Photographers: You are what you read

These are just some of the books I have read in the past year.

You may have heard “you are what you eat,” but I believe that “you are what you read is just as true.”

Read what you want to cover

The photographer needs to become an expert on the subjects they cover. If you work in business then you need to be reading what those in that industry are reading.

If you are covering the faith community, then you need to be up on theology of the groups you are wanting to do work.

If you want to do work for NGOs then you need to be up on the areas that they address.

Osmosis

Osmosis does not require input of energy and therefore this is where most of us start our careers. We start covering what we are already familiar.

For me growing up in a minister’s home where my father was involved with missions means through osmosis I was pretty knowledgeable about Baptist and Missions.

By taking the time out of my life to go to seminary I was able to take my knowledge to a whole new level of understanding. I studied theologians and worldviews which helped me communicate the nuances of faith to the audience.

What I am reading today

I do a lot of work with Chick-fil-A. To know how to help them communicate their story requires me to understand where they are going and not just where they have been.

One of the best places for a photographer to understand what business like Chick-fil-A is going is to attend a conference like Leadercast. Leaders from across the globe will attend this conference to learn how they can be better leaders for their organizations.

It is here that I was introduced to speakers like Patrick Lencioni and John C. Maxwell. I also learned that these leaders were also looking to other leaders like John Wooden, Tony Dungy and
Mike Krzyzewski who are all coaches.

I started reading all the books I could on leadership and how to build teams. I am confident to say that I am well versed now in the field and understand some of the current trends.

This helps me now sit at a table and recommend stories rather than being the person waiting on them to tell me stories they need covered.

Great storytellers recognize a good story

“If I only knew back then what I know now,” has been said by many people. I know it took time for me to be able to understand now without experiences to build upon. 

If you spent 30 years of your life telling stories, then you too would be really good at knowing what makes a good story. I continue to recommend to my clients that my greatest asset to them is the creative idea. Once you have a good story idea getting a team to cover it is easy. It is finding the story that takes the most creativity.

Where do good ideas come from?

I would argue that very few great ideas come from the inexperienced. I think overnight sensations are actually 10+ year careers that finally bloomed.

When I get a great idea today it is because I am referencing something else in my brain from a history of stories I have covered, things that I have read and from experiences I have had. It is not from just hearing something fresh.

Steven Johnson: Where do good ideas come from?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NugRZGDbPFU]
I really recommend watching this 4 minute video to understand the framework for why I believe you need to expand your horizons for your business to grow.

The four minute video is a condensed version of the already condensed presentation Steven Johnson made a the TED Conference. Now I recommend you really watch this to understand how he came to the refined 4 minute package.

http://embed.ted.com/talks/steven_johnson_where_good_ideas_come_from.html
Steven Johnson is the best-selling author of six books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience. The whole idea that we have these “eureka” moments is not by chance, but rather the colliding of ideas.

Living in Isolation

I believe that the more you isolate yourself the better the chances are for failure if you are in business.

It has been said that in business there are the 1) innovators, 2) imitators and 3) idiots.

The innovator is someone who is having “eureka” moment and has put together a few tidbits to get an edge on the competition.

The imitator is someone who recognizes change and adapts quickly and therefore their clients are benefiting as well.

The idiot is someone who decides to try and follow the well worn path only to find now it is now just a commodity making it difficult to make a profit.

Read, Get Out & Network

If you are struggeling with your business, then I have three recommendations.

Find some books that are trending in your area of interest that you want to photograph. These are not books on photography, but rather on the subjects. Besides reading them find someone or a group to discuss these topics with and get you to dive deep into the subject.

Get out and find a place to socialize. Maybe it is the local coffee shop and it will require you to do more than order your coffee and sit in the corner. Start a discussion group on one of your books is one way to get out there.

Find some groups to network with in your community. Hopefully this could be on what you like to cover with your camera. Join an association and go to their meetings and mixers. 

