by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and as seasonality starts to ramp up, it occurred to me recently how many of you are tripping over unnecessary challenges - most of them avoidable. For example, I'm convinced that photographers and doctors are the two worst business groups on Earth. Find any real estate scam for oceanfront property in Nevada, and you'll often find a group of doctors as investors! And, when it comes to photographers, so many of you had no idea if you made money last year until you did your taxes.
So, check out these suggestions before you're into the height of season and business kicks into high gear.
Pricing: Nothing can destroy your business faster than not pricing your products the right way. You need to consider EVERYTHING in your costs. One of the saddest situations I see regularly are artists excited because the lab only charges $1.00 for a 5x7, and they're charging the client $10! Look at ALL your costs, including your education, insurance, gear, software, hardware, etc. Everything you're doing to run your business needs to be included.
"That's good enough" NEVER compromise on quality. Not only do you owe your clients the very best, but you owe yourself and your brand a never-ending stream of over-achievement! There are so many stories from photographers who sadly learned the portrait they took of a client was the last photograph ever taken of them.
Buying gear: Before buying anything, make sure you really need it. There's no need to tie up cash flow over a piece of equipment you haven't tested yet. Look at rental programs and definitely consider leasing. Leasing lets you utilize somebody else's assets without depleting yours.
Even better, if it's not the basics to get the job done, check with friends in your network. Often somebody has a particularly exotic lens you want to check out, and if you've been friends, it's a great option to test before you make the investment. Also, I've heard a lot of stories over the years of photographers sharing the cost of expensive gear that isn't being used all the time. And don't forget the benefits of sharing studio space!
Never checking your website: At least a half dozen times over the last few years, I've checked out a photographer's website and had it lock up on me. You should be checking your site every morning and on several different browsers. Make sure everything is loading the way it should. Then, check it on other platforms.
"I don't have time for another workshop:" Now and then, you're going to run out of time. I get it, but so often artists throw in the towel for the wrong reasons. Things are getting back to normal and LIVE workshops are popping up all over, along with great conferences. If there's a workshop coming your way and it has the content you need to raise the bar on your skills as an artist or business owner, you can't afford not to be there.
Wasting time: It's the granddaddy of them all – I've seen photographers waste hours of their time and everybody else's, most often in Facebook forums! They get caught up in a social media riptide and refuse to let go on the principle of some moot point nobody honestly cares about. Remember, beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder - stop worrying about a troll's opinion in that forum you belong to!
Time is your most valuable commodity, and once it's gone, you never get it back. So use your time wisely and pay attention to where you spend time. Don't waste it, and work to prioritize where you need to put in the most attention.
“Time is free, but it's priceless.
You can't own it, but you can use it.
You can't keep it, but you can spend it.
Once you've lost it you can never get it back.”
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.