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Archive for May 2010

Balancing Your Marketing – What's The Best Mix?

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Guest Post by Matt Hill

Are you baffled by the exhaustive ways you can market your photography website? You aren’t alone. I’ll be honest, there is no conclusive set of directions on the perfect way to market yourself, but there is certainly lots of informed (and sometimes not…) opinions out there. I’ve spent the last 13 years working for a company that specializes in marketing, learned under many fantastic mentors plus made it a practice to continually learn and grow. Today I offer you my take on balancing a virtually endless realm of possibility when marketing your photography business online, and a bit of old-fashioned offline marketing.

I want to start first with a high-level distinction between marketing and advertising from my point of view. Then I’ll move on to some specific suggestions.

To begin, it’s my firm belief that choosing just one method of marketing is dangerous and inadvisable. It’s certainly akin to the old adage of “putting all of one’s eggs in one basket,” and the advice exists because you’d better be right. Are there guarantees? No. So I say be smart and choose a balanced approach.

That being said, let’s begin with a phrase I believe that Hubspot coined – “Inbound Marketing.” My paraphrasing of their approach is making content that attracts people who desire to talk to you, and focusing your attention on serving them. It’s a beautiful idea, and worth reading more and watching their webinars. And it’s essentially SEO combined with laser-focus on not interrupting people.

Hmmmm. Not “interrupting” people. Advertising is, essentially, interrupting someone while they are doing a completely different task. Think magazines. You purchase it not for the ads, but for the content. And while you are flipping through it, your journey is interrupted by these gorgeous ads designed to make you pause, consider and act. Seems humane to choose a marketing path that tends to potential visitors when they wish to seek you.

On the other hand, we all seek to maximize our business. Awareness is essential. How do you raise your memory in someone’s mind? Expose your business. Essentially you pay more for less at this point, but your potential for new customers is increased. Perhaps someone didn’t even know that your kind of business existed, or so geographically close and they are not in the habit of asking peers for recommendations. This is a good argument for advertising.

Graphs, charts and seven steps after the jump!

Take a look on your analytics. Do you see a variety of wedges in Traffic Sources?

In the above example, it’s quite balanced. The sum of Search Engines, Referring Sites, Direct Traffic and Other equals 100%, but no single method dominates the others. Digging deeper, you can see below, that qualifying your traffic sources is important:

The Pages per Visit (P/V) is important. In the above example – this is organic traffic from Google. Low bounce, high Time on Site (TOS) and majority New Visits. The other 46% of visits were returning visitors… Wow. Cool. They came back! As you scan down your list of Traffic Sources, you can qualify which are getting you a better return. Here is how you get there in Google Analytics:

I mention this first because informing yourself with real data is the best way to decide where to put your chips.

Simple start for online advertising:

1. Google AdWords

Sign up for an account. Write a few text ads. Geotarget them to your area of business. If you are graphically inclined, make some image banner ads and also place those to appear via the Google AdSense network (via your same account) on other people’s sites. best advice I have ever received regarding writing AdWords ads is to google your search phrase and write your ads while looking at all of your competitors’ ads. Be unique, eye-catching and human. Perhaps I’ll write more on this in the future 🙂

2. Google Maps/Places.

Does your business show up when you search? If not, then claim your listing or add it. It’s free and these results show up BEFORE all organic results on Google . Get in the top 10 for your area. Google.com/Places

Google Places also allows you to offer coupons to map searchers. Incentives! How awesome is that?

3. Start/continue your Blog

It’s the easiest way to add fresh content to your site and puts across your true personality. The new content pushes you up on organic search results. And it’s fun for both you and your potential customers! It’s also cool if your customers like being in your blog and send the link to all of their friends!

4. SEO

It’s been beaten to death, but it is important to have an SEO-optimized website. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a local SEO agency to help. Best question to ask if you’re scared they might be sketchy is “Can you give me three telephone numbers of satisfied customers?” If they are proud of their work, the answer will be yes.

5. eBlasts/Opt-in

Marketing email is still one of the highest-acting forms of marketing. You’ve been collecting your customers emails for years, right? Well hire a local kid fresh out of college to make you some good-looking, well-written email templates and start sending out offers, updates and seasonal ideas to your client base.

Also essential is to prominently add an Opt-In form on your website that encourages potential customers to get on your email list. give them an incentive, like a free sitting or 10% off prints.

Never purchase lists. That’s a horrible interruption of someone’s day. Email inboxes are kinda like someone’s living room – don’t go there uninvited.

