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September 2011 - Yep, it's groozi!

September 2011 Posts

Negotiating Needn’t be Scary (Video)

Last month I had an opportunity to do an interview in the form of a webinar with Photoshelter co-founder Grover Sanschagrin on the topic of negotiating. He asked great questions and at the end of about 45 minutes the listening audience of more than 1,000 photographers was invited to submit questions. It was my first webinar and judging from the feedback, I think it went well. If you have questions, please ask them in the comments and we’ll get a dialogue going. Thanks for watching!

[vimeo clip_id=”27036957″ height=”” width=”580″]

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(Written by Detroit People Photographer Blake J. Discher)

Networking? Have a Kick-Ass Business Card

If you are going to take the time to develop a networking strategy, one of the first items you’ll need is a drop-dead gorgeous business card. I mean a card that when you hand it to someone, they say, “Wow, that’s a really nice business card.” If you’re not getting this response, you need a new business card.

First, photographers are not designers. Hire a designer to do your card. If money is tight, maybe you could trade services with a designer. They know what’s current as far as design styles go, understand and are aware of papers, and will help you to create a better looking card that you probably could.

Network Even Amongst Your Peers

handshakeI presented my program “Stop Grumbling – Get Out There” to a group photographers in New Orleans. (The New Orleans chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers.) It’s a roughly two hour seminar on networking and negotiating techniques.

Usually the doors open about an hour before I speak and I use that time to introduce myself to people as they arrive, exchange business cards, and to get a rough gauge of where the audience is in terms of networking experience. I always ask the question, “So tell me about what you do,” and from a person’s response I can tell a lot about what stage of their career they’re in and how much experience they have in handling a first-time face-to-face meeting with a stranger.

Show Personal Work on Your Website

When designing a new website (or redesigning your existing one), one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is what to call your portfolio galleries and what to include in your images. Photographers are all over the map, some simply number their galleries: Gallery 1, Gallery 2, and so on. Some use more descriptive words: People, Places, Editorial, and Corporate. I’ve even seen gallery titles such as, Happy Faces, Beautiful, and Innocent. Clients I’ve asked prefer intuitive, descriptive gallery titles.

I think even more important than gallery names is that you include personal work. Years ago, before the web became the prominent method of showing one’s portfolio, a consultant suggested that in addition to one’s regular portfolio, a photographer should have a second, perhaps smaller, book of personal work.

I Was Hacked… Glad I Backed Up With Useful Plugin

At 4:51am Sunday the server on which this blog is hosted was suffered a “defacement attack by a hacker, at least that’s what my hosting company called it. I’d never heard of such a thing, but they call it that when only the homepage of a site is altered and no other destructive scripts or malware are planted. The hacker changed out the index.php page in every directory of this WordPress blog. (A screengrab of his idea of what Groozi should look like is at the end of this post.)

I remained calm, figured out a fix, located a clean copy of index.php from WordPress, replaced the hacked one with the good one, and was back in business.

After hunting around, I found a great plug in for WordPress called “Backup to Dropbox” (full info). The easiest way to install the plugin is to search for it within your Admin/Plugins panel of WordPress and install it from there, but you’ll need a free Dropbox account first.

If you are unfamiliar with Dropbox, it is “cloud” hard drive storage. When you sign up, you get 2GB of free storage and that’s where the plugin will automatically store a complete backup of your blog. You can even schedule backups. If you don’t have Dropbox, get it here. Full disclosure: If you use that link to sign up, you and I will both get an extra 256MB of storage, so we both win… cool! UPDATE (4-10-12): Now we’ll each get 500MB of free space!

Now I’ll have a recent backup of my entire blog including all my posts and images and I don’t have to remember to do it, the plugin does it for me. Here’s what the hacker’s handiwork looked like:

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Don’t Let Your “Joes” Hold You Back

Most emerging photographers consider themselves generalists if for no other reason than that they want to work and any paying job coming their way sounds like a good one. But if this is where you’re at in your career, you’ll need to at some point do two things: first, become more of a specialist and second, be willing to let go of those early, low-paying clients. In this essay I’ll talk about the low-paying clients.

Let’s imagine the owner of the muffler shop on the corner of Main Street calls you to shoot some pictures of his shop for an ad he is running in the local weekly newspaper. We’ll call him Joe. He’s only willing to pay a small fee and you’ve done all you can to show him your value, why you’re better than everyone else, and most important, you’re convinced you’ve negotiated as far as you can with him on price. You do the shoot, he’s very satisfied, and he wants you to do more work. The fact remains though, he’s a low budget client.

I’m convinced there are two ways to make more money in any service business, including photography: work more or get better clients. I’ve taken the road of working to get better clients. More sophisticated clients understand copyright, understand licensing, and are in general much easier to work with. They are used to working with professionals in every aspect of their business.

Joe on the other hand sells a muffler and his customer owns it. Forever. The very concept of copyright is possibly foreign to him. He thinks since he’s paid you to take the photograph, he owns it. Licensing? That’s at the Department of Motor Vehicles!

As you begin to gain better clients, don’t be afraid to let go of Joe… ask me how I know. What happened to me will happen to you, guaranteed. You’ll have a day booked with low-paying Joe, and that great client you’ve been after for some time now, calls you asking you to shoot that very same day.

Don’t let Joe hold you back. At some point it’s no longer worth it to work for him. Instead, use that time working on your website, your physical portfolio, your other marketing efforts, tweaking your LinkedIn profile, or making a few phone calls or sending samples to prospective clients.

To move forward, you need to let go of whatever it is that’s holding you back. Even if it’s a client. The one exception, at least for me, is the low-paying client who is a rich referral source. To this day, I have one client who, even though I’ve not raised my rates for over ten years, consistently gives me quality referrals. She knows to keep my ten-year-old pricing “our little secret” and in fact pre-sells me as “one of the more expensive photographers in town, but definitely the best!”

I’ll be presenting my sales and networking program “No More Grumbling – Get Out There” in Dallas tonight, September 22nd, and in New Orleans on Tuesday, September 27th.