Why Photographing An Animal Will Make You a Star

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Animals are the most genuine models a photographer could ever dream of. You know when you have problems relaxing and someone just comes out of the blue whispering: Just be. Nothing more. It’s that easy. Well it seems that animals are the absolute masters of presence or gurus of our perceived present. They can always do that, no matter the circumstances. However, trust me on this one: if you get to be in control of photographing an animal, you’ll become a true star! You’ll become widely appreciated, just like you’ve always dreamed of. No one will ever doubt your talents again. Because this is no piece of cake.

Let’s walk through the reasons why this is a praiseworthy deed. First of all, despite this obvious communication barrier, animals are better than humans. Why is that?

1.     Animals Are No Hypocrites

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They are always themselves. Despite the fact that this actually means that they are never in the mood for photos, once you get the chance to immortalize something, it cannot be anything but genuine. Animals express their feelings and their moods without restraints. They don’t strive to be cute, they just are. They don’t strive to be fearful, they just are. What you see is what you get – no games played, no half measures, no fake smiles.

2.     Animals Don’t Care About Appearance

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Not caring about how you look today means no useless obstacles, no secondary thoughts, no brakes, just sheer freedom and excitement. So go for it! Immortalize the instant, cease the moment and send emails to employers afterwards. That’s why everybody is so impressed by cute photos with furry creatures. They are authentic!

3.     Animals Don’t Care About What Others Think

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Caring about exterior opinions usually refers to humans, not their animal friends. Parasite thoughts kill both freedom and creativity. And non-human models seem to have guessed that somehow, because no second thoughts interfere once they decide to start posing like there’s no tomorrow. They are relaxed, they are focused on what matters when magic happens – their own state of consciousness, and they simply mind their own business after all. And how fascinating that is!

4.     Animals Are Giving And Sincere

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It goes without saying that there’s a special connection between humans and their animal models. Well at least with some of them. When it comes to the less friendly species, one should just hide in the bushes and hunt the moment. That’s the only way. Therefore I’d strongly advise you to start by immortalizing the species that live among humans, just to get used to the vibe. What I’m trying to convince you of is the fact that you should start your training in this way.

Unfortunately people are wearing masks all the time. In other words, whenever you photograph them they are likely to be wearing at least three. If you want to get an honest vibe, start with your pet. For instance, let’s take a photograph showing a man and a dog. The dog in the first place, and not the man, would always draw one’s attention. It’s a simple fact of life. Animals can just exist, can just relax, and can just enjoy a moment, a meal or a sip of water without any further complications. For us humans things are always so abstract, so multi-layered, so blurry, so bring, so old, so confusing. That’s why photos of the animal kingdom are so successful; because they are authentic, and powerful, and they can say so many things using a totally different language than ours. So take your camera, make a simple plan or just start chasing your dog. Photographing an animal will make you a star! Just get off the right foot and trust me on this one, will you?

4 Infomercial Selling Techniques You Can Steal And Use To Improve Your Photography Sales Methods

You’re sitting up late at night.

You switch the channel, and before you know it you’re hooked.

Can you really do all that with a knife? Can you really have a body like that with just 20 minutes of exercise a day?

You know you shouldn’t believe what they have to say. You’ve even laughed about the sales tactics of infomercials with your friends – who buys that stuff anyway?

Then before you know it, you open up your wallet, take out your card, place the call, and have your “new” thing is on its way.4 Infomercial Selling Techniques You Can Steal And Use To Improve Your Photography Sales Methods

Wow. Did you just fall for that?

Yep. And so do millions of other people every single day.

That’s why infomercials are so successful.

Yet for most people, they get caught up in what the whole thing is about – what they’re selling – and they forget that there is another side to it. If you’re now a small business owner, never look at things strictly through the eyes of a consumer ever again. Instead, look at things through the eyes of a business person as well.

And when you look at infomercials through the eyes of a business owner, you will see things in a completely different way. Yes, there are things you can take right now from any infomercial you watch and incorporate into your own photography business model. Here’s how.

1. Emphasize the problem

The problem with most photographers’ marketing programs is they focus in on the basics. “I’m a wedding photographer.” “I capture memories.”

Yada. Yada. Yada.

Yes, anyone who wants to hire a photographer knows what you do. If they are planning a wedding, they look for a wedding photographer.

But what they don’t know – and who they really look up to once they find – is a photographer that stretches beyond normal words and actually gives them advice too.

With every type of photography, people are looking to hire someone that can give them something they can’t get on their own. They have a “problem” and you have the solution.

