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.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and while Spring seasonality is behind us, the potential for new business and getting back on track is still incredible. I'm hearing stories from photographers all over the country about business once again going in the direction of growth!
The pandemic took the wind out of everybody's sails, but the definition of failure is not getting back up after being knocked down. To get the attention of your target audience, you've got to make yourself stand out. It's time to get up!
Those of you who follow me regularly can guess where I'm going. Here are six areas to focus on NOW! It's the end of the first half, but there's plenty of time to make this one of your best years in business!
What are you doing to make yourself different from your competitors?
Here's the bottom line: Leadership opportunities abound for small-business owners these days. And the best thing is, it's not rocket science. You just need to make the effort and get yourself out there. This is about establishing a stronger presence in your community and the six areas above are the tip of the iceberg!
And if you're stuck for ideas - ask for help. I'm hear along with so many other people willing to give you a hand. You know how to find me!
The standard for excellence has never changed - over-deliver and exceed expectations!
"The business of life is the acquisition of memories."
Downton Abbey - "Mr. Carson"
by Skip Cohen
If you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, then you already know me well enough to understand I could never let a quote like that go by without connecting it to imaging. It ties directly to your business as an imaging artist, helping people capture memories.
Business is definitely back, and it's exploding over virtually every specialty...but there's still one key challenge, making the community aware of your skillset and establishing top-of-mind awareness whenever they think about photography.
One great way is to do an exhibit of your work in your community. One of the best guest posts I've ever shared is thanks to my good buddy, Kevin Gilligan. While it was first shared in 2015, this isn't like the expiration on a carton of milk! There's nothing in here that "spoils," In fact, with social media today, it's gotten even better with age. Your ability to get the word out in your community today is even stronger!
Kevin shared so much information I had to run it in three parts. Click on the buttons below for parts 1 and 2; the third section is below. I also added short podcasts to the material - nothing beats hearing from the artist directly on a topic like this.
This will sound sappy, but I'm a pretty sentimental guy. I couldn't be more proud to consider Kevin a buddy or Tamron as a supporter of not only SCU but our industry. While Kevin is not a Tamron Image Master today, he's still very active with Tamron and often teaches on their behalf.
Every day Tamron is helping thousands of photographers raise the bar on the quality of their images and, in turn, their business or hobby. Both Kevin and Tamron have a very special common denominator; they always work to exceed our expectations!
Are You Ready for Your Own Exhibition? Part 3
by Kevin A. Gilligan
Tip #11 Test Prints
This will be obvious to some, but test prints are critical. You need to know how your image will look on the particular medium that you are using. Half of my images were printed on metal for this show. I ordered several metal prints (dye fused on metal) from several print labs before the show. I experimented with several different finishes on the metal as well i.e. glossy, matte, etc. The paper prints were even more complicated. Each paper has a different print quality, price and displays the ink differently. “HELP”….my head was spinning. I spent many hours working with a printer to get each shot right. Finding the right framer, at the right price, can also be challenging. Your network can be invaluable here.
Tip #12 Installation/Hanging Your Images
Hanging images can be very challenging. Honestly, I hate doing it. Give yourself enough time. At least a day. If you have done your model (tip #10), then this will be much easier, you already know which images go together as a group, and where specifically each will go. Ask for help, bring a friend who has done this already if you can. Keep in mind that some galleries will hang images with wires and some galleries only want “D” rings. You should ask the gallery how they want the images before you frame them, assuming the gallery is going to help you hang the images.
Tip #13 Create a Catalog
Create a catalog of your work for the show. Include your artist statement, pictures of the images, the size of the images, the medium, and the price. I made 250 copies of the catalog, and it was well worth it. Hand it out at the show and let people take it home. This will help with your follow-up sales.
Tip #14 Sign-In Book
Purchase a nice leather bound book for the show and have people sign in and provide their name and email address so you can thank them for coming and invite them to future events.
Tip #15 Follow-Up
Follow up with your prospective purchasers after the show. Thank those who came to the show and especially those who purchased an image.
Tip #16 Hire a Photographer
Hire a photographer for the day, so you get images (with you in them for a change) and you can relax. You’ll be happy to have the images of your friends and for use in future marketing and social media efforts.
