Archives for Business

The Weakest Link

In every operation there is a weakest link. It is the part of your business that holds you back. Think of a bunch of people stranded on a desert island. If the island has enough water for 12 people, enough shelter for 15 people and enough food for 8 people – how many can really live there? You could build a high-rise apartment complex on the island – capable of housing 500 people – and the island still couldn’t hold more than 8 people. The weakest link always holds you back. The key is identifying your weakest link. Don’t feel bad – we can’t be good at everything. The key is being able to determine which things you are good at and which things you are not. In a typical studio, for example, you need to have competent skills in photography, marketing, sales, general business, etc. You don’t have to be good at all of them. If you are bad at marketing, hire someone else to do that part of the business. If not, your business growth will always be limited by your marketing skill. You can even get more specific with some of the areas, like photography. You have
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Should You Un-Friend Social Media?

I have a love/hate relationship with the whole Social Media thing.  I love catching up with friends on Facebook or screaming at the universe on Twitter – but sometimes it gets to be too much.  You have to step back and ask yourself if it is right for your business. One of the weird things about being a professional photographer is that there is a very fuzzy line between work and play.  For example, if you spend your Thursday night trying out a new Photoshop technique – is that fun or work?  Kinda both.  What about doing research for that next camera you are wanting to buy?  Technically, you are working – but it is also something you love.  That’s the great thing about being a photographer. Social media is something that falls into that category for me.  Things like keeping up a blog or updating your Facebook page could both be considered Marketing (and thus, work) but they can also be enjoyable.  Like most things in life, the key is moderation.  You have to dedicate just enough time to social media to get results, but no so much time that it becomes a part-time job. A good plan is
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Ready to Launch?

Could you use more visitors to your website or more customers walking in your front door?  If you are struggling to get the word out to potential clients, you might want to consider a more “space age” approach. Last week, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Launch by Michael Stelzner.  The book equates marketing a business to launching a spaceship and the focus is on helping you create the “fuel.”   I’ve been a fan of Michael’s Social Media Examiner website for the past year or so and found it have a great deal of info, so I knew the book was a safe bet as well!  The book is very easy to read, as Stelzner has broken the information down into pretty simple parts. Now the whole spaceship theme was a bit of a blessing and a curse – at least for me.  At times, it got a little repetitive – but it DID help to keep things straight.  For better or for worse, you were constantly reminded of the big picture and how each component contributed to the goal.  What I really liked was how the book provides several specific examples of how
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Twitter First Impressions

Do you tweet? If you haven’t experimented with Twitter yet – you really are missing out on something entertaining.  Sure, it can become a huge time-killer – but can’t you say that about most fun things if you do them to excess?  TV, drinking, browsing the internet… same thing.  Yeah, you’ve got a few people updating that they are standing in line at the grocery store, but there are also TONS of really interesting folks out there.  With over 200 million users, you can’t spend a lot of time screening people- which is why the profile picture is so important.   I don’t know about you, but my motto is…. “when in doubt, go by the profile pic” As a photographer,  I thought it made sense to start keeping an eye out for good and bad profile pics and recognize the really good ones.   To accomplish this, I’m going to have a “Twitter Profile Pic of the Week” contest.  To make mine different from other “of the Week” contests, I’m not going to do it weekly.  Let’s face it, I’ll never keep up with that.  However, it has a nice ring to it, so I’m using it in the title.  I
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Does Your Website Have a Good Foundation?

Everyone knows that a good website is built on good content – but is there something more important than content?  In my opinion, I think the first priority to address is finding a good hosting service.  You can have the best articles on the web, but if you site is down all the time or you can’t access it to post… then you’ve got nothing! I’m often asked who I use to host my website, but I’ve been hesitant to recommend anyone.  I’ve had a website since the mid-nineties and I know that all hosting is not the same.  The prices can vary greatly and the service can be all over the place.  I was with my last host for several years.  They started out great, but the service dropped off from year to year.  Pretty soon, they weren’t even answering the phones when you called tech support.  Unfortunately, moving hosts can be traumatic, so I held on as long as I could.  Finally about a year or so ago, I decided it was time to switch.   I scoured the web for recommendations and found a few possibilities – but no clear-cut winner.  I finally went with Hostgator.  I’ve been
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Know Your Role: Sales

When I used to coach my son’s football team, we had a saying:  “Know your role- Do your job”   What it meant was that if a kid didn’t know what his assignment was, it would be incredibly unlikely that he would complete that assignment.   A photography studio is like a football team in some ways.  Not everyone is cut out to be quarterback or running back.  Somebody needs to block, someone needs to play defense, someone needs to kick, etc.  The trick is evaluating the roster so you put the right kids in the right positions.  As a studio owner, you need to do the same thing. There are many roles in a photography studio – the photographer, the sales person, production, marketing, etc.  Do you need to be good at all of these?  Absolutely not.  In fact, I doubt there are many people out there who ARE good at all these areas.  Art is very personal and it is hard to be objective when selling our photography.  The important thing is to evaluate your skills and figure out what you are not good at – then hire someone else to do that. In many cases, that weak spot is
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5 Reasons Why You Need A Pro Lab

With the age of digital photography, it seems that there are more “pro” photographers than there are Starbucks locations.  While the line between “professional” and “serious amateur” has been permanently blurred, I think the lab is an essential part of any true professional’s workflow.  If you take your craft seriously, here are a few reasons why you need a pro lab. 1.  Let’s start with the most obvious – better prints!  While many amateur One Hour-type labs use similar equipment to the pro labs, the personnel running the machines can be quite varied.  One week you have someone very good and very detail oriented… the next, someone who isn’t quite into it.   Consistency in your prints is something that is important, so why throw a variable into the equation? 2.  A pro lab will also offer specialty high end products that consumers can’t generally get.  I’m not talking about keychains or buttons – everyone can order those.  I’m talking about having a wide variety of finishes, canvas wrap styles, etc.  The more options you have available, the more you can customize your company’s product offerings. 3.  There is a great deal to be learned from other pro photographers and a
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The “One Box Plan”

January is always the time of year when we look forward to a fresh start. When you are a semi-packrat like me, this can get difficult. As I look around my office, I bet 80% of the things I see have not been used by me in over a year. So why do I keep them around??? Good question.
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