Today I’m joined by Brent Mail, to talk about the business of photography, and a great new personalized photography course that he’s about to start. I’m sure some of you will be interest in.
Brent Mail is a photographer who grew up in South Africa though now lives in Australia after a stint in America. He shares his story with us in this interview, so I won’t spoil it by sharing any more information right now. Instead, let’s jump in and listen to my conversation with Brent Mail.
Here though are the key points that we touched on though…
Brent built a photography business while working as an engineer, then got burnt out and sold that business, but he learned a lot of invaluable lessons along the way, which he is incorporating into the training that we talk about.
After that, Brent went from working 5 to 6 days per week to working two and a half days a week for the same amount of profit, and realized that he want’s to help photographers to identify what kind of business they want to build, then give them the tools to build it.
His new course is personalized for each person that takes the course, and he provided feedback to each member of the group as they complete each assignment. Because of this, Brent is only taking a limited number of photographers on, with the current iteration starting on July 15, 2016, so once you have listened to our conversation, if you think this is something that you’d like to undertake, visit the following link, check out the details, then fill out the application towards the bottom of the page.
Brent also relays the story of his experience sea kayaking for 16km against the wind, and how his commitment to his friends helped to keep him from throwing in the towel, and he’s sent me a photograph of that event.
Brent Sea Kayaking
Here also is the video that Brent mentioned during our conversation.
These are the three images that Brent shared with us towards the end of the discussion.
Today I welcome Corwin Hiebert back to the podcast. You may know Corwin as the manager to David duChemin, but he is a man of many hats, one of which he wears as the co-owner of Taendem, a boutique company that offers business management services for creatives, and he’s here today to talk about an incredible new product that Taendem just released.
In this interview, we discuss the Business Action Planner in detail, but also during our conversation touch on many important business tips from someone that really knows what he’s talking about.
Corwin’s Also gave us these tips, and we have a great discussion about each of these, so be sure to listen to the audio.
• Once your creative niche is solidified, shape your business model around the needs of others
• Develop a brand experience that is anchored on trust and generosity not just visual treatments
• Remove the chaos from your creative and administrative workflow so you can be productive and inspire confidence
• Take the mysterious out of your sales process by documenting the steps you take in securing clients/customers
• Be intimate with the details of your Cost of Business and Cost of Living so you can grow your business in light of your realities
• Make your target audience curious so that you draw a crowd instead of trying to stand out in one
I’ve started to go through my tasks in the Business Action Planner, and I can tell you, although I wish I’d had this years ago, it’s never too late to work on these tasks. I’m already finding lots of things that I really should tweak, even in my fifth year in business.
You can help to support this Podcast by clicking through to buy your Business Action Planner with this link -> https://mbp.ac/bap
Fine Art Print Giveaway!
Before we finish, I’d like to let you know that you can win your own 17 x 24 inch fine art print of the below image, delivered to your door, absolutely FREE! To enter, all you have to do is to subscribe to our mailing list on the Giveaway page.
The current print up for grabs, is this is a photograph from this year’s Iceland Tour & Workshop, called Jewel on the Shore. Thanks for taking part, and good luck!
I recently switched newsletter services from Campaign Monitor to MailChimp, and today take a look at some of the key differences between the two services. Now having experience with both, this isn’t going to be a MailChimp vs Campaign Monitor death-match, because they are both great systems. My intention today is to point out the differences so that you are in a better position to decide which one is for you, or at least which one to try first.
I know this isn’t directly photography related, but it very much is business related. I believe it’s very important that any business tries to build a mailing list to keep in touch with your audience and customers. The Internet is becoming a very crowded space, and we are all fighting for eye time, so it’s important to develop ways to stay in contact and interact with people that are interested in what we have to say.
People digest information in many ways. For example, although I release the audio recording these Podcast episodes each week, I know that some people still prefer to read. Some people come to the Web site and read rather than listen, and others subscribe with our RSS feed. Some people obviously subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes, and others listen via the various players and syndication applications that pick up my Podcast.
Having put in pretty much full day each week to make these Podcasts, I of course want to reach as many people as I can with them, and one of the things that we’ll look at, is the automatic delivery of my blog posts each week now, via MailChimp. Although not everyone is going to open the mail, I find that proactively pushing information to people’s mail inbox is a great way to augment what I’m doing with the Podcast and blog.
