Archive for November, 2009
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
LabPrints holiday reposting is a HUGE event for Storefront customers. Not only does LabPrints make it very easy for you to repost your past events, they also send out a message to past customers letting them know their event is available!
How it works: You will be presented with a list of all your events. You select the events and price list to use for reposting. All customers who have made previous purchases or submitted favorites, will be sent an e-mail notifying them that their event has been reposted. If you have questions please read the FAQ.
This is a free service for LabPrints online storefront customers.
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
Did you know that:
- That China will soon become the #1 English speaking country in the world?
- That the average high school student sends over 2,000 text messages a month?
A fascinating new video is making the rounds on the Internet. Created by Karl Fisch, Jeff Brenman, and Scott McLeod, it describes how technology is changing our world.
The original version, created in 2007 is called “Shift Happens.” It focuses on how global changes (not just technology) are impacting our lives. According to the authors:
These videos have been viewed well over 20 millions times by audiences large and small, educational, corporate and everything in between. It’s been shown to the leaders of our national defense and to incoming congressmen. It’s been shown by university presidents and kindergarten teachers, televangelists and politicians, folks just trying to make a buck and those trying to save the world.
If you have 5 minutes to spare, I definitely recommend you watch the latest video. It will remind you where you need to focus your marketing efforts. If you have 10 minutes, watch them both. You won’t be disappointed.
Friday, November 20th, 2009
I read a great article entitled, “How to Market Your Business with Facebook” in the New York Times Small-Business guide, and thought you might like a story I found in it.
Some guys use Facebook to find single women. Chris Meyer used it to find women who are already engaged.
Mr. Meyer, a wedding photographer in Woodbury, Minn., had had little luck with traditional advertising. A full-page ad in a bridal magazine generated zero leads and a trade show yielded only four bookings, barely covering the cost of his booth. But Facebook proved a digital bonanza.
Mr. Meyer aimed at women ages 22 to 28 who listed their marital status as engaged in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. He estimates that he has spent about $300 on Facebook ads in the last two years and has generated more than $60,000 in business. He says about three-quarters of his clients now come to him through Facebook, either from ads or recommendations from friends.
Bottom line: If you are a wedding photographer, your prospective customers spend more time on Facebook than they do reading newspapers, e-mails or mailers. You need to go where your customers are. Learn more.
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
You would think photographers could run out of anything else before they run out of quality images. But the fact is, even pros occasionally need to use stock photography for
- Graphics to use in advertising materials
- Backgrounds and textures for composites
- Shots from locations around the globe
This butterfly image is a perfect example. Why go to the trouble of taking this image myself, when their are a host of places online where I could get this image (legally) for free?
It’s called Stock Photography. Every designer and marketing person in America uses it, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t use it too.
I thought I’d share with you some of the stock image web sites I use most frequently to find excellent images.
Stock.xchng. This is where I start. The quality of images here is uneven, but I occasionally find a good one, and the price is right – most images are free in exchange for mentioning the photographer. Because Stock.xchng has partnered with iStockPhoto, in addition to the free images, you can see what paying a couple of bucks will get you.
iStockPhoto. A great site for very inexpensive images, but beware of image “over-use.” You can easily end up with an image that’s already been used by many other people. Image quality is also more of an issue, since many amateurs contribute to the site, so select carefully. All that said, there are still wonderful images to be found here, and it’s hard to beat the prices.
EveryStockPhoto. Another free image site, it searches the Internet for images that are available under the Creative Commons License (like flickr). This means you are free to share or remix the images, but that You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the photographer.
Getty Images. Over 80 million images, priced from $5 to thousands of dollars each. Huge and highly professional selection, and a very powerful search tool. If you want a photo of Elvis in your marketing brochure, this is where you’ll find it.
Jupiter Images. Like Getty, they have a huge, terrific selection and a good search tool. Because Jupiter has partnered with many of the best stock photo sites, you are guaranteed to find what you want here, even though some of the images can get pretty expensive.
Image*After. This free image site specializes in textures. It is a great place to find a piece of wood or fabric texture you can integrate into a background or composite. Note that most of the textures don’t require attribution.
