Monthly Archives: November 2012

Facebook marketing – own your platform

A few years ago everyone went apeshit over Facebook.  New people liking and sharing and new business coming in the door.  Seemed almost too good to be true.  And now it is.  Sure, it only costs $7 to promote that new post (now).  But the wide reach we used to get just got throttled down and now all that effort to earn likes is worth a little less than before.

Facebook is a public company now, and they have to generate revenue.  Who knows whether Twitter will go the same way (then again, Twitter was always better for networking with colleagues than booking clients – YMMV).  Can Pinterest be far  behind?

The point here isn’t that we shouldn’t leverage these platforms.  What it does mean is that we can’t rely on them as marketing tactics.  Instead of trying to earn Likes and Followers we probably ought to be driving our audience to commit to a platform that we own.  Hey, I’m as guilty as anyone else.  I tried to get Fans and followers (and those things still help to drive traffic) and even considered moving the majority of the content here to Youtube.  But the reality is that the only online element I could own is a URL and a little piece of web space.

So this blog is what I own.  This is where I ought to be building an audience, no?  My advice would be similar for you.  I don’t think you should stop using that stuff, but I do think you ought to use those platforms to drive traffic to your own.  Try and get commitment to your platform.  After all, you can trust the management of your platform to always do right by you.  Anyone else is suspect at best.

- trr

 

SHAMELESS PLUGS

I am pretty proud of what we’re able to help people accomplish through our workshops, and I’d love to see you at next year’s events.  Check out Monday’s post if you haven’t already where SB attendee Daniel Lateulade explains the benefits he enjoyed post-workshop.

2013 SEXY BUSINESS DATES

Also, if you absolutely can’t make it to a workshop consider our one-on-one consultations where we work through the Sexy Business process remotely over Google+.  Book a consult here – REMOTELY SEXY BUSINESS

 

Also, in case you were skeptical I actually do photograph weddings – check out a feature by yours truly on MOMENT JUNKIE and leave a comment:

The DONT STOP BELIEVING

 

Got a question or a topic you’d like to see discussed here?  Drop me a line – [email protected]

 

SEXY BUSINESS TESTIMONIAL – Daniel Lateulade

Our 2013 SEXY BUSINESS WORKSHOPS have been announced – we’ve got dates in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, and a Vegas workshop immediately prior to the WPPI convention.  I’m hoping that many of you will attend.  Our Workshops page does a pretty good job of explaining the goals, but I think most folks would like some real world results to go on.  Fort Lauderdale Wedding Photographer Daniel Lateulade attended the first ever SEXY BUSINESS Workshop, this is his take on the value of the workshop:

How would you describe your business before you came to the workshop?  What were you doing?  What were you worried about?  What were you selling/communicating?  How were you performing?

Before I attended the workshop, I was trying hard to be like all the other seemingly successful photographers I saw around me, and failing miserably. I love documentary coverage, and decided that the best way to pursue that would be to offer full day coverage — needless to say, my brand message of “I’m just like the other guys, but I’ll stay longer” wasn’t doing what I hoped for my business.

What did you learn in the workshop?  How did your perception of your business change?  

Todd and Jamie taught me to stop doing what I’d been doing — hiding my strengths in favor of trying to blend in with every other photographer in town. Instead, I learned how to take what’s different and unique about myself, my photography, and my business, and to show the customer why that difference makes me the perfect photographer to meet their unique needs. As cliche as it sounds, I couldn’t wait to get home and implement the changes — I was excited because I finally felt like my business represented who I was and what I was uniquely capable of bringing to the table, and not what I thought a photography business “should be” from looking at everyone else.

What does your business look like now?  What changes did you make?  What results are you seeing?

Business is great! There’s definitely room for growth, but my average booking has increased 75% since I attended the workshop a year ago, and I shot nearly twice as many weddings.

How would you describe the workshop?  Why should someone go to the Sexy Business Workshop?

The workshop definitely isn’t a magic bullet, and my experience has shown that you’ll only succeed to the degree that you’re willing to do the hard work Todd and Jamie give you. In my experience, the Sexy Business Workshop doesn’t teach you secrets, but it helps you to see what’s been right in front of your face all along — which is great, because it removes all the excuses to success that you’ve been feeding yourself.

