Increase Your Productivity By Working In Themes

Are you a solo-preneur? If so, you know exactly how many hats you need to wear each day to accomplish everything on your list.

And while you probably manage to get most of the important things done each week, I’m sure there are always a ton of items left at the end of the week – the things you keep moving from list to list each week, hoping to get to them eventually.

While you are probably getting a ton of things done, are they the right things?

For instance, lets say you really love production. You love editing your images, printing them out, placing them in albums, and framing them for your customers. Yet you hate marketing, and frankly don’t really understand all the different pieces you should be doing to put an effective marketing plan into place.

You may be able to check off all of your production work each week with flying colors. Yet the marketing tasks keep moving week after week without the “check”. And the more you push marketing aside, the greater chance you have of seeing your business fail.

There is a way of stopping that trend in its tracks. Develop your own internal theme days.

In this case, the definition of “theme” is: to give a particular setting or ambiance to. Which means you are defining a certain aspect of your business by a special topic. The best thing is you can use “themes” in so many ways, and in every way it will make you a more efficient person. Let me show you how. [Read more…]

7 Things You Have To Know Before Becoming A Travel Photographer

Ahhh, the good life.

Imagine hopping on a plane on Thursday morning, off to some far away location. You have a great flight, check into a wonderful resort, and spend the next few days touring a place you’ve never been before. You eat at the finest restaurants. You visit the local tourist attractions. And you leave a few days later relaxed and ready to take on the world.

Sounds good, right?

When most people hear the term “travel photographer”, that is what they think. They think “travel photographer” means you have an amazing life with very few bumps along the way.

And while it can be true in some circumstances, it isn’t always that way … especially if you haven’t carefully thought out your plan of action.

Just like any other business model, you have to have every aspect of the business planned out BEFORE you start taking action. Without it, you’ll never make the money you need to succeed in the travel photography world. Especially know in this more difficult economy.

Yet don’t let it deter you. It still is a great life and one with a lot of potential. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started by going through the 7 questions you need to build up your travel photography plan.

What do you want to do?

This probably sounds like a trick question. “I want to travel,” you may be thinking. But in order to succeed, you need to look at it from a different viewpoint. In your overall business plan, how will travel photography fit into your lifestyle?

Some people sell their images to microstock houses. Some photographers create fine art and sell it to galleries. Some people run online art stores and sell directly to the public. Some people offer photo tours. Some people shoot weddings. Yep, the list can go on and on.

Have you really thought about what travel photography means to you? Do you want to interact with people on a regular basis? Or do you prefer to be in a remote location where your only interaction is with nature itself? Sit down and define how you can see spending your 365 days of the year. [Read more…]

How To Stop Feeling Guilty For Wanting More

You have a job that pays the bills.

You have a great family life.

You make enough to afford the fun things in life.

Your kids are happy and doing well in school.

You live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood.

You drive a nice car.

You can enjoy your Starbucks every day.

Then why do you keep wishing for more?

And more importantly, why do you keep feeling so guilty for wanting more?

With so much in the media right now about how bad the economy is, it’s hard to not question your feelings if you aren’t facing a similar situation. If someone can’t pay the mortgage because they don’t have a job, should you really be complaining about a job you don’t like when it brings in more than enough income?

Tough it out. Hunker down. Be happy with what you have.

You’ve probably heard more than that from family and friends.

Yet is it true? Should you really be grateful for what you currently have?

The answer is yes … and no. [Read more…]

5 Easy Ways To Protect Your Brand

Its fun to come up with a creative name for your photography business … until you discover someone else thought of it before you. Nothing can be more confusing to your customer than finding two businesses with similar or the same names.

Your name tells your customers who you are. Its an extension of your brand, and sets the stage for the type of business you run and operate.

In years past, it was easier to brand yourself based on your geographical location. As long as no one was using your name in your competitive location, it was easier to forgive companies hundreds or thousands of miles away for using it too. And in some cases, you may never have even known it existed.

But all that’s changed thanks to the Internet. If you can’t get your company’s domain name because it belongs to someone else, do you really want to send traffic to them as you are building your business?