I also have people that sign up for Tour and Workshop information, and that gives me a way to directly alert people that are interested to new tours as information is made available. Before I started using Campaign Monitor a few years ago, I maintained groups of email addresses in the address book on my computer, but that can get messy and hard to maintain, plus the emails that I sent out were mainly just text and links, and didn’t look great. I also had to BCC people to protect their privacy, but that is a surefire way to get your email sent straight to the spam folder.
The services we’ll look at today enable us to create great looking email, that are less likely to be automatically marked as spam, so they are more likely to get read than a simple text email. I know a number of very successful pros that send out plain text email, and they really don’t do their content justice in doing so.
OK, so to start our comparison of MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, let’s take a look at the pricing. Both companies enable you to set up an account for free to get a feel for the system. MailChimp actually allows you to have a completely free account for up to 2,000 subscribers, and send up to 12,000 email per month without paying a penny, which is awesome, and a great way to get started. You only start paying for your account when you go over 2,000 subscribers, or if you want some of the extra features only available with a paid account that we’ll look at shortly.
Campaign Monitor pricing starts at $9 for a monthly account, with up to 500 subscribers, or you can use a free account, and pay $5 per campaign plus 1¢ for each recipient, so if you were to send a campaign out to 1,000 subscribers, you’d pay $15 for that campaign but there are no other charges. This is great if you just need to manage a list of subscribers, and don’t send out emails that often. If you will send out an email more than one a month though, a monthly plan probably makes more sense.
Both companies have a sliding scale pricing model, where you pay more as the number of subscribers to your newsletters grows. Campaign Monitor charges $9 for that first 500 subscribers and with their basic plan, you can send up to 2,500 email per month, basically sending to your entire list once every week. Once you go above 500 subscribers, you’ll jump to the $29 plan, which is good up to 2,500 subscribers and 12,500 email per month. If you need to send more email that the limit of these basic plans, you can select the unlimited plans, but these are quite a lot more money. The $29 basic plan for example jumps to $59 for unlimited emails. Check out Campaign Monitor’s pricing page for more information on larger volume lists.
MailChimp’s pricing starts at $15 per month for 501-1,000 subscribers but that is for unlimited sends out of the gate. The MailChimp scale is more granular than Campaign Monitor, increasing with every 500 subscribers. I actually switched from the $29 a month plan on Campaign Monitor, to the $30 per month plan on MailChimp, but because that now includes unlimited sends, it will actually work out cheaper for me, especially as I’ve now enabled automatic emails when I release new blog posts, as we’ll see later.
Another major difference between the two services is how they manage lists and subscribers. Campaign Monitor allows you to have the same person subscribe to multiple lists, but then when you send out an email, you can select multiple lists, and if the same person is in more than one list, they will only receive one copy.
I found this easy to manage, and it enabled me to post a subscribe button for my Tours & Workshops newsletter on my tour pages, and I could post another button for my general information newsletter elsewhere, and I didn’t have to worry about which list people were in.
MailChimp however has no linkage between mailing lists, and although you can put people in multiple lists, you can’t select multiple lists to send out an email to. Now that I have it set up, it’s quite intuitive, but there was quite a learning curve initially, especially having come from what I considered to be more intuitive functionality on Campaign Monitor, although ultimately MailChimp’s lists enable you to do a lot with their Segments and other add-ons that we’ll get to shortly.
Because there is no way to send to multiple lists in MailChimp, if I had kept my old structure, with one list for Tour information, and another list for General Information, if I wanted to send the same newsletter to both lists, I would literally have to send it to both lists, and people that are on both lists would receive two copies, and in doing that, I’d run the risk of people marking my newsletters as spam, which is obviously best avoided. At the very least, I’d probably see more people unsubscribing from at least one of the two email, if not both.
MailChimp uses Groups and Segments to achieve the same thing, so if you want to avoid sending multiple emails to the same recipient, you need to put them into a single list, separated into groups. Here (below) you can see how my main MBP Newsletter list is divided into General Information, Tours and Workshops, Pixels 2 Pigment and a few other groups.