But if you don’t emphasize the problem and show them how you’re the perfect solution, you’re just thrown into the bucket with the majority of other photographers that have no idea how to sell.

Are you a portraits photographer? You can play up so many problems in today’s market. How about selfies – do you really want an arm in all of your portraits? What about big box locations – do you really want cheesy backgrounds and “stand on the x” fake smiles?

The key is finding something that separates you from everyone else out there – and play it up in every way imaginable.

2. Details and repetition

If you haven’t watched an infomercial in a while, do it. You’ll quickly notice that there isn’t a lot of script there. Instead, they take a concept and repeat it again and again from every angle imaginable. You can do that tool.

Set up the problem. Show your solution.

Then talk about the problem in a different way. And again show how everything leads back to your solution.

Have your favorite client talk about their problem. And how you were the only one they could find that solved it perfectly.

Rinse. Repeat. Do it again. On your brochures. On your website. On Facebook. In your client meetings. Everywhere.

3. Prove your scarcity

There is only one of you. And there is only so much you can do.

Yes, that’s always the underlying assumption. But like an infomercial, call action to it.

“There are only 52 weekends a year. We only photograph 52 weddings a year. That’s it. No more. Will you be one of the lucky ones to have your wedding captured by John Smith Photography?”

See? Obviously if someone thought about it, they know there is only 52 weekends a year, so of course you could only photograph during that time frame. But by saying it out loud, it creates scarcity. It makes you a little more daring, a little more “I gotta have him”.

That’s what infomercials do well. And that’s what you should do with every campaign, every offer you ever make.

“Want one of our fall portraits? We only have three weekends available, and two clients per weekend. Will you be one of the lucky ones?”

“All holiday orders must be placed by November 1st. Miss the date and you’ll have nothing to give your loved ones this holiday season.”

Yes, it works with everything.

4. Huge call to action

I once had a photographer contact me and leave a message. But he forgot to leave a phone number. So I went to his site to look for his contact information. Guess what? There was nothing there. No phone number on his header or in the sidebar. The contact us was just a fill-in-the-blank form.

Yes, I could use the number he called in from (and I did). But the point is ease of use. How do you expect your clients to get a hold of you when you make it difficult?

I quizzed him on it. And he said he hates spam and doesn’t want solicitors calling him. So he uses a form.

Not acceptable. When you’re in business, everything is about ease of use for your customer. They should never have to hunt for everything. In fact, you should be blatantly obvious as to what you want people to do.

“Fill out this form to see if your wedding date is still available.”

“Call us for your free consultation.”

Yes, it might seem over-easy. People should know that, why should you have to tell them?

Yet calls to action are triggers. If they are subconsciously thinking “I like this photographer”, a simple call to action may push them to take the next step.

Be specific. Take them by the hand and lead them exactly where you want them to go.

And the more you do it, the more success you’ll have down the road.

5 Quick Things You Can Do This Week To Fix Your Sales Process

Where do you look for new clients?

If you’re like most photographers these days, you’re heading online more and more. And why not? Facebook has over a billion people. Pull up any key term in Google and you’ll find millions of results just waiting for the person to search and find.

But just because there is a lot of potential doesn’t mean you’ll find it IF you aren’t approaching it in the right manner. To find clients, you have to have a dynamic web presence. And a dynamic web presence means the ability to take a potential client from one point to another, walking them from just finding out about you to signing up and becoming a happy and satisfied client.

If you don’t have a dynamic web presence, or any piece of the process isn’t in place, you’re missing out on HUGE potential.

Look through this list; do you see any offenders in your business? If so, clean them up today.

#1: Your call to action is missing

I worked with a photographer a couple of years ago who couldn’t figure out why no one ever contacted him through his website. So I agreed to spend some time going through it and give him some pointers on things to change.5 Quick Things You Can Do This Week To Fix Your Sales Process

It took me 30 seconds to find out what was wrong.

Nowhere on his website was a phone number, an email address, or any way of connecting with him. He didn’t even have what city he was located in and was willing to do business in. He had a fill-in-the-blank form – and that was it.

When I questioned him about it, his response was “I don’t want all that spam or people contacting me about anything other then doing business with me. This is my way of weeding out the spammers and the marketers so I only have to deal with potential customers.”

The problem with trying to make it difficult for spammers and marketers to get a hold of you is you are doing the same thing to your customers. And if things are that difficult for your potential customers, I guarantee you they are going somewhere else.

Never, never hold back on giving people ways to connect with you. In fact, the more ways they can connect, the better.

