Photography4Profit

Use your camera & photographs to earn cash

Tag: Photographers

PROFIT: Keep the Peaks, Lose the Valleys

Several years ago, I was attending the Regional Convention of the Mid-East States Professional Photographers Association. I was scheduled to give a presentation on how advertising and promotion were related to profit.  It was always a great time to get together with old friends and fellow photographers.

One evening while enjoying an adult beverage, a photographer sat next to me and asked if he could ask a question.

“Sure, go ahead,” I replied.

“Do you have constant cash flow all year long?” he asked.

“Yes, pretty much,” was my answer. “I mean, I have periods that are slower than others, but I generate enough business that I can pay my bills, my employees, and myself all year long.”

“Wow, that would be GREAT–it seems like I can barely pay the rent after the Christmas season is over! How do you do it?” he asked me.

“Well, I have a promotion schedule in place. Every month of every year, there is a promotion…sometimes two. It helps eliminate the ‘feast-or-famine’ situation so many studios find themselves in.” I told him I was giving a presentation and he would benefit from attending. Even though it was early, he said he would.

This photographer’s situation is far from unique. It seems like after we have finished the busy season, we all have a natural tendency to let down. You know, coast…take it easy. And that’s not good. When the camera room is “dark” we are losing profit.

Profit: Keep The Peaks

Here is how most photographers work: they start off a little slow. Then, they get busy. In fact, they are so busy they can’t do anything but keep up with the influx of business. But an event comes along that triggers a slow down. It might be a change of season if you live in a resort town that depends on tourists. It may be the beginning of school if you are a high school senior grad photographer. Conversely, if you are an undergrad photographer, you are just ramping up for your busy season. So not all photographers have the same business peaks.

I hesitate to use the word “secret,” because it is so over-used, but here it is anyway: the secret to eliminating the rollercoaster ride of “high season/low season-itis” is to develop a promotion strategy.

As this is written, my studio would have finished our blitz campaign to nail down prom photography contracts, which we usually worked on from January through early March. We would be preparing for our Easter promotion, where we photographed children with lambs, bunnies, or baby chicks (depending on what my daughter felt like wrangling that season).

After that, we would be advertising our Spring Special.

After that, we would be advertising a High School Senior Reorder Special along with a 50% off all frames sale.

Then after that, our “Last Chance High School Senior Special.” This was for the kids that didn’t think they were going to graduate, but the principal stopped them in the hallway and said, “I don’t know how you did it, and I don’t care how you did it, but it looks like you’re going to make it after all and you won’t be my problem next year!”

Next was the Cap & Gown Portrait Special, which was then immediately followed by the “Photograph the Family Before They Go Off to College” Special. We were also selecting and photographing our Senior Ambassadors for the next crop of Seniors. These were our walking billboards. Some principals were [insert your choice of expletive here] and would prohibit our Ambassadors from handing out literature…but they couldn’t do a damn thing to keep the kids from showing their portfolio of portraits to all of their friends during study hall, lunch, and other breaks.

We did an Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day portrait offer at the local Country Club every year. It didn’t hurt that I was a member. You mean I worked on Easter? Yep. It was just a couple of hours, and I normally saw about $4,000 for that couple of hours work. Then my wife and I would have our family come to the club for Easter Dinner. It was great.

After that, it was High School Senior Portrait time, along with the wedding season, and I worked 9 days a week. Well, at least it seemed like I did. That kept us at full speed until school started in September.

Now, our mornings and early afternoons were empty…for a little bit. We took a brief respite, then advertised our $9 session special: your high school senior portrait session was just $9…any one you wanted…just as long as you came in between 9 AM and 1 PM any weekday. That means Saturday was the regular price you betcha!

After the seniors slowed down, we did some nursery schools and some undergrad work. We did a fall special, a Halloween Special, and then it was time to advertise our Christmas Special. On a few Thanksgivings, I did family portraits for a few families who had far-flung families who hadn’t been together in a long time due to the distance. The $500 session fee made it worth it. Yes, I have photographed families on Christmas Day, same situation, different session fee: $750 (keep in mind this was quite a few years ago).

