18 Reasons Why They Leave Your Site In Under 10 Seconds

3 06 2011

Have you ever entered a site and you can’t hit the back button fast enough? Something about the page is an instant turnoff, and you back out or get out of the browser window as fast as possible.

I did that this morning when I entered a new page from an email I received. And it got me to thinking about all the reasons a site doesn’t work. And by understanding what doesn’t work, you can reassess your own site, and determine what you can do to make it work – to make it more attractive to the people that are coming there for the very first time.

1. Autosound. This is what got me this morning. I entered a page and started looking around, and a voice started to talk with music in the background. The only problem was I couldn’t find where it was coming from – no audio or video button was noticeable on the page, so I had no way of turning it off. I backed out of the page as fast as I could. I work from a home office, so sound doesn’t really matter. But imagine if I would have been in a busy office. That sound – whether its voice of music – would have made me hit “delete” even faster.

2. Popups. Popups are a dying breed, but they are still around and visible on some sites. I don’t mind an occasional popup asking me to sign up for a free report – once. What really bugs me (and a lot of other people too) is when the popup appears again and again, every time I click to a new page. I get it – you want me to sign up. But that’s not a way to motivate me to the next step.

3. Slow load times. Everyone online has what I call online-ADD. If something doesn’t happen FAST, we move away. We won’t wait 15 seconds for a photograph to load – it’s either there now or I move on. If you load more than thumbnails, or have a slow server, you risk losing your best customers.

4. No purpose.
Read the rest of this entry »

What Photography Task Are You Doing Every Day?

18 05 2011

So you want to be a full time photographer – what have you done in the past week?

Human nature has us doing the things we love, and avoiding the things we don’t.

If we hate sales, we’ll let the customer control the entire buying process.

If we hate networking, we’ll wait around for the phone to ring.

The trouble is, as a business owner, you can’t wait for things to happen, or you won’t be in business for very long. You have to control the situation, and make sure everything comes to you.

So my question to you is, “what have you done in the past week?”

To find out, take out a notebook and record everything you do this coming week. Don’t leave anything out. Even if it seems trivial, write it down. You may find things like:

  • answering email – 30 minutes
  • shopping for camera equipment – 60 minutes
  • surfing websites – 60 minutes
  • photoshopping sample photographs – 50 minutes
  • talking on phone – 45 minutes
  • buying office supplies – 50 minutes

· and so on

Now that you have your list, what does it say about your business? Are you doing things to grow your business, or just plain busy work?

While you do have to spend time on the above mentioned items, if your entire week looks like that, you’re not accomplishing goals that will grow your business. You should have things like:

  • networking function – 90 minutes
  • mailing postcards – 45 minutes
  • cold calling – 30 minutes
  • blogging and Twittering – 30 minutes per day
  • trade show booth – 1 day

Most of your time should be devoted to revenue earning tasks – or your business will no longer exist in a mere few months.

Now that you’ve seen what you’ve been doing with your week, try and write goals for the following week. Change your tasks to revenue tasks – and stick with it. Your business will thank you.

10 Things You Never Want To Do With Your Online Photography Portfolio

11 05 2011

As a photographer, your most important marketing tool is your online photography portfolio. On your website or your blog, this is what’s going to showcase your work, and get you hired. Yet I see mistakes all the time. And I have a ton of questions like, “Why isn’t my site getting any traffic?” and “Why aren’t people contacting me online?” Here are 10 mistakes I see frequently – do you see yourself here?

1. Enter Page
Do you really need to divide up your site, and dedicate one whole page to making your visitors choose? If they type in your URL, they want to see your site. They want to start learning about you immediately, not have to decide if they want to visit your Flash site, Mobile site, Fast site, Slow site, Blog, Flickr portfolio, etc. Yes, you can weave things into your site, and have things on the side of your content that allows them to navigate elsewhere. But don’t make your first impression just a choice.

2. Photo Size
Have you ever gone to a photographer’s site, only to wait 30 seconds for it to load a huge file thousands of pixels in size? Boring. This is the web. You don’t need large files – the smaller the better for loading, and to protect you from clients downloading them to manipulate them. Stick to an image that is between 500-1000 pixels on the long edge, depending on how you are grouping them together. Read the rest of this entry »

Building Your Photography Business as an Amateur or a Professional

28 04 2011

One of the focuses of this blog is to help you build up a professional photography studio. For the most part, we focus on writing about the business and marketing side (with an occasional article on becoming a better photographer).

And through your comments on such posts as

The Pendulum Swing of Photography

Wedding Photography-It’s Not That Easy

Photography Studio – Going Out Of Business

The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

I know you also agree there is a difference between the two. But how do you get the consumer to believe there is a difference? And more importantly, how do you get them to pay for the difference.

The first thing to keep in mind is there are always people that will pay for what they love. Some people love the idea of traveling, and will scrimp and save to be able to visit exotic locations every year. Some people love driving an expensive car, and will live in a small apartment, investing a high percentage of their monthly salary on their vehicle. And some people love memories, and will pay a professional very well to have an amazing portrait of their family every year.