Still not successful

If you are one of those people doing everything I suggested and you are still having trouble, maybe you are one of the idiots. Not trying to insult you, but think about it. Are you one of 100 photographers standing on the sidelines of a major sporting event wondering why no one is buying your stuff? There are only about 20 or so outlets for those 100 photographers. The market is saturated.

Find the market where you are not one of many photographers and there you will have found a potential gold mine.

Business Tip: The Piggyback Assignment

Liliuokalani Park in Hilo, Hawaii located on Banyon drive.

One of the best ways to get a job is to have a job. We have heard this comment made to people looking for jobs or career change.

Some reasons for this being said so often:

•    It’s a lot easier to explain why you want a better job than why you were fired from your last one.
•    You are already plugged in
•    They say that a friend in need is a friend to avoid.
•    You are already battle tested. Someone else’s already taken the risk and keeping you

For the freelancer having a job where you need to travel is a great time to Piggyback assignments. In essence you are just like the employed person looking for another job.

When a client is sending you around the country or globe the best thing you can do is to now leverage this into more assignments on the road.

There are some obvious reasons and not so obvious reasons to always try and piggyback assignments. 

•    Saving clients on travel expenses.
•    Great way to show to your present clients and potential clients that other clients use your services
•    You are not a needy photographer
•    Shows you are thinking of them

Stanley at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
You may think of more reasons this could be a positive in your column with clients and potential clients. The key is to remember to reach out to your clients and let them know they have an opportunity to save on their budget and maybe there were some photos they would like but didn’t pursue because of the travel expenses.

You need to have a good database of clients to send these requests to and then you can make the most of an opportunity.

How many times does this turn into an assignment—well not that often. But it only takes one time here and there for the payoff to make it worth it.

This is also not just about getting a Piggyback Assignment. This is also another way to market you. Just think of this as another legitimate reason to contact a client that they will not see as SPAM or an annoying phone call.

Mix this in with your snail mail promotions, blogs, eNewsletters and phone calls. You now have one more way to reach out to your clients that will be perceived as a positive from their perspective.

A little secret I learned from my friend Ken Touchton. When you have nothing going on you can always use the Piggyback Assignment on top of your own personal trip. This is great to do if you know there is work in an area where the client is not willing to spend money on travel but you want the work anyway. This way a client will not know if you lowered your rates to get some jobs. Also, once one client gives you the assignment you only need one more in most cases to do really well.

Whining yourself out of jobs

My daughter dressed up for Halloween this year as Alice: Madness Returns..

Not a day goes by where I am not hearing or reading some photographer complaining about the new normal for the industry.

What is the new normal?

Here is a list of some of the changes that impacts the industry:

Instant results – Today the digital camera gives unprecedented quick feedback to the photographer. Before digital you had to wait at least 90 seconds to see an image you just took. Polaroid camera let you create a quick print.
Auto focus – The biggest area this has impacted in my opinion has been sports. It wasn’t that long ago when you had to know how to follow focus to get an in focus photograph of action sports.
Matrix Metering – The earliest SLR cameras didn’t have meters built in. Later when they were built in the photographer still had to know how to use it because just pointing at a scene would not give you consistent results. Today’s matrix metering TTL systems allow the camera to take multiple readings through the lens and using very complex algorithms giving extremely accurate exposures. Each time a new camera is introduced, it appears to be even more accurate than the previous generation.
TTL Flash – We have come a long way since in the days of Matthew Brady where they had to use flash powder to take a photograph in low light situations. You can now control unlimited number of hotshoe flashes within the camera. The accuracy isn’t quite as good as matrix metering is with available light, but this is so much better than we have ever experienced.
YouTube – Today if you want to know how to photograph just about anything you can search for it on YouTube and there will be many videos teaching you how to do this for free.  There are almost no secrets any more that give some photographers an edge over their competition.
Online Photography Databases – Flickr is just one example of online database that you can search for photos at incredibly low prices or even for free to use. You can upload images and if you do a good job with key wording your images are visible to the world. In the past you had Stock Photography Agencies that you had to use. The agencies would push those photographers whose images typically sold well. They didn’t have the time or resources to put just any photos into the system for consideration.