6. Your Peer Network

Make friends with other professionals in the area. Refer work you cannot do to them, and they will do the same for you. It’s rewarding and enriching to hang with other shooters and build a stronger community that not only knows everyone in the area, but can also confidently be generous with each other. And it’s good karma 🙂

7. Socialize it!

Use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to promote the cool stuff you do and your offers. Make a fan page on Facebook (not your personal account) for your customers so you can be yourself on your own time 🙂 Be generous! Retweet and repost interesting things. Most of all, be professional and courteous.

These are a solid start to building a lasting marketing plan. I didn’t mention direct mail, print ads, client presentation or other stuff like that because I am an internet geek 🙂 Doesn’t mean those other things aren’t important! But I can confidently say that the above marketing and advertising suggestions will build you a solid business base.

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This post sponsored by Pictage – Make More Money – Free Your Time To Go Win More Clients

Written by scottbourne

May 31, 2010 at 4:32 am

Posted in Marketing

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If I Were Just Going Pro Today – Here's The First Thing I'd Do

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Copyright Bambi Cantrell

By Scott Bourne

My life as a professional photographer started with a great big bowl of luck. I didn’t plan to be a professional photographer. It just sort of happened. I lived in Indianapolis at the time and I got a chance to photograph the Indy 500. I got lucky and made a photograph that the wire services picked up, and on my first serious shoot, I was published around the world and made $2000 for one picture. That was pretty serious and astounding money in the early 1970s. I spent the next six years photographing motor sports and realized, hey – I guess I’m a professional photographer.

While thinking about ways that I could potentially help emerging professionals, I thought back to those days and wondered – if I knew what I knew now – what would I do differently. The answer might surprise you.

But before I tell you what I’d do differently, let me reveal the first thing I’d do as promised in the headline. Ready?

Here’s the first thing I would do:

I would do the first thing.

Nope, it’s not a riddle. It’s sage advice from no less than Mark Twain.

“The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Since there are many tasks associated with becoming a professional at any craft, why not just pick the first thing and knock it off your list? Pick anything. Do anything. More importantly, stop planning, talking, dreaming, thinking, speculating, worrying, procrastinating, wondering, contemplating and just START DOING. Do something. Do anything. Just do it.

So many of the people I meet who want to break into the photography business are far too wrapped up in the mental side of things. They need to get up off the couch and just go for it.

As for me and what I’d do differently?

I wouldn’t change a thing – and here’s why.

I was too stupid to know I could fail. I was too stupid to even that failure was even an option. I was just a boy who had a camera and thought it would be fun to make photographs of race cars and all the trimmings that went with them. I didn’t have any master plan. I ended up after that first big sale living in the back of mechanic’s vans and car haulers, traveling the world – following the race cars and drivers with my camera. I ended up eating with the pit crews, track stewards and occasionally even the drivers, as I scratched out a living making $52.50 a week – after taxes mind you. I did that for six years and looking back at it now – well it looks like it was a bunch of hard work for very little pay. But I don’t remember it as being hard. Back then I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world. Heck I’m still lucky. 🙂

While I didn’t have this in my back pocket then, I do now. It’s a quote from an inspiring book by Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way:

“Leap, and the net will appear.”

I just jumped into professional photography. I took the leap, and everything worked out because I had the passion, the desire, the patience, the drive, the will, and the persistence to succeed.

It’s easy to find excuses. Telling yourself you’ll probably fail is the lazy person’s out. It’s harder to actually get out of bed and do SOMETHING. Don’t make excuses. Don’t plan for failure. Just get busy doing that first thing on your list. Then do the next thing. Then do the next thing. Before you know it, you’ll be like me. More than three decades will have passed and people will still be paying you to put a camera in your hand. It’s an amazing, thrilling and rewarding career. No matter how much money you get paid, your experiences – my experiences along the way – those are priceless. Now stop reading this and get busy. Leave a comment if you like telling all of us what that first thing is for you personally – keep it to one sentence. Remember baby steps. You can do it. Skip and I are rooting for you.

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This post sponsored by WHCC – White House Custom Colour – Get Five Free 8×10 Prints From WHCC

Written by scottbourne

May 28, 2010 at 7:07 am

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Don't Miss Summer School!

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By Scott Bourne

August 8-11, 2010, both Skip and I will be in Las Vegas teaching and networking at Skip’s Summer School. Last year, this was hands-down, one of the top three conferences I attended or spoke at. The vibe was incredible. It was intimate, fun and educational. Skip really started something special here, and I am proud to be associated with it.

