Archive for August, 2011

Finally, it’s here!

Friday, August 26th, 2011

For those of you patient folks who use an Android-based phone, now you too can have my brain in your pocket, without the squishy mess. The BAP2Go app is now available in the Android market. As with the iPhone version, it is currently priced at $39.99 ($20 off its usual price).

Now every month you can get new Creative Lube podcasts as well as the Manuals and blog posts and additional content as I make it, at no additional cost.

Thanks again for your patience!

Crowdfunding info

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

In case you don’t follow my blog on the legal stuff and if you have any interest in crowdfunding, I suggest you read about the possible tax implications over on burnstheattorney.com. Don’t get caught with your fiscal pants down.

Working Discipline

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

I work out of a home office, as many of you do. For many people, this makes for a more relaxed and unstructured attitude about work–unfortunately, this can be dangerous for your business. Although creative people generally say they don’t like structure and discipline, the reality is that they do in some areas and, more importantly, that structure and discipline can actually improve their creativity. Getting sloppy about work can hurt more than you might expect. Adding some structure can actually liberate your creativity, if for no other reason than you won’t have to think so much about doing the non-creative stuff.

I’m not saying you need to get up and put on a suit and be a jerk. I don’t do any of that and I’m now a lawyer too, remember (where “jerk” is often included in the job description!). I am saying that there are certain things that are good to “ritualize” about your work and that by doing so, you’ll free up your creative mind to be more creative.

So, here’s my list of “rules” for working for yourself, especially if you work out of your home:

  1. Have a specific space that is your office. This is best when it is its own room, with a door, but at the very least have a desk and chair (and shelves, etc.) in one place and use that space for your office work. I have a separate room–it’s actually the larger room of my 2 bedroom home because I only need to sleep in my bedroom but spend so much conscious time in my office that it is best for it to be a good, comfortable space.
  2. Set working hours and stick to them. Okay, you are going to have to work late/early some days, but it’s a lot rarer than you think, especially on non-shoot days. Generally, set your working time and try not to work more than that. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll get done when you know you have to be done by (say) 5:30pm and how the world won’t end if you don’t get everything done and leave it for the next day.
  3. Every day you work from home (that is, you’re not out shooting), go to work like you are going to a “real” job. It is a real job and you should respect that. No working in your jammies. Get up, get dressed, and go to work, on time. And go home (that is stop working) on time too.
  4. If you have others in your home (kids, partner), ban them from your office during business hours. No, I’m not kidding. You can take breaks and go grab a cuppa with your love or play with the kids (briefly–like a coffee break), but they must respect that you are working a real job during your business hours and need to be distraction-free.
    4(a). Animals are generally good to have in the office, though, according to studies.
  5. Do not work during your non-business time. If you set your business hours to be 9am – 6pm, then don’t check your phone, return calls, work on your biz blog, whatever before or after that. When you are not “on the clock” you can improve your work brain by not working (this is particularly true for your creative brain). Also, your love/kids deserve your full attention when you are with them–be present. Besides, you deserve (and physically need) the break of not working when you are off the clock.
  6. When you are at work, work. Pick a task and do it, then pick another task and do it, etc. I find I’m most productive if I make a list of tasks at the end of the day that I need to take care of the next day–I do this on an index card, by hand. In the morning, I look at that list and add items (occasionally delete one or two) to work on that day. As I do each task, I cross it off. At the end of the day, I have the satisfaction of a bunch of crossed-off items. Anything I didn’t get done goes on the next day’s card and this day’s goes in the recycling as I head out of the office.
  7. Ritualize certain tasks that are part of your office work. For example, make Monday morning your bookkeeping time and do all your financial stuff during that time, every week. As always, if you get a booking for that day, move the bookkeeping to the next day, but generally do it at the same time every week. This goes for things like making “cold” calls, too–same bat-time, same bat-day, every week.
  8. Ritualize something creative-related too. For example, make Thursday afternoons “brainstorm for self-assignments” time. I like what this entrepreneur does–you could do something similar.
  9. If you use your laptop (iPad, whatever) “after hours” for Facebooking or the like, take it out of your office for that. 
    8(a). Blogging for your biz blog is part of your job. Tweeting, Facebooking, etc., might be, depending on how you are using the tool. For example, my FB biz page is work, my personal FB is just me, although I will admit that my general @LeslieBAP twitter is a mélange (@BurnsTheLawyer is definitely work-only, though). There is some grey in the social media world, but you can tell what is work when you think about it–do that during your work time.
  10. Let go. You always have work to do. Always. There is always research on new clients or bills to pay or filing to do or something. You will never have it all done. So, stop working at the end of your work day and leave the work until your next work day–the world will not end and you will not magically go out of business overnight.