It is very easy to complain about your situation. It is easy to talk about how some people are causing you to loose business.

Photographers need to wake up and realize every business is going through this today. Just look at how many professions are almost gone due to the invention of the personal computer. How many secretaries lost their jobs in the 1980s and 1990s when it first came out?

The United States Postal Service has been crippled due to email. We no longer need them to send a letter to someone.

Why stop whining?

1. Complaining about your work is excusing yourself from responsibility. You are only convincing yourself it isn’t your responsibility and no one else.
2. You are annoying everyone. You may find yourself being defriended on Facebook or just not knowing they are no longer paying attention to you.
3. You are wasting time and being nonproductive.

This is a Habitat for Humanity volunteer helping a family improve their situation with affordable housing.

Take charge of the situation

1. Look for solutions – Blowing off a little steam is OK and even healthy to do. Learn to roll with the punches. You need to focus on talking through a situation to look for solutions rather than just talking in circles.
2. Be the hero and not the victim – When you are feeling frustration remember it is rooted in fear. What are you afraid of? Once you have identified your fear it is much easier to then to address what you need to do to overcome this obstacle.
3. Count to ten – When you feel that urge to complain, stop and look for a solution.


Pray

The American theologian Reihold Niebuhr wrote the Serenity Prayer that was later adopted by the Alcoholics Anonymous and I recommend for Whiners.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

According to a University of Wisconsin-Madison sociologist, 75 percent of Americans who pray on a weekly basis do so to manage a range of negative situations and emotions — illness, sadness, trauma and anger.  What is often happening with people who pray is they are considering another point of view. In the case of prayer they are considering God’s perspective.

If you are unwilling to acknowledge that your perspective is limiting, then you may never get over whining.

What I learned from Portillo’s in Chicago

Nikon P7000, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/2000

A couple of years ago a friend of mine introduced me to Portillo’s in Chicago.  It is an experience for sure.  You come in stand in a line to order. My friend encouraged me to order the the Italian Beef sandwich with everything in it. I also ordered a side order of crinkle fries and a chocolate malt shake.

I enjoyed it more because of all the experience around the food.  I am in Chicago and for my last meal I decided to stop by the Portillo’s in Schaumburg.

Before you even go in the door the view from the parking lot is not like other restaurants. Look at all the flowers and the manicured landscaping around the building.

Nikon P7000, ISO 1087, ƒ/2.8, 1/350

Once you walk through the door you are transported back to the 1960’s when the restaurant started.  Extremely clean and colorful. Unlike Cracker Barrel restaurant where everything on the walls is from the past, but looking rusted and worn out, here at Portillo’s everything looks brand new.

For those of us who remember living during the 1960’s this looks even cleaner than my memories, but there is enough memorabilia to take me back to those years.

Nikon P7000, ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/110

The staff is dressed in white shirts with Portillo’s in script on the back, ties, black aprons and newsboy style hats definitely creates an atmosphere all it’s own. Checker board floor and on the kitchen walls definitely creates a flash back to year’s ago.

Neon signs were created in 1910 and very popular between 1920’s and 60’s. Today designer’s use these to create a feel for a business and often create flashback’s for their customer’s pasts of years gone by.

What about you?

Now when people experience your brand do you transport your customers to another time and place? Does your brand create an atmosphere?

You have a brand whether you know it or not. It might not be so distinctive as Portillo’s, but it may be so bland that you are just know as one of the many providers of services in a market.

Photographer’s have been known to wear certain types of clothing. Often the world travelers are seen in Khaki’s whereas the news photographers are known to be in jeans like the famous news photographer animal on the Lou Grant Show.  If you are too young to know what I am talking about here is a link to a photo of animal.

On the other extreme was the photographer Felix Unger in the TV show the Odd Couple.  Here is the opening for the show that showed how obsessive compulsive was impetuous in every detail.