MBP Newsletter List Groups
Then, to send email you create Segments. The cool thing about Segments is that you can create Segments based on various rules, so for example as you see here (below) I can create a segment just for General Information, and I can create a segment to send to both the General Information group and Tours & Workshops group, or any combinations of group in my list.
This way I can easily create larger groups to email when the information I’m sending out is likely to be of interest to more than one group, and of course, if the recipient is subscribed to more than one group they still only receive one copy of the email. I also have some other lists that people are added to, and I can merge lists easily as necessary.
Another benefit of the MailChimp system is that you can keep your monthly costs down by only having recipients in a single list, assigned to various groups, because if someone is subscribed to multiple lists, they are counted as separate subscribers, so you will jump up to the higher price bracket sooner.
Sign-up Buttons and Forms
To get people signed up, both companies provide various forms to use on your Web site, and both have an iPad app that you could use at events or exhibitions, and they both have a Facebook signup form.
In general, I think the Campaign Monitor forms are better looking and easier to embed in your web site. I found it took more time to get the MailChimp forms looking how I wanted them too, although the forms themselves do have to be more complicated to handle things like signing up for specific newsletter groups.
Once you have them working, both companies do the job at hand, but one area that Campaign Monitor has the edge is their simple popup button, which I could easily embed into a page, and when clicked would just show a name and email address field, to get the user subscribed quickly and easily.
MailChimp don’t have this, and it’s one thing that I really wish they’d work on. They have a popup style form, but they even call it the ‘evil popup mode’, probably because it’s is timed to display after so many seconds, which I find really annoying too.
I may well change this, but I’ve started to use a WordPress plugin called SideOffer with a custom background graphic to add a simple tab to the top right of the browser window, which when clicked opens a small window containing the form. I experimented with a number of ways to actually build the form, but the native MailChimp forms work best because they tap straight into the system, which enables them to check if people are already signed up, and if they are, an appropriate message is displayed and an email sent with a link to change existing subscription options.
You can of course also just provide a link to a simple page with a sign-up form, which works fine and it’s easy to customize the forms with your logo and group options etc. Again, these aren’t quite as pretty as Campaign Monitor, but they do the job.
Both companies enable you to set up autoresponders, which are emails sent automatically to new subscribers as they sign-up. Both companies enable you to fully customize the autoresponder template, so that the new subscriber receives an email with a similar look and feel to your newsletter and you can include your own welcome message and links to things that you’d like to draw to your new subscriber’s attention. Neither company offers an autoresponder with their free plan, which in the case of Campaign Monitor would be a pay per campaign plan, so if you want to set up an autoresponder, you have to pay for a monthly plan with either company.
Both systems have a huge array of templates for you to use and customize. Compared to the templates that I’ve been using until recently on Campaign Monitor, I’d say that MailChimp had the edge on customizability, but with the recent addition of Canvas templates in Campaign Monitor, there is probably now very little in it with regards to what you can create and the ease of use.
Campaign Monitor Canvas Template Design
I tend to find that MailChimp’s templates lend themselves a little more towards reuse. For example, in Campaign Monitor I found myself copying and modifying old templates or creating new templates quite a lot, but with MailChimp I’m finding that the templates are more flexible, so I can create what feels like a more higher level template, and use it more often for various types of email.
Both systems have code blocks that you add to your template or email as you write it, and these can be used to create great looking emails without a lot of effort. If it’s a pain to actually create an email, you’ll do it less, so ease of use here in paramount, and both do a great job.
Both companies also offer both a regular mail client preview and iPhone preview of your email as you complete your design, but MailChimp don’t do themselves any favors by messing this up. As you can see here, the Campaign Monitor preview has the iPhone version correctly scaled and responsive.
Campaign Monitor Email Preview
MailChimp’s preview however shows the images too large in the iPhone view, as we see here (below). In reality, the MailChimp email are also correctly scaled when viewed on the iPhone, but that isn’t correctly displayed in the preview making it feel more like a gimmick than a useful feature.
MailChimp Email Preview
Blog/RSS to Email
So far, with regards to most of the stuff we’ve touched on, Campaign Monitor is either neutral, or perhaps even does a better job than MailChimp in some ways, but one of the things that MailChimp does do better, is the RSS to email feature. Most blogs have what’s called an RSS feed, which contains either a summary of posts, or the full posts in a simplified format to be read by syndication readers such as Feedly, Reeder and Leaf etc.