No matter what type of photography you choose to specialize in, how many clients do you need to succeed? If you photograph weddings, how many per year will make you the income you desire? Or if you are a stock photographer, how many images do you have to sell every year? Knowing this number now will help you with your marketing in 2009. Reach out for this goal, and put it in perspective.

Next, you have to shoot as a professional. Take a serious look at your own work. Is it just an average portrait – potentially one they could even take in their own home with a good digital camera? Or is it something that makes them say WOW!

A true professional will be able to take images that you simply can’t get at home. They reach beyond the normal, and go for the WOW factor. They give their clients a little bit more. And they also give a complete package. Your client should never have to take their portrait to a frame shop – everything should be included, from beginning to end.

So with all of this in mind, what should your goals be for 2010?

1. Treat your business like a business. Establish yourself as a professional, and tell the world you are a professional photographer.

2. Create a complete customer service business. Provide everything from beginning to end. Include complete packages, including framing. (Maybe you even go in and install.) The idea is to be thorough in all you do.

3. Give 110%. You can’t expect your clients to pay for average – they want the WOW. Attend classes with mentors. Practice. Practice. Practice. Do everything you can to become the best you can be.

4. Teach your clients to see the difference. If you look like an image they can create at home, they won’t see the difference. And they won’t pay. But if you give them something they could never accomplish on their own – and could never get from another photographer – you can sell well.

Dreaming Big – Using Photography to Achieve it

27 04 2011

Wouldn’t it be nice to take the family to the Caribbean, and have your business write off the entire trip?

What about skiing in some of the best snow around (pick your place – The Rocky Mountains, The Swiss Alps) knowing your business is paying you to be there?

For many people, these dreams sound wonderful. They talk about doing it. They may even read a few things on how to do it. But when Monday rolls around, it’s back to the same old job, working with the same old tasks.

It doesn’t have to be that way. But you do have to put some effort into it. After all, dreams can’t come true if you don’t set goals to achieve your dreams.

Imagine you love traveling, and want to travel several months out of the year. Why not become a travel photographer? There are many sources that will pay you good money for images of destination locations. Every magazine needs quality images. Stock houses will pay well, once you become an excepted photographer.

Imagine you love weddings, and want to photograph weddings anywhere in the world. You can’t just put up a sentence on your website that says, “I’m a destination wedding photographer” and expect it to happen. You need to choose several destinations, and work at getting known in those locations. The more you’re “known”, the bigger you’ll become – and not just in your choice destinations.

Imagine you love fashion, and would love to photograph for magazines and catalogs. Take your first step, and find a small company to work with. Every business started out small, and needed just a few images for their first catalog (or magazine). I know the founders of two start-up magazines right here in Colorado – I’m sure you can find similar contacts in your area.

Take a few minutes and think about exactly what you would like to do. In your dreams, what would you like to be doing a year from now? Write it down! (Email me – I’d love to hear your dreams!)

Then take the next step, and do one thing that will help you make your dream a reality. It may be to choose a destination for your wedding photography services. It may be to book a trip to a resort in your community. It may be to join an association to get closer to catalog producers.

Remember the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither is your business. But you do need to take action towards your goal every day. When you complete one task, start in on another. When one task fails, try something new. Never give up!

How To Develop A Great Senior Portrait Package

14 04 2011

Each year over 2 million high school juniors make their way into their senior year, and start the long trek to finishing up high school and starting out life as an adult. Because it’s the last step to enter adulthood, it’s always been a right of passage to commemorate it with a special portrait session – the high school senior portrait.

Competition is fierce within this marketplace these days. Even just a few years ago, many high schools had a closed door policy, and they would interview and select a few photographers to recommend, and require each of their seniors to go to a pre-approved photographer. Schools have opened up now, and allow anyone to go anywhere. Yearbook inclusions are more lax, and you’ll see a variety of sizes, styles and displays within the senior graduating class section.

Just because anything goes doesn’t make that the right approach to senior photography. If you make it an experience, it can still bring you in a substantial amount of income during the few months of shooting time. But you have to know how to package accordingly. Here’s some advice.

Start out with a plan

Many senior photographers grab a client, head out to the park, and spend 30 minutes shooting a few images. They put them on a disk, hand it over to the client, and pocket $50 or so. And that’s the end of the revenue stream. You will never get a reorder if you hand over the files for this price. The client will take them and run, and do whatever they choose with the images. So that should never be an option.

Your first strategy is to set up more than one package, and gently lead a client to the higher package.

If I offered 3 packages: $150, $300 and $450, and offered the files in the $450 only, how many clients do you think would jump at the $450 package? Yep, a good majority of them. And I’ve increased my profits because I’m still willing to give the files, just not at the lower price.