There is even the super hero Spiderman was a photographer known as Peter Parker. Here you can see his photo. I like him because Stan Lee created him. Hopefully you see the humor here.

Our you the hero to your clients helping them out of binds and saving the day? Are you the persnickety Felix Unger that customers like the attention to detail, but find some of your personality strange?

Maybe you see yourself like National Geographic Magazine fictional photographer Robert Kincaid as depicted in the book Bridges of Madison County. You may like Clint Eastwood’s betrayal of Kincaid in the movie version of the book. Kincaid had a way to awaken the soul of a small town woman living on a farm. Do you create excitement with your clients? Maybe not like Kincaid, but in other ways you may create a bit of mystery with your presence.

Ask your friends and maybe some clients to help you know how they think of you now. Then see if there are things you can do to make yourself more memorable and distinctive. Maybe you need a new wardrobe. Maybe you need to take some dance classes to develop better posture.

Know you brand and control your brand. Be intentional and you too can create a following just like Portillo’s does for it’s customers.

Marketing Idea: Commit to Three

This shows how your effort the first time may be great and the reward very low, but over the next three times the effort diminishes and the reward increases. if you quit because effort doesn’t give the reward too soon you will miss out on a good idea.
Before you implement a new marketing idea you need to be ready to commit to executing it three times, before you decide if it is a good idea.
–Steve Robinson, Senior Vice President, Marketing for Chick-fil-A

No matter the idea you come up with to use to market your business the first time you try it is not the best time to evaluate it’s success or failure. Your effort the first time to pull off something is pretty high and it takes time for a good idea to truly take hold of your audience.

First time

The very first time you try something you will spend a great deal of time, effort and money to pull off an idea.

Effort

The first time you try anything it is quite difficult. Just imagine if you learned to ride a bike using your present method of evaluating a new market idea. Would you have ever learned to ride the bike?

I think we all understand that the amount of effort due to the learning curve can be overwhelming the first time we try anything.

The first time I created a postcard to send out I had a lot of learning to do. I had to find a vendor. From my previous experience with business cards I realized I could spend a lot of money or no so much for the exact same quality. I had to shop around and investigate.

I went with the company SharpDots after getting a recommendation from a friend. It was a great recommendation.

My first layout was done by my good friend and creative director Tony Messano. We decided to use one photo on the front and my logo and return address as well as my web address on the back.

My first postcard cover shot

The back of my first postcard. I had a different logo then.

I also needed a mailing list and bought one of those as well. That took some time to find the best fit for me.

I printed the labels and bought the postcard stamps to mail them. I put the lables and the stamps on that first run of about two thousand postcards.

Reward

The phone did not start ringing a few days after the mailing. Not a lot of response to that mailing.

Second Time



Effort

Now this second time I didn’t have to do all that much work as compared to the first time. I already had a printer, a mailing list and someone to help me with the design.

Some of the postcards came back and I had to investigate this time to get an address if they moved or delete them if they were out of business. How I did this the first time took some time to get a process down that worked.

Reward

I was getting some response. Still not overwhelming response.

While the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook, most everyone I sent the postcards to now have only seen my name two times in the mail. Now I hadn’t started a e.Newsletter at this time. I didn’t have a blog at the time either. So I was just sending emails to check on these prospects.

What was happening at that time was introducing myself and what I did to these prospects. I was branding myself. They were starting to see my images and my logo together. I was slowly starting to build a brand.

Third Time



Effort

While I had down my process I decided to change up the layout on the back of the card. This was Tony Messano’s idea. He said maybe running a series of photos on the back along with the photo on the front would communicate I wasn’t a one shot wonder. After all everyone has at least one good photo they can make, my goal was to help separate myself from my competition as someone who can deliver multiple storytelling images.

My last postcard cover shot.
Tony had a different design, but I modified it a little here for the latest postcard. It has my new logo and we went to four color on the back. Not a lot of cost through SharpDots.