  • Tell them to Facebook you and respond immediately.
  • Give them your phone number so they can call when they’re ready.
  • Give them an email and check your account all the time.
  • Create open comments on your blog (with your approval of course) and respond as soon as anyone comments on things you have to say.
  • Put your phone number bold and in the header of your site. Make sure they can find it easily as soon as they want to connect with you.
  • Give them free information to find out more about you. Those free report and sign up boxes you see on SO MANY sites online? Yes, they work. And you should be using it too.

Your homework this week: Look through your site and see how easy it is to connect with you. Can a potential client connect with you in many different ways, and be able to find those connections the second they decide to move forward? [Read more…]

4 Reasons Someone Is Stealing Your Photography

Guess what? The photography industry is changing. But I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now.

In many ways, photography has changed because of our technology. Mobile, tablets, social media – its all played into the way we want our photography.

But another contributing factor is how we approach photography as a business – or lack there of as the case may be. There are only so many times a photographer can reduce their fees before they hit the $0 mark. And there are only so many days you can survive making the $0 mark.4 Reasons Someone Is Stealing Your Photography

How many of these traps have you fallen into this year with your own photography?

You haven’t valued it properly

Take a look at your current packages. Do you offer to shoot 1,000 images, edit it down to a file of 100 fully Photoshopped, edited images in perfect shape. And of course you hand over the large digital files so they can print to their hearts content. All for $50? Yes, I see that all the time. Let the excuses fly. “I can’t charge any more than that, no one would pay for it.” Or “Not in my area, we’re hurting around here.” But the truth of the matter is if you aren’t charging what you’re worth, if you don’t find the value in what you do and what you offer, neither will your customer.

They don’t know the value of it

Have you ever explained to your customers the value of your work? Do they know about your expertise? Do they understand your education, what makes you professional over every other photographer? Do they understand balance, color composition and posing? Have you pointed out mistakes in other work, and showcase what value you have in the art world? Some clients prefer to work with professionals. But you have to prove your expertise in order for them to want to pay for it. Otherwise they will move on to your competition, looking at things solely through price.

They are from a different time and place

No, I’m not talking about extraterrestrials here. What I mean is if you are a 40 something photographer expecting your 20 something clients to respect copyrights, you’re in for a world of shock. 20 somethings have grown up under different times. They expect different things, different rules. If they want a song, they copy it. If they want to watch a movie, they find it and watch it. If they want to read something, they find a way to do it for free. And if they want a photo, they copy it and use it. Yes, I know copyright issues are in place for a reason. But right now we are seeing a huge turn in the structure of a lot of industries, photography being one of them. If they don’t want to pay, they won’t pay. And they’ll find someone willing to give them what they want at the price they want. Which means we have to think of our business model in a different way that allows us to stay in business and give the customers what they truly want.

You’re giving it to them for free, why should they pay for it?

What do you do for your clients? Do you shoot their session, and head home to put all of the best work online for the world to see? You share it on your blog, on Facebook, you Tweet it, and share it on Instagram. And once they are online, the world can view them, share them, even “copy” them and put them into their own viewers for free. Why should they come back in and pay for an image when it already exists on their iPhones and iPads – it will be there forever. In order to get paid for what you do, you have to get paid first, share second. It’s the only way it will ever work in this technology-happy world.

The One Sales Tactic You Should Never Do To Reach Photography Clients

What if someone gave you these statistics:

  • Do this and you’ll have 98% rejection rate
  • Do this and you’ll have 100% of the people annoyed with you from the beginning
  • Do this and you’ll have 100% of the people talking about you – in a VERY bad way

With those kind of statistics, would you do it?

Of course not. Yet many, many people in business still do this every day.

What is it? Cold calling.

Cold calling was once a popular method of getting your foot in the door and building a relationship with a potential customer. Then things started changing – namely the Internet came around. And with social media, we changed the way we find things to buy. And we changed the way we build relationships.

Yet millions of people with old school ideas still believe in old school strategies. Some people pick up the phone and cold call. Some people knock on the door and cold call. Still others drop an email or a post and cold call.

And guess what? None of them work.

Cold call by phone and you’ll likely be hung up on. Cold call in person and you’ll likely be shoved out the door. Cold call online and you’ll likely be banned, deleted, screamed at, or worse, have your information go viral and influence your business in a very BAD way.

The One Sales Tactic You Should Never Do To Reach Photography Clients

What should you do instead?

Build relationships. Your number one potential for more business is the people you already do business with. Send them newsletters and postcards. Visit them. Send them birthday cards. Give a quick phone call of congratulations when you see them in the news. Send gifts. This is your number one source of potential revenue – treat it like its your pot of gold. [Read more…]

Do You Need Extra Money For Your Photography Business?