Having a solo exhibition is a landmark in your professional photography career. It says you are serious about your photography and willing to put in much more time and effort than the average photographer. Give yourself lots of time, six-nine months and enjoy the learning process.
Nearly 250 people attended my exhibit, I sold a third of my images during the show, and even more after the show. I met collectors and I'm building my mailing list. It was an exhilarating and somewhat exhausting experience. I couldn’t be happier I did it. I hope you do it too.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your exhibit. You can see my work on my site: www.photosbykag.com.
"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."
Intro by Skip Cohen
Nine years ago this week, Amanda from Photodex shared the blog post below. Well, it's perfect for this time of year, as well as this time in business history. To say most of the last few years were tough on business owners would be a colossal understatement.
Photodex, who closed their doors a few years ago, was on fire back then! Thousands of photographers were not only using their products but benefitting from outstanding support and advice on how to keep building a successful business and their brand awareness.
This post features statements from five different wedding photographers, each sharing an essential tip for success. And while it's wedding-centric, the tips by these five artists apply to just about every business! So, whatever your specialty, if nothing else, pay attention to the bold tips leading into each quote.
Remember that today with social media, one customer has the ability to influence thousands of other potential clients for your business. At the start of last year, the analysts estimated almost 300 million people were on the Internet in the United States. In fact, how many of us even know somebody who's not Internet active?
The key to building your brand is in great service, which includes EVERYTHING from the quality of your work, to the way you build a relationship with each subject. It includes keeping your promises, responding quickly to communications, and being more than just another vendor in the community.
And in terms of Amanda from Photodex, who's been a great friend to so many of us - she always walks the talk. I catch up to her every now and then, because I love her online store, and she was so terrific to work with for so many years. Check out this post from last year about her award-winning jewelry business in Austin, TX!
Courtesy of Amanda and Photodex
We're right in the heat of wedding season! So, we reached out to a handful of seasoned pros and asked them to share what they do to go the extra mile and really ‘wow’ their wedding clients. Read their advice below!
1. Be More Than Just Photographers
One of the ways we wow our wedding couples is to just do all the little things better, not just be photographers. We show them that we really want their day to be the best ever. That means being there for them when things don’t go as planned. Maybe the groom could use a hand with cuff links or his tie. Maybe the cake table doesn’t have dishes and forks when it’s time to cut. Maybe the bouquets could use water when they are placed at the wedding party table. Maybe we nudge the DJ to get things going when we sense the guests are getting bored. It’s all the little things that add up. The better the wedding, the better our pictures will look. As photographers, we’ve seen lots of weddings, we know when it’s time to step in and give a hand. – Stacey Chance, Discovery Bay Studios Wedding Photography
2. Under Promise and Over Deliver
Brides are extremely excited about the work and anxious for everything. The worse thing you can do is promise something and not deliver on time. For example, we like to post a sneak peek on Facebook shortly after the wedding but when the bride’s asks about it, we always say it should be a few weeks after the event. Usually, it’s a few days! That’s the same for delivery of the proof set, products, you name it! It’s not a matter of lying or making up things – be realistic about all of the things that could go wrong with your business (or god forbid your personal life) and take that into account before making promises! – Steven Somfalvi, Artage Pictures
3. Surprise Them
Similar to under promising and over delivering, always have some surprises ready for your client. It definitely enhances their experience with your studio and it reconfirms that they are important to you. It can be a free print, product upgrade – really anything. We advertise in a national magazine and they send us a box of them to hand out. Every bride who comes through the door gets one and they just love it! – Steven Somfalvi, Artage Pictures
4. Create Excitement at the Reception
We produce same-day slideshows at every wedding. It’s a total surprise to the couple. The bride, groom and their guests are totally floored and I’ve booked weddings of bridal party members because of them. I use ProShow Producer to output to MP4 on to a flash drive and loop it on an LCD flat screen TV at the reception. Joe Pulcinella Photography
5. Be Passionate
My secret to wowing the bride and groom and the complete wedding party is being passionate about the wedding day. To me, a wedding day is the most important day in a couple’s life, just after giving birth to their child. I want the experience to be memorable. Quality of photography is very important to bring to the wedding, but your personality is the secret to making the day more memorable. I never demand anything from the wedding. I work with what I got and I make the magic happen. Ego and attitude should never be part of a wedding photographer’s personality. – David Zumaya, Weddings at California
by Skip Cohen
Meet our two "kids," Lucy and Belle. They've been together every day since we got them at four months. But, most importantly, they joined our family just months before the pandemic in November 2019. Through all those months of hunkering down, they made us laugh and, more importantly, helped us keep our sanity!