Question just for fun – did your photography change after the workshop?

Not a bit, which is why I’m such a fan of Sexy Business. I changed nothing but my brand message and business model, and my business (and bank account) are dramatically different than they were a year ago!

 

Thanks for checking it out.  Hey, I admit that offering any workshop in this climate is dubious at best.  There is a bunch of bullshit out there, and a bunch of hero-worship masquerading as education.  I think most workshops make a fundamental assumption – that you need to do what someone else is doing to be successful.  Do we need more homogeneity?   Do we need more businesses copying each other?  Does the market want a slightly worse version of what someone else is doing?

We approach with a different fundamental assumption.  You don’t need to be inspired by anyone but yourself and your clients.  You don’t need to copy, you need to express what you believe and why that matters.  We’re not here to make your business anything like ours, we’re here to uncover what’s amazing about you and figure out how to communicate that to the market – oh, and we’ll also figure out how to make that definitively profitable.

If you’re interested check out or WORKSHOPS page for dates, details and registration links.  If you have any questions prior to committing drop me a line at [email protected]

My market just won’t support that…PART TWO

I liked yesterday’s post, and apparently quite a few other people did too (it was shared and retweeted quite a few times).  Having said that one person wasn’t such a fan.  If you haven’t read yesterday’s post check it out now -

“My market just won’t support that…”

Now check out this comment from Andreas, who wasn’t impressed -

“They’re going to buy it they just don’t know it yet. That’s what you’re suggesting but what you failed to mention is that supply and demand rule over any wishful thinking. If you set up a studio in a small town or “market” and you’re 3x what everyone else is, even if you are better or offer something different, and the take home pay is lower on average than big city market, the reality will be that the biz will fail at that level. Positive post but lots of smoke”

I’ve said it before, and some may really bristle at this suggestion, but when it comes to a luxury service I don’t believe in the concept of supply and demand.  We create the demand and we control the supply of our own product.  What everyone else is offering is only relevant if we haven’t put forth the effort to own a position or create distinction.  I know far too many photographers in small towns charging 3x (or more) than their competitors and making a long-term living doing it to buy into the naysaying.  I’ve helped many of them build the business that defies those assumptions, and I know that there is a science to making it work.

Supply and demand works for commodities because you can get them anywhere and any option will get the job done so sourcing and surplus are an issue.  Sure, you can get photography from almost anyone these days, but you can only get Todd Reichman (or whoever) in this way, to do this specific thing, for this price.  The trick here is making Todd Reichman matter, not how many other people are competing.

My intent in posting yesterday was to try and get people to adopt the perspective that they have control and responsibility over how their business is perceived.  I’m seeing a lot of photographer blame outside sources for their performance not being where they would like it which is a big waste of time at best and a lazy-assed entitlement at worst.

Here’s the problem – for Andreas the “reality” is that small town businesses tend to fail.  My “reality” is that a well-engineered business can exist anywhere.  You get to choose the reality you live in.  Sure, small town businesses that put all the responsibility on the client for understanding the difference and seeing the value go out of business all the time, but one person’s failure doesn’t dictate yours.  That failure just shows you how to do better.  This blog is for people who want to use the data to do better, not for the people who want to make excuses.

I made a living in small towns.  I used to live in Central Illinois and my town was of a respectable size but I rarely worked there – I was a “destination” wedding photographer.  By “destination” I don’t mean beautiful island weddings, I’m talking about even smaller, rural communities that weren’t the one I lived in.  I spent several years making a living getting brought into these small towns to shoot for 3x (or much more) than the locals because the locals were all offering the same-old, unremarkable stuff.  I know photographers in one-horse towns regularly pulling down $2-5K portrait sessions because they make their client’s lives better.  Yes, there are a boatload of other options charging a fraction of that – and it doesn’t matter because they aren’t being compared.

Yes, I think that many potential clients out there are going to buy it, and they just don’t know it yet.  Hey, this is a free blog – take what you like and leave the rest.  Don’t do anything to convince them, be my guest.  Assume that you can’t make any money and operate under that assumption all day, see how that works for you.