And your $450 client will be a much better, easier to work with client than the $50 special. They will have more patience, more time, and be willing to let you do a variety of things to bring out the best in the senior. Plus you will feel more comfortable spending time with the senior, knowing you will be bringing in a lot more income.

Give a professional presentation

How do you advertise for your seniors? If you want to bring in a lot of business, you have to showcase your talent.

Marathon Press has always offered a variety of ways to market to the senior market. They have preproduced pieces that give you an easy way to order postcards and brochures, ready for mailing. They also provide fully customized services, allowing you to place your own images into a variety of formats. Because they specialize in marketing pieces for the photographer, their work is 100 percent quality, and their goal is to help you bring in the business.

Create a theme each year, and carry that through your entire promotion. You should also update your images each year, including the recognizable faces from the last class. If you are including photographs from several years back, the new graduating class doesn’t recognize the faces, and has less motivation to use you.

Turn the package into something fun

If you provide a package with an 11×14, a few 8x10s, 5x7s, 4x6s and wallets, it’s easily comparable to everyone else – and to the discount stores that do the printing for a very low cost.

But if you include a 20×20 wall portfolio with a series of images in it, it’s no longer comparable. It’s unique.

Look for ways to turn your senior packages into more than anyone else can offer. Look for groupings, special sizes, and special ways to display your images.

Then showcase your differences. Anyone can take a senior picture. But only a professional can give you the experience of a senior portrait session.

10 Reasons To Blog About Your Photography Business

13 04 2011

Blogging has become the most talked about, significant marketing strategy available to small business owners today. If you are planning on growing your photography business into the future, you should be familiar with the latest blogging techniques available to you, and start using the powerful features that will put you light years ahead of your competition.

Currently 133 million blog records are indexed by Technorati, a blogging directory, with 900,000 blog posts being submitted every 24 hours. For many people the idea of blogging may seem a bit daunting. With that many people blogging every day, what are your chances of using it as an effective marketing tool?

A successful photographer for over 20 years, and a successful blogger for over 4, let me share with you my list of ten reasons you need to be active with blogging. shaking hands

[And if you’re already successfully blogging, feel free to forward this post to your friends and clients who would benefit from learning how to grow their business using a blog.]

1. Find clients.
Blogs allow you to give detailed case studies about each of your clients, including photographs. The more detailed you are, the more you’ll attract the attention search for similar characteristics. And if you’re trying to reach out to a more affluent client, blogging is a definite must.

2. Meet your peers.
Blogging isn’t just for people talking about their personal lives. In fact, blogging is one of the fastest growing tools online. Both women and men are seeing the benefits of blogging, and are turning to using it for business faster than many other forms of marketing. Jump on board now in its infancy, and learn how to capture interest with just a few minutes of work per day.

3. Establish yourself as an expert.
How do you become an expert? By sharing your knowledge. And with the ease and low cost of blogging, nothing could be easier.

4. Build relationships.
StudioPress Premium WordPress ThemesBlogging allows your personality to shine through. While your business blog is mostly business, the occasional personal post lets people develop an understanding of who you are as a person. Even if you’re thousands of miles away.

5. Build your visibility.
Have you ever been to a site with three pages, and just a few sentences on each page? It’s hard to develop an opinion. But with a ton more content, your clients and prospects can visit page after page developing their viewpoint. More content also means more connections in the blogosphere – allowing you to connect with many more people than with just a few pages.

6. Share information with your niche.
I’m willing to estimate that 80 to 90 percent of all photographers choose to have the same Flash website developed as their competitor. You know, the one with just a few pages where the content is fed in to an about us page, a services page, and a gallery section rotates showing the top 10 images. What set up a part was having over 20,000 images on our website, and hundreds of pages of quality information. All of that is easy to do with a blog.

Premium WordPress Themes

7. Inexpensive way to market your business.
Blogs are low cost, and easy to set up. In a short period of time, you can take charge and easily start sharing information with your readers. I would highly recommend creating your own blog instead of using the free blogging systems like Blogger. I’ve heard many nightmares of creating a very valuable blog, only to have it turned off because a service like Blogger misunderstands your intentions and deletes your files.

8. Easy way to get instant delivery of your ideas.
Have a new product? Blog about it immediately. Have a new client? Blog about it immediately. Because you have full control, you can add any type of content whenever you choose, 24/7/365.

9. Get noticed by the search engines.
Google likes blog posts, it’s a fact. And because it likes them, your pages will rank a whole lot better than similar pages on a website. And once you begin learning more about optimization and social networking, you can gain first page rankings on Google and other search engines again and again.

10. Give you a starting point to online networking.
Blogging is the tip of the iceberg. It has so many benefits, it would be impossible to list them in any one place. But the important thing is to get started now, learn this type of technology, and use it to help grow your business in the future. You’ll soon be as addicted to blogging as I am. And if you need help or support with your strategy, I’d be happy to help.

Have you ever tried blogging? Do you agree with these 10, or do you see something else as more pressing? Why do you blog?

image source yan=]