Category Archives for "Guest Blog Posts"
Younger generations of workers are now choosing to steer clear from the traditional employer/employee work environment, to a less traditional, freelance career or what some call “micro-entrepreneur”. This trend seems to be a lot more common for the millennial generation. According to research commissioned by the Freelancers Union, 53 million Americans now freelance in some capacity. Of that, 38 percent are millennials, compared to 32 percent of non-millennials (i.e., people over 35).
This choice was the subject of a recent workshop, The Business of Freelancing that took place at Miami International University of Art & Design in collaboration with CollabMiami featuring six panelists from different industries discussing their experiences in making freelance a career choice. The panelists included:
• David Verjano, Social Media Consultant, Verjano Communications, www.verjanocommunications.com
• Amanda Abella – Millenial Financial Expert and Blogger, Make Money Your Honey, www.makemoneyyourhoney.com
• Julio Galindez – DJ and Musician, AtellaGali, www.atellagali.com
• Pascal Depuhl – Photographer and Cinematographer, Photography by Depuhl, www.depuhl.com
• Friks 84 – Callingrapher and Illustrator, www.friks84.com
• George Cuevas – Graphic Designer, Creative Director and CollabMiami Founder, www.georgecuevas.com
Top 10 Freelancing Tips
Read the top freelancing tips we shared on Marcia’s post: “Freelance as a Career Choice“
This article was published on the Miami International University of Art and Design website and is written by Marcia Gomez.
After falling into shooting images on a whim as a teen, Pascal honed his art over a number of years before starting his own company about a decade ago. Now he boasts an impressive lineup of clients, including National Geographic, SeaRay and Mars thanks to constant hard work and dedication to his craft.
We chatted with Pascal about the first big job that launched his career, how he learned to stand out in a saturated industry and the secret sauce for keeping your happy customers coming back for me. [Much of my success has to do with how I use SEO.]
Read on to hear his story!
Name: Pascal Depuhl
Business: Photography by Depuhl
How did you start your business?
I’ve been getting paid for my photography since my late high-school years. I began assisting and apprenticing after college for four years [Read more about that in “This phone call made my career.” BTW a blog post is a great way to use SEO.] and got my first full-time job in 1996, but I only launched my company in 2004. I honestly don’t know what first drew me to photography! I was saving money to buy a mountain bike and ended up walking into a store and picking up a camera instead.
I opened up my own shop out of necessity. I had gotten laid off from two full-time photography jobs in 12 months and didn’t want to have to rely on someone else to earn my livelihood.
Who was your very first customer?
A friend of my dad had an ad agency that needed photos for one of their clients. I was a senior in high school when I got that job, and the budget for the whole thing — including travel expenses, food, lodging, film, processing, my time and equipment — was a little over $1,750 dollars.
My dad’s friend told me he didn’t care how long I stayed in Israel to photograph, as long as I didn’t go over budget. I was there for a month!
When did you know your business was going to work?
I got an unsolicited email from a company that provided a retouching service to photographers. I realized that they found my business online and were looking to sell me their service [To be honest at that time I did not know much about how to use SEO]. I was so excited, because I’d spent absolutely zero money on advertising, yet someone who didn’t know me figured out I was a photographer based on information that was out there online.
Today, what is your most effective means of getting new customers?
Everything I do, from writing a blog to keeping an active social media presence on sites like Instagram and Twitter, from putting on workshops to volunteering and being deeply involved in the local small business community [all good examples of how I use SEO to build my online brand], is done with …
As many of you know, I have been writing this blog for 8 years now, and I also spent many years of my life as Director of Marketing at Lexar dealing with the ins and outs of the memory card business. And in all that time, I have never written a blog about the do’s and don’ts of memory cards. Now that I have left Lexar and not on that side of the business any more, I feel that I can write this objective piece for you without any conflict of interest.
Most people look at a memory card as a piece of plastic or metal, and they don’t think much about them. But inside those covers, there is a LOT of intelligence. There is flash memory, a controller and much more. The quality of that memory and controller often determines the speed and quality of your card.