Reward

Today, I am getting more jobs and the clients comment often on my postcards as being a deciding factor on contacting me.

Summary

If after three times you are not getting any rewards out of an idea that is a good time to stop doing it. However, as you can see from the first diagram if you base your decision on the first attempt you would cancel some great ideas.

If you are just starting out, this is when you are trying to create a brand awareness of you. This is like you being a young entrepreneur like S. Truett Cathy who started Chick-fil-A. He started first running a diner in Hapeville, GA in 1946. He worked hard and it took time before he even invented the Chicken Sandwich. Since the first Chick-fil-A restaurant opened in 1967, the company has posted 43 consecutive annual sales increases. This was not an over night success, but one where they tried ideas and kept them if they worked.

Take your time to find a good idea and before you implement be sure you are ready to do it three times or you might quit before the big payoff.

Am I the best photographer for my client?

Have you asked yourself this question? Am I the best photographer for my client?

If you are wanting your business to grow you need to answer this question from the client’s perspective and not yours.

So, who else can your customer use? How does your work stack up to the competition?

It will take some time for you to be competitive. You must first being doing your best for you. You cannot be the best overnight. It takes time to develop.

Before you can soar you have to learn to fly

Let’s be reasonable, when you are starting out there are a lot of photographers better than you. However, you need to be sure you are at your personal best at all times.

You are building a reputation. You need to have your reputation precede you by word of mouth from your Google ranking, and from your business social media presence. What can you do now to help you have something that when people investigate you there is something for them to find.

When you go for it you need a good parachute

Preparation

Before you call on a prospect and hope they will hire you you need to have done your homework. You need to know all you can about the client. What do they need a photographer to do for them.

You need to be conveying value and not benefits and features. The only way to do this is to know enough about them to help phrase your benefits and features in ways that can be of value to them. How will this help them?

Always have two or three ideas to propose to them when you call. I like to think of stories that my customers could be doing. Most of the time these are typically best practices stories. Every company wants to feature those that are doing the very best in hopes that others can copy some of those techniques to improve their performance.

How will you back all these claims up with new clients? How about using video testimonials from your present clients?

Keep yourself focused on a goal

Keep your standards higher than your clients

It is easy to be satisfied with a certain level of work when you are getting work. What is dangerous is becoming complacent. Your competition only needs to show they are a better fit for the client than you.

If you are always growing and looking for how you can improve your competition will be behind your more often than in front of you.

Realty Check

Your clients are looking for a trusted adviser who has good ideas and thinks of of how to help them.  They are not needing someone who is slick and great with a presentation. They need something solid and not about a great sales pitch.

Are you the best person for your client? Can you honestly feel that in your heart? If you can great. If not do all you can to be your best and be able to believe this about your talents.

How much you can make as a photographer

My stepson looked at his first paycheck and asked, “Who is FICA?” This was his first hard lesson about where the money goes – the cost of doing business.

A lot of the money we pay for a service doesn’t stay with the service provider.
According to Dun & Bradstreet, “Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37% chance of surviving four years (of business) and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years.” Of these failed businesses, only 10% of them close involuntarily due to bankruptcy and the remaining 90% close because the business was not successful, did not provide the level of income desired or was too much work for their efforts.”
So many good photographers I know have to turn to other ways to make a living not due to any lack of photographic skills, but because of poor business practices.
Two things caused their businesses to fail:  
  1. they didn’t know their real cost of doing business and 
  2. they failed to promote themselves.
In 2001, I left a staff position and started full-time freelancing. My business has averaged a 20% growth rate each year for the past eleven years. Many of my colleagues ask me how I do it.
I speak often to photographers on business practices and many of these are students in college. When I teach workshops on the business of photography we do some very practical exercises to help them.

First, I require the students to calculate how much it costs them to live for a year. I’ve found that even the older students who have been on their own for a time typically do not know what it costs them to live.

