Archive for February, 2010
Friday, February 26th, 2010
A Valuable Grand Prize:
- A custom framed certificate to display in your studio
- An award icon to display on your website
- A backlink to your website (Although your customers won’t see it, one-way backlinks build your Google page rank)
In addition, for each photo you submit, you will be entered to win:
- A private website analysis by JD’s online marketing team (a $300 value).
Entering is Easy:
- Any style photography or previous award winners are eligible
- Each photographer can submit up to 10 images
- Images should be submitted as a .jpg file at least 1Mb
- Images will be blind-panel judged by a group of industry experts
- You must own the images and have rights to display them commercially
- You agree to allow JD use your images for any marketing or advertising purposes, each time JD uses your image, you will be given credit.
You can submit your images in two ways:
- As email attachments sent to Chelsea by March 14, 2010.
- If the images are on your studio website, email Chelsea a link to the file.
Send in your images today!
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
With everyone on Facebook, MySpace and blogs, sooner or later one of your employees is going to mention you online. This can both help – and potentially hurt – your business.
On one hand, if a graphic artist writes online that they did a cool project for you and links to your website, it is great marketing, and it will improve your Google page rank. On the other hand, if they get in an online fight with one of your old customers, it makes you look bad.
The typical business owner’s gut reaction is to ban ANY mention of your business online by employees. However, if handled correctly, employee participation in online social media can bring you new business. The trick is to take the time to make it clear to them what is considered “good” and “bad” behavior online.
Below is a 10-point set of guidelines that has been circulating around the web. I suggest you copy and paste it, replace (COMPANY) with your studio’s name, and have every employee read it and sign it.
Oh, and by the way, these rules should apply to you too
SOCIAL MEDIA PARTICIPATION GUIDELINES FOR OUR COMPANY
These guidelines apply to (COMPANY) employees or contractors who create or contribute to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of Social Media. Whether you log into Twitter, Yelp, Wikipedia, MySpace or Facebook pages, or comment on online media stories — these guidelines are for you.
While all (COMPANY) employees are welcome to participate in Social Media, we expect everyone who participates in online commentary to understand and to follow these simple but important guidelines. These rules might sound strict and contain a bit of legal-sounding jargon but please keep in mind that our overall goal is simple: to participate online in a respectful, relevant way that protects our reputation and of course follows the letter and spirit of the law.
- Be transparent and state that you work at (COMPANY). Your honesty will be noted in the Social Media environment. If you are writing about (COMPANY) or a competitor, use your real name, identify that you work for (COMPANY), and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in what you are discussing, be the first to say so.
- Never represent yourself or (COMPANY) in a false or misleading way. All statements must be true and not misleading; all claims must be substantiated.
- Post meaningful, respectful comments — in other words, please, no spam and no remarks that are off-topic or offensive.
- Use common sense and common courtesy: for example, it’s best to ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to (COMPANY). Make sure your efforts to be transparent don’t violate (COMPANY)’s privacy, confidentiality, and legal guidelines for external commercial speech.
- Stick to your area of expertise and do feel free to provide unique, individual perspectives on non-confidential activities at (COMPANY).
- When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite. If you find yourself in a situation online that looks as if it’s becoming antagonistic, do not get overly defensive and do not disengage from the conversation abruptly: feel free to ask me for advice and/or to disengage from the dialogue in a polite manner that reflects well on (COMPANY).
- If you want to write about the competition, make sure you behave diplomatically, have the facts straight and that you have the appropriate permissions.
- Please never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any parties (COMPANY) may be in litigation with.
- Never participate in Social Media when the topic being discussed may be considered a crisis situation. Even anonymous comments may be traced back to your or (COMPANY)’s IP address. Refer all Social Media activity around crisis topics immediately and directly to me.
- Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and (COMPANY)’s confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully. Google has a long memory.
NOTE: All media inquiries (TV, newspaper, radio, blogs) must be directed to me. If I’m not available, politely tell them you have no comment, and get their phone number.
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
Over 60 photographers from across Michigan and Ohio filled the training room at JDPI to capacity to listen to Chris Wunder’s program “Learn to Earn $100,000 a Year from Portrait Directories” workshop on Wednesday, February 17th. During the full-day workshop, Chris taught photographers step-by-step how to turn portrait directories into a profit center for their studios.
While I cannot even begin to summarize everything Chris said, here are some of the take-away points that amazed me after listening to him:
- Their is a ton of opportunity in this market. As I listened, I kept thinking to myself, “This is the photographic equivalent of low-hanging fruit. Why isn’t everyone doing this?”
- Chris laid out the numbers. With a little effort, you really could add $100 thousand to your bottom line in a year.
- Local photographers with great customer service have a real advantage over their national competitors.