Now what does this have to do with GoingPro2010? Nothing -other than Skip and I happen to be working on that together as well. But Skip’s Summer School is a separate project. It’s his baby and I’m just lucky to be associated with it at all. And so will you be if you decide to attend.

You get 15 speakers, networking opportunitues and lots of fun for $239 if you sign up before July 1. And Skip has also arranged for everyone who attends Summer School to get a 50% discount on WPPI registration.

If you are a new pro, an emerging pro or just thinking of going pro, Summer School is MORE important for you to invest in than a camera. Skip and I hope to see you there!

If you want more information on Skip’s Summer School, it’s all right here.

Written by scottbourne

May 27, 2010 at 7:48 am

Posted in Workshops

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Get Out of Your Rut!

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By Skip Cohen

Here’s the scenario:  I was sitting at Arby’s at the Akron Canton Airport having a sandwich before my flight.  I was just livin’ the dream!   On the magazine stand was this month’s issue of “O”.  The cover story:  “28 Genius Ways to Get Unstuck and Make Your Dreams Come True.”  Well it got me thinking about a blog theme and the end result is  “24 Not So Genius Ways to Get Unstuck and Make Your Dreams About Photography Come True!”

1) Stop saying, if I only had that exotic lens, I could change the look of my images.  If you can’t afford it, then rent it!  Rental gear gives you a chance to try out virtually anything.  So if you honestly believe different gear will help you and cash flow is short, then rent that lens or camera body and give them a work out!

2) Practice, practice, practice! Work to get your images dead on, right out of the can.  The long hours in Photoshop cleaning up images because you took a short cut are killing your ability to market yourself, work with clients or simply practice your craft!

3) READ – READ – READ – from magazines to blogs to books – there’s a ton of information out there to help you through virtually every aspect of professional photography.    And don’t just read magazines about photography, but read the magazines your clients are reading.  Every wedding photographer should be reading at least one bridal magazine.  Every children’s photographer should have a copy of any one of the major family/parent magazines.  Commercial photographers should be looking through magazines fashion magazines, etc.

4) Do a press release!  The only one out there who’s going to watch out for you is YOU! So, let’s start with a press release about something you did recently.  Here’s a blog to read that will take you through the entire concept.

5) Do another press release!  You can’t do just one and then walk away and see what happens, because you have to develop a pattern, a stash of releases.  If you’re going to become a publicity machine, remember – publicity doesn’t happen by accident.   And your initial reaction is probably, what can I talk about?  Well did you buy any new gear recently?  How about a new state of the art printer?  Did you attend a workshop or conference?  Are you in the process of diversifying your specialty?

6) Attend a workshop – there’s no excuse for not attending workshops and conventions – they’re on line, in your own backyard, in every major market.  CreativeLive is FREE if you attend at the time the webinar is scheduled.  PDN’s first Virtual Trade Show with ten webinars just took place, but there are more coming throughout the year.

7) Be a stalker!  Okay, I’m using this in the purest of business sense, but there are so many people in this industry willing to help you…follow Scott Bourne, Dane Sanders, Bambi Cantrell, Tony Corbell, Kevin Kubota, Chase Jarvis, Art Wolfe and the list goes on and on and on!  Identify the icons whose specialty is closest to your interests and then bring them into your network.

8) Look at pictures…here’s the fun of photography – you really can just look at the pictures!  Look at the work of photographers you admire.  Look at images from photographers in other countries.  Pick up any consumer magazine and look at the pictures in the ads!  Our clients are influenced by the images and trends in their environment – TV, magazines and the newspaper are all influencers.

9) Look at MORE pictures…here’s where blackbook.com (www.blackbook.com) and workbook.com (www.workbook.com) come into play.  You should take one morning a week, for half an hour and just look at images.  Both sites specialize in images by commercial photographers.   Here’s your chance to be inspired and stay in touch with the trends going on in advertising.  I’m not suggesting you copy anybody’s work, but pay attention to the lighting, the exposures and the composition.  As a wedding photographer you might get a new idea on how to do a great shot of the wedding rings looking at jewelry photographers.  Children’s photographers might get ideas from commercial work of children and lifestyle photography.

10) Start your own blog!  A blog can help more people get to know you and your work, but if you only blog once a month or inconsistently it’s a waste of time!  You need to pick an interval and then stick with it.   One of my favorite ways to start has been photographers who start posting one new image every day.  It’s fun to watch, but I’ve also noticed their photography gets more and more interesting as they become more disciplined.