No matter the profession, if you do not know your cost you cannot estimate what you are worth in the market place.
Once you’ve know your cost and decided how much net income you want to earn, it is easy to determine what to charge for each project in order to reach that goal.
Take a moment and think of everything needed to do your job. Here are some categories from the National Press Photographer’s Association list I use just substitute your terms for similar categories to figure your annual cost of doing business.
  • Office or Studio
  • Phone
  • Photo Equipment
  • Repairs
  • Computers (Hardware & Software)
  • Internet (Broadband, Web site & email)
  • Auto Expenses (Lease, Insurance & Maintenance)
  • Office Supplies
  • Photography Supplies
  • Postage
  • Professional Development
  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Subscriptions & dues
  • Business Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Legal & Accounting Services
  • Taxes & Licenses
  • Office Assistant
  • Utilities
  • Retirement Fund
  • Travel
  • Entertainment (meals with clients)
Add your desired net income to your annual business expenses, divide that total by the number of projects you reasonably expect to do in a year. The answer gives you the average per project you must charge clients so you can pay those bills, stay in business and live the way you want to live.
Dueling Pianos is OK when it is an act, but not when you are competing for a solo act.

Now you must find out if the market place will sustain this charge.

Let’s say you need to charge on average $1,000 for per project to reach your goal. If the services you provide are what people can get anywhere then they will shop for price. If the going rate in your community is $1,200 then you are in good shape. If the going rate is $900 then you need to look at cutting your overhead—your hoped for income or business expenses or both.
The key to earning what you want comes down to service. You must be able to demonstrate to potential clients that you offer something more if you want/need to charge more than other photographers do.
I have found that I need to know about the subjects I cover more than other photographers do. In addition, I deliver my images a good deal faster than most others do. I also listen carefully to what clients say they want and try to, not only meet their needs, but to go beyond their expectations.
When I first determined my cost and income goals, it was a revelation just as my stepson’s response to FICA and other deductions from his pay were for him.
I do my best to keep my overhead low, but even so close to 50% of my gross goes to business expenses. It was quite shocking for me to see what I must charge to pay the bills. This knowledge was the fire I needed to get me to put the time and effort into finding ways to make me more valuable to clients and to find those clients by seriously marketing myself.

Do you know what you cost?

Photo Marketing 101: Step one (Old School)

Even if you are still in school the business card is one of the most valuable Old Schoolbusiness tools you can use. If you are in school the goal is to get a job and you need to start now networking and the business card is one of the most valuable tools I use.

What is shocking to me is how often I go to meetings and people do not have business cards. Usually these are the same folks saying they need to learn more about business practices.
How they are used
You never know when you will need one, so I always carry a stack of them. Networking is happening at any moment and not necessarily just for those planned networking events.

When I meet someone at a meeting I like the Old School way of getting their business card and writing a note to myself to help me remember them on their card I was given by them.
If I am at a conference for a few days I find that those really unique size cards are more annoying than unique and helping them standout. 

When I meet someone at the event I think it is important to see if I can get an appointment with them later.  I find that once we find something in common I like to say how about we get together later and have a cup of coffee or lunch to talk more about it when we don’t have any other distractions.

This is when I typically get their card and say I will be in touch later to schedule some time together.
Accuracy

If someone doesn’t have a card I have to pull out a pen and paper and write the information down or put it on my phone.  This takes some time to do and sometimes in loud areas very hard to hear them talking.

When it is so critical that the difference of a dot when you are trying to find someone on the web is important, don’t you think it should be important enough to be sure they can find you?

This is the QR Code for my website http://www.StanleyLeary.com

QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes.


If you want to generate a QR Code to put on your business card or create stickers then go here http://createqrcode.appspot.com/.  

What should be on a business card?

