by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot about starting a new business in photography. Even though some of the issues you need to address are the same, let's look at recharging an older business.
We've got to start with the definition of "jump start" or at least figure out what we want to do. Let's look at jump starting a business that's already established and stalled. If we had twenty, fifty or even a hundred photographers in the room right now and they had all been in business for a few years, the room would be split right down the middle between people having a great year in 2012 and those referring to it as the year from hell! Based on their experiences both groups would be right in their perception, but are there things the half having the harder time could do to change the outcome for 2013?
It all begins with getting focused on what it is you want to do. You've got to get yourself psyched up and be not only excited, but really motivated and proud of your career choice in photography. So, as simple as it sounds, it starts with your attitude. Photography is about your heart - and you can't create images that grab people's hearts if your own heart isn't in it.
This is about recharging your battery and right off the bat I'm going to do a shameless plug for SCU's Summer Session in August. You need to get yourself out of the rut and get a good dose of optimism with lots of good ideas on how to change things. And if you can't make it to Summer Session then look for programs by some of the industry's leading icons to help get you pumped. Matthew Jordan Smith, Dane Sanders, Tamara Lackey, Michele Celentano, Zach and Jody Gray, Justin and Mary Marantz, Kevin Kubota and dozens I've missed, are all on the speaking tour from time to time and you need to tap into their energy.
Then there are specific things to do like launch your own publicity campaign, getting involved in the community, creating buzz for your business. You've got be proactive and offense is always more fun to play than defense! For example, a children's photographer should launch a new promotional opportunity. We're just coming into summer and it's perfect for themed sessions around baseball, 4th of July, summer vacation etc. A wedding photographer needs to do a mailing to past clients about "expanding", new products e.g. albums etc. anything that creates a little noise.
Maybe it's time for this same wedding photographer to expand and diversify into children's photography. How effective would it be to do a mailing to past brides who might be starting a new family and plant the idea for portraits of the new baby. Or let's say you're a commercial photographer and it might be a great time to remind your clients about the need for a good solid new business headshot! Something that goes beyond that old high school senior shot they've been using! Shoot wide angle and bring their business into the shot with an environmental portrait.
And let's not forget the whole world of social media. Are you active in Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, using them as marketing tools? Do you have a blog? Are you consistent in maintaining a constant presence? Check out Shutter Magazine this month for my article on ways to make your blog more effective.
The point is your business stalled for a reason. I'm not minimizing the challenges with the economy, but too often that's become the scapegoat. If you look at businesses with challenges you'll find there are always things that could be done to turn things around.
Since this is a blog, I've only got so much room before the statistics say you'll lose interest and move on to reading something shorter. The issue is, no business is over until you give up and if you're worried and feel you need a jump start then get some help before you pull the plug.
"It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up!" Vince Lombardi
These are difficult times with the challenges of the economy and technology both playing a role, but here's the best part! You're not alone in dealing with the challenges and there are lots of us out here willing to give you a hand!
Photo Credit: © Martin Green - Fotolia.com
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