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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 …
Gotta hand it to my Grandpa. He got Google search, before the invention of the calculator, decades ahead of the internet. My grandfather loved technology, he was an early adopter, before anyone had even coined that phrase.
Granddad – or Vati-Vati as he liked to be called, was an avid inventor and had founded his own company after in Germany after World War II.
He also had a brilliant mind for business and used SEO long before the world-wide web was born. Here’s what he would do:
In the 1950s the preferred “search engine” was a big, fat book with yellow pages in it, where businesses advertised their phone numbers to get new clients.
Every time someone would call his shop, to ask if they offered a specific service, this man’s answer was always yes, even if they didn’t. After he hung up he’d figure out how to solve the customer’s problem and once he’d gotten the solution, he would create a new listing