Every time Sheila goes out, the pups sit by the front door, waiting for her return.
If you're a pet owner, you completely understand how these two own our hearts. What surprises me is how many of you are doing nothing to help meet the demand for pet photography.
In the hierarchy of why consumers hire a professional photographer, the top three are brides, babies, and pets. This is from a survey Kodak did at least thirty years ago, and I don't believe it's changed. During the pandemic, weddings were down, along with photographing babies and maternity. So the order might have shifted, but here's my point.
Seventy percent of U.S. households, or about 90.5 million families, own a pet, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
For just a second, think about those numbers. Seven out of ten families have at least one pet, and the average per household is estimated at 1.6 -1.8. Like our house, many families have two fur-balls. So, the big question is, are you including pet photography in your business?
Need a little help?
Kay Eskridge has created a remarkable reputation by expanding her brand awareness for pet photography with "ReBARKable Pet Portraits." Her images are outstanding, and she exceeds customer expectations every time! Click on the banner to listen to a podcast we did with Kay on "Mind Your Own Business" near the end of last year.
If Kay's teaching/speaking at an upcoming convention or workshop - RUN. Don't walk to grab a seat. I promise you'll never be disappointed!
Still, looking for other resources? Check out Hair of the Dog Academy with Nicole Bagley. Nicole is always sharing great information to help build stronger skills in working with pets. Four years ago, she held a hands-on workshop here in the Sarasota area, and watching her in action was remarkable.
Regardless of your specialty, there are logical spin-offs that make sense with your target audience. For example, a wedding photographer with excellent skills could logically expand into portraiture with babies, children, and family portraiture. Then you can drill down into boudoir, maternity, headshots, and legacy stories. The list goes on and on with every specialty.
If we learned nothing else through the decline in business brought about by the pandemic, it's the benefits of NOT being a one-trick pony. I'm not suggesting pet photography should be everyone's core business, but it's one aspect of diversity to help you maintain more vital brand awareness. It never hurts to have a few backup plans/skills...especially when it's all aimed at the same target audience.
by Skip Cohen
While the pandemic had a negative impact on so many different aspects of business, one thing it never touched is seasonality. We're in an industry with two major seasons for increased sales, now and the December holidays. And with the excitement of a return to more normalcy, leadership opportunitiesre everywhere. While Father's Day is just two weeks away, there are so many ways to capture more sales.
First, we all know the line about charity starts at home...so, at the risk of leading off with an infomercial, check out Tamron's limited time Father's Day promotion - there are eleven lenses included in the new program, and it's just a two week window.
It just kicked off a few hours ago! Click on the banner below for more information.
Now, let's look at promotions you can be doing RIGHT now and especially throughout the summer:
Think about it for a second - women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. That means Mom, with a bit of help from the kids, is trying to figure out what to get Dad for Father's Day.
A New Family Portrait - it's the obvious choice, but unless you plant the seed, Mom's not going to think of it in time. So you've got two great options, a portrait of Mom and the kids for Dad or a full family sitting with Dad in the shot. The key to remember is that every Dad is proud of his family, and in most cases, the photograph in his wallet or on his phone is outdated, along with the thumb-tacked prints on a bulletin board some place from the last vacation, which might have been years ago.
It's Not Just a Photograph - This is where a call to your lab comes into play. You're not just sharing the idea to get a new portrait done. Find out what they've got that's new. The pandemic didn't slow down new technology! You've got metal prints, canvas wraps, and a long list of other materials, not to mention frames, multiple sizes, etc. Even novelty items like mouse pads, coffee mugs, and barbecue aprons can come into play with a great image.
