A guest blogpost by Business Coach Linda Ryan of LR Coaching.
Being any kind of artist especially a photographer has become increasingly challenging over the last year. With the development of smartphones and everyone and their mother taking better photos it would seem difficult to sustain a living from the art of capturing the moment.
Selling photographic services is the name of the game and like any other professional depends on the money people have to play around with.
The recession means that the public don’t have disposable income to buy great photographs or indeed hire talented photographers. Being undercut by cheaper competition and those who have developed their hobby is a regular feature of what is happening out there right now.
Taking photos and being creative are great stress busters in themselves but what happens when this has become your business and your business is not functioning. A non-functioning business means no money and no money means stress and exasperation.
The stress of the recession is affecting nearly every sector. How can we maintain an effective outlook while coping with the unsettling circumstances we are living through today.
The basics of stress management are good food, regular exercise, regular rest and time to reflect. Along with these there are other factors which can help when we experience tension and anxiety.
How much control we have over things needs to be assessed honestly. Realising that we can do something about our situation and then acting on that can go a long way to dealing with our stress levels. Likewise realising that we don’t have influence over things can bring relief and free our energy up for areas where we can be more effective.
Fear of branching out or looking at other options will only keep us in a stuck and restrained position so don’t be afraid to challenge your thinking and view point to see if some other avenue opens up and would benefit you at this stage. Reflecting on what holds you back from looking at this might help to shine light on potential improvements one could make that would be positive rather than staying in the same situation.
I have heard of photographers fall into the trap of taking photos and providing services for little or nothing so being in business for the artist in general can be a challenge, what must it be like when a recession has us by the neck.
Is it time to set new goals and if not what is your present strategy going forward. Have you got one and if not why not? Do you need professional marketing assistance, do you need to get social media savvy, have you got an up to date website that is mobile device responsive that shows off your amazing photos and lets people know where you are and what you cost? Would it help to be challenged by a coach to see what your next step could be. Start checking out potential professionals who could help. Doing something is better than doing nothing and there are tonnes of great advice and assistance on the internet and a lot of it for free!
Self-awareness is key to managing our stress so ask yourself where and what tends to make you most stressed and then see what your options are.
Linda Ryan is a coach and stress management consultant. Her website is lrcoaching.com
Linda Ryan is a business owner and coach. Over the last number of years she has specifically been working with employees, managers and executives in such areas as performance breakthrough and work/life balance, along with areas like stress and anger management. She holds an Advanced Diploma in Personal and Executive Coaching, and is approved by the British Psychological Society for Personality and Occupational Psychometrics. She has also lectured and been a trainer at Griffith College Dublin on their personal development programs which she designed and assessed. She holds an MA from Dublin Business School and has worked in the sports, corporate and hospitality industries.
Facebook have completely changed the rules around Facebook competitions in the past couple of weeks. I have seen so many photographers pages continue to flout the rules and put themselves in danger of being unceremoniously shut down.
The great news is that Facebook have completely changed their promotion and competition guidelines, and the new rules have huge implications. The biggest being that pages can now continue doing what they’ve been doing, but it is now actually allowed. Well, most of it. I’ve outlined the changes below, as well as the pros and cons of running a competition straight from your wall vs via an application.
The biggest and most important change is that you can now run competitions/promotions straight from your Timeline. Previously pages were only able to run competitions through applications, not directly on their page timeline (though many didn’t actually know this was the case). This has now changed, and along with it Facebook are allowing entries via Comments and Likes.
So what does all that mean?
You are now officially allowed to publish a post to your Page that says “Want to win €1000? Like this to enter.” Or post a photo and say ‘Caption this pic for your chance to win”. What has changed you may be thinking? It’s likely you saw loads of competitions similar to this in the past anyway. And it’s highly likely that’s why Facebook changed the rules – pages simply weren’t adhering to their previous guidelines anyway. That being said, some pages continue to break the rules by posting competitions that require people to share things to their wall to enter the competition. To break it down for you, here’s an overview of what you now can and can’t do with Facebook competitions:
What you can do:
- Run competitions through your Page wall/timeline (through a post) and/or via an application
- Allow people to enter your competition via commenting or liking your post
- Allow people to enter your competition via direct message to the Page
- Allow people to enter your competition by posting on your wall
- Use ‘likes’ as a voting mechanism – ie. people can vote for their favourite entry by simply liking it
What you still cannot do:
- Administer a competition on a personal timeline, it must be done on a business page
- Require or encourage people to tag themselves in content they are not depicted in
- Require or encourage people to post or share anything to their personal timeline
These new rules mean that it is so much easier, particularly for small businesses with small social budgets, to run competitions through their Pages quickly and cheaply. But in some cases, it may still be preferable to use an application. Here’s a run-down of the pros to each method:
Why use an app to run your Facebook contest?
