Archive for Business
When you own your own business, you often want to take on the world. You want to constantly do new projects, take on new assignments and launch new stuff. Over committing and over extending comes from good intentions. But, it can often leave a trail of frustration and disappointment for yourself and for others involved.
I adopted this mantra for my own business and even my personal life a few months ago. So far, I’ve stuck to it with steadfast dedication, and it’s unbelievable how helpful it’s been to me. So I wanted to share it with all of you, too. Here it is:
Do what you say you’re gonna do.
Simple, right? Actually it’s not, and here’s why. When you follow this mantra you are unable to commit to doing anything you’re not going to do. It puts an end to empty good intentions and starts every decision with a serious conversation on whether or not I’m going to commit. And if I can’t commit, saying no is hard. But, I remind myself that I’d rather say no than let someone down. And when I say yes, I mean it. When I commit, I do it.
This mantra has one other level to it. I have found that when you over commit to something (or to many things), you skim the surface of what’s expected. You might complete tasks late. You might not give them your all. In the end, even though you made an effort, more than likely you’re disappointing someone by not approaching it with the unbelievable passion you might be capable of if you had only hand selected the things you’re willing to 120% commit to doing… and doing amazingly well.
Make every day within the business much more satisfying and rewarding by following these simple guidelines.
Here they are: Read More→
Let’s face it. We all want to land that dream client. We want that fantasy photo shoot. We think about what it would be like to be there, on set, camera in hand, shooting the photograph of our dreams.
When we ponder our photography marketing and wonder if it’s working for us, it’s critical to make sure our efforts are directly targeted at the type of work we dream of. How do we get from here to there?
Step One: Define the dream client’s persona
We cannot attain the shoot of our dreams if we haven’t formally and fully defined the persona of the decision maker we need to win over. In other words, we may have fantasized about what it would be like to be there. But do we know the exact person (or group of people) who will make the decision to hire us? Do we know where they hang out, what websites they read, what influencers they have, what things they dislike? If you don’t know, spend some time researching, talking to other similar individuals and determine all of the possible attributes that make up this decision maker’s persona.
For example, a sample decision maker’s persona might be described like this:
- eats on the go
- loves small dogs (she has two)
- lives and works in the city
- works late at night often
- goes to charity events (at least once per month) with coworkers
- collects vinyl records
- price of photography isn’t an issue / not reason for deciding
- works for her clients; she is the decision maker, but the client must love her choice
- her shoots are rapid and she needs someone who she can book quickly
Step Two: Be where they are Read More→
The digital age has definitely become a part of who I am, connected to the internet at every turn, but I am far from being an expert at any of it. Social networking, blogging, websites, etc. – I know a little about all of it, but that’s about it. If you’re similar to me in this way, then you can understand how difficult it was to go through the process of designing a totally new website. But I did it and am totally happy with the results (see for yourself here), so I thought it might be helpful to share some of what I learned with the other Jacks of all trades, but masters of none out there who plan to go through the same pain in the future.
You might be asking, “Why would someone who has been blogging for sometime now want to go through a total redesign?” That’s a great question and one that we should all address before actually going through with one. Jeremy Cowart was doing a website review for some of the folks at the Lifefinder Tour (Awesome – please go if you can) here in Minneapolis earlier in the year and the same thing kept coming up with each review – your website needed to reflect who you are as a photographer, not just the pictures you take. And it needed to do it quickly, because visitors are not going to stick around if they’re looking for something and you’re not showing it.
This hit me pretty square in the face being that my website was 100% my blog, which is primarily one picture a day and not one that interacted with the business I was trying to build (family and event photography). If my website was going to mean anything to helping my business grow, it was going to have to change. The decision was made.
Unfortunately, this decision to do a redesign was just the start of the hard work. The next step was to decide who I was as a photographer and how to brand myself. I had never done that before and had put little thought to it, but if your website was going to be you, a decision needed to be made of who you are! The first thing we see and think of for most businesses is their logo or a trademarked product, neither of which I had, so that was the starting point.
For a long period of time, I tried to come up with my own logo design, but as stated in the first paragraph, I am no expert at anything so this turned out to be a spinning wheel kind of thing and lasted much longer than intended. I finally contacted a designer who had put together some of my friends’ logos and worked with him to get one put together. The key, once again, was for the logo to represent who you are. I needed something simple, photo related, somewhat informal (no BOLD type) but unique. I think we hit pretty much on the head.
My favorite restaurant in the entire world is right in my city of Philadelphia. It’s a tad pricey, so my husband and I treat ourselves twice a year to a night out for dinner there. One night, about two years ago, we booked a reservation and headed into Philly. We checked in with the hostess and she swiftly brought us to our table. We sat down and noticed something right away.
The chair cushions on the seats that were once spotless and firm were dingy and sagging. I remember thinking, “that’s odd.” The restaurant was a homey place (not stuffy). The kind of place where the head chef takes pride in his work and visits a table or two a night to speak face-to-face with his customers. The food, no matter what you ordered, was always impeccable. The drinks were always fabulous. But, while the furnishings were once clean, quaint and cozy, now they showed a bit of wear.