This provides a way to create automatic updates, such as the RSS to Email functionality on both Campaign Monitor and MailChimp. Basically the content of your RSS feed is used as the body of an automatically generated email that is sent to subscribers of a specific list.
The reason I was never able to turn this on when using Campaign Monitor, was because it insisted on including the last four posts in my feed, and because I have the full post in my RSS feeds, this would result in a huge email going out to subscribers. All I wanted to send was the most recent post, and that’s exactly what MailChimp does. A very subtle but important difference, and one of the factors in my decision to switch systems.
This has enabled me to create an automatic campaign via MailChimp that looks at my blog’s RSS feed every day at 8pm Japan time, and if there is a new post, it creates an email and sends it out to everyone that has subscribed to receive Blog Posts Delivered by Email.
A Stronger Push
You might think that’s a stupid thing to do, because I want people to visit my site, right? Well, that’s true, but I also want people to be able to receive and consume my content in any way that suits them. Some people only subscribe to the RSS feed, read my content and never visit the site, which is fine. Likely some people subscribe in iTunes, listen to the Podcast during their commute, and never visit the site, which is fine too.
I spend a lot of time each week putting this content together, and the more consumption options I can provide people with, the better. Of course, too many choices can lead to none being selected, but in this case, the visitor is already looking at my newsletter sign-up form, or subscriptions page, because, hopefully, they’ve liked what they’ve found, and want to receive regular updates when new content is released.
The other benefit of an automated email is that it’s what I’d consider a stronger push than iTunes or an RSS feed. I use RSS in a program called Leaf, which syndicates all of the feeds that I’m subscribed to, and I can flick through hundreds of blogs, only looking at newly published content, and then have everything that I’ve read automatically disappear from view. It’s great! But I have to be in the mood to do a bit of browsing, and start Leaf up, and I only do that a couple of times a week.
With email though, I open it first every day. I’d hazard a guess that most people do. So when someone gets up and checks their mail before running out of the house to go to work, they’ve picked up my new post. That means that they can now read it on the train, or even listen while driving if they have a data plan, because the audio player works fine in some mail clients. With very little effort on my part to set this up, I have enabled a new method of consuming my content, and that has to be a good thing.
A/B Split Campaigns
Both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor can send what are called A/B Split campaigns. This is basically a way of testing what works better in your email, based on a different Subject line, from name or in the case of Campaign Monitor, different content in the email, or with MailChimp, different delivery times.
Campaign Monitor splits the campaign 50/50 which enables you to check the results of the entire campaign for future reference. MailChimp on the other hand has the ability to start with an adjustable percentage of the entire list, and then send the rest of the list recipients based on the winning mail style after a preset period of time. This is great, as you learn from the test, but then act on the results during the same campaign rather than having to wait until you send your next newsletter out.
MailChimp A/B Campaign Settings
Once you are ready to send your campaign, both companies allow you to send straight away, or schedule the newsletter to be sent at a set time. Another couple of nice features in MailChimp are the ability to send with Timewarp, that will send at a set time, say 9am, in your recipients’ timezones, and you can also allow MailChimp to optimize the send time based on click activity from previous campaigns, so that you have the best chance of people actually opening and clicking on links in your email.
MailChimp Send Scheduling
Once your mail campaign has gone out into the world, both systems provide comprehensive reports on how many people actually opened the email, and how many people clicked on a link in your email. I remember a conversation with the folks at MailChimp when I was at the Photoshelter Luminance conference in New York in 2012, and they seemed quite impressed when I told them that between 60 and 70% of my recipients open my email, but I had no way of knowing in Campaign Monitor whether that was good or bad.
MailChimp Reports with Industry Averages
In MailChimp, they actually provide industry standard statistics in your reports so that you can see how you’re doing without having to go searching for this information online, which is a big advantage to this system in my opinion. There are lots of other reporting features as well of course, breaking out your subscribers by country, age and gender etc.
MailChimp also has a cool add-on option called Social Pro, that collects data on your subscribers based on the social networks that they use, how active they are, and how many people follow them etc. This is useful because you can create Segments based on the information gathered, so I could for example send an email regarding something Facebook related just to people that I know are active on Facebook.
