Here is an interesting article that, while geared towards UK consumer-targeting marketers, presents some significant points for others like you business-targeting marketers (that would be you commercial photographers) no matter where you are. Note some of the topics discussed: differentiation is key; buyers will still be willing to pay for what is special; and, slowdowns can be weathered well if you plan and stick to your plans.
Archive for September, 2008
Scientists are working on real ones, and one of the goals is to induce creativity. If they succeed, what will that do to the creative professions? Kind of profound, when you think about it.
Really, they do. Creative risk, that is. In fact, there seems to be a problem with agencies not being creative enough.
Is your work too safe?
(Thanks Lance for the tip)
I really like Coudal’s 3 Question Test for taking a project.
I know what a bunch of you are thinking, though, “How can I say ‘no’ to anything these days?!” That’s a fair argument. Things are tough and will be for a while. But remember that compromising your quality or your ethics or even your price can have much greater ramifications over the long term that you might first think. I’m not saying you ALWAYS have to say “no” if it’s a less-than-perfect project; I am saying that you should give it a good hard think before doing anything.
Especially these days.
My friend åsk has posted a helpful and often hilarious “tutorial” coving various aspects of working in the advertising world. For photographers, this should help you be more compassionate with your clients, like when your Art Director acts like a total loon, for example.
Seth Godin makes a good point about risk taking and uncertain times in this post.
Okay campers, things are getting very ugly on the economic front. Now is the time to make sure you have your financial house in order for your business as well as your personal life. There are several things you should be doing. The following is a list, but I do want to make it clear that I am NOT a financial expert. These suggestions are culled from things I have gotten from various news and biz sources, as well as some ideas from my own brain. So take a deep breath, and get ready to tighten those belts some more.
1. Make sure you have your cash in FDIC (or the equivalent for credit unions) protected accounts and that you are under the protection limits for all your accounts. This may mean moving some money around, opening new accounts in other institutions, etc. More info here.
2. Look at your expenditures to see if there is any other place where you can rationally and reasonably cut back. Maybe you and some colleagues can go in together on massive quantities of office supplies, etc., to split the costs, for example.
3. Demand greater advances on ALL shoots. Cash is king these days and magazines, especially, are going to be dropping like flies if things keep going as they are now. Agencies, especially some of the smaller local ones, may be in trouble too. Advances will help keep you from losing your shirt. Demand immediate payment after the project is completed too.
4. Talk with your staff, if you have any, honestly about where things are for you and discuss what steps are needed to get through this mess. Don’t blow smoke at your employees–they deserve to know where things stand so that they can plan to take care of themselves. If you think you may have to lay off staff, think now about how you would handle it and what you can do to mitigate the pain. Consider asking for short-term pay cuts or shorter hours to keep them on staff but reduce your costs rather than completely cutting staff positions, if possible.
5. Talk to your insurance person about ways to save money. Maybe you can raise your deductible and save some cash on your auto insurance, for example. Talk to your financial planner about rebalancing your retirement accounts and other things to do too.
6. If applicable, take public transit whenever even vaguely possible (and get your spouse/partner/kids and employees to do so too). I’ve been taking the bus to school and I haven’t put gas in my car since September 1st, and I have over half a tank in it now.
7. Put off buying a new camera or computer or other major item. If yours works, use it. Spend money on smaller things like taking a favorite client out to lunch and keeping those connections fresh and positive.
8. Make sure every project has a signed contract with specific payment terms. If your client goes bust you’ll have a hard time collecting no matter what, but you’re more likely to get something if you have great paperwork to back up your claim.
9. If things are slow, take the time to go to museums and refresh your creative spirit. Work on your own work as much as you possibly can. Things will get better and if you have a great new body of work when that happens, you’ll be at the head of the line when the projects start happening again.
10. Remember that a lot of people are hurting already and, sadly, more are likely to. Take some time to be thankful for what you have–tangible and intangible–and to remember that you are an artist and a creative problem-solver. You’ll find a way through this hard part, no matter how hard it gets.
Finally, you are never alone in any of this. The professional groups, online forums, and people like me are all in this with you. As are your clients to some extent. Things will get better–they always do–but it may take some deep breaths before we come out the other side.
Interesting that no one in the photo community has found the Spitzer one to be an issue. After all, I’m sure when he posed for it he never thought it would be used in that way. How shocking that the photographer and, in this case, the magazine itself would take an image from a shoot and manipulate it to make a political message!
And, OMG, look–it has been done to both Obama and McCain in the fist-bump image! How sneaky and unprofessional of the magazine, its editors, and the photographer(s) involved!
Borut Peterlin is a photographer in Slovenia. He is also a user of Digital Railroad and has made a very helpful video to explain what it is, how it works (for him) and all the good/bad sides of it, at least as he sees it after a year of use. His English is quite good and if you have any interest in the subject, I encourage you to check it out.