by Skip Cohen
The title is a modified quote from "Life's Little Instruction Book Volume II", and it's one of my favorites. Unfortunately, with all the insanity in the world, there are too many artists who are letting the weeds take over their dreams.
While part of this post is from the SCU archives - it's time to bring the topic up to date and deal with today's challenges. I'm not minimizing anything you're dealing with, but having been in this industry my entire life, I've learned that whatever you're frustrated with today, somebody out there found a solution yesterday!
Weed 1: It's time to shut off the negative information in your life. I've written before about the importance of listening to your heart, but we're surrounded by negativity these days, and it's hard not to let it into your head. For Sheila and I, we've stopped watching the news. It's frustrating not to know who to believe, so we follow a couple of online news sources, listen to our family doctors and follow people we trust.
And the next time you're sharing an image in an online forum and a troll out there decides to shred your work, remember my buddy Dean Collins' line, "Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
Weed 2: Stop thinking you're alone in your frustrations as a photographer and small business owner. Here's where getting involved in a local guild or PPA chapter is going to help. You need to be involved in the local network, not just know about it. Join whatever/whoever is in your community and start getting to know other photographers, as well as them getting to know you.
Get involved in the local business groups, both live and online. Host your own networking luncheon and invite people who target the same audience you're after. Start thinking how you can pool your resources.
Weed 3: Stop thinking you can't afford to promote your business! I just wrote a post earlier this week about partnerships. If there's a holiday promotion you want to get off the ground and you're worried about the ROI, then work together with at least two other partners. Sharing the costs is only one benefit. There's also the ability to expand your reach into the community and increase the value of what each partner is offering.
Weed 4: Take some time to think through your definition of success. Most of you are halfway there, but since you've only defined success in monetary terms, you have no idea how much you've accomplished just by being happy. And while I know just being happy doesn't put food on the table - stop thinking the pandemic got in the way of your climb up the ladder. You haven't lost your skillset, your creativity, or your passion for the craft!
Weed 5: Get out from behind your computer...often! I get that we've all been forced to be slaves to the Internet - after all, it's safe and provides an ability to communicate without any health risks. We're all experts in Zoom, Facetime, and Skype these days, but that doesn't mean you can't still meet with a client and maintain physical distancing. And nothing should hold you back from owning your zip code! It's time to get out and pound the pavement, meet other business owners in your community, and talk about ways you can work together. Your business will be built on relationships, and you won't get to know the people who can help you the most if you're at the computer all day.
Weed 6: Stop worrying about having the right gear. Do the best you can with what you've got. If there is something you desperately need to help raise the bar on your images, but you can't afford it, then find a good rental house. Years ago, Vincent Laforet spoke at Skip's Summer School. He was very open about the minimal gear he had when he first started and asked the audience, "You know what you do when you don't have a lens long enough?" "You move in closer!"
Weed 7: Don't be afraid to ask for help! One of the things I loved about the recent ClickCon conference was how attendees worked together and shared ideas about the solutions to their challenges. There are so many resources available to help you grow and rebuild your business. And don't forget a call to your lab - all you have to do is call and ask, "What's new?"
Weed 8: Stop talking and listen. There's that old saying about having two ears and only one mouth, so you've got to listen twice as much as you talk. All the answers are out there, if you just listen!
You've got so much to be proud of, but take it one day at a time, keep procrastination to a minimum and keep working to build a stronger skill set. And if you're stuck - you know where to fine me. Some times you just need another set of ears or eyes on the challenge!
Wishing everybody a terrific weekend. Get control of those weeds!
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.