We took a few days break but we were busy after Christmas photographing families who were together at the Christmas break. On New Year’s Eve, I was back at, you guessed it, the Country Club, taking prom-type portraits for the crowd. We didn’t have to work too long. You had to make sure the portraits were taken while the guests were still able to stand for them.

This pretty much took us through January. We ran a copy and restoration special in February and March, and Gee, where did the time go? It was time to start all over again.

This worked smoothly. My local newspaper ad salesman got to the point where he didn’t ask me if I was GOING to run a special–he just called and asked if I wanted to use the same ad with the same picture for the same dates!

Now, of course, it’s not that simple to get started. But once you get started, it is a profit producing machine. And after all, aren’t we all doing Photography for Profit? Would you like to receive a FREE PDF* outline of how to do it? Just sign up for our notification list, and it will be on it’s way to you. Use your best email address; disposable email addresses will be, well, disposed of!

Until next time, may ALL of your photography be PHOTOGRAPHY4PROFIT!

 

*offer may be withdrawn without notice at any time

Photographers, Pinterest And Pinners

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Should Photographers Use Pinterest?

I know that more than just a few photographers are using Pinterest to promote their business.  And that’s a good thing!  Pinterest is a visual medium. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for photographers to use Pinterest to promote their studio and/or their services.  And let’s not forget that nearly 75% of Pinterest users are WOMEN!  Let’s face it, women are the portrait buyers.  They are the ones who normally SUGGEST having portraits made. They are normally the ones who SELECT the photographer used.  And finally, they are normally the ones who DECIDE what money gets spent.  If Pinterest had been around when my studio was in operation, you can bet I would have been an early adopter.  You kids have it so EASY these days [SMH]!

“But I Market to MEN!  Isn’t Pinterest Just for Chicks?”

Wow. 1950 called: they want their male attitude back.  Don’t get stupid.  Who do you think the other 25% of users are?  That’s right, MEN.  Not only that, but there are over ONE MILLION businesses on Pinterest.  Right now, 33% of THOSE users are MEN!  In any event, it is probably very likely that 100% of your customers visit Pinterest at least casually, and I wouldn’t be surprised if 70% of those use it regularly.  I hope you are starting to see the value of Pinterest.

Just as an aside, I will have to cut some of you men a little slack on your attitude.  My wife was telling me about Pinterest a while back.  When I told her, “Oh, yeah, I’m on Pinterest,” she shot me a look that said “REALLY? You’re on Pinterest?”  So that door swings both ways.  And since I’m the cook in our household, I replied, “Where did you think all of those great dinners came from you’ve been raving about?”  Hey, I got skills!

You Can Take Advantage of RICH PINS

If you are not using Pinterest, you are leaving cash on the table. LOADS of cash.  And Rich Pins provide viewers with more details than standard Pins, making them an especially valuable option for retailers using Pinterest. There are currently five types of Rich Pins (with plans for expansion in the future):

  1. Movie
  2. Recipe
  3. Article
  4. Product
  5. Place

I personally would avoid using Movie Pins unless you have a Movie blog or similar site.  People can be easily offended, so it is too easy to send a Movie Pin to someone who finds that movie offensive.  However, Recipe Pins can be great to send to your female clients–busy moms will appreciate your thoughtfulness.  And don’t forget the men!  98% of the outdoor cooking is done by the man of the house.  It’s a good bet he’ll appreciate that recipe for a great BBQ sauce or a new steak rub.  Article Pins can also work well for men OR women.  Just as quick examples, think of DIY or Investing Pins for men, or crafting or cooking articles for women.

Product Pins make it easy for people to buy what you sell. They include real-time pricing, availability, and where to buy. Pinners will also receive notifications when product Pins they’ve added drop in price.  Speaking of price: did you know that Pins WITHOUT price receive more than a third more likes than pins with a price listed?  Not only that, but pins that do not have a face in them get repinned  23% MORE than Pins WITH a face?  Now, before you go cutting all the heads off your portrait Pins, keep in mind that this stat applies more to product Pins than photography Pins.

Finally, Place Pins can generate interest with both sexes.  Whether it is an exotic location or just around the corner, clients will most likely be interested in your photographs!  All of this has just one simple goal:  when people think of a photographer, it is YOU who comes to mind.