What About an Album? A Day in the Life session isn't just about photographing kids. What about an album that's a day in the life of a family? You've got an opportunity to create a pretty unique family-centric project - spending a half-day and documenting the life of a family, which is then presented in an album that tells their story. It's a lot of work to get it done for Father's Day, but it's a great idea to have in your product line, regardless of when it gets delivered.
This is where a gift certificate comes into play, and nobody can do it better than you! So be creative and plant the seed NOW through email, direct mail, and partnerships. Remember, you don't have to always fly solo - partner with vendors in your community who target families and Dads—a great restaurant, sporting goods store, golf course, Harley dealership, etc.
Summer Vacations: Most of us went through the pandemic hunkered down. Even with the outrageous gas prices, families are getting out more this summer. This might not be the year for a cross-country trip but look at places in your area. Draw a 100 mile circle around you, and then look for the opportunities for family portraiture and helping to capture more great images. It's up to you to remind them about capturing those memories and making them last, literally forever.
Date Night: I've written about this before, but here's where you get a chance to remind Mom of how long it's been since she and Dad got out to dinner without the kids! She's got to get the sitter, but it's another idea you've got to promote. It all starts with a portrait session for 15-30 minutes at the start of the evening, and then you're going to send the couple off to dinner. Talk to the owner of a favorite romantic restaurant in your community and see if they'll work with you on a discounted gift certificate. Build in the cost of the certificate into your price for the sitting and print. Make it a package deal that essentially becomes a "no-brainer."
Your Blog: Your blog is the mortar between the bricks! Use your blog to create more awareness of gift ideas, outstanding portraiture, and the importance of capturing memories. I've shared author Jodi Picoult's quote dozens of times:
This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat,
everything was perfect.
Jodi Picoult's quote is a perfect theme to helping you raise awareness about the importance of photography with your target audience.
Now's the time to do a little agricultural marketing - you've got to plant the seeds of ideas with your clients and audience. Your blog is the perfect vehicle, and then share those posts on social media places like Facebook. I mentioned leadership opportunities at the beginning of today's post...you're the only one who can reach your audience and use the strength of your brand awareness in the community to create more excitement.
Here's the bottom line - this is about your bottom line. You've got these wonderful little windows of seasonality to help you market your skills as an artist. With each one, you've got limited time to make it work, but like the title of today's post suggests, you've got to get things going now and get the word out. Start with your existing client base and then look at other sources to reach your target audience.
The clock is ticking, and as I said initially, you snooze, you lose!
Intro by Skip Cohen
I've shared this post in the past but seeing how we're all into summer repeats of our favorite shows; it seems appropriate to share it again. I first shared this post by my good buddy Scott Bourne in 2013, but here's the fun thing about tips to help you build a more substantial brand/business - they NEVER go out of date.
Everyone is always talking about the "key to success." The truth is, there is no one single key with one exception - your heart has to be committed. If you're not totally committed, you'll be at the airport the day your ship comes in!
Whether you're just getting started or jump-starting a business that stalled over the last few years, look at Scott's list below. He's sharing seven outstanding pieces of advice!
If Scott isn't already on your radar, his website is just a click away. And check out the new iPhone Photo Show with Jefferson Graham and Scott Bourne. Click on the thumbnail to the right.
by Scott Bourne
(While these mistakes also encompass other areas of the professional photography business, at their core, they are marketing mistakes. See if you are making any of these mistakes and what you can do to correct them.)
1. Don't think about selling your image to the masses. Think about selling to people who live in your own zip code. Trying to start out like you're Ansel Adams with big gallery sales all across the country isn't going to happen. Just own your own zip code and don't worry about your images going viral.
2. Don't spend money on a studio, lights, camera gear, backgrounds, etc. until you actually have a customer. You can rent all the stuff you need to do a shoot. In fact, the big shots mostly rent everything when they are shooting big jobs. Why should you aim to be any different?
3. Don't focus on launching until you can sell. Focus on sales. Spend your time selling. Learn everything you can about the sales process. Read every sales book you can get your hands on. Expect to spend way, way more time selling than shooting. If you're doing it the other way around you're going to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
4. Don't worry about a business plan if you don't have a superb portfolio. Develop a killer portfolio before you worry about building a business plan. Make sure you have honed your craft. Make sure you know what you are doing. Don't worry about the big plan. Worry about being a great photographer with a great portfolio where every single image rocks your world.