Social Pro costs an extra $1 per 500 subscribers per list, so it’s not a big deal to add, and depending on how you manage your lists you may not need to add this to all of your lists. I have a number of different lists that I actively use, but I only have Social Pro activated on one of them.
One of the main reasons I decided to give MailChimp a try recently, was the amount of community support I see for MailChimp compared to Campaign Monitor. Very often for example, a WordPress plugin will support adding people to a MailChimp list, but not Campaign Monitor. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s a trend that I’ve come across a lot over the last few years, and integration with my Web site is obviously an important consideration.
Both systems offer everything you need to manage mailing lists, easily create beautiful templates and emails to send out, and report on the results of your campaigns. I think MailChimp has the edge on the kind of information available in your reports, and I get the feeling that MailChimp are more interested in helping their customers to understand what they are seeing in relation to the bigger picture, and not just providing the necessary information to do your own research and analysis.
Having already been comfortable with Campaign Monitor, then spending a lot of time setting up MailChimp and getting used to the new system over this last month, my overall impression is that MailChimp takes more time to get up and running, but once that time has been invested, the system is a little more powerful. If you want to get up and running quickly, with a very capable system, Campaign Monitor may be the preferred choice.
Note though that whatever you decide, it doesn’t really have to be a final decision. You can export your subscribers from both systems, and import them to the other very easily, and both systems can be set up and seriously played with without paying a penny.
Anyway, I’ve voted with my pennies, and will be cancelling my monthly subscription with Campaign Monitor for now, but really, they are both great systems, and my hope with this comparison review is that it helps you to decide which one to go with if you need something like this yourself. I know it’s not directly photography related, so forgive me if you are totally uninterested, but if you are building a business, and don’t have a similar system in place yet, I hope this was useful.
If you should decide to use MailChimp, you can support this Podcast by using our referrer link: http://eepurl.com/ZyXaT
The times they are a-changin’ and today, I’d like to relay a my thoughts about a recent chain of events compared to how I know I would have reacted years ago, and why I think it’s so important to adapt to the current state of the photography industry and adjust our perception of the real value of our images.
To give you a little background, last week a friend on Twitter congratulated me on a blog post that when I checked was full of my photographs from Antarctica, but I’d not heard about this post until I was congratulated about it. My initial knee jerk reaction was that my images had been stolen, which happens a lot, but over the years, what this means to me, has changed drastically.
Probably as recently as eight or nine years ago, I would have emailed the person that posted the article and demanded payment for the usage or removal of the post and/or images. As the years progressed, if there was no obvious commercial connection, I might have been more likely to ask for a link back to my Web site in recognition, but it probably still wouldn’t have been a pleasant interaction.
I read the text on the post on Featurshoot.com though, and it was well written, credited me for the work, and linked back to my Web site. On closer inspection I noticed that all the images linked back to my Offset stock library, and I realized that there was probably some legitimate connection, so I mailed my contact at Offset to ask if she knew anything about it.
Within minutes I received a reply from the kind folks at Feature Shoot explaining what had happened. It turns out that Offset have an agreement with Feature Shoot to help spread the word about their artists, and it was my turn.
Now, I would have preferred to have been alerted to this before the post was published, and in fact they had some images and references from Iceland, despite the post being about my Antarctica work, and I could have helped them to avoid that, but these sort of posts are being hammered out at an amazing pace these days, and being able to check posts in advance is becoming less and less possible, so that was no big deal.
Here’s the thing though; at this point in time, I instantly recognized the post as a great marketing vehicle, with all legit links, and so my initial communication was not confrontational, even when I didn’t know what was going on. I just asked if Offset knew about this, and got a professional reply within minutes.
Years ago, I would have been all over these people like a rash, then had to back down and apologize when I realized it was all legit. In fact, I’d say that the pace of things have changed so much that years ago this would never have happened without contact me first, but that’s kind of beside the point.
The point is, that we need understand that things have changed. Years ago, every use had to be paid for, or legitimized in some way, and when that didn’t happen, tempers got frayed. Now though, there are literally millions of Web sites, with great content being shared constantly ,and everyone is fighting for the valuable eye-time of visitors. The value has shifted completely from paying for the photograph, to paying for eye-time with your photographs.