Have you ever said or heard the following statement?

“My normal salary just doesn’t cut it anymore. What I really need is a little bit of extra money. If I had a little bit extra every month, then I could do some of the things I’ve had on my plate for a while now.”

Yep, you probably hear something like that all the time. People always have a hard time making ends meet. They think they’ll have a little extra and their car breaks down. Or their child comes home with a “trip of a lifetime” … how can you say no? Or worse, they have a little extra money at the end of the month and end up blowing it on something frivolous.

Then the same cycle starts in again the next month. And so on.Do You Need Extra Money For Your Photography Business

What is the term “extra money” really doing for you? In essence, its just telling your subconscious that you need more money than you have today. Which means that if you find a penny on the street, you’ve accomplished your goal.

The term “extra money” is simply too vague to do you any good. Its not compelling enough to force you to take action and accomplish what you need to in order to bring in “extra money”. Your subconscious brain takes in that you want extra money, and when you have any amount extra, it shuts down and says “I’ve achieved my goal”.

Which means that the only way you can get your subconscious brain to take action is to give it something to hold on to and work towards.

If you’ve ever caught yourself saying “I need extra money this month”, what do you really need it for?

Maybe you have a new car payment of $300 a month that you always seem to be struggling to pay.

Maybe you really want to take that course you’ve had your eye on, but its $1000 plus airfare and three nights hotel.

Maybe you want to build up your savings for the new house you’ve had your eye on. But even if you sell your current home, you know you’ll need an additional $10,000 for the down payment.

Now you have defined what “extra money” really means. You know you need to find a way to fund an exact goal you have in mind.

You can do that by eliminating something already in your life – no more lunches out on Friday’s with the girls.

Or you can do that by adding in additional revenue – really working on bringing in five extra clients per month for portrait sessions.

Either way, with the help of your subconscious brain helping you along the way, you know have the motivation you need to accomplish your goal of creating “extra money”.

How To Use Emotions To Sell Your Photography

Whenever you hear of a forest fire ripping through a community, the news sources knows where the story is. It’s within the people affected by the fires.

So they start interviewing people with their homes in the background burned to the ground.

“I’ve lived there 30 years. I can’t believe it’s all gone. I have what’s important – my family and my pets. But I can’t believe I lost all of my photographs.”

We all have faced fire damage at some point in our lives. Maybe our home hasn’t burned to the ground, but chances are there is a story around you. And every time it happens, we begin to think – “What would I take in a fire situation?”

How To Use Emotions To Sell Your Photography

There is even a fascinating site and book entitled “The Burning House” in which the author asked that very question as he drove around to different states in the US. He asked people of all social classes, ages and occupations. They answered and provided a photograph of what they would take. And of course the results are pretty much as expected – things you simply can’t replace.

Photography isn’t a product. It’s a service. And because it’s a service, people buy because of their emotions – their feelings – and nothing more. If they fall in love and deeply want what you do, they will find a way.

But because of that, you have to give them something they can’t get anywhere else.

You have to give them great photography that’s above and beyond what they can do on their own.

And you have to market it to them so they understand its importance.

Once you have everything in place and you have identified your target audience for your marketing messages, using emotional triggers can help you connect on an entirely different level. Try out these triggers when creating your next marketing piece.

Fear – Fear is an emotion easy to use because we all can buy into the concept. It can be used with the fire concept – “My house burned to the ground, but luckily I saved my photographs.”

Trust – No one wants to leave the “used car salesperson” impression on anyone. Turn it around and you can teach your audience you are there for them through it all – “no hidden fees, no hard sales”.

Value – People will pay anything if they feel they are getting value for their money. Concentrate on your customer service and talk about it again and again.

Competition – People live where they do and own what they own in order to keep up appearances within their community. By showcasing others you’ve photographed in your community – especially recognizable people – will give others the desire to have “the best” as well.

Instant Gratification – Words like “now’, “today”, “by Friday” or “limited edition” gives people a sense of limited access. They know if they don’t act soon, they may lose the opportunity all together.

Belonging – When people love what you do, they want to be a part of something bigger. That’s why memberships, clubs and referral programs work so well. If you reward them well, they will be back.

Time – The biggest thing we’re all missing in today’s world is time. If anyone offers us a way to get more out of the day, we’ll happily take them up on that offer. Marketing messages that appeal to that desire for more free time or a time to enjoy an experience are extremely effective – “don’t come to a studio, we come to you and photograph you anywhere you desire, giving you any experience you choose to have”.

