Archive for January, 2008

What it’s like

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I just finished doing a phone consultation in connection with Rob Haggart from aphotoeditor.com. He asked me to review a photographer’s website so that he could show his readers what it’s like to work with a consultant. I was happy to be a part of this project and I think that what Rob is doing in general is fantastic for photographers. If you’re not reading his site regularly, add it to your to-do list.

And keep an eye out on his site for the results from this collaboration.

WOW!!!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

What an amazing weekend! SB2 was un-friggin’-believable! I’m still spazzing about how well it went, how great the crowd was, and how much all the effort paid off.

Now, it’s not like it went off without a hitch–there were some minor-but-bugging A/V issues (which will be NOT happen in the future) and the hotel screwed up the delivery of the lunch on Saturday (200-ish people need more than one lunch-line, thankyouverymuch)–but even with these hiccups, it was an incredibly positive event.

Those of us involved in the planning and presenting were thrilled that the evaluations were extremely positive (and thanks to Susan Carr for figuring out how to get people to turn in those evaluations–you had to turn it in to get a drink ticket for the reception). We worked so hard on developing the material and trying to figure out ways to get as much info into one weekend as was humanly possible–hearing that people not only recognized those efforts but applauded them was wonderful.

However, as a presenter, I have to say that a huge part of the success of the weekend was the crowd itself. The people who came to the event participated. They asked questions, they listened, they talked with each other and us during the breaks and receptions, they were as much a part of the event as we presenters were and that was incredibly energizing for us. I can tell you it makes for some long days to meet with 14 individuals for private consultations then go to a reception then get up the next day and start at 6:30am (for us presenters–we had to be there early) and be “on” and working until 8pm or later and get up the next day and do that again until about 5pm. But because everyone was asking great questions and offering their own experiences and sharing and laughing and generally being eager, etc., I know I was totally energized until I got back to my room at night. (At which time I pretty much fell into bed 🙂 )

I can’t wait to get to the next SB2. It’s in Atlanta and if it is only half as great as the LA event, it will still be fantastic.

One note about the upcoming events–the mini-consultations with me sold out well before the LA event and many people were disappointed, unfortunately. I think almost all of the mini-consultations with all of us who did them sold out, in fact. So, if you are interested in having a mini-consultation with me (or any of us) in Atlanta, get off your hands and sign up. There are only a few slots left (4, I think) as of this writing (they are booking fast in Philly and Chicago too). If they sell out, there is no other time during the weekend for me (us) to sneak in another meeting. I do have a couple of Test Drive slots available for the Monday after SB2, but even those are booking (esp. in Atlanta).

Well, as you can imagine, I’m buried now playing catch-up and fielding additional questions and “thank yous” from the LA participants, but I can tell you that I will never forget that weekend. Wow!

Off to LA

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I may not get the chance to post for a few days while I’m in LA for SB2. We have very packed schedules and, though I’m sure John Harrington will still make regular posts to his blog (that guy is a techno-animal who can multi-task any of us normal humans under the table!), I like to sleep occasionally. 🙂

If I get the chance, I will try to share some of the news from the events during the weekend, but if not, expect it early next week sometime. I won’t be back in the office until sometime Tuesday, depending on the traffic from LA.

Have a great weekend! I’m sure looking forward to mine and meeting everyone at SB2.

Creative Lube 18

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

The newest podcast is up. As always, it’s free. Enjoy!

Booking up!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

The first ASMP SB2 event is this weekend and I am completely booked up with Friday mini-consultations. In fact, I’m over-booked (on Friday), and people are still making requests for time slots.

I do have a few slots available on the following Monday, but those are longer-format meetings and they are more expensive (click here for details).

Why am I telling you this? Not to brag but to let you know that I am quickly booking up in the other cities as well. If you are thinking of going to SB2 and want to meet with me for a very inexpensive price ($75! for 30 minutes) on the Friday of the event, you need to sign up soon. You book these mini-consultations when you register for the SB2 event itself. At that low price, I encourage you to sign up for at least one other with one of the other experts (Judy Herrmann, Blake Discher, and John Harrington) too.

My post-SB2 event consultations are also starting to get booked for the other cities, especially Atlanta.

I know photographers are notorious for making last-minute decisions for things like this, but clearly you are going to miss out if you wait too long to sign up. Besides, if you book early you are more likely to get a discounted flight and discounted hotel room.

I’m just sayin’…

🙂

Getty for sale

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Yes, I’m not working today, but this was too important (you may have to login to get the article) to be ignored. Estimated value? $1.5bn.

Mostly private equity firms are interested and that is interesting for us. When a private equity firm buys a company, they usually split it up and sell off its assets in some way or another. Could make for another aspect to an intriguing year.