2. Format your memory cards in your camera, not on your computer. I have seen countless web sites which tell people to format their memory cards on your computer. This is just bad information! You want to format the cards in the camera. And you should do this on the camera your are shooting with. I am currently shooting with the Canon 1DX Mark II, Canon 1DX, Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 5D Mark III, and I format the card in the camera I am using. You are reading this correctly…I do not format in one Canon camera and move it to another. Will they work?
… I usually get an email that reads: “A lead has been assigned to you“. It’s my Customer Relationship Management system’s way of letting me know someone just clicked the <submit> button on the contact form of my website. By this time that prospective client has already received a personalized email response, their information is already captured in SalesForce and I’ve gotten a text message with their phone number all while their usually still on my website.
If I’m not shooting, I’ll take a minute, open the SalesForce app on my phone, which lets me see what kind of photography or video the website visitor is looking to have me create for them and give them a quick call or fire off a second prewritten email.
Attached to the second email is a pdf that answers many of the questions that my clients have asked me over the years. It goes over the basic kinds of product photos, how to make a list of all the shots the client needs, ect.
“Your product photography guide really helped us think through the types and number of shots we needed for our project” one client told me recently.
In addition to the guide they can use my online Request-an-Estimate, another SalesForce integrated form that walks my next client through the basic ASMP Assignment Estimate Form.
Once they’ve worked through the guide and filled out the form, my first phone call usually turns out to be very productive, because many basic questions already have been answered.
With all the information in hand, I can create an estimate, that get’s sent out using a third SalesForce email template. (Check out what an actual estimate of mine looks like.) My estimate always contains a modified version of the ASMP Terms & Conditions, which gets integrated in any proposed agreement the client sends me. Once the estimate is signed and the deposit is received, we schedule the shoot.
Even before that signature I start to build a “Production Book” in
Sure, you can do what everyone else it doing. Or you could try something else. You can market in those tried and true channels or you can rock the boat. If you’re looking to stand out in a very crowded field, here’s how you get your foot in the door.
Before we go any further, there is one thing I want to stress: your work must be solid. You’re pricing must be dead on and your customer service must be top notch. If these things are not firmly in place, you may get that new client, but you won’t keep him. Here we’re taking about how to break through all the noise to reach new clients and that requires you to be different in your marketing.
Who are you as a photographer? More importantly, who do your prospective client perceive you to be? With every interaction, you must put your best foot forward, since you can’t make a first impression for the second time. When a client looks for a visual content creator, they are looking at more than one photographer. How do you stand out from that field? What can give you a leg up?
It’s not just your work – your client is looking at other people who can deliver similar quality.
It’s not just your price – unless you’re interested in a race to the bottom, there’s always someone willing to do it cheaper.
It’s not just your marketing – since we all are on social media, online, …
Before a new clients hire me, they almost always start looking for a generic “photographer” with in a ‘cold’ google search. Once they’ve found my company, it stands out from the rest. How? By hacking the market. By doing things differently, especially by trying things, other photographers say won’t work.
Understand who your perfect client is.Then learn what they are looking for, when they hire a photographer. If you know the answers to these two questions, then you can gear your marketing hacks to help those clients find and book you. Does this approach work? Listen to a recent client talk about her experience:
About a year ago, I wrote “25 marketing hacks for creatives” here on the ASMP blog. Did you try some of these out? They range from the very simple act of mailing a copy of a magazine to an art director (MarketingHack #8) to flying a plane half way around the world for a movie premiere in an airplane hangar (MarketingHack #11).
One thing they all have in common, they are unusual and are all done on a shoe-string budget. Many of these marketing hacks don’t look like your average photographer’s marketing efforts, but that’s just the point. If you’re looking for some more detail on the MarketingHacks that have worked for me, I’ve got a blog post with all the details for each one of the 25+ hacks on my list.
Share your favorite way to hack the market in the comments.
Shakespeare must have been thinking about video editing when he penned the words “Brevity is the soul of wit“. There’s a reason it’s called the “cutting room floor” and not the “‘let’s cram some more content into this video’ room floor”. When you’re editing, you’re trimming individual clips, cutting out whole scenes, shortening, condensing and although it seems counterintuitive, the shorter the piece is that you are working on, the longer it’s going to take to edit it.