The more you ritualize your work, the non-creative part of your work, I mean, the more you free your creative mind to work at its peak creative efficiency. You owe yourself that.

Facing Fears

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I just did a podcast on this topic (if you have the BAP2Go app, you have it there) but I wanted to let readers in on part of this too. I’ve written and spoken out on fear and how it holds you back, several times, because it’s a biggie. We all have things we need to do but we avoid doing out of fear.

For many of you, business-wise, that thing is making “cold” calls. This is really too bad, because they are a crucial part of your marketing (and they aren’t really “cold” since you’re sending promos and emails, etc., right?). Maybe you are okay with calls, but you get the cold sweats at the thought of showing your book in person. Maybe you don’t even have a book because that way you can’t ever have to show it. Or maybe you are terrified of asking a slow payer to pony-up.

Whatever it is that you are afraid of, you have to do one thing to get better: you have to do whatever it is you fear. Avoidance actually makes the fear worse–you have to just do whatever it is, grit your teeth and do.

I am facing this reality personally: I have booked my first flight in decades. Many of you know I’m terrified of flying, but I’m going to do it, drug-free, in a couple of weeks. Time to get past this irrational phobia. I’m using tools to help get me past my fears, like breathing exercises and an iPhone app put out by Virgin Atlantic, and I encourage others facing fears to find tools to help too. But when you get down to it, one still must do that which is so scary.

So, as I said in the podcast, here’s the deal: if I’m going to fly again, you can to do whatever it is that scares the bejeezus out of you in your business. We’ll both face something really scary together. I bet we’re both better on the other side.

Catching up

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

There are a gazillion things going on these days in photography, business, the law, and, well, my life. I’ve been a bit bad about keeping you all informed on this blog so here is a quickie attempt to catch up, just a bit.

1) I am moving (yes, again) on Monday 8/15 and so will likely be offline and unavailable for that day at least. I’m hoping to be up-and-running soon after, however.

2) The BAP Oil Change is currently on sale! $75 off this service. Using your online list service account (like Adbase or Agency Access) I will build lists for you, filling them with highly targeted people and companies. Because the lists are better targeted, they’ll increase the efficiency of your marketing. Contact me for more information on this and all my services.

3) Twitter now has its own photo service. I don’t like it because it contracts with Photobucket to provide the service. Twitter’s ToS aren’t horrible, but Photobucket’s are. Twitter is trying to say their ToS apply, but I’m not so sure there isn’t a scary backdoor there. Better to do what I keep suggesting: keep your work on your own servers and post links instead.

4) Google+ seems to be foundering a bit. I know for me at least, I’m not liking it more and more. I’m hearing this from others although many photographers, especially in the fine art realm, seem to love it. Basically, don’t look for me much there. I’ve got enough with Facebook & Twitter and this blog and my legal site, etc.

5) I’ll soon have a big announcement for APA-San Diego members, over on my legal services site. Stay tuned over there for that.

6) I’m considering adding a new service (yes, for a fee) where small groups of photographers and I would have monthly phone/Skype meetings. We could discuss marketing and business issues in a supportive environment, share what works, what flops, give assignments, and encourage each other. If you have any interest in this, please let me know.

7) The Android version of my BAP2Go app is ready and will be available soon. I’m waiting on one thing and then it will be submitted and available! Look for an announcement about that very soon!

Okay, that’s a bit of a catch up. Thanks for your patience.

Fine Art v Commercial and the Viability of Free

Monday, August 1st, 2011

On the Telegraph (UK) site there is an article by a photography professor where he extolls the virtues of the CC license and giving away work for free. These articles invariably tick me off because they get shared in the photo community and people hold them up as examples of how Free can help their businesses.

Here is the big problem with that: the Free model only works (when it does at all) for fine art photographers. It simply will not and does not work for commercial ones.

Why? Simple: fine art photographers make their money by selling objects (mostly)–prints of their works. They don’t license use (at least not at first, maybe later if they make it), but rather sell the object with their image on it, an object that someone hangs in her/his office or living room.

If you have something else to sell as the basis for your business, you can give away lots of licenses for free and it won’t negatively affect you. You want word-of-mouth so that others will want to buy your things, your objects. Generating interest by giving away your work to be used for free on blogs, etc., is potentially a very good form of advertising for you. Yes, Free in this world, the fine art world, can work.

BUT, if your business is all about the image itself and NOT the object, then you are screwed if you give it away. You have nothing left if you give away your licenses. That includes using CC licenses (which strip you of the ability to EVER license a work with any kind of exclusivity–yes, even if you use CC non-commercial of some flavor).

You have nothing left to sell.

So, next time you hear about someone extolling the virtues of Free, look at what s/he is really selling. If that person is successful, you can bet they aren’t giving away whatever it is that is making her/him successful.