5. Don't think you can run a photo business just because you are a great photographer. You need to be good at all the things that go with running a business, or get help doing those things. You need to have good bookkeeping, inventory control, accounting, legal, marketing, branding and sales on board before you even think about entering photography as a business.
6. Don't run your business with a negative mind. Too many photographers spend their time and money trying to build a wall around their photo business. Don't write 100 page contracts. Don't treat your customers or prospects as if they are out to cheat you. Just have a good attitude and move ahead.
7. Don't fake it until you make it. If you can't carry your weight, you'll ruin your reputation. So if a client says "can you do aerial photography?" and you've never even been in an airplane, don't say yes. You may want to partner with someone who can do that, you may want to refer the prospect to someone else, but don't claim you can do it if you can't because you will suffer from a bad reputation with that prospect and all their friends for all time.
My boss told me to have a good day,
so I went home!
by Skip Cohen
This will seem like a stretch to start, but trust me, it'll make sense in another paragraph or two. It began with a catalog loaded with t-shirts and some great one-liners. The quote above was worth a chuckle..., but at the same time, it got me thinking about so many of you who have "painted yourself into a corner."
It's Friday of a holiday weekend, and it's also the end of Mental Health Awareness Month. So if you're feeling stuck in a dead-end career, job or just frustrated because too often things don't work out the way you anticipated, here are some ideas...
No one blog post could cover it all. I've just scratched the surface, but here's my point: Nothing is ever cast in concrete in this industry. And when you feel like you're off a beat and just can't figure out why, stop, step back and take the time to find what's missing. We're all too close to our own businesses, and sometimes it just takes a new perspective.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you're doing, you will be successful.
Wishing everybody a terrific holiday weekend!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and we're right in the middle of Spring seasonality, with the last little fury of activity coming up on Father's Day. But what's your next target? What are you doing to build a more substantial business after those seasonality milestones?
In 2004, I met Vicki and Jed Taufer for the first time. They were on vacation in California, and we had lunch together. That was when I was introduced to her calendar for memory-making. She showed me her holiday card for the previous year - it was an accordion-style calendar with special themed events she had created for the entire year for photographing children. (I've included two of the pages in the four-panel card below) She even included a section about her travel in 2004, planting the seed for additional portrait sessions while she was on the road.
Here's my point - this industry has always relied on the natural seasonality of the demand - the Spring holidays and the big holidays in the fourth quarter. But everything has changed - for the better! Thanks to social media, you can create your own seasonality. With just a little creativity and organization, you can create more demand for your services - all on your own.
No one post could cover all the potential business out there, but it's a you-snooze-you-lose scenario. Over the last couple of years, everything changed, but business is out there, and leadership opportunities are everywhere.
"I'm always learning new things.
If there isn't anything new you can learn go off and die!"
by Skip Cohen
Okay, that's a pretty extreme quote to kick off the week, but I've always been a Morgan Freeman fan, and if you think about it, he's right.
It's Marketing Monday, and started the morning wanting to come up with something new I'd do this week. I want to change my routine and expand what I do every day. There's that great line about growth only happens outside your comfort zone. I've repeatedly suggested that when you're headed to a major conference - always take a couple of classes entirely foreign to your skillset.
ClickCon is coming up next month in Chicago and is an opportunity to expand your skill set, but what if there's no travel in your near future? That doesn't mean you can't do something different this week, whether in learning or just expanding your presence. It's like the "365 Projects" that cropped up years ago - with photographers taking and sharing one different image each day. And years before the Internet, I remember my good buddy Tony Corbell suggesting everyone should always save a couple of frames on the roll and just mix it up - shoot differently for those last two shots.
What are you going to do differently this week to grow your business?
The bottom line - every day is another opportunity to grow your business and your skillset. So stop worrying about making mistakes and failing, and just take the plunge. The great thing about this profession is your ability to keep growing and changing, and if something doesn't work as well as you'd hoped, step back and fine-tune the next step.
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.