Category Archives for "Guest Blog Posts"
One of the mistakes I’ve made in my career is to rely exclusively on my images to get me booked. That may have worked in the past, but as I get ready to push my business this fall, I know my clients want to see more than just pretty photographs.
I’ve quoted this before, but it’s so valuable I’ll mention it again–Heather Elder* (@heathereldersf) creator of Notes From a Rep’s Journal said “The bottom line is that relying solely on your imagery to speak for you has become dangerous. Adding your voice to that imagery is as dangerous, but for everyone else, not you.” That sounds great, but how on earth do I add my voice to an image?
Clients – at least the ones in the B2B space that I’m working with – are looking for more than just an image: they want a photographer who has a strong Social Media presence, one who understands how small businesses market themselves online, one who is recommended by his/her clients and who takes them behind the scenes of productions he’s worked on. On top of all that they expect award-winning photography and video productions.
With this in mind I’ve started to create integrated marketing campaigns, which focus on a very specific group of people but are executed across a very broad range of media:
The target of your campaign is your website. Everything should bring your client to a homepage that proves to a potential customer one thing only: you are capable of producing the job for them. And how they can contact you (check out how to automate that first customer contact). OK, so that’s two things, but you know what I mean. Does the first image your visitor sees on your site tie into your marketing?
Yes – physical good old-fashioned postcards. With all the emails, Facebook messages, PMs, videos, texts and SMS’s we get today it’s easy to drown in a sea of electronic messages.
How do you compete against this onslaught? Go old school (with a twist): send a handwritten postcard. Clients appreciate knowing that they weren’t part of an automated campaign, filled in with their <FIRST NAME> <LAST NAME> and thanking them for the opportunity to bid on a photography job for <THEIR COMPANY>. A handwritten than gets noticed.
So where’s the twist I mentioned earlier? Well on the back of the postcard is a link that goes to a landing page with the same image, a client testimonial video and a contact form that integrates with my CRM along with all the automation that comes with it. This page continues into a blog series about this shoot, that details how I estimated the job, pre-produced and scouted the job and how the job actually got photographed. (For a more detailed explanation of how the physical postcard gets integrated with my cloud-based CRM, check out this weeks #MarketingHack #17: Link your postcards to the cloud!
The sky is really the limit on how far you want to take it – social media memes, customer video testimonials, organic Facebook campaigns, winning photo contests, behind the scenes videos, online recommendations on LinkedIn, periscope live broadcasts… All these pieces of content make up the voice you need to promote your small business today. How many more channels can you think of that this image could be integrated into? I’m trying to hit a narrow audience in the broadest possible way.
That’s the $64,000 dollar question, isn’t it? As you can imagine a lot of work goes into creating an integrated marketing campaign. “What’s your ROI?” you might ask. Well, let’s look at one example. In this case, I entered a professional photography contest hosted by the Florida Guild of Professional Photographers because winning an award gives me another reason to showcase my work to my target audience, even if they’ve already seen the image before. Here’s my investment:
The real secret is to cross promote these channels: the postcard leads to the landing page with the video testimonial; the news of the award sparks the curiosity of how the image was created and goes to the “how to” blog series; the periscope live broadcast builds excitement before the photograph is even produced (and lives as evergreen
content on the blog); the LinkedIn recommendation causes someone to check out your profile and leads to another visitor to your website… You don’t have to create a linear campaign, where step 2 follows step 1. Someone can enter this integrated marketing campaign at any point and go to almost any other channel to get more info.
As I’m getting ready to come out of the slower summer months and gearing up for a busy fall, a marketing campaign like this can drive the visibility I’m looking for and ensure that new (and repeat) clients are hearing the voice I’m adding to my imagery.
(This post first was written for and published by the American Society of Media Photographer’s strictly business blog.)
Story is the most important part of any video. Great story trumps great visuals, amazing audio or an intricate edit every time. As a photographer you’ve been a visual storyteller for as long as you’ve captured still images, so I’m not gonna waste your time on how to craft visual content that tells a compelling story designed to change the viewers mind.
(If you want to learn more about that kind of story telling check out Alex Buono’s Visual Story Telling Tour that’s running through September 20th – don’t forget yourASMP member discount – or check out the How to Step Up Your Video talk I gave at WordCamp Miami this past May.)
I believe the philosophy behind creating a powerful visual story is simple. It consists of three basic steps that, when followed, make your story irresistible. These three ingredients are simple to learn, yet difficult to execute. I discovered them when creating my first documentary in Afghanistan, shared them in my TEDx talk called The Art of Changing Minds and try to incorporate them into all of my video productions:
Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others – Jonathan Swift
Without vision you have no story. Without vision you are literally flying blind. How are you going to tell a story, if you don’t know how it ends, where it begins and what twists and turns there will be along the way? By the way, it was Aristotle who wrote that every story has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Your vision is imperative to transform your viewer. Without vision it’s the blind leading the blind. True vision can not be manufactured, it has to transform you first.
(As an aside, if all you have is vision – you’re a just dreamer. Someone with a great idea, who’s afraid of going out on a limb with his or her idea. You need the next step to get the driving force to help you get your dream off the ground.)
If you don’t have a passion for what you do, any rational person is going to give up – Steve Jobs
Without passion your story is dull, boring, uninteresting and lame. Without passion your story is a carbon copy of someone else’s at best–a counterfeit clone at worst. How are you going to excite your audience, if you’re not sharing something that you deeply believe in? More importantly, where are you gonna get the strength to deal with the people who will discourage you from telling your story without having that fire in your belly? It’s easy to give up if all you hear is “No!” – unless you have passion driving your vision.