The Pinterest SECRET BOARDS

Did you know you can make Pinterest boards secret? That’s right! You can elect to make a board private and no one can see them except you…and anyone YOU INVITE!  I hope you can see what I’m getting at?  No?  Okay, I’ll spell it out: Pinterest Secret Boards can be used to let clients preview their images PRIVATELY.  How cool is that?  Now, you just don’t stop there.  Assume you want to do research on a business client, or you want to do research on a new promotion without tipping your hand to your competition?  I hope you see the value.

Pinterest Pins Have STAYING POWER!

Finally, Pins hang around LONG after a campaign is over.  This is one reason why I never got all worked up about using Twitter to promote my business. 120 characters that have scrolled off the page in less than 45 seconds.  Pfffft!  Same with Facebook: it might stay on your page forever, but as you add new posts the previous posts get lost.  And when those posts appear in someone’s feed?  Well, the results are pretty much like Twitter. Before you know it, they have been pushed way down the feed.  Pins remain on your board until YOU take them off.

“Okay, I’m Sold! But How Do I Pinterest?”

Well, it does take a little work. If you are a one man or one woman show, and are not familiar with Pinterest, you have some research to do. Won’t I tell you all about it? I’m sorry…is the title of this site, “Here-Let-Steve-Do-All-Your-Work-For-You.com?” So the answer is no. But if you aren’t a Pinterest kinda boy or girl, I would be willing you have a spouse/daughter (or son!)/employee/friend/customer who is. And I would also bet that you could EASILY find someone who would be THRILLED to be your “Social Media Manager.” And in case you didn’t know, Fortune 500 companies actively seek out and hire people to do this job. Maybe you can’t pay a regular salary, but you can offer a small token of your appreciation. Maybe movie or concert tickets, a gift card, or maybe even photographs to a customer. I’d get going on this right now. Because it’s a good bet that sooner or later, one of your competitors will. The person who succeeds is not always the best photographer. Most often, the winner is the hardest worker.

And Then There Is GOOGLE…

What did we do before Google? Set aside some time to research Pinterest and Pinning. I WILL tell you this: it can take some time. It DEFINITELY takes a lot of IMAGES! And finally, you want to make sure you create your Pins in the the proper SIZE. Why is that so important? Keep in mind that something like 78% of people use Pinterest on their mobile device. So what? Well, if you make your Pin the wrong size, it will not render properly on cell phones or tablets.

  • Uninspiring Content
  • Boring Images
  • Improper Pin Size

These all add up to one end result: Bye-bye prospect!

Okay. I’ll Help You Out.

Now, I have a little gripe here.  Back when I first started on Pinterest, I didn’t know all the ins and outs.  I Pinned some recipes from a site (which will remain nameless) and I complimented the woman on how nice her site looked.  I asked her if she could tell me what size she made her Pins, and how she linked them to her site.  Her response was, “I am so glad you found my recipes useful and that you liked my site.  I go into that in detail in my Pinterest class.  Here is a coupon for $75 off the class.”

Well, the class was about $225.  Look, I get it.  We are all working our way through life.  But I didn’t ask her to give me a complete Pinterest training…I just wanted to know one little thing.  If she had given me the answer to my request, THEN said, “Hey Steve, if you want to learn more about Pinterest, I have a class available.  If you’ll sign up today or tomorrow, I’ll give you $75 off the class,” I very well may have been interested.  But what do you think the chances are of me signing up now?  You got it, pretty slim.

So for anyone who signs up for my email list, I will send you a Pinterest Template FREE.  That’s right, free–like in, “No Cost To You!”  You may use it to create as many Pins as you want.  I only ask this: you agree NOT to sell it or give it away.  This Template is completely customizable in Photoshop.  No, you don’t have to buy anything from me.  No, I won’t ask you to sign up for my “Pinterest for Photographers” class.  Well, not today anyway (just kidding, I don’t have a class for you).  But you COULD help me out by giving me a tip on PayPal, or by purchasing one of the deals I have listed below.  By doing so, I get paid a (small) affiliate commission.  But again, no obligation.

If your page doesn’t display the SUBSCRIBE box because of your browser settings, just send me your name with your best email to stevebohne@gmail.com.  Please put PINTEREST TEMPLATE in the subject line.  Please understand this offer may be withdrawn at any time without notice, okay?

