A Candid Dialogue About Success in Photography

McCleary Intro

©Rick McCleary, used with permission

The following is a reply to a post on one of the photography forums I read daily. In it, Rick McCleary, a Washington DC based photographer, replies to comments and questions posted by another photographer.


Your post has been stuck in my head for a couple days because it makes me recall the exact same sentiments I felt when I was starting out – all full of myself and feeling like the world owed me something/everything. There are a couple things you need to embrace that will help you get out
of your own way:

1) This is a business, just like any other business. Nothing is given. Learn the basics. Read some business books that stress marketing. Read Seth Godin’s blog.
2) No one owes you anything.
3) Your job is to make your client’s life better. See the world from your client’s perspective. User experience, and all that.

Q: So, let me see if I got this straight: I have to be “persistent”?
RM: Yes, exactly.

Your Business Card: Don’t Blow It

Marketing Sales  BlogFirst, my research, with apologies to “Harper’s Index”. I collected business cards for door-prize drawings last week at my WPPI Platform Class, “Sales for People Who Hate Selling Selling” in Las Vegas.

Number of cards collected: 144

Cards having no email address: 17

Cards having no email address and no phone number, only web URL: 1

When visiting URL on card above, number of phone numbers on site: 0 (really!)

Cards written on a piece of scrap paper: 10

Number of cards with both email address and phone number: 101

Cards having no contact name: 1

Now for some advice, in no order of importance.

1. Hire a designer. We’re photographers, not designers. If you think Times is a wise choice of font, or Arial, or Courier, or Verdana, you’re mistaken.

WPPI, Thursday: “Successful Sales Techniques for People Who Hate Selling”

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 11.35.31 AMI’ll be presenting a brand new program on selling titled, “Successful Sales Techniques for People Who Hate Selling” Thursday, at WPPI in Las Vegas on March 14th at 1:00pm. It’s a platform class in the Business/Marketing track and it’s sponsored by ASMP. I’d love to see some of you there!

Seminar description

In person, mobile, social, online—with so many sales channels and so little time, how do you do it all? Building on his contributions to The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography, professional photographer, sales expert and SEO guru, Blake Discher, shows you how to incorporate sure-fire sales techniques into every interaction. You will learn how to get your name out without cold calling, easily get referrals and testimonials and use online and social media effectively to build your business . With tips you can put into use immediately (while you are still at WPPI!) and real-world examples that result in success, you will be on your way to making more money in no time.

Photo Copyright Moyan Brenn. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Keyword Density, Prominence, and Proximity Explained

Written by search engine optimization consultant Blake J. Discher.

keywordWhen writing body copy for your website’s home page, it’s important to keep three things in mind. By now most anyone who is working on optimizing their website for Google and the other search engines knows that excessive placement of the keyword phrases for which they are optimizing can hurt their ranking in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

That’s known as keyword stuffing or keyword spamming.

Keyword Density

Put simply, keyword density is the ratio (or percentage) of the number of times your keyword appears on the page of your article, versus the number of words on the page. For example, if your home page has 500 words of body copy and your keyword phrase appears 5 times, your keyword density is one-percent. No one knows for sure what the search engines consider ideal — the number changes with every algorithm update — but conservatively, two to four-percent is probably in the correct range. I wouldn’t exceed six or seven-percent under any circumstances.

Keyword Prominence

Keyword prominence refers to how prominent your keywords are within key elements of your web page. Specifically, how close to the beginning of the page’s TITLE tag, heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.), and meta DESCRIPTION, your keyword phrase is placed. You should always put your most important keyword phrase at the very beginning of your TITLE, DESCRIPTION, and H1 and H2 tags. Also try to begin your first and last sentences of body copy with the important keyword phrases.

Think Outside the Box, Improve Clickthrough

A small chain of outdoor adventure clothing shops based in Ann Arbor, Michigan sends me emails from time to time since I am a regular customer. Today’s email was a holiday promotion but what caught my eye was a link titled, “Gifts for Ex-Lovers”.