To help protect your brand, here are five basic steps to help you strengthen your business.

1. Choose your name wisely

The more creative you are when developing your name and branding, the greater the odds you’ll have no competition. And if its distinctive, it will stand out from your competitors and become a unique brand that can be recognizable in its own right. Think about your future. Are you planning on selling your business down the road? If so, choose a name that’s exciting and adds value. Think Search.com versus Google. One is worth billions; one not so much. Think big and go with something catch and unique.

Dig Deeper: How To Build A Photography Business You Intend To Sell

2. Use it

The more you use your name, the more recognizable it becomes, the stronger it is. Part of your protection comes from using it and proving how you’ve used it in the business world. When you place it on brochures, business cards, products and online, you are staking your claim in your brand. It gives you rights above those that may use it after you.

3. Register it

If you plan on growing your business and being around for years to come, its important that you gain as much protection as possible. Here in the US, register it with the US Patent and Trademark Office for complete protection across the states. And once you are registered, its recognized throughout the world. Registration allows you to use the ® symbol and provides substantial benefits and savings if you ever have to go to court to stop infringement.

4. Distinguish it

As you are creating your trademark, make it as distinguishable as possible. Customers learn to recognize brands on a variety of things, including look, feel, color, taglines, and even sounds such as a recognizable jingle. The more you add to your brand, the more you will give your customers something to talk

about.

5. Watch out for others

Once you have everything in place with your trademark, monitor its usage. One of the easiest ways online is to use Google Alerts. Google Alerts will alert you whenever anyone uses your name, tagline or anything else associated with your brand. If you notice an infringement, contact an attorney to help you cease your competition from using it immediately.

How To Master The Basics Of Success

Success is like a ladder and no one has ever climbed a ladder with their hands in their pockets. ~Zig Ziglar

If you are planning on climbing up to the roof of your home, the steps are easy to understand. Find a ladder, place it against your home, and start climbing. One step at a time you move your feet until you reach the last one and step off to your destination. It doesn’t take much time – and probably not much thought. You just do it because you have a goal in mind.

But what if the ladder you are trying to climb has hidden steps? What if you don’t know what its leaning against, nor how many steps it will take to reach the top? Things can get a bit more challenging.

Everything in life has a final destination and the ever-important steps to get there. If you want to learn to play chess, you have to find a chessboard and playing pieces, learn the basic rules, and practice. If you want to play golf, you have to find some clubs and a ball, find a course to play on, learn the basic rules, and practice.

Running a photography business is no different. You have to have camera equipment on hand, learn the basic rules of running a business, and practice. Again and again. Things will go wrong sometimes and right others. But overall, building a solid foundation will set you up correctly and help you accomplish what you’ve set out to do – run a successful business.

If you ask an expert in the photography field what the crucial steps are to his or her success, you’ll likely hear a laundry list of items. And if you ask more than one, you’ll likely hear a few different items. Don’t get lost in the details. The real difference between a pro and an amateur is simply that the expert has built a solid foundation and is much more effective at determining what steps to take to continue building up from that successful foundation. He or she is constantly adding to the fundamental skills he or she already has in place.

You can do it too. There are three simple ideas on finding the basic skills needed to create a solid foundation.

Expect Mastery

Think back to everything you’ve achieved in life so far. Before you accomplished it, did you believe you could?

That’s kind of a trick question because the first step to any action is belief. If you think you can, you will. If your goal is to have a college degree, you take as many classes as necessary to graduate. You see the goal and word to get it.

The same applies to your business. Do you see it? Can you see yourself working full time as a photographer? Or can you only see it as a side business – your real money comes from your day job?

If you want to be a world famous photographer, you have to lay the foundation. You have to have the proper skills with the camera. You have to understand lighting, posing and production. You have to understand marketing, planning and sales. And you have to want to do it every single day, without stop, until you find success.

Think About The Long Term

Many people try to rush into success, only to give up because they simply can’t do it as well as they can see themselves doing it in their mind.