I can imagine a thought pattern years ago that went something like, “I’ve worked really hard to make those images, and deserve compensation for their use.” Well guess what, the guys at Feature Shoot have worked really hard to build an audience that trusts them and watches out for new posts on their site too. The fact is, that every site that gets more than a handful of visits a day has to work really hard for that privilege.
The Snow-Ball Effect
Another possible benefit for me and Offset of course, is that there’s a chance that in this situation someone checking out the Feature Shoot article might actually go and license one of my images, or at least be on their way to remembering my name, which has marketing value too. They say that people have to see your name at least three times before they have might remember it. Just having people remember your name is a huge benefit.
It turns out too, that Feature Shoot is being checked out and syndicated by other sites, and my work was picked up and ran on a number of other very influential sites. The marketing effect was starting to snowball. The next thing I knew My Modern Met was running the story with my photos. Shortly after, I started to hear from friends from all around the world, again, congratulating me on that article.
It was as though everyone expected that I’d worked hard to get onto these sites, when the reality is I’d had nothing to do with it. In fact, it was from the snow-ball effect of the kindness of the folks at Offset that I was getting all of this exposure, and it get’s better.
Drygalski Fjord Glacier – South Georgia
Over the following 24 hours, I received emails from three very high volume Web sites that wanted to run this article, with some new photographs. Again, years ago my immediate reaction would have been to ask how much they were willing to pay. Now, my knee jerk reaction is “Wow! It would cost me a fortune to try to get that kind of exposure otherwise!” You see how this has all flipped around?
One of the three emails resulted in my images being run on the Gizmodo SPLOID sites world-wide. Gizmodo have vast numbers of visitors. I’m not going to say exactly how many because I don’t know if the information I received was confidential or not, but it’s a good nine figure number, and that is incredible exposure.
Now, I’m not going to mention the names of the other two sites, because I’m still working with them, so A) I don’t want to jinx the communication, and B) it would be embarrassing if these others didn’t happen, but I’m sure you grasp how excited I am by the prospect, as collectively we could be talking about possible exposure to around 40 million viewers worldwide. Can you image how much it would cost to pay to market yourself to that many people?
Discussing the amount required to license an image to sites like these in today’s photography industry, where everyone is clambering for exposure, has pretty much become a non-issue. It’s now irrelevant. The web sites know the value they bring to the photographer, and the point is not even raised.
Not An End to Commercial Licensing
Don’t get me wrong here though. I am not saying that it’s no longer necessary to license photography. There is still a strong market for licensing stock photography and assignment photography. The amount required to license images has plummeted, and royalty free is becoming the norm, but we can’t change that.
The only decision you have to make now, is whether or not you want in, or out. I joined Offset because they offer quality photography to their customers at a price point that works for me. It’s not the old stock image pricing, but it’s good enough that I am happy to sell my images through them, and that revenue stream is now helping to pay the rent. Another reason is that Offset are selling my images that weren’t really shot as stock images.
If you want to sell a lot of stock photography, you really have to shoot stock photography. I don’t mean this in a derogative way. There are people making good livings as stock photographers, and they are very imaginative and creative people, setting up scenes that they know will sell well, and working hard at their craft, and that’s what you have to do to sell stock imagery.
The OFFSET Advantage
My photos are shot first and foremost for me. I’m trying to create fine art nature, landscape and wildlife work, and having a company like Offset to help me market that is incredible! Sure, they take a cut, but they work hard for that cut!
Now when people come to me with a request to license a specific image, I just point them to that image on Offset. I could draw up a license and negotiate a price directly, but Offset have all of this in place, so I figure the cut that they take even when I could have made a direct sale, is the cost of outsourcing my licensing to a third party.
Now, if you’ve followed this Podcast for a while, you may remember a post I did way back in October 2005 called Don’t Give Away Your Art! This was the old Martin. Martin 2005. But I want to stress the importance of putting all of this into context. The uses I’ve mentioned so far today are incredibly valuable, and I’m more than happy to give up my images in exchange for that exposure.
But there will also be times when people ask for your images, and the reverse is true. Not all sites have millions of regular visitors. In fact very few do. Many people will ask you to give them your art in exchange for a link back to your site, when the truth is there site isn’t getting more than a handful of visitors each day, and they need your quality work to build that site up. The value of your image to them is far greater than the value of having your images on their site.
