Dec 012016
 
Read the fine print

Read the fine print

I recently was hired to create photographs and video for a client. We agreed on number of images and video I was to create in which time for what amount of money, subject to a joint usage agreement. OK. No problem so far. Then I got the agreement and read the fine print.

Here’s what the proposed contract read:

An example of bad fine print

This job was bid out for a specific number of images and videos. This wording in the fine print says I will turn over every photo I take and every frame of footage I capture at the end of the job for future use and on top of that, I will transfer all rights to the client.

Don’t be afraid to say no (in a very nice way)

If you’re in a situation like this, how do you handle this request? Here’s what I did: I went and rewrote the fine print of the agreement, changing the language to grant the client unlimited and exclusive usage to the images a final videos we’re creating for them, which is exactly what they need. I added a line that I may use the material licensed to them for self promotional purposes and that all other usage would need written authorization from the client.

Then I submitted the reworded agreement. I received an email asking for clarification on some other issues, that had nothing to do with the usage, reworked the agreement’s fine print again and received a signed copy today.

Here’s the point I’m trying to make: Just because you’re dealing with a big client, don’t be afraid to negotiate the terms with them. It never hurts to ask. I know many photographers that would have signed the first contract, saying “Oh, well it’s just the way that CLIENT does business and if I want the job, I’ll need to play by their rules.”

Suggest solutions – don’t point out problems

Sure, I could have pointed out why this doesn’t seem fair, but that usually gets you nowhere. Instead submitting a fair change to the agreement, which now reflects what we had talked about in the first conversations gets you much further. Realize that many big companies have boiler plate language in their agreements that may totally not apply to your project. An agreement is a starting point to negotiate from, not the end. And if it is the end remember you always have the right to walk away from the job, before you sign on the dotted line, but never ever neglect to read (and change) the fine print.

Remember:

Please take the time to read the agreements you’re asked to work under and don’t assume that they were crafted specifically for your project.

Have your own terms and conditions (your part of the fine print) in place and send them to the client with the first document describing scope, time or cost. I don’t send out an estimate without attaching mine, with this job it won’t be my terms and conditions, but the agreement that we’ve crafted together.

Look for a win for both parties and stick to your guns.

No, really it’s ok to turn down work (sometimes you actually have to)

Who isn’t excited about a 5 figure job?

I’ve been working on producing a 5 figure job over the past few weeks, that I was referred to by a friend of mine. Everything looked great, every discussion I had with the client was promising. They liked my work. They were happy with the budget. They were in agreement with the conditions for the job, which we had defined in the fine print of our terms and conditions. They had the money for the 50% deposit. Everything was going smoothly, until

Nov 292016
 
You can buy this piece of Search History on ebay.
Kind of a precursor to search (if you wanted to find a result to a simple math problem).

Decades before Google search Granddad had one of these beasts on his desk (Image: Wikipedia)

My Grandpa mastered Search Engine Optimization 75 years ago!

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:

How SEO worked in the 50s

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 

Jun 232016
 
Productivity with a Post-It note

Productivity is a must as every Small Business Owner wear many hats: sales rep, customer service rep, accountant, ect. Fortunately there is a ton of great software to help us do all those jobs, but we still have to create all the digital assets necessary to use these apps, services and websites productively.

The Problem with Productivity

Setting up a digital workflow is only as good as the information you put into it and -especially when things get hectic- it’s easy to miss setting things up correctly.

In my workflow as a product photographer is use
Evernote to organize and store all digital documents – creative briefs, model releases, estimates, permits, notes, ect.

SalesForce is my Customer Service Management service of choice. It keeps tracks of accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, expenses, ect. and links automatically to Evernote, Expensify and Trello.

I’ve just started using
Trello to give me a clear picture of all current projects and tasks and Expensify builds expense reports easily and quickly, that I then import into QuickBooks.

Solving the Productivity Puzzle

Productivity via Post-It notesHow do I remember to add a Note and Tag in Evernote, that will help you organize a new job? Then there’s the opportunity that I have to setup in SalesForce if I want a bin, that will collect and correlate all information I need to have at my fingertips; a new list needs to be created on Trello and the expense report need to be created in Expensify.

Don’t laugh, but a little Post-It note does all that for me. Automatically.

I use Evernote to get this process rolling:

  • Pink Post-It’s are leads. That’s potential clients who have reached out to me and are inquiring about having product photography and/or video creates.
  • Yellow Notes are opportunities. These are the projects where I’m meeting with clients, pitching ideas and creating estimates.
  • Green Sticky Notes are jobs. Deposits are, production has started and we’re creating amazing visual content.
  • (There’s a blue note as well, but I don’t use that for my business)

The yellow Post-It kicks it off

As soon as I capture a yellow Post-It note, Evernote saves it in my opportunities notebook automatically (Evernote lets you assign notebooks based on the colors of the notes). All I do is save the note named with the job number associated with this opportunity.

Zapier takes over

As soon as that note gets saved, Zapier takes over and creates a SalesForce opportunity with the job number (which it gets from Evernote), builds a new Trello list with the same job number, captures an expense in Expensify tagged with that identifier (I hope that soon it can create a report), creates an Evernote tag – which will be used to be able to search all documents about that job and finally sends me a SMS to my phone. Done. That was not hard.