For example, lets say you’ve never had ice skates on before. But you watch the Olympics and think ice dancing looks like fun. So you head to the rink and put on your first pair of ice skates. Your first step on the ice is probably going to be filled with disaster. Your legs will wobble, your ankles will weaken, and you’ll probably find yourself sitting on the ice more than standing. But if you don’t learn to stand, you’ll never glide across the ice. If you’re not comfortable moving forward, you’ll never be able to move backward. And so on.

When you see how easy other professional photographers have it, its easy to get caught up in the excitement and expect it yourself. If they shoot 30 weddings a year making $250,000, you should be able to do it too. And you can – but keep in mind its going to take time. One foot in front of the other, learning as you go, adding on to what you’ve learned in the past, until you find the success you are looking for.

Avoid Getting Fancy

Putting the basics into action are the only important steps you need to take along the way. When you find yourself running into a complication or a problem, question yourself as to why it really seems difficult. Is it due to a shortcoming in one or more basic skills? Rarely will you find a fancy or complicated technique to be the answer.

If you can’t ice skate, the most expensive ice skates in the world won’t help you do it any better.

Thoroughly mastering the basics takes time. But its well worth the time spent. Remember, there are no “secrets” or shortcuts to success. Build your foundation. And add the basics as you go along. You’ll soon find yourself at the top of the ladder, stepping off into the lifestyle you’ve dreamed of.

Are you still struggling with understanding the basics of your DSLR? Then you have to check out the new guide DSLR: The Basics. It’s a camera and exposure book in friendly ebook format. I’ve just finished going through it myself, and love the detail and knowledge that Ed goes over. In addition to simple language for every situation, you’ll also find a wealth of information in his graphs, charts and photographs. Many of them help you understand difficult techniques in a user-friendly way. If you’ve ever struggled with the basics, or are still questioning different components of your camera, you can’t afford not to add this book to your collection.

Focusing On The Wrong Question Could Cost You Millions

Let me ask you a question. If you could ask five million-dollar business owners a question about making your business succeed, what would you ask them? I’ll bet its something like this:

How do I make more money?
How do I find more clients?
How do I get my website more traffic?
How do I make Facebook work for me?

These are detail questions. And while they are important in the overall success of your company, they are leaving out one very important question that most struggling businesses haven’t deciphered yet.

You see, most people start out a business knowing they love what they want to build their business around – photography – yet haven’t thought the entire business strategy out yet.

Facebook. Pinterest. Mobile media. Email campaigns. Search engine optimization. Shopping cart systems. Hosting. Tablets. Smartphones. HTML. WordPress.

I could go on for hours with the buzzwords that can literally leave you breathless and overwhelmed at the end of each day.

But the key with each of these is they are details. There is no way you or I will ever be able to conquer and stay current on each of these items. As soon as you start using one, another jumps on board. Or changes. Or morphs into something new. [Read more…]

Is Your Photography Business A Mac or a PC?

Are there differences between Mac’s and PC’s? You bet. And I’m sure if I asked each and every one of you, you probably have a strong opinion one way or the other. Everyone knows the two are distinctly different. And while there are some generalizations everyone would probably agree upon, I’m also willing to bet you have your reasons for staying with one or the other.

A few weeks ago I wrote several posts on our recent adventure – downsizing. As a part of our process, we converted from being a PC based home and  business, to a Mac driven home and business. And now after several weeks of running almost exclusively Mac, I have my opinions on the differences between the two. And also have made quite a few correlations towards running a business.

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Price Matters

One of the top reasons people end up with PCs over Macs is cost. If you need to buy several computers and laptops for your small business, plus a variety of software packages, the cost difference can be tremendous. You purchase PCs to save money. And you purchase Macs to own a true work of art. PCs control about 90 percent of the US market share, while Mac’s control about 10 percent. There is a difference.

The same could be said for photographers. Many people want a quick photograph to mark a period of time. They don’t care about the art form; they are looking for representation. They want the smiling faces towards the camera, and artistic expression isn’t in their budget. They shop around for “value” and are happy with more photos for less money.

A smaller portion of people want to create a piece of artwork for their wall.  They want something they could never achieve on their own with a point and shoot. And they want something they won’t see in any of the homes of family and friends. They are willing to pay what its worth in order for the experience. [Read more…]