Tag Archives: leads

Develop Your Expertise Into Cash Flow (1st in an occasional series)

Roy commissioned this portrait during my film days and afterwards said this was one of his favorites. I was honored by his thoughtful comments and used them to motivate future portrait sessions.

I took a huge step today and secured the new domain name for my next business venture. Built around my expertise as a photographer and using the title fro my first book, I will be offering tips, videos, workshops, training dvds, seminars, talks and possibly a membership site. Affiliate marketing will also be part of this new venture. I can’t wait to get to step two: building a new website. I’ll keep you all posted right here.

Wish me luck.

Network, Market & Sell. Oh My!

The old man and the wax

Contemplative Pose

I attended Craig Duswalt’s Rock Star Marketing Bootcamp last week. I committed to attending the entire bootcamp; from Wednesday nights’ free seminar through Sunday afternoons’ finale. My butt got a little sore from sitting so many hours but my workaround to the soreness was this: I got up, met people, asked about their work, complemented them on their comments and questions, answered their questions about myself and generally worked the room to see and be seen.

Networking, promoting and marketing myself. Craig is a very gregarious and an open book. Full of ideas, eager to help and always willing to listen. He fosters an environment of safety which in turn makes audience confident to ask questions and make comments to the entire group. Now as you might imagine I don’t have that problem.

Let me illustrate. At lunch on Sunday (in the hotel café), a beautiful vibrant woman who was attending the event as well walked up to the table next to me and took the serving utensils for her use. She apologized for taking them. Of course this wasn’t necessary and sensing an opening I walked over to her table, smiled and said, “Don’t ever apologize for taking what you need.” She responded with a laugh and said that I’ve been funny the entire bootcamp and she appreciated the humor. She went on to comment that she remembered I am a photographer, published author and public speaker. These were the things I made sure came across whenever I asked questions or made comments during the bootcamp sessions to the audience. I was there to learn new marketing techniques and to market myself. Don’t waste opportunities, they are precious and few.

I told my new friend that this was by design that as an SECP, I am compelled to network, market, promote and sell whenever I sense an opportunity. Self employed people cannot be shy if they are also taking on the role of rainmaker.

As we talked she asked me if I would come and speak to her women’s club in Beverly Hills. An opportunity to speak about my favorite subject? A chance to promote the book? And my portrait photography business? Let’s see I thought about it for a millisecond. YES! This new door opening is what I was hoping to achieve before the bootcamp ended and here it was. I’m going to go through, make my presence known and grow my reputation amongst a class of people I’ve been trying to get in front of for awhile. Bingo!

Thanks Craig.

You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For

Being Self-Employed Can Sometimes Be A Lonely Profession

Before you get all over me for the poor grammar of the title, let me explain. I’m excited because of what happened this evening. I attended a lecture at the Getty Center to hear Robert Weingarten speak and to see his work. Obviously it was worth my time, his stuff is well thought out, well done, beautiful and thoughtful. I arrived early so I could take in the photography exhibits too. As I walked around waiting for the program to begin, it occurred to me that there was no reason why I couldn’t be a guest speaker too. After all I’ve a speaking career and book sales to consider.

So I did what I always do in these self-aware opportunities, I politely asked if there was someone present to whom I could talk to. (I can be very charming when I need to be) Immediately one of the Getty staff went to locate the person I desired to meet. She came out and was extremely polite and interested in what I had to offer. Bingo! I hit pay dirt on the first try. Hey sometimes you just get lucky. Of course I put myself in this position by attending the event. SECP’s must continually push forward, who else is around and eager to do this for you? We spoke for ten minutes, she impressed me with the breadth of the three programs she thought I’d fit into and she was impressed with all I had to offer. We exchanged emails and I’ll be sending her more info about my favorite subject, me. :>)

Later during the program two women sat next to me and sensing an opportunity, I asked what brought them out this evening. They are members of the Photographic Arts Council at LACMA and love photography. They asked about me, I gave them the two-minute drill and they both asked for my card as they were interested in my portrait services. Another winner folks.

As I left the auditorium, the contact person from the Getty went out of her way to say good-bye to me. Guess I made a good impression. Lastly as I was waiting for the shuttle to take several of us to our vehicles, three men and I started chatting, (OK, I started chatting and they engaged). Turns out one of the fellows shoots jazz and was a good friend of William Claxton, a legendary photographer of jazz who passed away earlier this summer. One of the other fellows is a heart surgeon who after talking for a few minutes (I regaled him with my Ronald Reagan story) is considering me to help tutor him in Photoshop. All three said they had heard of me or my book, so the word is getting around.

This was just the end to my day that I needed as it began on a very sour note…but that story is for later

Until next I post, thanks for reading.

