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Why I Care About Business

2012 was the worst year of my life.  It wasn’t the worst year because bad things happened (they did) it was the worst year because the bad things got the best of me and overtook the good things in my focus.

I started the year working too much.  I was stressed because we had moved the year before and I really needed for 2012 to be the year we established ourselves in our new market.  I was OK with 2011 being a transitional year but I had to get serious and I thought I needed to be back up to full capacity in 2012 or I’d be in trouble.  So I pressed hard on the workshops.  I spent all my time trying to book more weddings (or stressing about it).  I was working all the time.

My mom moved to Atlanta at the end of 2011 and I thought it would be a great chance to be closer and spend more time together.  I’d resolved that as soon as I finished all the business stuff I needed to do in the first quarter of 2012 I’d hang out with my mom more.  Then in the middle of doing the last workshop of my busy period my mom had a stroke and passed away.

This isn’t a blog post about loss or sadness or regret, this is a post about what really matters in life.

It is easy to become engrossed with the idea that your job is your identity.  It is very popular to say that you are selling yourself, or that your business is all about you.  I hate that, because the market can’t have all of me.  I have a life I need to lead and I don’t want photography to take over.

I get it – photography is your life.  I guess it is OK if you feel that way.  But I can guarantee you that years down the road I’m going to regret not spending more time with my mom more than I’ll regret not booking more weddings or workshops.

The business side of things allows you to build boundaries.  It tells you how much you need to dedicate to working, and it tells you how much you need to do to execute on your value proposition.  Everything else can go.  The business is really the intermediary between your photography and your clients.  The business translates what you do to why it matters to clients.  If we define our value proposition and communicate it properly through our business, we always know when we are being successful, and where we can draw a line and step away to live our lives.

I hate money.  I don’t really like thinking about it or even spending it.  But I have to bring it in.  I have to budget how much time and energy I’m going to put into making that money.  I also need for my clients to be thrilled, both from a business standpoint and from a moral standpoint.  The “business” is what defines expectations and systems that makes all that satisfaction happen.

I have a confession to make.  I don’t love photography.  I do have an enormous amount of respect for the craft of photography.  What I love is my wife.  I love my friends.  And most of the time I love the effect that photography can have on my clients.  I care about business because it ensures that everything that needs to happen comes through.

- trr

 

The …a Man to Fish… Podcast returns this week with Richard Israel

Just wanted to drop a quick note that the podcast will be returning this week with Portrait/Wedding/Fine Art Photographer Richard Israel.  If you haven’t checked out his work I really suggest that you do.

North Carolina Photographer Richard Israel

Richard and I met last week at Mystic Seminars and I think you’ll dig the conversation.  Richard and I have tossed around the idea of exploring the concept of reinvention (creatively and in business) and the failure of conventional wisdom in photography.  We’re planning on recording  this Tuesday January 22nd so if you have any questions or topic suggestions please drop them in the comments below.  I expect the episode to air later this week right here.

 

Thanks – Todd

[AUDIO POST] Panel discussion – “Setting yourself & your business apart”

Last week the Atlanta SMUG group hosted a panel focusing on established wedding photographers answering questions about how they got to where they are and how they’ll grow going forward.  Jamie and I were included on that panel along with Ashley and Graham Scobey and Jeremy Harwell.  Even though all three of our studios are active in the Atlanta market we all work differently and manage our businesses differently, so I think you’ll enjoy the varied perspectives on what it takes to be successful.  This is a recording of that discussion – check it out and let us know what you agree with and if you have any other questions you’d like us to address (maybe on a future podcast or livestream?)

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As a side note I’m continually impressed at how much effort Smugmug puts into supporting these monthly meetings without turning them into a commercial.  They say that are trying to foster community amongst local photographers and their actions are proving that they mean it.  I’m not affiliated with Smug in any way, or compensated to say that, I just think it is cool and worth pointing out.  Thanks to Smug and the other sponsors of the event – Think Tank Photo and PPA.

I’m proud to be on this panel with my wife and 3 other photographers that are not only successful in their craft but also people I consider friends.  Thanks to Ashley and Graham for asking us to be a part.

SHOW NOTES:

- trr

 

For the audiophiles – this is an impromptu recording without a professional sound system. We just dropped a Zoom audio recorder in the room and let it fly.  As such the sound won’t be perfect and the levels on audience members asking questions will probably be lower than the speakers.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy the discussion.

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]

 

Number 74

I don’t know who Ryan Abi is.  But I deem him (or her?) the greatest list-maker alive.  Next year I plan to rank no lower than 65.  Hear that friends – you’ve got to put your goals down on paper.

Top 100 Photography Blogs of 2012

- trr