3 Ways To Turn Your Story Into A Successful Photography Business

3 Ways To Turn Your Story Into A Successful Photography BusinessWhat makes you buy a product?

What makes you choose one company over another?

What makes you “attach” yourself to one person over another?

The story.

Think about the Olympics. Michael Phelps is a household name because they tell his story over and over again. In his third Olympic run, he beat the long time record of total medals held when he swam to his 19th win. We all rooted for him because we know his story, have watched him win time after time, and are right there with him as the announcers scream in excitement as he touches the side.

Think about a product you use. I’ve used a cleaner – Mr Clean Magic Eraser – for several years now thanks to a friend’s input. We had dinner one night and we got on the subject of cleaning. She broke out into this animated story about having marks on her wall. She had received a free sample of the Mr Clean Magic Eraser, and with just a few strokes, the surface was clean. So she moved on to other areas of her home with the same results. She put a new box at the top of her grocery list and started sharing her story with all of her friends. The story was enough for me. I’ve been a user ever since.

Now think about photography. Why would someone want to use you? Which of your customers loves you so much, they break out into an animated story whenever they are sitting and sharing their images with friends? Which of your clients is cheering for you when you do something beyond the scope of your business – you make headlines because of the work that you do?

If you don’t know your story, know one else will either. Which means now as you are building for the future, developing your own newsworthy story will ensure people connect with and stay with you for years into the future.

1. Find something others can care about.

Why did you go into business for yourself? Why did you start a photography business?

Those two questions can help you start building your own story.

Most people don’t go into photography for the money, or simply because they like toting a camera around with them 24/7. There is something else there that makes the journey worthwhile. That’s the thing that helps you develop your own story. That’s what you focus on. That’s where you find and develop a story others will care about too.

2. Use that story to build your business around.

Once you find your story, write about it and make it as succinct as possible. You should be able to give your story in a 30 minute elevator speech, as well as a 30 minute interview. You should know it inside and out, and be willing to give it at any time.

Nope, its not bragging. Many people have problems developing their own story because they feel like too much emphasis is being placed on themselves. Nothing is further from the truth. The story of you is important because that’s what gives people the “care” to want to do business with you. They need to have a reason to love who you are and share you with friends and family.

3. Work the story over and over again.

With your story in hand, you should share it everywhere. That’s what PR is for –  a reporter should be able to instantly see your value and want to spread the word about why you matter to your community. You should be able to write it online again and again. You should be able to incorporate it into all of your marketing materials – from your site to your brochures. Everything should link back to your story, giving prospects and clients an instant recognition of what you are all about.

If you message isn’t concise, you haven’t developed your story in a strong enough manner.

Ho Ho Ho – Santa May Be Delivering Extra Sales To You This Year

Wait. Isn’t it only September? Santa Claus in September?

Nope, the holidays aren’t sneaking up on you this year. But your potential for bringing in extra money for the holidays is. If you don’t start your planning now, you won’t be ready to take advantage of bringing in extra sales for the holidays.

Each year, many businesses do something special to give back to the community. From toy drives, to food donations, to community outreach projects, November and December are prime times to do something special for those that use your services. And with a little planning now, you can also gain a little recognition for it as well.

Have you ever noticed those human interest stories in your local newspaper about Christmas time promotions? Those stories weren’t planned overnight. Instead, companies approached media sources before the holidays begin and start planting the seeds for story ideas early.

And if you end up with a story in your local news early enough, it can have a big impact on your 2012 bottom line. Ready to get started?

1. Create a promotion

Keep in mind that a sale or a new service is not newsworthy unless it truly sets your business apart from the competition. What can you do a bit differently that adds to your community? Santa promotions are always great. But how about stepping it up a notch and offering a Victorian Santa in a beautiful classic scene for the children to have their portrait taken? Combine it with a toys for tots charity drive, or donate a portion of your sales to a local charity, and you’re one step closer to being newsworthy. You can also work together with other businesses for even more opportunity – how about a breakfast with Santa at a local hotel? Be creative. [Read more…]

8 DIY Publicity Tasks You Must Do Now

If you are in business for yourself, you must do every task necessary for your business. That includes everything from photographing your clients to taking out the trash. You don’t get to pick and choose what you want to do; instead everything is equally important when it comes to building a success business.

