set and work to get things started on the way back. But we can't help if you're not there with us!
My program, "My Business Has Disappeared! Now What?" is about opportunities to rebuild your business and stand out from your competition. This program changes and grows every week, as I hear more great ideas to share from artists around the world who simply refuse to give up! I'll be sharing dozens of ideas to help you rebuild and jumpstart your business. I've got one hour to fill your head with new ideas, and even a few old ones. So, it'll be fast-paced right from the start.
Click on the banner above to connect to the complete schedule of events. Then to attend for FREE, just download the 𝐂𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐂𝐨𝐧 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐀𝐩𝐩 from your app store, log in and create your password.
Don't let complacency get the best of you! Join us on Sunday to recharge your battery and get your business back on track for a strong fourth quarter in 2020!
by Skip Cohen
When my buddy Rick Friedman shared the image above on the Platypod blog last week, it got me thinking about the changing seasons in business, not just the beauty of foliage in New England. The pandemic has changed so much in our lives, but it didn't stop Mother Nature's seasonality any more than it's going to halt the seasonality in business over the upcoming holidays.
In fact, with everyone being restricted with physical distancing and health concerns, I'm convinced photography will play a more significant role than in previous years with consumers this holiday season. Think about it: Is there a more perfect gift for grandma this year than a portrait or video of her family? And for holiday cards for your clients and your business, what could be better than to share one of your images and a message reminding people you're still around?
Every week for over a year, I ran a series called Fast Food Friday. Each weekly topic was a reminder about a different aspect of marketing for photographers.
There is so much you should be doing RIGHT NOW. Make sure the seasonality of the holidays doesn't slip by because of your frustrations and complacency that's become typical during the pandemic. As I've written numerous times, hunkering down is about your health, NOT about your business!
Welcome back to the SCU Diner and Fast Food Friday!
1. Holiday Cards: There are still too many of you who miss the opportunity to send out a holiday card featuring your photography. There's still time!
There are two different audiences to consider. First is your personal card to friends, clients, and associates. This is one of the easiest marketing opportunities in business - one of your photographs on the front, a message from you on the inside and on the back, your logo and contact information.
Second is holiday cards for your clients. The pandemic has dramatically limited personal contact. That makes this year an especially popular year for photography. And helping to make it more affordable, Marathon has their annual BOGO program going on right now. But nothing happens if you don't plant the seeds of ideas with your audience.
2. Gifts for Key Vendors and Clients: Think about who's helped you the most over the past year. Now is the time to recognize that wedding planner, florist, etc. who sent you some great referrals. It doesn't matter if the event was postponed or even cancelled. A simple basket of goodies or bottle of wine to acknowledge your appreciation might be just the thing to say "Thanks!" Again, the pandemic has limited so many areas of interaction, but it's not going to last forever.
3. Is it time for your own marketing video? January kicks off a new year, and with it should be some new ways to reach more clients. I'm a big fan of marketing videos that show a photographer's work with images and short video clips put to music and shared on your website along with your about page. In between the holidays is a great time to put it together.
4. New Products for Your Audience: All it takes is a call to your lab and one question, "What's new?" The pandemic hasn't slowed down technology, and I've repeatedly written about Bay Photo's Performance EXT Metal Prints for outdoor display. Also, just because products like canvas prints are old to us doesn't mean a beautiful canvas print isn't going to be cherished by a client. Then there's everything else your lab can do today with new materials, and your target audience knows very little about what's available!
5. Partnerships: Every business is dealing with the same challenges, but a photographer teaming up with a florist and an excellent restaurant doing carry-out, means your cost to promote your business is reduced to a third of what it would be if you flew solo. Another great thing about partnerships is how each partner becomes an ambassador for the other companies involved. Look for ways to share the cost of delivering a message and, at the same time, cross-promote products within the partnership.
6. Content for Your Blog: Use the current downtime to build content. And make that content about gift ideas using photography this holiday season. Plus, this is a great time to build your stash. Everything you share doesn't have to be in relative real-time.
If you're not posting at least twice a week on your blog, then shut it down! It's not doing enough to help you build a consistent awareness with your readership. Build a stash of posts you can use for content over the months ahead - short 200-300 word posts that help your readers become better photographers, for example.