While many are starting to ad QR Codes to their business cards here is some other basic information

1.     Full name
2.     Email address (Use your domain to host email@YourDomain.com)
3.     Website/online portfolio (register a domain name www.YourDomain.com)
4.     Phone number
5.     Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
6.     Blog

Some things you can leave off today
1.     Street Address
2.     Photograph

Electronic Business Cards
http://www.CardCloud.com

You may want a virtual business card. One of these examples is the CardCloud.  Unlike traditional cards they never run out. You can share it with anyone; they don’t need the app for you to use it. It lets you track whom you gave your card to and therefore helps you to reconnect easier in the future.

CardCloud is a digital business card application that is looking to replace the traditional printed business card. Rather than trading contact info by passing out a printed business card, CardCloud allows you to share your contact info directly from your iPhone to anyone in the room which is then stored automatically through .vcf or .vCard format. Alternatives to CardCloud include contxts, dub, Bump and BusinessCard2.

vCard is a file format standard for electronic business cards. vCards are often attached to e-mail messages, but can be exchanged in other ways, such as on the World Wide Web or Instant Messaging. They can contain name and address information, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, URLs, logos, photographs, and audio clips.

With LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other ways to connect on the spot when you meet someone what good is a business card? I can tell you from being a journalist for more than 30 years when someone tells me how to spell their name many times we still get it wrong due to the accent or lack of articulation by some folks.

While many in sales are saying the business card maybe on the way out—I think it is here to stay.  I think the difference is now in what information you put on your card.


www.Sharpdots.com
is where I get my business cards printed.  You can get 2,500 business cards with 4-color on the front and back for only $35.

Do me a favor and send me your vCard so I have your business card.

Are you passionate about something?

If you are passionate about a topic and are a communicator–I challenge you to create a blog. The whole process will make you a better communicator for your clients. Let me tell you how I came to this conclusion.

I enjoy making connections with people.  While I struggle with the social skills to connect with folks, my wife thrives in making connections.

Over the years I have discovered my gift of telling stories and teaching. Teaching seems to be my best gift.  I am not sure if I am a good teacher because I know how to get the message across (from years as a journalist) or my obsessive-compulsive behavior. 

Maybe it is a little of both.  I don’t like giving up and will work at being sure if a person wants to understand something I know about, then I will work at it until I find a way to help them understand.

1I have been taking some time thinking about connecting with audiences. I bought an iPad this week because one of my clients has started to issue these to their people to use.  I found out that I needed be sure the work I was producing was working on it. 

This was a difficult buy for me to do. I would have rather bought a tablet that played flash files so that everything that is on the web would work on the device. But the reason I was buying the iPad was to ensure that my audience was getting the messages I was creating.

There are other things that I have learned to do so that I could connect with an audience. A few years ago I dipped my toes into blogging.  I learned how to post a photo, video and text. 

Just in the past few months I decided to dive into blogging.  I am posting three times a week and slowly building a larger audience.  I am using analytics to see how often my blogs are viewed.  I am using analytics to see how long someone watches a slide show.  Do they watch all of it on average?  I am doing the same now with videos.

The analytics show me that more and more of the audience is using smart phones and tablets to view my blog. 

As my blog continues to adapt by posting images that are viewable on more devices like the iPad and iPhone more folks are returning to read the posts.

I am also fascinated as to what things are more popular than others.  If I post a how to article with a list of points I know it will get a better audience than just a photo with a small caption on something I saw.  This is also true with the videos.

My top blog postings of all time are here in descending order:

Variety is the spice of life               1,010 Pageviews
Jealousy, Selfish Ambition & Envy     760 Pageviews
How to be critiqued                        385 Pageviews
Good photographers play…              374 Pageviews
Three Stages of Composition      343 Pageviews

My top videos are:

Learning to see light                     2,016 views
Café Justo (Just Coffee)                523 views

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I like seeing how I am connecting to the world

Because I am blogging 3 times a week, I now understand things that I didn’t before.  I understand how difficult it is for my clients to connect with their audience. 

My challenge is simple for those involved in communications, if you are not creating content for a passion of yours where no one has to approve of your material how are you going to be able to help your clients?  I believe every professional communicator needs to create a blog.  The exercise will help you be more valuable to your clients.