- It allows a more personalized and branded experience
- There is more flexibility in terms of content you can provide and interactivity
- You can collect more data from entrants – eg. their email addresses, business names etc.
- You can require the opting into a newsletter to expand your database
- You can like-gate the competition – ie. Entrants must like your page to enter (thus better opportunity to grow your community)
- You can easily keep all entries in one place for your community to share, like and vote on (ie. Gallery)
- You can prompt entrants to share their entry with friends after they have entered, increasing viral exposure (and you have control over the message that is being shared)
- Easier to collate all entries and entrants’ details in one place for judging*
Why use your business page to run your Facebook contest?
- Faster and easier
- Cheaper to run – no requirement to pay for third-party apps or pay a developer
- Easier for entrants to enter, thus likely to gain more entries
- Potential for greater viral exposure via post showing up in entrants’ newsfeeds who have liked/commented
- No mobile compatibility issues
Of course, if you want to get the best of both worlds you can always use both an application and your wall to run your competition. If you want to check out Facebook’s new promotion guidelines in more detail, you can do so here.
Hope this helps!
A while back I posted an article on tethering your camera to an iPad wirelessly from Lee Morris of Fstoppers fame. Well here is another that might interest you from the same guys. It’s how you can wirelessly tether your iPad and use it as a second monitor in conjunction with a laptop or desktop for editing and other things.
And HERE is the link to buy the App.
Enjoy it and I hope it helps. If you find it useful perhaps you might leave a comment and tell us how you got on.
What do you think coffee is worth?
I decided to conduct an experiment for the sake of making a comparison to photography branding and this blog. On Monday, after I dropped my two kids to school and with some money in my pocket, I headed to the city centre to run some errands.
I decided I needed a coffee and I proceeded to park my car in the metered spot outside the door of the Starbucks on Mespil Road. I paid fifty cents for parking and I walked into the Starbucks, waited in line for about 10 minutes while I listened to “pick of the week” music playing out of the overhead speakers. The cashier took my order, and I paid €2.40 for a Grande coffee, plus a €0.60 tip.
Then, I walked over to the pick-up counter and waited another five minutes while the barista wrapped up the drinks he was making for the customers ahead of me. He handed my tall coffee to me, and apologized for the wait.
Total cost for a tall coffee at Starbucks: €3.00 (plus parking@ 50 cents!)
Total time at Starbucks, including parking: 20 minutes
Then, on my way out of town, I went ‘Drive Thru’ at my local McDonald’s in Nutgrove. There was one vehicle ahead of me, so within a mere 60 seconds of waiting, I was at the call box talking to the order-taker. She couldn’t hear me, so I had to place my order three times. Finally, the sound worked, and she captured my request for a medium coffee.
I drove around the corner of the building and paid under €2 for my coffee. At the next window, I picked up my medium coffee (it should be noted that a large is also the same price as a small and medium coffee at McDonald’s).
I spent about 3 minutes in the entire McDonald’s drive-thru and then headed home.
Total cost for my medium McDonald’s coffee: under €2
Total time at McDonald’s drive-thru: 3 minutes
On my drive home, I reflected on my experience. I waited significantly longer at Starbucks and had to hassle with parking my car. The people in Starbucks were nicer, the ambience was pleasant in the store, and the white paper cup the barista handed me felt good in my hand. By paying almost twice as much for a smaller cup of coffee, it got me an experience that “felt” better to all senses despite the hassle of parking the car and waiting longer. The wait was made pleasant via the music and kind employees.
