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Get Out of Your Rut Part 2

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By Skip Cohen

24 Not So Genius Ways to Get Unstuck and Make Your Dreams About Photography Come True! – Part 2

If you missed the first half of this list last week ( I was sitting at Arby’s at the Akron Canton Airport two weeks ago. 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 a few minutes later I was working on “24 Not So Genius Ways to Get Unstuck and Make Your Dreams About Photography Come True!”

Here’s the second installment:

13.  Design your own stationery.  We live in the electronic age and that makes a hand-written note even more impressive.  Think about the impact of a thank you note to a client or a vendor you’ve worked with versus an email!  Here’s your chance to show off your work in a completely non-promotional way and just like your holiday card, it reminds people what you do for a living!

14. Go to lunch with a couple of photographers!  Lunch is such a great time to catch up on what’s going on in your community, especially in photography, but you won’t find out if you don’t talk to other photographers.

15. Come up with at least three marketing promotions!  There’s no such thing as a bad idea here, because the benefit is going through the exercise.  Consider any of the following:  Start a frequent buyer program for your clients.  This can be especially effective if you’re a children’s photographer.  Look at ways you can add value to your wedding package without reducing the price – a few more hours of coverage, a larger album, a framed print etc.  It’s too late to get something going for Father’s Day, but it’s not too late to consider doing something for Homecoming at the local high school in the fall, Thanksgiving portraiture or a campaign to design something for holiday family portraits at Christmas.

16. Get to know your gear!  Do you honestly know every aspect of your gear under every lighting condition?  As a professional photographer you don’t have time to bracket and experiment when the light isn’t perfect.  You don’t have time to fool around with which lens is going to make that little church look like a cathedral – you need to know every piece of gear absolutely cold so there’s no second guessing when you’re under pressure.

17. Start a network lunch!  Dawn Shields in Missouri had the idea first – but it’s brilliant.  Find a local restaurant that has a private room and then invite everybody associated with your specialty to lunch.  This obviously works the best with wedding photographers.  For example, florists, hair salons, travel agencies, a bakery, bridal salon, wedding planners, venues, limo companies, tux shops etc – you all have something in common – you’re working with the same target audience, the bride and groom.  And if you’re a portrait photographer, get together with a children’s clothing shop, a toy store, maybe a restaurant manager from Chuckee Cheeze – you’re looking for common denominators to build your network.

All you’re looking to do is bring everybody together once a month to talk about what’s going on in the community.  In the process you’re going to get to know a whole bunch of people who are talking to your target audience.

18. Pick a charity to support!  Jay Conrad Levinson, in one of his books on Guerilla Marketing talked about how you need to be active in the community.  People like being involved with companies they perceive as giving something back.  You need to be involved!

19. Follow the GoingPro sponsors.  There’s a reason we’ve chosen the companies listed here – they’re all the very best at what they do. Unlike many programs in the industry we did NOT approach every manufacturer or service provider on the planet and then sign up with anybody who responded.  We approached them! They also do more than just sell services or products.  They’re involved in helping to build the photographic community.  That means you need to visit their sites, set up permanent links to their blogs and follow what they’re up to – they’re going to help you stay on top of new products, marketing and events.

20. Enter print competition!  Print competition is one of those things that simply helps make you stronger.  It’s like playing tennis with somebody better than you – your game gets better too.  WPPI, PPA, PDN all offer a long list of different competitions throughout the year.

21. Attend a webinar or listen to a podcast.  Scott and I have done a bunch of them at this point, but there are also some great things happening at CreativeLive, with free webinars to help you strengthen your skill set.

22. Intern or second shoot with another photographer.  Internships don’t have to be for extended periods of time – you can spend a day working with another photographer.  If you’re interested in wedding photography then working with a more established photographer when they need help on a wedding is an ideal way to expand your skill set.  But it’s best when you’ve worked to establish a relationship first.  Very few photographers want to work with a complete stranger, but here’s another benefit to building your network.

23.  Attend an industry convention, trade show or event.  Still coming up this year is Skip’s Summer School ( in August, PhotoPlus Expo (  in New York in October and Pictage Partner Con (  is coming up in November in New Orleans.  At every one of these events you’ll have an opportunity to meet more photographers and pick up new ideas on marketing, technique and business.

24.  Start a special project!  Special projects have a unique way of helping you focus your energy in ways that actually keep your battery charged.  Kevin Kubota talks a lot about how special projects have helped him build his portfolio and keep his energy level at the max, because these projects focus on things more personal than his business.

Last but not least – this blog post started out as a list of things you could do to get out of the rut if you’re feeling stuck.  Sometimes you need a sounding board outside your business.  Maybe it’s a relative, that favorite aunt or uncle for example, you need to talk to.  Maybe you need to spend an afternoon with a friend and just bounce ideas off of them.  We all get so private when it comes to our own challenges in life and especially in business – almost as if it’s a sign of failure to be frustrated with being in a rut.

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “If you wait until all the lights are “green” before you leave home, you’ll never get started on your trip to the top.”  Your trip out of the rut is right there in front of you and the lights are all green!  And if you get stuck along the way you’ve got Scott Bourne and me here to give you a hand!

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


Written by scottbourne

June 2, 2010 at 5:41 am

Posted in Business

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2 Responses

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  1. […] Get Out of Your Rut Part 2 – GoingPro2010. Great tips for not only pulling yourself out of a rut, but also growing all […]

  2. These are powerful words. “And if you get stuck along the way you’ve got Scott Bourne and me here to give you a hand!” It’s crazy to read those at the end of a blog post. I don’t really know you, have never met you, and yet they sound sincere. All people need to hear is that someone cares. I think those 24 suggestions will help a lot of people, but that last sentence, that could possibly be more powerful than the 24 presented because every person needs some support. Thank you.

    Candace Prokopets

    June 10, 2010 at 3:58 pm

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