Which means every business owner must be a self promoter too – unless you have the ability to pay someone else to do it. If that’s not you, spreading the word is your task. Not to be confused with marketing, publicity gets others talking about you. And while many people think publicity comes with age – only the more established, more profitable companies need to worry about publicity – in fact its great to build your PR plan as early as possible.

Here are some ideas to help you develop a strong publicity program.

1. Choose what media outlets you would like to be featured in

What do you want out of your publicity? Are you trying to prove your expertise? Or are you trying to attract new clients? People look to articles in magazines as more authoritative than those that place ads. If you’re in an article, you must have something to say. Find a few sources where you would like to be featured and start gathering contact information. In order to pitch an article, you’ll need either a writer/reporter or the editor, depending on the size of the publication. Make sure you get contact information: names, email, addresses, web addresses. In many cases if you head online, you’ll find specific information for submitting ideas. I keep an excel file filled with this information, so its easy to create things and get them into the appropriate hands immediately.

2. Use resources like HARO

Want a great way to get to reporters looking for you? Try out a service like HARO – Help A Reporter Out. Sign up for their free service and you’ll be put on the mailing list in which you’ll receive emails three times a day listing opportunities. Follow up on the ones that you connect with and will bring you in potential exposure to your client base. While you can start with their free service – I’ve been using it for years – they also have pay models in which you can build profiles, filter your alert and even get a head start on responding. [Read more…]

5 Ways To Boost The Most Important Page On Your Site

What’s one of the most important pages on your website?

Your home page?

Your gallery section?

While they are all important in creating your overall brand, there is one page that stands out above the rest, and has the most impact in converting a complete stranger into a potential prospect. Yet its also one of the pages we think the least about, and throw up more as an afterthought.

It’s the About Us page.

Statistics continually show your About Us page is the second most trafficked page on your site. Yet if it’s just a few bullet points, a few sentences that give basic information about you, it’s also the number one page that is holding you back.

Your About Us page should be used to sell who you are and what you can do. And while that sounds easy in theory, statistics also show its one of the most difficult pages for people to write. There’s something about “tooting your own horn” that people simply find impossible. They consider it bragging. And therefore they write up a few sentences and leave it at that.

Having trouble writing up your own About Us page?
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Adding The Pizzazz To Your About Us Page

1. Start with a story. Every business started with one late night idea that built up because of passion. Every photographer loved the art of photographing, and somewhere along the way decided to turn it into a business. People love to hear that story. They love to know what was “the moment” for you, and what persuaded you to take action and create the business you are in today.

2. Who else loves you? Over the years, you’ve accumulated awards and accolades. Now is the time to share them with the world. Whether it’s a degree in photography, finishing a week long seminar and training session in Italy, or a 1st place award from the county fair, that’s you starting point. That’s why you are doing what you do today. And someone else has appreciated what you do as well.

3. Say it with a photograph. I’m always amazed at the number of photographers who don’t like to have their personal image showcased on their websites. Why? Be creative with it. Showcase your personality. Create an image that you’ve always dreamed of creating with your clientele. And use it on your site, and throughout your social platforms.

4. Use different media tools. The great thing about the online world is you have a variety of tools available to you to enhance your look and feel. Use them all to showcase what you do. Animoto, YouTube, SlideShare, Photoshop and others offer you amazing tools to create a variety of ways to showcase your talents. Don’t be afraid to use this new technology to make them say “wow”. (example)

5. Ask for comments. Instead of telling people about you, ask your current customers what they think. Then use those in your About Us page as well. Chances are they can say it better, and your prospects will completely relate to what they have to say about who you are and what you offer.

Bottom Line: Online or off, the ultimate job of self-promotion comes down to us, the business owner. If you can’t toot your own horn and make yourself stand out from the competition, it’s that much harder to convince people to use you as their photographer. Its your time to shine. What’s holding you back?

Promote yourself with a new About Us page today >>

3 Tips For Getting Your Photography Studio In The News

News is changing. When was the last time you actually picked up a hard copy newspaper? And statistics show the younger you are, the less chance of that actually occurring.