In this situation, it’s your choice as to how you proceed. I’ve allowed non-commercial use of my images and done interviews with sites that I know have very few visitors, because I like to help out when I have the time to do so. I am where I am today in part because of the kindness of people that helped me out along the way, and I’ll continue to need help, without doubt, so kindness and generosity should continue to be a two-way street in my opinion.
Be Picky When Necessary
As much as I try to help though, another trend that I’m starting to get a lot of is requests for stories in return for publicity. I get these kind of email maybe once or twice a week now, and I’ve started to get picky about who I’ll work with, out of necessity. I literally don’t have time to work with everyone that contacts me, so I have to prioritize.
If someone offers me free publicity, the first thing I do is go and check out there Web site. You can usually see at a glance if they have a good readership or not. You can tell by the quality of the other images posted if they are being trusted by other photographers worth their salt, and checking out how many comments their posts get is another tell-tale sign.
Disney Ice Castle
If I can’t make my mind up based on a look at their site, I ask them straight out for their visitor numbers. Quite often they’ll have fewer visitors that I’m already getting, and although they would be different eyeballs, we only have a finite amount of time to work on all the things that we have to do, so I have to make a decision.
It’s a lot of work to select images and write a story that represents you well, so you really have to think about whether it’s worth your time or not. So if you get asked for this sort of thing, if you feel it’s worth it, got for it and hit it out of the park with your story and images. Otherwise, politely excuse yourself and walk away from the negotiation.
The Times They Are A-Changin’
So, to bring this full circle, there are a few points that I hope I’m getting across here. If you are trying to make a living or even just some gear money from your photography, be very careful with your communication if you should find your images online. It’s becoming more common for people to use your images, and tell you later, or not tell you at all, but that doesn’t necessary have to be a bad thing.
I would have been very embarrassed and probably wasted some very valuable opportunities over this last week if I’d have approached this turn of events as Martin 2005. The world has changed, and values are shifting and dynamic. It’s becoming more and more important to see various situations for what they are, evaluate what value the situation has for you, and carefully decide how to proceed.
I generally find that being polite and personable at all times leaves the best impression. If a conversation with someone over this sort of thing starts to turn rotten, I just drop the thread midstream. I’d rather just not reply than try to make the other person understand why they’re being an ass. And remember that them being an ass might only be your current view of that person, so you only make matter worse by pointing that out to them. If they really are an ass, they won’t come around to your way of thinking anyway.
I have hundreds of positive tasks to work on at any given moment, and life’s too short to bicker with people, even if you know you are right. No amount of trying to put the world to rights is going to make a difference, and you don’t do yourself any favors by sewing seeds of negativity. Be nice, and generally nice things will happen to you. As they say, what goes around comes around.
Pixels 2 Pigment Aug 2014
Before we finish, I’d just like to remind you that I’m running another Pixels 2 Pigment In-Studio workshop here in Tokyo on August 23/24, 2014, so if you are in town then, I’d love to see you. For details and to book your space, please visit the Pixels 2 Pigment page.
Every so often, someone writes a book that changes everything. A book so profound that everyone with a desire to live not only a creative life, but a richer, fuller life, will read. Well, my friend David duChemin has just done that, again. His earlier best-selling books changed things to a degree. David has given photographers and artists a vocabulary that I feel was missing in modern photography.
Now he’s given us permission and the courage to live the creative life that many long to live, and I even believe he gives us a means to identify what that life might be to you. Join me today for a conversion with David duChemin that is almost as inspiring as his new book, A Beautiful Anarchy – When The Life Creative Becomes The Life Created.
I read preview copy of A Beautiful Anarchy last week, and I knew in the first few pages that David has done it again. Photography and Creativity literature has just been changed, once again, in a profound and beautiful way.
Listen to the conversation with the audio player above, in iTunes or your iPhone etc. and when you’re ready, click the links below to pick up your copy. You can get either the paperback with a PDF file for just $30, or go just for the PDF file at only $10.
A Beautiful Anarchy – Paperback + PDF
A Beautiful Anarchy – PDF
A Beautiful Anarchy is also available as a Kindle book.