My experience at my McDonald’s wasn’t horrific, but it wasn’t good either. By paying about half as much for a few more ounces in my cup, it came at the expense of not-so-nice employees, the smell of the car exhaust from the vehicle ahead of me, a cup that felt shiny, and just a general bad feeling (McDonald’s is just not a food establishment that “feels” good to me).
Why I bought two cups of coffee, really
I’ve been doing some research about pricing and branding strategies for my other business , recently. At a higher level, I’m interested in working with and helping photographers “take back” the photography industry. I wanted to have something to reflect on as a litmus test for some of my thinking.
Because customers expect stuff from “cheaper”. They associate an experience worth tolerating in exchange for “cheap”.
On the flip side, customers tend to feel good about an experience that is “worth more”. By paying more, they are sitting back and enjoying the tiny elements of delight the company or business owner took the time to architect.
How this relates to photography branding
My exercise resulted in a microcosm of proof that photography branding and evaluating the value of your photography can be done in the same way as the value of a commodity like coffee. Cheap can work fine for you, if your customer is expecting a “cheap-like” experience. And being worth more can work fine for you, if you are interested in crafting a delightful experience for your customers who are patient and willing to spend more time with you, because they value you more.
There is no definitively right answer, only a more right answer for you.
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Cormac O’Kelly & Social Media Management
“Digital Darwinism” is a phrase that has been appearing more and more. This simple idea basically links digital marketing with natural selection. Simply put, “Those who evolve will survive”.
Whether you like it or not digital media is here to stay and has taken over. Everything has gone digital; radio has gone digital, TV has gone digital and even print has gone digital. What this says to those who have yet to engage or those who have resisted change is that there really is no choice but to engage via these channels. Once the media channels you used to use move to a new platform, you no longer have the choice or are able to resist. Any business, whether it’s business2business or business2consumer, needs to reach their customers and potential customers.
Why you don’t have a choice:
- Your customers are nto paying attention to where you currently are
- Your customers cannot find you where they are looking
- Your competitors are using these new(er) digital tools to sell there products and services more efficiently and in turn steal your customers.
You are probably saying, “Not in my industry”! If you are, you are wrong! Every single industry out there is being disrupted by new technologies. This applies to the way the industry works and functions and to the way they reach their customers.
What should you be doing? Here are some steps you should be taking.
If you don’t have any real estate online you’re in BIG trouble. Your website has the ability to be one of the most powerful sales tools in your arsenal. The bad news… Just being online isn’t enough. Your website from 5 years ago isn’t going to live up to the modern expectations of your customers and is most likely going to make them angry. You need to consider everything from the user experience to the functionality and especially the design.
Phonebooks are now commonplace holding open doors and propping up ‘wobbly’ tables and stuff. When people need something, they Google it. If they don’t Google, they use Bing or Yahoo!. If you haven’t put much work into optimizing your digital presence for the search engines of the world, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. If you’re business covers a wide geographic space, you’re going to have some more intense competition. If you’re covering a small local area you have a big opportunity, but it won’t last. Simply put … The sad truth is that if you don’t show up in the first page of the search results your customers will move on.
Customer Retention Plan
This needs to be a well thought-out process involving multiple forms of media. Everybody has a shorter attention span than ever before and are a lot less patient. This means that when we need something we need it NOWand that we might easily forget about the things we like or want. There are a million options out there and the perfect plan for your company will depend on how your business operates, who your customer is, and what they need from you. A few of the options would include
- Ongoing and creative newsletters or email campaigns
- Digital customer service
- Customer rewards program
… but there is lots more besides.
Most of the time the content on your website is static, meaning it doesn’t get updated often (if at all). This is bad for many reasons. One being that you aren’t giving your customers a reason to come back to the site. Twobeing that the search engines tend to favor the sites that are updated often. Another trend online right now is that brands are creating and sponsoring content that their customers will enjoy and hopefully find valuable. Instead of an advertisement trying to persuade the consumer to buy, they’re providing entertainment, insight or value through content creation. This is being done through editorial format as well as through audio, video and images. You can build a loyal following of brand followers with the right content strategy… alternatively you can waste your time with the wrong one.
There’s a lot of adapting and “evolving” for businesses to take on right now but the list above should get you started. If you have any questions or need any help, contact me.