Just because the method for getting the news is changing doesn’t mean the necessity for news events is changing. In fact “news” articles are needed more than ever. We no longer have one newspaper for one community. There are dozens of tools and resources that write up and look for news related content on a daily basis.

Yet if I were to ask you what you are doing to attract the attention of editors and writers for these sources, I bet your answer would be “Ummm…”

Let’s break it down, and look at ways you can start growing your business by using publicity, and find resources that will make your job even easier.

1. Know your budget.

Don’t you hate it when the first question out of a potential customer’s mouth is “How much for an 8×10?” Yet that same question is relevant in every industry.

Before you move forward and look for resources in the public relations industry, you have to know your budget. Can you afford to hire a publicity firm? Can you hire people to write press releases for you? How about hiring a virtual assistant to send things to editors and writers on a regular basis – and to keep you on track every month?

The only way to determine how much work you can have done for you is to determine how much you can spend.

You can also talk with more than one person in the industry, and get a better feeling for what is possible. Just because you can’t afford it now doesn’t mean you won’t be able to in the future. Learn what things are, discover the lingo within the industry, and research costs. Then put together a plan of things to do over the coming months.

When you are researching ideas, look for: [Read more…]

The Perfect Press Release For Photographers

If you are new to owning your own business, you may not have discovered the magic of press releases yet.

Every single day, media outlets around the globe are in search of news. And because news shows seem to be increasing at a significant rate, they need that much more content to fill in the time slots.

While you probably won’t get top billing on a top broadcast, there are still many other ways to gain a little exposure for your business. A 30 second mention on a morning show, or a quarter page article in the living section of your local paper can bring in a ton of business.

But before you get excited about possibilities, you have to master the creation of the perfect press release first.

How To Write Your Press Release

In general, your press release (media release) should include:

  • Your business name
  • Your contact information
  • The date
  • An attention grabbing headline
  • Your news story outlined in short paragraphs, with the most interesting up front
  • Background information about you and your company

Your press release should be about one page in length, and should summarize the overall story you are pitching to media sources. Why should the media care about what you do? You can’t go with the simple or the boring here; journalists are looking for exciting, human interest stories that will be of interest to their readers or viewers.

Journalists receive dozens of press releases a day, and as you might guess, most of them end up in the trash. Their time is short, and they are looking for something to stand out above the rest, and motivate them to take the next step. So with that in mind, frame your story around something that you would find interesting.

A new photography business starting up isn’t interesting. But a new photography business who’s main client is a local rising rock band, and the photographer has followed them to several concerts creating the perfect look for their promotional pieces may be a great human interest story.

You have to put a twist on things, and get the journalist to care about what you do, and to get them to think their readers/viewers will care about it too.

As you are writing the release, write in simple language. Read the paper, magazine, or watch the show you are pitching to. Match your release to the language they use. For instance, a business journal is going to use different language than a local, hometown paper. Give them what they use. To help you write, remember to include:

[Read more…]

Market Your Photo Studio And Donate Too

People love doing things for a cause. And when you can give something and get something too, all the better.

ImagesForACure.com has come up with an idea to help fund breast cancer research – right in the middle of breast cancer awareness month. On October 11th, donate your time and session fees for the day to help a great cause, and maybe pull in a few new clients too.

Images For A Cure

With two and a half weeks left, its important you start immediately. Email and snail mail all of your existing clients, prospects, lists, and vendors a short letter you are taking part in this worthy cause – your way of helping out during breast cancer awareness month.

Create a special background for the occasion – or meet in a special location within your area: a portrait in the park series. Then take reservations for a set number of sessions that day. Let people know in your letter you’ll only be shooting XX number of portraits that day; once the sessions are gone, they are gone. 

The important thing is to get the letters/email out immediately. And start the process now.

You may also want to add a P.S. to your letter and let people know if they can’t use the portrait session themselves, pass the letter to a friend. Your goal is to have XX number of portrait sessions so you can donate $xxx to the cause.

And when you register on the ImagesForACure.com site, you’ll also have the exposure of being a participating photographer. Use it for cross promotion on your own site or blog as well.

If you participate, I’d love to hear how you do. Drop me a line below in the comments.