Next: GRAPHIC RESOURCES.  Here are a few you can get at a very low cost:

Ultimate Photos & Textures Bundle

Royalty Free Mega Stock Images Bundle

Fonts/Vectors/Backgrounds Bundle

Photoshop Actions/Brushes/Overlays/Lenses

3D Text Bundle

If you find Photoshop too complicated or too expensive, you can always use Photoshop Elements.  However, I have been using On1 Camera Raw and I found it easier to learn than Photoshop.  Yes, it will work with .PSD files.  It is also inexpensive, and you own it without any subscription fees.  You can try before you buy, and they give you FREE GOODIES nearly every month.  They have tons of free tutorial videos as well.  Try it, I think you’ll like it.

If you are looking for a web host for your own website, or if you are not all that happy with your current web host, I have a couple of recommendations.  I use several hosts, since I have several sites.

Lifetime Web Hosting – I signed up with Lifetime Web Hosting after purchasing a program through them called Dragify…a drag and drop web page builder.  To date, I’ve never used Dragify (I guess I got used to WordPress) but they made me an offer for lifetime web hosting.  Well, I was a little skeptical, but I can say I do like them.  Pretty responsive service, I can host multiple sites, and I got an SSL certificate free.  Not only that, but they offer a free domain and other perks.  And you pay ONCE for web hosting, and then never pay again.  Right now they are running a super offer.  They simply CRUSH GoDaddy, Hostgator, and BlueHost.

HostMetro – HostMetro is very good hosting.  You can host UNLIMITED domains, and they guarantee 99.99% uptime.  I have used HostMetro for about 5 years, and have been very satisfied.  They also have FREE site builders, and they offer WordPress hosting.  They are as low as $2.99 per month as this is written.  “If they are so great, why don’t you use only them?”  Well, a few years ago I was developing sites for Ebook authors and I needed ASP Net hosting, which HostMetro does not offer.  So I signed up with WinHost (see below).

WinHost – WinHost is a premium Windows web hosting service.  Their hosting will handle sites that need ASP Net hosting.  They also can run WordPress sites.  Yes, I use them.  Right now I have a shopping site (shopsteveonline-still under construction) with them.  I can host multiple sites with WinHost,  I currently pay $3.95/mo when I pay for 2 years.  This is a good price, especially for a premium host.  I have been with them since 2014, and started with them when I was developing sites for Ebook authors.  Their customer service is very responsive, and available 24/7.  They offer managed WordPress hosting that has a ton of extras, such as super security, called “hardening.”  It’s a little prices, but if you have several WP sites or just don’t have the time to set up a WP site or manage several sites, it is worth it.

000webhost.com – The “000” in 000webhost stands for free.  Like in $0.00.  Yes, it’s free.  There are NO ADS like on many “free” web hosts.  You can host up to 2 domains.  What’s the catch?  Your site will “sleep” one hour per day.  It is limited to 1000MB of disk space and 10000MB of bandwidth.  Now by 1997 standards this was HUGE.  Today it is a little on the small side.  However, if you are just getting started, or you just don’t have a lot of cash to spare, you need to take a look at 000webhost.  If you need live support, WordPress hosting and more storage, with no “sleep” period, their premium hosting is still a bargain.  Do I use them?  Not currently, but only because I am using WordPress for my sites now.  Back when it was HTML I used a local provider, then switched to Yahoo (yes they used to have web hosting) and then to an outfit called Site5.  I won’t bash Site5: you can go on Google and find plenty of people who will do that.  My site was down as often as it was live.  It started out cheap, then more than doubled in cost.  So for a period of time I used 000webhost.

This brings us to a thorny question: is it ethical to use images on my Pinterest Pins or my website that are not my own?  Now I know this is very controversial.  My short answer is “yes” with some qualifications.  But that is going to be another post on another day.  Get crackin’ on those Pinterest Pins!  Too busy right now?  Okay, but right after Christmas, get going.  Get your kids to help…they probably have it all down anyway.

In any case, Pinterest is just one more tool we can use when we are trying to use Photography4Profit.  Share this site with your friends.  If you don’t share it with the photographer down the street, I’ll understand.

 

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