At the end of the day one photo of this Post-It Note creates all the digital assets I use in my day-to-day workflow.

How do you solve your productivity puzzle?


[Wanna learn more about how I use apps, web services and applications to run a more productive small business?]

Jan 222016
 

Master your productivity with 11 amazing tools

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:

Salesforce & Evernote

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.

Asana, Zapier & IFTTT

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.

Nov 242015
 
Cloud based business

How much more productive would you be, if you could …

…automatically answer every online contact request with a branded, personalized email from your company and get an alert to new inquiries via text, email and SMS from the cloud?

…enter each business card you’re handed into your cloud based address book and automatically pull in data from the card owner’s LinkedIn profile?

… see the last activity you had scheduled with that person, the client account associated with him or her and have the personal contact info from your cloud based client database on your screen when you look up a client on LinkedIn?

… automatically trigger the creation of a digital job folder,  add a customized to-do list (based on how you go from prospect to client) to your calendar and create a blank production book in the cloud when a client sends you a job request?

… store all emails, call notes, marketing efforts, past invoices, payments and briefs pertaining to a client account in the cloud, accessible from anywhere in the world?

… control image delivery to your client from your smart phone?

… create an expense report in the cloud just by photographing a receipt?

Sounds to good to be true? Welcome to your business in the cloud.

Def: Cloud based business, means that your data is stored in with an online service. That can be a photograph you are delivering to your client via Photoshelter, contact information for a prospect stored in SalesForce or your production book from the last job including all releases, insurance info and crew details in Evernote

There are lots of systems you can choose from.  Here’s how I use mine…

Cloud based SalesForce CRMMy day begins with my head in the cloud (literally)

The first tab that opens in my web browser is my SalesForce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System: the heart of my cloud business. It aggregates all client info – some automatically, some from other applications or web services – into one place.

More than just a calendar and address book app, it links everything together, so my client’s personal cell phone number from last year is at my fingertips and I can easily see the last estimate I sent them while I’m on the phone talking about our upcoming project. The digital documents don’t have to be stored in SalesForce – in my case, I use Evernote. 

SalesForce – the center of my cloud universe

SalesForce leads the cloud based CRM space.Here are three channels I use to capture new leads into my SalesForce client database:

The contact form on my website

When a prospective client fills out the contact form on my website, they are actually entering their data into SalesForce, which then sends them an automated personalized email response and notifies me that I have a new lead. All this info is accessible via the web interface or an app on my phone (Read more about it on this Strictly Business article: Quick Tip – Automate).

The subscription button on my blog

I use a MailChimp plugin on my WordPress blog to send all subscriber information straight to SalesForce. That plugin also sends email updates to my subscribers when I publish a new blog post and maintains my mailing list. All day, every day. Don’t have to think about it.

Business cards

I take a photo of the card, Scannable reads the card, saves it to the address book on my phone (pulling in any information that’s not printed on the card from the person’s LinkedIn profile) and adds my new contact to SalesForce. All in about 30 seconds. (Find a link to watch a real-time business card scan at the end of this post).

This photo lives in my Evernote cloud

Aug 012015
 
today's phones produce stunning videos

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…

 

You’ve worked with a range of different small businesses to tell their stories in video. What are your go-to ideas or themes that work best?

The #1 thing you want to express in your video is the *why.* Why is your product the best? Why is your service better? Why is your small business the right choice for a potential customer or client?Once you nail the “why,” everything else will fall into place.
The story that comes out of the answers to these questions is the backbone of your video. That story is always simple:
  • Identify a problem your customer has
  • Show why your business offers the best solution
  • Finish with a call to action
I always start by putting myself in my audience’s shoes: What do they need that I can offer? Or, do I need to explain something new to them? If it’s necessary, how can I change their mind?
Do they want to hear from another customer? Make a testimonial video featuring one of your star customers.
Do they need to hear from an expert? Shoot an interview.
Do they need to experience your location? Take them behind the scenes with a guided video tour.
Do they want to learn how your service works? Film a short tutorial.
Remember, a good story will keep customers watching. A bad one (or worse, no story at all) and your viewers will drop like flies.
 

I know I want to tell a compelling story with my video, but I don’t want to leave anything to chance. What is the quickest way for me to create a script before I start filming?

Good luck on not leaving anything to chance! Actually, you want chance — unless you’re filming a movie with professional actors. Your video should be real. If you script what a client says in a testimonial, it’s gonna sound canned.
That being said, it is important — scratch that, it is *vital* — to plan. The good news is you’ve already started. You’ve figured out the problem your customer has, why your small business offers the best solution and how to convince the potential client to take action. You also know if you’re creating a testimonial, a behind-the-scenes tour or a tutorial.
Write out interview questions that you think will give you the answers you need for your story. Sketch out the order in which you want to walk through a behind-the-scenes tour, or lay out the steps you are going to cover in your tutorial.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. A few notes jotted down or a few stick figures in a story board will go a long way in keeping you on track. Don’t forget to also consider the location where you’ll be filming.

I only have a smartphone that can record video. Is that good enough for creating my video, or do I need to invest in expensive equipment first?

Story trumps equipment. Period. Every time. Always.
A great story shot on an iPhone is much better than