Archive for December, 2008

I’d like to put in my .02 on this set of posts from strobist, chase jarvis and john harrington (1, 2 and 3, you gotta watch that video). Strobist and Jarvis seem to think that as long as you get SOMETHING for your time, like unique access or circumstances, working for free can be a good deal. By the same logic, if you find a fist-sized diamond on the sidewalk, and sell it for a $1, that is also a good deal.

You’ve got to be able to monetize those images somehow. Think like shareware software. The best shareware is useful enough to hook you, but make you want to buy the full version. If it’s commercial work, slash the licensing rights. If a customer wants some shots for their website and can’t pay much, that’s fine. But if they need it for their brochures, print ads, display materials, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. If you want to give a free portrait session, fine, but sell the prints.

There will always be free work available. Don’t take any of it. If you want to work for free, do it on your terms. Decide what you want to do, find the people you want to do it with, and don’t make any compromises. I’ve wasted plenty of time shooting other people’s events for nothing, doing tfp shoots with models and such. You know how much real business that stuff led to?

None.

All of my paying clients, however, have come by way of referral from other paying clients. Imagine that.

It’s crazy that “hey, i should post to my blog” turns into a month of no posts. Back to the drawing board, re: getting this thing to occur regularly. Nevermind that, though. You don’t come here to listen to me beat myself up, so I won’t bore you with it.

I’ll be honest. 2008 was a tough year for me. There were long periods where I wasn’t getting enough business to stay afloat, and I took a second job to make up the difference. It helped, but until I started getting enough business to allow myself to invest in marketing, I was basically floating. This lack of money caused a lot of problems. I think I’m over that hump now, though. I have at least one steady client that brings in a few grand a month, and that income is going to be heavily leveraged towards marketing. I don’t want to float in a customer-less limbo again.

I spent a lot of time working on things outside my specialty, things I am not good at. Hand-made invoices, flyers, and hand-coded websites stole a lot of time that should have gone elsewhere. I thought I was too poor to outsource this stuff, but I was too poor not to. 2009 will be different in this regard. I figure a well-written, well-designed flyer, made by people who do it for a living, will be better than whatever I can crank out in the same amount of time.

I spent a lot of money on online advertising in 2008, with dismal results. If I am to drive traffic to my site, it is essential that I quickly make myself relevant to the viewer. So, I am going to be adding some landing pages aimed at appealing to specific markets. It seems basic now, but really, I’ve been scrambling just to get something decent up that I hadn’t worried about it, yet.

I can afford to make smarter decisions in 2009, even if some of them are mistakes, and that’s the best progress I can hope for.