Your passion is vital to inspire your audience. Without passion you’re producing a story that’s gonna put everyone to sleep. True passion can not be faked. Passion has to inspire you first, before it inspires your audience.
(As an aside, if you have passion, without vision – you’re like a bull in a china shop. There’s a lot of noise, but nothing good is gonna come out of it. Shoot first and ask questions later does not work.)
Your aspirations are in heaven, but your brains are in your feet – Afghan proverb
Without action your story is going to die. I don’t care how transforming your vision is and how inspirational your passion is; without taking action, you will fail. It’s as simple as that. Without action your story never gets told and an untold story is worth as much as an unprocessed piece of film.
Your action inspires, or breathes life into, your story. Without action your story remains lifeless and dead. It stays buried inside your head or entombed in some dusty screenplay or faded storyboard, that’s never gonna get shared. Great stories need you to get your head out of the clouds and get going.
The August 7 deadline for sharing a 90-second (or less) video about your business as part of our ongoing Small Business Big Game contest is right around the corner — and it’s an amazing opportunity to showcase who you are and why you love running the show as a small business owner or self-employed professional.
But what if you’re not sure where to start?
We tapped OWN IT member and professional cinematographer Pascal Depuhl to share with us his top tips for creating a video you can be proud of — even if you only have a smartphone on hand.
Read on for Pascal’s great tips…
A great story shot on an iPhone is much better than
Sunday afternoon a little after 2 pm, I get one of my favorite emails: “A new lead has been assigned to you.” Which is how my CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software lets me know that a potential client has inquired about working with me through the online contact form on my website. If you own your own company you know that every single request for a photo shoot is like a job interview.
You know the rest of the drill: a couple of emails and phone calls to get all the details of the shoot, how many photos, usage, scope of production, etc. Estimates are written, dates are set and preparations are made. Ten days later I confirm the shoot date and am looking forward to another happy client.
Then I get my least favorite email first thing in the morning on the following Wednesday: “I’m sorry, the plans have been canceled.” Rejection. Remember that this can mean anything, project got axed, client’s needs changed, their business partners had other ideas or – like in this case – he’s found a cheaper photographer.
How do you react? Do you demand your deposit anyway? Call the client and let him have it over the phone? Do nothing? Cut your rate? Curl up into a ball and cry? I’ve not found that any of these solutions work particularly well. Usually what I’ll do is write a nice and polite email response, thanking the client for considering me to create his photographs and (almost always) I will contact them down the road.
In this case, though, I get a phone call at 10 am the following Monday (the day we had originally scheduled the shoot): “Are you available to shoot now?”
Change seems to be the only constant in photographer’s life. As a freelance visual content creator I constantly find myself learning new trades, new marketing techniques, new equipment, new technologies, …
Case in point: If you would have told me a few years ago, that I was going to be filming a documentary in Afghanistan, I would have not believed you. At all. That was just not gonna happen – not the working in Afghanistan part, but the shooting video part. Well, guess what, I changed. Today I actively look for change, trying to stay ahead of it.
So I love change – and if you create photographs for a living, so should you. Change keeps you sharp. Over the 20+ years in my photographic career, I’ve changed many times.
Check out the article I wrote on Strictly Business, the blog of the American Society of Media Photographers, on some of the changes I’ve gone through in the last 20 years of my career called “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” You’ll learn why change is not only good, it’s necessary.
I just spoke about sound in my “How to step up your video” at WordCamp Miami. “Sound” I said “is more important than visuals“–especially to us photographers. We want to make video look pretty, which means sound often come a distant second. Actually I believe the most important thing in video is story, because without a good story, you’ve got nothing, zip, nada, but I digress.
We often dismiss sound over sight, but sound adds richness to a movie. Do this experiment – watch a movie for 5 minutes on mute and the next 5 minutes with your eyes closed, but the sound playing. Which sense enabled you to follow the story line easier? In general I’d argue hearing. If you’ve been photographing for any length of time, you’ve got the visual part of video down anyway.
Check out the article I wrote on Strictly Business, the blog of the American Society of Media Photographers, on audio for photographers called “Listen to this!” You’ll learn how come I absolutely love sound guys, why you should wash out your ears, why I record everything twice and what the biggest technical problem is when capturing audio with DSLRs.
Check out this case study on sound with some cool actual audio recordings of doing it right (and not so right), while interviewing pilots in flight above Afghanistan and why the most important piece of equipment for video has nothing to do with video.
…unless you get to work with people that are better than –or at least equal to– you.
“Sounds like fortune cookie wisdom” you say “if the person you want to team up with is better than you, why on earth would they want to collaborate with you? If you’re not paying them, what’s in it for them?” Good question. I’ll answer that in a second.
Collaboration with the absolute best is vital in all stages of our careers as photographers. From the assistant, who wants to learn from the masters of our trade; the brand new studio owner, who is looking for a mentor to the seasoned professional, who focuses on expanding into a new market.
We must strive to collaborate with the best. When I was assisting in the late 80’s I wanted to work with photographers of the caliber of a Richard Avedon. What was in it for Richard Avendon work with me? In his own words: “one of the hottest New York assistants.” I ended up freelancing for him for 2 years.
Collaboration with the best is especially important through all stages of a project. You may need help landing your dream client, so you collaborate with …