- The great thing about church directories specifically is that some churches have schools, school have sports teams, and every church has weddings. The opportunity for one sale to lead to another is amazing.
During the breaks, I had the opportunity to give lab tours. Everyone was pleased to discover that we can print all the products Chris described, and at great prices.
I want to personally thank Chris, all the old friends (and new ones) I met, and encourage anyone who didn’t attend to seek out Chris the next time he is in your area. You won’t be disappointed.
Thursday, February 11th, 2010
During our spring open house at JDPI, Mark Lemon gave a step-by-step presentation on how to improve your search engine ranking in Google. You can download a PDF version of the Powerpoint here.
- What is SEO?
- What are keywords?
- Link building
If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, this is a great introduction and set of tools I can highly recommend.
Thursday, February 11th, 2010
Michael Zang at PetaPixel wrote an article entitled Build Your Photo Business with Nickels. In it he says:
Here’s an idea for those of you who are looking for photography clients of any kind: Offer portraits and other kinds of photographs at your local farmers market for a nickel.
In the above video by Michael Hanson for the NYTimes, architect John Morefield describes how he offers architecture advice at his local farmers market for a nickel. While a whole day of doing this might net less than a dollar, Hanson found 100% of his work for a year using this creative way to connect with potential clients.
Photographers might be able to do the same thing. Why not set up a booth in your local farmers market and offer portraits or photography help/advice for 5 cents? You could take down email addresses, pass out business cards, and later email photographs to your nickel “clients”. If 5 cents would create too much work in terms of emailing photographs, you could increase the price or tweak the strategy to your liking.
This could be an absolutely phenomenal way to build your email list. The trick isn’t to take high-res photos, but to take reasonably nice low res ones people could use on their Facebook site. It would give you an opportunity to show the difference between amateur and professional photography, and it would give you a chance to generate some buzz with a press release to the local media.
Here’s a similar example, TopShop, the hottest new clothing store in New York City this year, has a photographer on staff. When a customer buys an outfit, the photographer takes their photo and emails it to them to use on Facebook!
What do you think about the idea? Is it a waste of your time, or is it the ultimate low cost, word-of-mouth marketing strategy?
Thursday, February 11th, 2010
The price we charge to drop ship photographs or products directly to your customers from the lab will increase to $9.95 from $7.95 beginning March 1, 2010. This is a result of increased UPS pricing.
Our free standard UPS delivery has not changed.
Our drop ship service lets you send photographs and products directly to your end-customer effortlessly. We use an unbranded box, then put your name and return address on the label so that it appears the package came directly from you.
Thursday, February 4th, 2010
When you run a photo lab, you get to talk with photographers. Lots of them. And after a while, you begin to see patterns that the most successful (i.e. profitable) ones have in common.
When it comes to wedding photographers, the most successful ones I’ve talked to use the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid) principle. They have figured out that although a bride may seem to want a million options, what the photographer provides is what she really needs: stress-free and confusion-free photography on her wedding day – and when it comes time to select prints and purchase the album.
These are the 6 (simple) steps to a successful wedding photography sale:
1. Sell yourself on the phone. Offer a free consultation at her convenience. Avoid quoting prices. If asked, stick with “we work with your budget.” If she’s unwilling to come in, get her email and immediately send her a link to your website. Make sure it has lots of examples and testimonials from other brides.
2. Sell yourself at the consultation. Show 2-3 great sample albums, no more. Sell yourself again. Promise that you will reduce stress and confusion, and make the photography fun. Offer three prices points: a “budget”, the “most popular” (what you really want to sell), and a “deluxe” package. Get a deposit.
3. Shoot the wedding. Take charge by making suggestions, not demands. You’re the wedding expert. Look, dress and act the part. Leave cards on the tables for guests to go online and purchase prints. Images online should be the same ones you’ll show the bride for the album – don’t put all your images online.
4. Present the images. In-studio shows on a big screen are best, right after the honeymoon. At this point, you’re selling a dream, not a product. Show the couple only the best images that tell the story, about 25% more than they ordered. The average album has 120 images - never show more than 150. Let them cull out the unwanted images. If they cannot, offer an upgrade package. Reveal a “holy smokes” shot to end on a high note – and to offer as a wall portrait later.
5. Sell the album. Stick to the “Rule of 3″. Bring out 3 samples: good, better, best. Bring out 2 colors, black or brown. Bring out 3 sizes, 8×10, 10×10, 11×14. Don’t make a complicated grid of options that change the prices.
Complete steps #4 and #5 in 90 minutes or less.
6. Deliver the album. You should have the album built and returned to the bride within 4 weeks of their wedding while she is still excited. The sooner the better.
While you can be a successful wedding photographer without this list, I guarantee if you try it you’ll have even more success than before.
(image courtesy of Sam Sarkis)
Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with other wedding photographers.