11) Design next year’s holiday card!  No photographer should ever send out a Hallmark card!  You’re photographers – be proud of your work and use your holiday card this year to show off a little bit.  And, on the back of the card make sure to put your name and contact information.

12) Photograph something completely different today in a way you’ve never photographed before!  Change the aperture, the exposure, play with the depth of field, shoot wide open with different focal lengths – whatever it takes to do something you’ve never tried before.  If you’re experimenting in the studio, then switch your lights around, change your camera angle – just make things different!

Okay there’s the first 12 – give me a few days and I’ll have at least 12 more!

There are reasons for being stuck in a rut, but there are NO excuses.  We’re an industry of people who tend to help each other and watch each other’s backs.  It’s okay to be down in the dumps trying to figure out the best way to jump start your career, but it’s not okay to be complacent!

And remember, you’ve got me and Scott Bourne here to help you snap out of it and get that career moving towards reality!

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This post sponsored by WHCC – White House Custom Colour – Get Five Free 8×10 Prints From WHCC

Written by scottbourne

May 26, 2010 at 7:19 am

Posted in Business

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One More Twitter Search Tip For Professional Photographers

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By Scott Bourne

In my first post about this, I shared with you the secret of using Twitter’s search tool to find prospects. The examples I gave were pretty simple. If you’re so inclined, there are more powerful things you can do with this tool. Below, you’ll find a complete list of the acceptable Twitter search operators. Use these in your search to really drill down into the Tweets to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Search Operators

You can type these search operators directly into the search box. (Alternatively, you can use the advanced search form to automatically construct your query.)

You can also use Twitter’s Advanced Search if you’re more comfortable drilling down using a form.  One of my favorites is to perform the search and check “Asking a question.” This is more likely to yield me a chance to be helpful.

The goal of these posts is simple. I want you to succeed at your photography business. I’m certain that Twitter can help you on some level. I hope this information has enlightened you as to how powerful this tool can be.

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This post sponsored by WHCC – White House Custom Colour – Get Five Free 8×10 Prints From WHCC

Written by scottbourne

May 25, 2010 at 5:38 am

Posted in Marketing

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GoingPro Podcast Episode #5

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Announcing the GoingPro podcast. You can subscribe to the show free of charge in the iTunes store here.

You can direct-download the MP3 at Podomatic.

Here’s the NON-iTunes RSS Feed.

In this episode Scott & Skip discuss 10 business tips for photographers.

NOTE: If you subscribe to the podcast in iTunes you’ll always get it before we announce it here on the blog. It’s our way of saying thanks for subscribing free at iTunes.

Written by scottbourne

May 24, 2010 at 4:57 am

Posted in Audio Podcast

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Could Your Photography Business Be Disintermediated?

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By Scott Bourne

Technology is changing the way some companies do business. Your company could be disintermediated if you don’t change with it. But an alternate way to look at it is to say that your company may disintermediate your competitor. It all depends on how you look at or use technology.

Here’s an example of how changing technology is impacting the video rental business.

Hollywood Video, based in Wilsonville, Ore., is shutting down 2,500 video rental stores nationwide.

The once-booming chain has fallen victim to changing technology as consumers turn to video-on-demand services, inexpensive video vending machines such as RedBox and to mail and Internet movie rental company Netflix.

I remember when Hollywood Video was opening a store a day. I was impressed by their rapid growth. But that was in the 1990s, and as much as it makes me feel old to say it, that was a a very long time ago. Times change. Technology changes. Consumers change. What about you?

If you’re employing all the old guard techniques and technologies, you could be in danger of becoming fungible. If you can be easily replaced by another photographer who has a better grasp of technology than you do, you have two choices. Stand pat and watch it happen (can you say Hollywood Video) or, you can advance, rethink, retool and move forward, embracing new technology and trends and maybe you will be the one to replace the other guy/gal.

Digital SLRs, digital post-processing, blogs, online portfolios, social media, e-mail, portable computers and even iPads have changed and are changing most of what happens in the typical photography business.

Pay attention to this stuff and ask yourself how you might use it to make your business more responsive to client needs. After all, Hollywood Video’s demise didn’t happen in a vacuum. It wasn’t just the fact that new technology existed – it was the fact that their customers demanded and embraced the new technology while Hollywood Video didn’t that made the difference.

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This post sponsored by WHCC – White House Custom Colour – Get Five Free 8×10 Prints From WHCC

Written by scottbourne

May 21, 2010 at 3:48 am

Posted in Business

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