Blaise Pascal wrote it in 1657 “I have made this (letter) longer than usual, because I have not had time to make it shorter.” If you’re new to editing, you’ll quickly find that cutting together a video will take much more time, than shooting the footage. Our experience in still photography is often quite the opposite. I just finished a 6 day catalog photo shoot and finished editing, i.E. picking the final images by the next morning. A week later I was shooting 3 days of a multi-month motion project and editing that footage will take me much longer than 3 days.
Even though editing has a pretty steep learning curve, I strongly recommend that you edit your own work, especially when you’re just getting into creating video projects. It’s going to make you a better cinematographer. Fast.
On the other hand I strongly recommend that you work with an experienced video editor, especially when you’re just getting into creating video projects. It’s going to make you a better editor. Fast.
I remember coming back from filming my first corporate documentary film in Afghanistan in 2012. I shoot for 2 and a half weeks and had planned on spending a week to edit the movie. Just for the record, it ended up taking me a longer. Much longer. However editing the footage myself, really helped me understand which shots I had missed or screwed up, where I had to abandon ideas, because of a non-existent camera angles or bad takes I had not retaken in the field. Those realizations are painful, but I won’t be making the same mistakes again.
Collaborate with professional editors – it’ll make you a better editor
I also send pieces of the short film to friends of mine–experienced film industry pros–and the feedback I got from them was sometimes painful, but I learned a lot in a very short time.
One email was especially painful. It came from a seasoned Hollywood director friend of mine and begins with the words: “Ok. If you’ll notice the time you may give some thought to how much you’re loved and appreciated. For both expediency and brevity’s sake I’m not going to perfume my words…“
Then it goes into 3 pages of non-perfumed words, ripping apart every scene I’d lovingly cut together. Telling me (in no uncertain terms) where there was significant room for improvement. Honestly I did not feel happy when I read that email for the first time. Or the second time. But when I finally re-edited the film following his suggestions, they made the movie a million times better. A printout of his email sits on my desk and I reread it from time to time.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: Edit your video. Then cut out half of the footage. Once you’ve done that, congratulate yourself and cut it again by half. Now you’re in the ballpark of how long your motion piece should be. Brevity is the soul of wit, especially when it comes to editing.
If you’re looking for a great book on editing, check out “In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, by Walter Murch” it’s basically the Film Editors bible. Brand new to video? Check out Pascal’s talk at WordCamp Miami “How to step up your video” and learn about story, sound, visuals and edit.
[This post was originally published on the American Society of Media Photographers ‘Strictly Business’ blog.]
With every passing year, it seems clients are expecting more and more from their photographers, which means we may need a lesson in productivity. Kat Dalager (@3etheLTAgency) goes even further and foresees the change of the very word photographer in her “Predictions for 2016“:
“The word ‘photographer’ will change. Maybe it will be ‘image maker’ or ‘content maker’ or ‘capturer.’ Whatever it is, it will reflect the expanded capabilities of the role.”
I agree with her and believe that in order to embrace the ever-increasing roles we find ourselves pushed into, we must become exceedingly efficient in our productivity. 2016 will be the year, where I take that productivity to the next level, integrating the technology, cloud based services, apps and automation software I use in my business.
Here are 11 tools that help me, solve my productivity puzzle:
The backbone for this virtual productivity is SalesForce – the CRM that’s been running my business for over 7 years now. Every account, contact and job lives in this cloud based service [learn more about SalesForce here: “I got my head in the cloud (along with all my data)“].
This year is the year where this automation will get flushed out. I’m already using the amazing integration between Evernote and SalesForce, which allows me to attach all job related records automatically. Now any creative brief, handwritten note, job estimate, permit, release, receipt, rental agreement, … is tagged with a job number in Evernote and appears in the digital job folder in SalesForce as if by Magic.
Every job, event and task that get entered in SalesForce automatically creates a counterpart in Asana, via Zappier. Asana is my project management software, where I can split up a job in an actionable To Do list. Every contact that’s added on my phone is automatically entered in SalesForce via IFTTT (IfThisThenThat). Zapier and IFTTT are two amazing automation softwares that enable you to use apps and cloud based services to stay productive.