If you have a favorite place to find stock photography for your business, leave it in the comments below and share it with others.
Butterfly photograph by Keith Syvinski
Friday, November 13th, 2009
Drop shadows are one of the easiest to use and most powerful ways to make text stand out on a page. They are especially useful when you need to set dark text on a dark image. Just add a light drop shadow, and your text will immediately pop.
However, used improperly, drop shadows can also cause problems with your layouts. The biggest problem we see at the lab is drop shadows that extend off the edge of an image, which result in a hard edge when printed.
Look at the first two examples on the right.
- In the first example, the tight drop shadow will print properly, but because it is dark it tends to make the text look muddy.
- In the second example, the drop shadow is much more attractive, but when it is printed, the right edge of the shadow will have a hard edge, ruining the drop shadow effect.
How to solve the problem?
- Make your drop shadow small and tight to the text by minimizing the spread, size and distance (in Photoshop), and instead lower the opacity to make the shadow appear softer. See JD Photo #3 as an example.
- If you need a large drop shadow, move the text away from the image edges as shown by JD Photo #4. The easiest way is to drop down 1-2 font sizes, for example, from 24 point to 22 or even 20 point text. If the text looks too small, raise it back up, use a smaller drop shadow, and lower the opacity.
Friday, November 13th, 2009
Have you ever wanted an easy way to visualize a headline in many different fonts at the same time to see which one you like better?
You need to check out a utility called the Font Thing.
Despite its strange name, The Font Thing does one thing incredibly well. It lets you organize all your TrueType fonts (Windows only – sorry Apple) into collections based on font type. For example, I’ve group all my fonts as:
- San Serif
- Stereotypes (funny fonts)
Now, whenever I want to compare the look of a headline in say, Avant Garde versus Futura, I click the Collections tab on the upper left, click Modern, type my headline on the right, and click the Multiple tab to see the headline in both (or all) of the selected fonts.
When I need to mix text and images in Photoshop, the Font Thing is always open in the background (if you don’t want to jump back and forth, just use it to print out all your similar fonts on the same page). Give it a try, and see if it doesn’t become one of your most valuable utilties.
Thursday, November 5th, 2009
If you’re like most folks, Google is the first place you go to when you browse the Internet. I’ve seen people type a website name directly into Google Search even though they already knew the website’s name. For them, Google is the Internet.
However, for many small businesses, Google is so much more than that. Below is a list of all the things I use Google for in my business:
- Google Local Business Center. Google will keep a business listing for you just like a phone book entry. Then they link it to Google maps, so local customers can find you quickly and easily.
- Gmail. I don’t actually use my Gmail account to send and receive e-mail. I use it as the world’s best spam filter. I have all my mail accounts forwarded to my Gmail account, then my Gmail account forwared to MS Outlook on my laptop. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen an e-mail offering to enhance my “male parts” or learned that someone in Nigeria just left me a million dollars.
- Google Apps. Did you know Google has a free, online word processor, spreadsheet, image editing program and many others? My favorite is the Calendar. Keep your schedule online, and anyone in your office can instantly see your schedule from any PC.
- Google Analytics. Plug a little piece of code into each of your web pages, and Google will keep track of how many visitors you had, which pages they looked at, and how long they stuck around. What’s more important to me is to keep track of which search terms (keywords) folks use to find me online. I’ve seen businesses charge $100 a month for the same tools you get here for free.
- Google Adwords. If someone in your zip code types “professional photographer” in Google and they live in your zip code, wouldn’t you like to be on the front page? With Adwords, it is easy to do. Although the service is free, Google does charge you every time someone “clicks through” from your ad to your website. You decide how much you’re willing to pay for each click-through, normally about 75 cents each (less than the price of a letter).
- Google Base. Have you ever seen a list of products for sale by Google at the top of a search page? Use Google Base to upload product descriptions and prices.
I have no idea how Google can offer so many services and still be free to use. But as long as they are offering them, I encourage you to take advantage of them.
Any Google products you use in your business? Reply below and share your knowledge.