Ex-Lovers

Like everyone, I have ex-lovers so my curiosity got me and I wanted to see what the gang at Moosejaw would suggest I give an ex. If you’re unfamiliar with the psyche of the company, one day this past summer, they were bored, took a hunk of bologna and a deli meat slicer up to the roof of their headquarters and whipped sliced bologna at passing cars and made a video of the fun! (click here, opens in new window). Suffice it to say, they’re an irreverent bunch… one reason for their success in their target demographic I’m sure.

I clicked the link and was sent to a page of the site containing 16 items that I guess they deemed appropriate for ex-lover, most of which I’d be grateful if an ex-lover sent me. A few stood out from the rest (and I’m keeping my comments to myself): a “Ruffwear Roamer Leash”, a “Black Diamond Pecker” (that’s it to the right), a “SOG Flash I Knife”, and a “Back Country Access B1 Shovel”. Hmmmmm.

In any case, I’m guessing that link in the email will get the most click-throughs of any. Think outside the box, be different, and be successful!

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Zig Ziglar, 1926-2012

Zig Ziglar passed from this world today after a short bout with pneumonia. He made a huge impact on me in my early sales and networking training. I bought cassette tapes, audio CD’s, and VHS videotapes and worked hard to absorb everything he threw at me. His style was approachable, his name memorable, and his wisdom unmatched. He is the one person I can credit with making me feel comfortable in front of audiences as I speak on the same topics to industry trade groups. I admonish my audiences: “Buy and put to use anything you can get your hands on by Zig.”

Thanks for everything Mr. Ziglar, you’ve helped me along the way many times.

Here are a few of his pearls of wisdom:

“Where you start is not nearly as important as where you finish.”

“I Honestly believe I have felt your feelings. I HAVE WALKED IN YOUR SHOES. You may have made some mistakes and you may not be where you want to be, but that has NOTHING to do with your future.”

“You don’t have to be great to start but you have to START to be great.”

“What you GET by achieving your goals is not near as important as what you BECOME by achieving your goals.”

“You were Designed for accomplishment , engineered for success and endowed with the seeds of greatness.”

“When you THROW DIRT at people, you’re not doing a thing but LOSING GROUND.”

“You are the only one who can use your ability. It’s an awesome responsibility.”

Have any Zig Ziglar thoughts?

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Frustrated? Don’t You Dare Give Up!

This post is an excerpt from my book, “Stop Your Grumbling. Get Out There! (The essential guide to networking to improve your bottom line.)” If you want to get your hands on a copy, it’s available from Amazon in paper or Kindle editions.

If you quit, you’ve failed… so don’t quit!

You remember Mr. Potato Head? The toy was almost dead after its market debut. In the beginning, the toy was given away for free, as a prize in cereal boxes. But it required a real potato – not included, as you might suspect. The toy didn’t gain traction when they introduced just the parts to the marketplace, some think because it required a real potato. Instead of giving up (quitting!), the manufacturer decided to include a plastic body in the kit, Hasbro took over, and the rest is history. If you have kids, you know how important Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head were in rescuing Woody from the toy collector in Toy Story!

Failure is a necessary component of success. I started my sales career selling franchises for American Speedy Printing, a Michigan quick-print franchise. Any professional salesperson knows that sales is nothing more than a numbers game. Most say that out of 20 sales presentations you make, you’ll successfully close, or sell, just one prospect.

Each franchise I sold garnered me a $3,000 commission. I was talking to one of the more successful salesman there and explained I was very frustrated that I was hearing “no” again and again and hadn’t received commission money for some time. He told me I was thinking about sales entirely wrong. Instead of just regarding the close as a success, I had to think of each “no” as a success.

I must have looked puzzled, he went on to explain: the commission is $3,000 and statistically, you know you need to make 20 calls to sell one. And then he changed how I thought about hearing “no.” He said that every time he makes a call, he makes $150, or 1/20th of $3,000! Amazing. It’s just a different way of wrapping your head around failure. Each failure gets you closer to a success, so each failure is indeed worth something!

When you fail, learn from it, figure out what went wrong in your presentation. Perhaps you need to better demonstrate your value to your prospective clients. Perhaps you need to send samples specific to the job they’re calling about. Something in your presentation needs to be tweaked.