The furnishings. The seats the customers sat in. Those seats went unnoticed. Why would the head chef ever need to sit at one of the tables? He was always, always on his feet. And this is unfortunate. He never took a minute to sit at a customer’s table. To see what they see. To feel what they feel.
Your Photography Business Is No Different Than This Restaurant
Take some time to experience your business from the customer’s vantage point. Come at things from a different angle, from a different seat and you may notice some glaring things that desperately need changing. Read More→
I think one of the most difficult things about being a visual artist is how “in your face” the competition can be at times. I don’t mean in an aggressive way. I mean in a literal, all-present way. They create amazing work; you feel defeated. They score an unbelievable opportunity; you feel jealous. They brand themselves beautifully; you feel lessened.
Sometimes it’s enough to make you feel like packing up your toys and going home. But despite all of this downtrodden negativity, I’ve got good news.
There is something that you were granted. There is something they absolutely cannot do better than you.
It sounds a bit hokey. Possibly even overplayed. But one thing that your competitors cannot do as well as you, is be you. We, as humans, are all made up of our own experiences. We all have our own abilities. We all have our own views of the world. So while you might appreciate the abilities of your competitors, you are required to build upon your own. You are required as a visual artist to be better than you were yesterday.
What do I mean?
Rather than focusing outward on what your competition is doing, turn that focus onto yourself and your own business. Rather than grasping a rich understanding of what they do well, spend that time grasping a rich understanding of what you do well. Believe me, it’s not easy. Yes, it’s much easier to look outward than inward. But every time you look outward, you are unfair to yourself and your business. Each minute you spend on them you spend one less minute on you. Read More→
When we first start out in a photography business, it seems that the sky is the limit. We’re new to all of this and there’s nowhere to go but up. We gain clients, our business ramps up, and our dreams begin to unfold. But as we start growing busier, we find ourselves challenged to continue the behind-the-scenes operations. So we hire someone (even if just part time) to assist us with bookings, invoicing or answering the phone. And that alleviates some of our time, so we can shoot or edit more.
When our photography business continues to grow, we become too busy to market it. In the beginning when we had nothing, we were obsessed with marketing. After all, it was the only option for growth. And now, that clients are calling and booking, we scale back.
This is the number one mistake any business owner makes, and it’s the number one reason that causes any business to plateau or decline.
Marketing can never be stopped. It doesn’t matter if we’re starving or well-fed, our marketing is what promises the health of our business into the future. So even if it feels strange to invest money or time in marketing your business when you’re so busy you can’t see straight, get over it. Read More→
I was married to photography for a short time. But I cheated on photography when I had a love affair with marketing and business.
I’ve decided to come clean, and I’m out in the open about all of it now.
I started Steel Toe Images because I believe that photographers and artists are amazing, and each and every one of you has what it takes to be a great businessperson, too. I am here to show you how.
Before Steel Toe Images I was chief operating officer at a marketing agency helping hundreds of small businesses accelerate their growth and achieve the success of their dreams. I’ve also watched businesses flounder and fail, and I know the critical difference between what it really takes to create success and what people think it takes. I want to share those secrets of what I’ve learned with you.
On a lighter note, I have a contagious laugh that isn’t difficult to catch. I’m an easy audience for even the most amateur comedian. I have spent more years of my life as a vegetarian than not. I love animals, but I don’t have any pets (darn allergies). I have a really warm place in my heart for New England. I have two small boys and an amazing husband, and our happy, silly family resides just outside Philadelphia.
Join me on Wednesday, September 19th from 8:30 – 9:30PM east coast time for a FREE live webinar to learn all about how to listen to, understand, and utilize your gut instinct. Can’t make it on that date? Register anyway and we’ll send you a recording of the event whether you attend or not. Space is limited. Reserve your space and register now: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/4051004664
Angela Pointon is the founder of Steel Toe Images. She’s here to prove that creative people can be good business people, too. She inspires photographers and other creative people to kick major butt through her coaching, blog, emails, workshops and her first book (coming soon).
Here’s how you can share your tips, techniques and tutorials on CurrentPhotographer.com
One of the real bonuses to come out of my new networking experiences is to have gotten involved with a community internet radio station which also cleverly does networking along with it. As you might imagine a lot of the businesses who are members at the networking events either present shows or turn up as guests. The producer in me says this is a wonderful and very canny idea to fill airtime and it’s a win win for everyone.
I know I’ve mentioned my soft spot for Redshift radio before, as community radio is where I started out on my route into radio and television. I’m sure I would still ended up working for a TV company in London but my journey would have been very different. At the local community radio station, I started out at straight out of college and was able to quietly cut my teeth, make my mistakes – and gosh there were many – it was a steep learning curve at times, build my confidence and leave there certain I could conquer the broadcasting world! Read More→