Tired of waiting for clients to call? Are you sick of hearing, "Sorry. Got nothing for you right now." Are you frustrated with photo services ads that don't pay off for one reason or another?
I know I am.
It's a new world. A digital world. A high-tech world. A world-wide-web world! Nothing new or startling about that bit of 4-1-1 but it's getting more so with each passing day.
Today, it's a world where, too often, it seems that being a specialist, a craftsman in a specific endeavor, isn't enough. Unfortunately, it also seems like being good at what you do, even great at it, isn't a guarantee for making a big difference in terms of success. I'm sure there are exceptions to this observation. Possibly many exceptions. But, for now, I'm going to focus on the stuff that isn't an exception.
Obviously, I'm talking about photography. That's why you're here, reading this photography blog. And since there's a good chance you're a photographer too, there's also a good chance you know exactly what I'm talking about.
These days, you need to be hyper-competitive. You need to be more about business than photography. We find ourselves competing with people who can barely turn a camera on, much less capture engaging, quality photos, yet some of those people still manage to be competitive.
It gets worse.
There are times when we're competing with free! How do you compete with free? I have no idea how to do that but I do know it's a tough thing to do. Even offering an exceptional, quality product or service might not be enough. Yeah. Quality is part of it. Maybe a big part of it. And quality will get you work. It's gotten me plenty of work. But, in my opinion, it's not enough. Leastwise, not these days and not for many of us.
What's my advice? Other than the advice you'll read about on many photo forums? (e.g., spend more time learning business skills instead of photography skills.)
Expand the products and services you're offering.
And learn some business and marketing skills too.
Just like many of the latest-n-greatest dSLRs are offering still and motion capture in one device, we need to offer multiple capabilities in one person. It ain't enough to be able to chew bubble-gum and walk at the same time. You might have to add juggling, balancing, bullet-dodging, dancing and more to the chewing and walking.
One obvious answer is to offer both photo and video services to your clients and customers. I've done this for quite some time. But now, I'm discovering, that isn't enough. (For me, at least.) For many of you, it shouldn't be too hard to accomplish. After all, digital photography and digital videography are more than a little similar, both in technology and skills required.
When quality, hybrid-cameras started being released, I thought I was in a great place: I have plenty of know-how shooting both. Unfortunately, I've discovered those two sets of skills aren't enough. They may be enough if, for instance, you're a wedding and event photographer. But for me? No dice. No cigar. No brass ring. It ain't cutting it. Besides, I've been shooting stills and video for clients for quite a while, albeit not with the same camera. So, shooting both, whether it's with the same camera or different cameras, is nothing new for me.
So, I did some self-assessment. I took inventory of the things I know how to do. Trust me when I tell you, the list wasn't as long as I'd hoped. That aside, I identified another skill I possess, one that I've pursued in one way or another for a very long time. One that I've had some successes with and, IMO, I'm pretty good at.
Besides being a photographer and videographer, I'm also a writer. I'm not only a writer, I'm an experienced blogger. Also, I'm a guy who knows something about using social media and other internet applications to brand and market things. And guess what? There are real jobs out there for real people, like me, with blogging and social media and branding skills! Couple those skills with my abilities to capture images, still and motion, and I think I've got a marketable skill-set. A hybrid skill-set. A somewhat unique skill-set. And one with some amount of demand with people who write checks for services rendered.
Here's an example: I did some searching on monster.com and, guess what? I found some positions offered--some full-time, some part-time--that have requirements which closely match my hybridized skill-set. Not only that, there were also job offerings that only partially seemed to match my skill-set. Instead of moving on to the next listing, I'm using those job offerings as opportunities to write personal marketing letters asking if the company might be interested in employing, whether part-time or as an independent contractor, an experienced, creative, and knowledgeable person who could help them achieve their marketing, sales, and branding goals through a combination of blogging, social media, photography, videography, and more.
I'll admit I cannot yet report successes or failures. But I'm optimistic! I'm trying to think outside the box here, leastwise, the career box. As such, I'm attempting to fill the void vacated by business lost to wildly increased competition coupled with clients and customers who, seemingly, have lowered the expectation bar and appear mostly interested in price over quality. In fact, I've also lost business to "free." And frankly, as mentioned, it's awfully tough to compete with free. Near impossible.
So if you're finding yourself troubled by declining photography jobs, diversify and determine what kind of hybrid person you might be or might become. Hey! What's to lose? A few hours of your time otherwise spent in front of the tube or surfing the net?
I'm just saying.
The gratuitous pretty girl at the top is Lupe, snapped a few months ago in a client's studio in front of a white cyclorama. Lupe was born in Colombia, spent most of her life in Spain, and now resides here, in the USofA. Besides being a total sweetie and quite easy on the eyes, she's a lot of fun to work with and knows what she's doing in front of a camera.