Building Business Part II

My homage to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

So to continue my discussion from Building Business Part I….

The first step I take in building business leads is by attending workshops and industry specific trainings to meet the right people. For this particular journey it began with a seminar sponsored by Castle Press in early 2008. I figured some of the people in attendance may be in need of photography, photography education or consulting and I was the person they needed to talk to. The way I get their attention is simple. I arrive early and select a seat that gives me a lot of visibility. And then I wait. I make sure I listen to the questions and comments and when someone says something that leads me to believe they may need me or there may be an opportunity for me to pursue, I wait a bit and then I ask a relevant question or make a thoughtful comment that draws attention to me. If the targeted person looks my way…bingo! The hook has been set. If not, I wait for a break and introduce myself to them. We talk a bit and I try to qualify them to see if I should pursue them further. I have gotten many photography jobs and teaching assignments this way. This method works well for me but I have to be patient.

There was a person there who was (and still is) teaching at FIDM. He asked a question and per my previous comments, I followed up with him on a break and in less than six months I was working in the Graphic Design Department teaching Photoshop and photography classes at FIDM. From that same seminar, I also joined the PIASC. They sponsor webinars for their members as does their sister organization, PINC. I took a Photoshop webinar from them recently and it became immediately clear that Kelly (who runs OnlineInstruct.com) was incredibly capable as an instructor and I made sure to connect with her after-the-fact to inquire about working with her company putting on my photography programs.

And that’s how this particular piece of business happened.

I’m on to the next opportunity, again at Castle Press. It’s all about social media this time. Who knows what I’ll turn up……..

Business Building Part 1

My homage to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

In part one of this post will I explain one of the more successful methods I use to get new work. This method generates sales leads and teaching assignments for me and it’s my pleasure to explain it here. I will first lay out the path and then provide the details: 1) Working in my local school district (1999-2005) as a vocational education instructor. 2) Join the Los Angeles County Office of Education. 3) Taking advantage of LACOE complimentary professional development programs. 4) Attending one such program in 2008 and 5) Receiving a complimentary membership in the Printing Industries Association of Southern California as a result. 6) Attending a complimentary webinar by the PIASC’s sister association, the Printing Industries of Northern California. 7) Engaging the owner of the company putting on the webinar. 8) Offering my services to teach photography related programs for her online company. 9) Being accepted, the first classes roll out in June.

I set a goal to hook up with an online learning company a couple of years ago and although it took a bit longer than I expected (can we say recession?), I have arrived at my destination. I recently joined forces with OnlineInstruct.com. I will be their photography curriculum director and trainer. As stated previously, our first classes roll out in June. The deliberate steps I took were always with the goal in mind of acquiring teaching work. I apply this same technique when securing photography work and as of this writing, I have 5 teaching assignment offers from 5 institutions on my plate.

Part 2 to follow……

I Can’t Wait To Work For Myself!

We all needs da monray!

I’ve lost of count how many times friends and acquaintances have said to me during the past two years, “I can’t wait to work for myself!” Or something to that effect. They don’t fully comprehend the ramifications of their statements. That’s OK because I’m going to set them on a very clear path before they jump ship: I look at them, sigh a little, grab them by the shoulders and say,”You realize when you work for yourself, everything becomes your responsibility, everything you know becomes your responsibility and everything you don’t know yet becomes your responsibility. Everything. No exceptions. Have fun keeping up.”

These days I fantasize about what it must be like working for a company: benefits, profit sharing, sick days, parties, vacations, income on a regular basis, (even if you don’t do your job well). Sounds great, sign me up.

Thirty years on my own and I’m a bit worn out the past 18 months: marketing, prospecting for new leads, sales calls, budget proposals, project proposals, strategy meetings, emails, social networking, blogging, network groups, etc. Add to that the personal responsibilities of marriage, parenting, home maintenance, mortgage, retirement planning (this does not magically go away working for yourself, in fact it’s just the opposite, they become more important than ever, yikes!)

So yes come on down and join our party, we need all the help we can get….

Use The Web For Your Own Good

Sometimes it snows in Pasadena

New technologies that compress time and space in how we communicate or conduct business changes us profoundly, especially in business. This is the main posit from the book Giants Of Enterprise. The author takes you on a fascinating journey into the lives of seven men who created (George Eastman, Charles Revson, Henry Ford) or built up (Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Watson Sr.) entire businesses. Even though these men ran corporations and had many personal and social flaws, the way they approached business was singular: they harnessed what no others saw, used their wits for and against others and embraced new technologies. Combine that with an unwavering view of themselves becoming successful and you have the important ingredients for mega successes that ran for decades. This is a great read if you have any inclination towards working for yourself. My kind of book.

