Quick question

I’m doing a completely informal survey. It’s got only one question:

Name three current US photographers or other professional people related to photography whom you respect, not just creatively (although that should be a factor, sure), but also for something about how they run their business. Doesn’t have to be commercial photographers–can be a fine art photographer, a consultant, a curator, a wedding photographer… any of the above. I’m looking for people whose brains you’d love to pick for whatever reason. For example, maybe you’re not thrilled with Chase Jarvis’ images but you respect how he’s marketing his business (and I’m not picking on Chase–I just needed someone to use as an example). Or maybe you like the advice Luke Copping gives on his blog. Or maybe Heather Elder has your attention.

You can share the list as a comment to this post if you don’t mind it being public, or if you’d like to keep it private between you and me, email me.

This is for a potential advocacy project, so I’d really appreciate any input. Thanks!


The Coke Lesson

I think we can all agree that Coca-Cola is one of the most successful companies in the world. It does a lot right and is definitely worth looking to for some guidance when it comes to running a business. I recently learned something about Coca-Cola that makes me respect the company even more.

The company has and makes a gazillion dollars a year and certainly can afford to give away stuff to promote its business, and it does exactly that. Coca-Cola gives away t-shirts, cups, napkins, glasses… you name it, Coca-Cola can usually be convinced to donate products to charities or to give away at promotional events.

Well, that is they give away everything except for one thing: Coke itself.

Coke, the drink, is the company’s product and Coca-Cola never, ever gives it away. Ever. Why? Because it is the company’s product. The company is wise enough to know that if you give away your product, you reduce its value, and that is bad business. There are a ton of drinks out there. Coca-Cola has plenty of competitors in the market–from Pepsi to small local soft drink makers and beyond. And yet it doesn’t undercut itself by giving away its product.

Think about that the next time someone asks you to make your work for free or, more accurately, asks to use your work for free. Your product is your photography/illustrations/writing or, more specifically for most of you, your product is the licenses you grant that permit your clients to use your work. If you give away the use (or if you lower your price without getting something of value in exchange) you have just devalued your product. You can’t expect a buyer to buy your product (especially not at full price) if you are willing to give it away. Ever.

So, the next guru who says you have to give it away needs to be shown the door. You can give stuff away, but it better not be your product. Give away anything else to build relationships with your clients, but not your product.