If you don’t want to do that here are some past posts that might get you thinking -

Even if we disagree, I greatly appreciate the comment and the chance to discuss further.  Let me know what you think, and feel free to share the discussion.

- trr

My market just won’t support that…

You’ve heard this argument.  You might have made it a time or two.  I know I have.  And yet, if I’m being honest, I think it is BS.  Because there is no “market” – there is no shared consciousness.  There is no consensus of consumers.  There are just people who are convinced in your value, and people who don’t buy your story (yet). 

When you make excuses about the market, you absolve yourself of responsibility.  You accept an inevitability that isn’t there.  You accept that the market only wants one thing and it ain’t the thing you’ve got to offer.  The fact is the market only knows what it is currently being offered.  So offer it something new and accept the responsibility that convincing them of the value is your responsibility to communicate, not the market’s responsibility to infer.

Stop thinking about the market, think about individuals.  Individuals care about things, and have wants and fears.  Address them and make their lives better through your work.  One client at a time if need be.  You can only shoot one at a time, right?

Take responsibility – convince them.

- trr

CHECK OUT PART 2 OF THIS ARTICLE HERE

In case you haven’t seen it we’ve got new SEXY BUSINESS WORKSHOPS announced.  Vegas/WPPI slots are going quick – book your spot there or in Atlanta, Tucson  or Boston.  Check out the dates and details here.

 

 

By |November 19th, 2012|Business|2 Comments

An Observation on the state of the photography education industry…

So, I have been in the photography industry for just under 8 years now, and I have seen a significant transformation within the photography “education” industry that has, as the years have gone by, started to distress me.

What has happened to our industry that “professional photography education” has turned into a hotbed of hero worship and “me too” branding?

Maybe I’m just getting old.  I don’t get why you would want to become a disciple of another photographer and get in line to be one of the hundreds or thousands of wannabe photographers who are all just varying degrees of worse than the “hero”.

I get learning techniques from others then applying those techniques to the way you do things, making them your own.  I just feel like so many photography businesses are little more than clones of some other big name photographer (or they spend all of their time wishing they could be a clone.  Why is it better to be a clone of a rockstar photographer than it is to be the thing that you could do best, and most amazingly for your perfect clients?

And why are photographers so much more interested and invested in impressing other photographers more than they are interested in impressing their clients (the ones who are paying for the work to exist in the first place)?

Is it just that nobody has any confidence in themselves and what they have to offer?  Is it just that people have jumped into this business without really knowing what it takes and are looking to the quickest possible path to success and think that copying someone else who appears successful is the best way to accomplish that?  I’d really like to hear what you think about this, so I invite you to talk to me in the comments below.  Why do you think these other photographers that you so admire are so “amazing”.  What does that mean?  What are you learning from them?  Are they really doing a great job for their clients (their photography clients)?  Is your admiration of them making your business better? Are they really enjoying a household sustaining, profitable photography business income?  Do you know before you decide to apply their methods to your own business?

I acknowledge I am probably in the tiniest minority when I say this, but I really don’t think the photography education industry (on the whole- I know there are outliers doing good work for their students, but I’m talking about the overall shift I’ve seen in the industry over the last five years) is doing much to actually help individual photographers live up to their greatest business potential and do the work that they are most suited to do.

I really think it’s worth it to consider the advantages to your life and your business if you…

Stop being so impressed by other people.

Stop being so impressed by yourself.

Just go and do great work for your clients every single time.

By all means, never stop learning and growing, but let’s all take a step back and take a serious look at what all of this hero-worship is really doing for us.  Is it making us (you, me) better?  Or is it making us just worse than the hero?

What is it that you really care about?   Who are you, what do you believe, what circumstances in your life led you to believe what you do, and how does who you are and what you believe inform the work you do and what clients would be perfect for you? Is all of that really the same thing as your hero?  Couldn’t you do something really great if you had all of the skills you have now (yes, please don’t suck at photography if you’re charging other people money for it- I’m making the assumption that if you’re reading this you have the necessary skills), but had never blog stalked, never worshipped a rockstar photographer, never scanned Pinterest looking for inspiration for your next shoot?

Be your own hero.

 

 

By |November 13th, 2012|Branding, Purpose|7 Comments