These men were experts at what they did and the majority of them didn’t mind telling you so, publicly and privately. Many times over. Which brings me to my point. Your personal publicity machine is here and has been for quite some time. I’m using mine right now. Think of it like this: you are the farmer who plants seeds wherever you have a presence on the web. You develop an idea or business goal, find a place to plant it online, nurture this idea with frequent attention (watering) and over time you’ll grow and nurture inbound links (fertilizer) which ups your SEO ranking (new crops) until you have grown your version of a self-sustaining green friendly top of the line farm where you are the expert and people can’t get enough of what you know and represent. Become the go to person, display your expertise and bring in the cash crops you’ve earned!

To start, set up online profiles at places like LinkedIn, Biznik, Jigsaw and Behance. Start blogging. You already text so think of blogging as extraordinary texting. Become expert at something and tell the world. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. And if you don’t do it, you’ll probably never get where you want to go or be who you wish to be. Or live how you want to live. It takes work and constant effort, so what are you waiting for? Tell us what you know. We dare ya!

Related Images:

You Are Entitled To As Much As You Make Yourself Worth Part 2

My first impressions of downtown Chicago

To continue from part one of this series, I will now discuss a bit about how I work with my vendors. But first I’d like to back up a bit and talk about the chain.

When it comes to the lab products portion of my business, I am a vendor to my clients and a client to my vendors. I am the middle link in this chain. My clients try to get the best (lowest) price from me, I try to get the best (highest) price from them. My vendors try to get the best (highest) price for their goods and I try to get the best (lowest) price from them. This is how I define the chain.

An order comes in from a client. If it’s something I prefer to do myself then I charge my usual prices for custom made lab products. However if the job is so large or I am too busy to handle the job myself, then I out-lab the job. For some the conventional wisdom is to “make your money shooting, not in handling lab work”. I am suggesting another way of looking at the situation: if it goes through my books, if I am at all responsible for something, then I make money on it or I don’t want to have that responsibility. With this mindset, I can generate several profit centers on each job I accept. The markup on prints, the markup on supplies (tape, glue, seamless, props, etc.) are generally accepted business practices, (and they work great) but I take it one step further.

I work with my vendors to give me a better price than they might otherwise offer. How do I do this? I ask. It’s that simple. I have a 50-50 chance of getting a yes just by asking. I have 0% chance if I don’t ask. So I ask. If nothing else I get to practice my speaking and interpersonal skills. If that doesn’t work I offer to pay by check (this saves the merchant credit card fees). If that doesn’t budge them, I offer to pay in cash. Still no deal? At this point if I trust them, I offer to pay cash at the time of ordering. When I offer this, I really trust my vendor  because I’m taking a bigger than normal risk. Hey, no guts, no glory. I usually have a client advance in my pocket when I offer this, so I’m playing with house money. This is one way I mitigate the risk.

There have been numerous times when I have “earned” up to 70% off the vendors usual price. You heard right folks, 70%! For me, no job is too small and no profit is too large. I’m in business to thrive, not survive, and there are times when I don’t hit my profit goals for a job, so it all works out over time. I’ve been lucky in this business and at other times it’s just plain hard work and never quitting on a deal.

In the end my clients are happy (they got what they needed), my vendors are happy (they got what they needed) and I’m happy they’re happy. As the middle link in the chain, it is my single-minded focus that all parties involved in a transaction are satisfied they did business with the right person. And that’s the way it’s worked for me for the past 30 years.

Michael

Help Yourself By Being Interviewed

The view from my son's tree house

Do you realize how many sites looking are looking for content only the wonderfulness of you can provide? I have been highly motivated during my career to get the word out about me and my photography talents: direct mail, phone calls, sales calls and presentations. That morphed into voicemail, email and websites. The current trend is to give away some of your “stuff” via webinars, blogs and teleseminars. These gestures give potential clients the proverbial lick from your ice cream cone. If they lick and like then they may bite. And this means new awareness for you and what you offer and possibly you’ll be able to turn that awareness into sales.

If hosting your own webinar series is too scary to contemplate there is also another way: sites that will interview you because you are the expert in your field or at the very least you are good at what you do and have something to offer others in the way of advice by relating your experiences, both good and bad. I took that approach with my book and since it’s release I’ve been doing interviews, public appearances and podcasts! Very cool stuff.

Jitzul is just one of the websites willing to interview you about being a creative professional. Take advantage of what Ryan and Alicia are offering, an online archive of the experiences of artists the world over. When the interview is over you can link to it, send others (potential clients) to listen and perhaps people looking to know more about you will see the link in their search engine results. If you’re selected, listen to some of the others already on the site and practice your diction, articulation and think about how thoughtful your answers and commentary can be.

Good luck!

Michael