7. Community Involvement: Community events are limited, but they exist, and here's another opportunity for you to be involved. You're looking for your community to be good to you...well, you've got to be good to your community. Look for ways to help spread the word for events in your community. Everyone needs all the help they can get, and your blog is just the vehicle to provide additional support.
The year may be quickly coming to a close, but you still have time for a positive impact on your business in the home stretch! This is not going to be a year where thousands of people camp out overnight at Walmart waiting for the doors to open. There's an opportunity for a strong finish to the year and more revenue for your business, but getting the word out is all up to you.
You snooze, you lose!
by Skip Cohen
Too many artists think they deserve support simply because they use a company's products or services. They don't think through relationship-building or their own communication skills, and often act as if they just need to hit the sponsorship button on their computer.
This is a very different episode of "Mind Your Own Business" because we're sharing ideas about sponsorship and relationship building, two topics Glen Clark and I have been focused on for years in this industry.
Here's a little of the backstory on the topic: Glen's background, going back to when we first met in the early 90s, has always had him in the role of the guy photographers chase down for sponsorship, especially when it comes to teaching and speaking engagements related to the companies he worked for.
My background is very similar, but with added exposure as the hosting event for speakers and educators during the seven years, I was president of RF Publishing and WPPI. The bottom line is that we've got years of experience understanding what it takes to make a sponsor happy and feel the investment in a photographer is worth it.
Where so many of you fail is not thinking through what it is you want to accomplish, as well as what it is you have to sell. It's not just about using a vendor's products but developing a reputation for integrity, creativity, and quality. For example, just because you scored a 100 in print competition doesn't mean you have the ability to teach and hold the attention of your audience on behalf of another company.
Plus, every sponsor will always ask you the same question: "How is sponsoring you going to help me sell more of my products?"
Over the years between the two of us, I'm betting Glen and I have sponsored hundreds of photographers and projects but turned down hundreds more! Every aspect of success in business plays into a company's decision to support an artist; it's about your style, professionalism, speaking ability, experience, topics, brand awareness, creativity, and skill set.
In this recent podcast, besides talking about Glen's extensive career in the industry, Glen, Chamira, and I spent a lot of time talking about the ingredients that companies look for when considering investing in an artist or project.
Follow Glen on Instagram, and he's always sharing images and content on his Facebook page. As always, we couldn't do this series without the support of Photofocus.com. Remember, we're just one podcast series in their lineup. Visit Photofocus.com and check out not only some terrific podcasts, but a stream of never-ending content to help you become a better artist and business owner!
Click on any image above to listen to the podcast.
by Skip Cohen
"Mind Your Own Business" is all about introducing you to the diversity of some of the most respected artists and educators in professional imaging. Since starting the series over six years ago, each guest has shared insight into their journey with continuous support to help photographers raise the bar on their skill set and develop a stronger brand and successful business.
My good pal Shiv Verma is in the MYOB spotlight and joined Chamira Young and me for a conversation about his career, projects for downtime, staying optimistic, and the future of imaging. Shiv's an artist, educator, writer, and a good friend to so many photographers in the industry.
Although we've known each other for many years, we started to get quality time together thanks to his role as a LUMIX Ambassador. (Note: All of Shiv's images we pulled for this post from were all captured with LUMIX cameras.) Later, I got to know him even better though Platypod. He's been a vital contributor to so many different ideas and new products over the years, including the upcoming Platyball.
Two of my favorite conventions before the pandemic were IUSA and WPPI. Working with Shiv in the booth, and then getting time together over dinner at the end of each day gave us a chance to cover a lot of ground with so many different topics and interests.
Check out more of Shiv's work with a visit to his Instagram page, his website, and past SCU blog posts.
Part of the fun of following Shiv is the diversity of his work - from critters and night skies to a model at a conference and fine art, you'll never be disappointed in what he's sharing or where he's traveling!
As always - thanks go to the Photofocus Team for their support of this podcast. Check out their content; whether it's new product info, "how-to" posts, or educational information to help you become a better artist, they never slow down in the quality of what they share.
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Images copyright Shiv Verma. All rights reserved.
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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.