8 Reasons Some Prospects Will Never Buy Your Photography

8 Reasons Some Prospects Will Never Buy Your Photography

What’s the number one thing you hate about selling?It’s probably rejection.

As humans, no is the hardest word to hear. We want people to say yes. We want them to like us. We want them to fall in love with what we have to offer – we love it, why shouldn’t they?

When they say no, it fills us with doubt. Then we start questioning everything around us.

Is our business set up wrong?

Are our prices to high?

Are we not offering the right stuff?

Do they not like me?

Did I come across as too [rough, mean, uncaring, etc]?

It’s hard not to take things personally. But as a business owner, there is one thing you need to learn:

Prospects aren’t rejecting you; they are rejecting the offer you are making them.

It isn’t about you; it’s about them.

They could be rejecting you because:

1. The offer isn’t right for them.

2. The price is wrong for their budget.

3. They don’t believe in your message.

4. They already have someone else in mind – they’re going through the steps of looking at other photographers simply to confirm they are making the right choice for them.

5. They don’t like your photography – that’s okay, your unique style should never please everyone.

6. They are bad at making decisions.

7. They have no idea what they really want.

8. They are having a bad day and aren’t ready to make a decision.

And in every one of these cases, it’s okay that you don’t close the sale. This person isn’t right for you. You are better off spending your time on someone who loves what you do and what you have to offer.

Remember, a no isn’t rejecting you. It’s simply a way of telling you that they aren’t ready to close the sale. Leaving room for someone else who is.

10 Ways Your Sales Presentations May Be Hurting Your Sales

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 10…

One of the hardest aspects of running a photography studio is the sales process. Most of us aren’t born with sales skills. And though we can learn it over time, it may be the one thing holding you back from success. If you can’t sell, your business can’t thrive. Take a look at these ideas to see how you can improve your sales process.

1. Your selling process isn’t defined

What do you hope to accomplish during your sales process? How long is your sales process? Do you have clearly defined goals along the way? The only thing that builds and grows your business is sales. Yet that’s probably the one area you leave to chance and just “go with the flow”. You take classes to become a better photographer, and to learn how to market your business. Why not take a sales class too?

2. Your selling process isn’t planned

Instead of leaving it to chance, create a program that puts your sales strategies down for each stage of the process. How will you introduce your services? How will you get them to say yes? What will you do to keep them happy with their yes decisions? How will you get them to say yes to more throughout the process? The more you define in your strategy, the more successful you will be with it.

3. Cold selling has evolved

Remember the days of getting a list, picking up the phone, and making a “cold” call to someone? Nope, me neither. That’s because traditional cold calling hasn’t been around in a long time. Yet that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – we just approach it different. Thanks to the Internet, the customer is now more educated than ever before. They do their research, they understand your business, and they educate themselves on exactly what they want. Your job is to be the expert and help them bridge the gap between what they know and what they need to know in order for you to close the sale. [Read more…]

Sales Strategies You Should Avoid Because They Don’t Work

No matter how you bring in your prospects, it all ends up at the sales process. If you are good at selling, you’ll convert more prospects to clients. And if you aren’t, you won’t.

That’s simple enough. Yet a lot of photographers don’t think twice about their sales process. They spend all kinds of time producing a great website or having an awesome brochure. Then the client leaves without booking, or worse, never contacts you at all after viewing your marketing materials, and you’re left sitting there wondering why.

Do you use any of these tactics in your sales process?

Leave the next step to the prospect

Pull out your brochure. Pull up the emails or letters you send out when someone first contacts you. How do you close out all of your communications? If you use phrases like “if you’re interested, please contact us” or “I’d be happy to meet with you if you want more information”, you are losing the majority of your sales due to lack of enthusiasm.

If a client is immediately interested in what you do and asks for a brochure or more information, they are inviting the sales process. By you throwing the ball back in their court with vague messages, you aren’t living up to your true potential. Instead, keep the ball in your court. When you have a name, never tell them to call you. Try substituting closing statements like this: “I will call you next week to find out more about your plans.”

Selling  features rather than results

Photographers get caught up in the package and pricing of their business instead of focusing in on what the customer truly wants. If you sell them on the 8 hours of time, 36 page album, or CD with the digital files, you’ve turned your business into a Chinese restaurant where people simply pick and choose based on cost.

While customers may say “how much for an 8×10”, it’s because they don’t know what else to ask for. Photographers in the mainstream have turned this industry into a product only business, when what many customers truly want is a great experience. Focus in on the results, and how you can provide 110 percent customer service that goes way beyond your competition. [Read more…]