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Friday, January 18th, 2008

The famous quote made by Margot Channing (Bette Davis) in All About Eve seems particularly applicable these days:

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.

The economy in the US (and elsewhere, but I’m just focusing on the US) is not doing well. In fact, it’s probably in a recession and, depending on whom you believe, things may be much worse than we’re being led to believe by the main-stream media and government. Regardless, even the rosiest of prognostications are barely pink these days. And what does that mean for you?

It means business at all levels is very likely to slow down. For some photographers, 2007 was already worse than 2006. 2008 is likely to be hard for everyone.

Take the time now to figure out how you can cut your costs without negatively impacting your business. For example, if you do not need a studio, when your lease is up, get out. Or find a studiomate if you only barely need a studio. Put off buying a new Mac if yours is still expandable–instead max out the RAM or update the motherboard perhaps. Increase your deductible on some insurance policies to lower their cost. There are lots of things you can do–now is the time to do them–preferably before you really need to.

One place where you should not cut back is your marketing. This is a common error with businesses–sales slump and the first department to get cut-backs is the marketing department. For you that means two things: 1) you are probably under-spending on your marketing already and any cuts will significantly decrease your visibility; and 2) there will be fewer opportunities for projects (because of client cuts to their marketing depts.) so it is even more critical to keep in front of your targets’ radar to have a chance at the projects still available.

Not everything is doom and gloom, though. There will be projects–there always are–and, even better, if you have been licensing your work (and if you haven’t, now is the time when you’ll see what a bad idea that was!), don’t be surprised to see an increase in relicensing existing work for the original clients. This is what happened after 9/11 (when new work really did dry up)–clients relicensed work all over the place and that saved a lot of photographers from going under. Remember to price that re-use fairly (there is no reason the Usage Licensing Fee should be any less than the it was in the past) and hold on…

…this downturn too will eventually end.

Consulting and the Real World

Friday, January 18th, 2008

There are several really talented consultants out there, but a common complaint I hear from photographers is that some of them are too touchy-feely or flaky for their tastes. We are perceived as a mostly hippy-dippy lot who ask our clients to look into their hearts, to be open to new ideas, do affirmations, etc.

Stuart Smalley be praised, so to speak.

I can understand that discomfort–I too get uncomfortable with some of the more spiritual or less “concrete” stuff. I’m big into research and proof. I like to deal with facts and evidence. But at the same time, there is a reason that so many consultants find connections with these areas…because it works.

It works in the real world, for example, to use compassion in your business. This is something that may come to us from Buddhism or other spiritual practices, but when applied in the real world, it simply works. When you deal with a buyer by expressing an understanding of her issues and appreciating her difficult situation (needing to get the best work for the smallest price), she is much more likely to be more forthcoming with you and that leads to finding solutions and getting gigs. (Note: being compassionate doesn’t mean rolling over!)

Another perceived flaky idea is that being positive will help your business. Again, this is not crap, it will. There is all sorts of science to back up this notion–thinking more positively (and yes, that includes doing things like affirmations) builds connections in your brain which improve cognitive functioning, and if you are thinking better, that can only help you in your work!

So, when you are considering working with a consultant, you should expect to hear some common things like that it is vital that you be open to your own creative voice. Yes, even from me with my obnoxious sense of humor (I sell shirts that say “I don’t suck” and “vision = value” after all). We (consultants in general) wouldn’t offer these ideas if we didn’t really believe in the results.

Collaboration

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Rob Haggart of aPhotoEditor.com and I are going to work together on a photographer’s website. Rob has the details including how to sign up for a chance to be reviewed by us both.

I’m really looking forward to it. Rob was kind enough to be interviewed by me recently for an article and he is a gracious and honest guy who loves his profession. I’m sure it wil be a pleasure to work with him on this.

Are you taking Monday off?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Monday is a national holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I’d bet dollars to donuts you are not taking the day off.

You should reconsider that choice.

Yes, it is a choice. I know it may feel like you can’t possibly take a day off, but it may very well be that you can’t afford not to.

Taking holidays is good for your business because it gives you the chance to recharge your batteries a bit. The days following a long weekend are often more productive and more importantly, taking time off is better for your health overall. If you are constantly working you are constantly in a state of stress. All that stress gets your hormones seriously out of whack and that leads to poor physical health…and doesn’t do your brain any good either.

If you don’t take holidays (and weekends, etc.) off, you will burn out. You might not even be aware of it until it manifests in constant colds, chronic pain, or even a heart attack–but you may already be in the dangerous stress zone. What is your business going to do if you are laid up in the hospital or out for a couple of weeks with a bad back or sinus infection? How will you afford that?

So take a long weekend. Turn off your cell phone and computer. Get outside (if you can) and get some exercise. Read a novel. Play with your kids/spouse/dog.

The clients will still be there when you get back.